Be Our Guest Restaurant
in the new Fantasyland is a brand new concept in park dining, and today we got a chance to experience it first hand during the Annual Passholder preview event.
We have shown you walk-through videos and photos of the restaurant itself in previous updates, and it is stunning, certainly one of the best looking restaurants that Disney has ever produced. If you want to see more about the look of the restaurant, read this report
. Today we will focus on the dining experience and the food.
Lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant is quick service, where you do not require a reservation, order the food yourself at a kiosk, and then have the food delivered to your table. Seating is available in all three dining rooms. Dinner is a full table service experience, requiring a reservation, where the Ballroom and the West Wing dining rooms are available.
Skip beyond the video walkthrough the rest of the review.
The process began outside of the restaurant on the bridge that leads to Beast's Castle. The check-in podium for dinner is located at the front of the bridge, and it would seem that the bridge could eventually become a queue area during busy periods. Today's preview had guests waiting a short time on the bridge before being directed inside the lobby of the restaurant.
On entering the lobby, you turn to your right and head into the Armory Room. Along with the "Enchanted Armor" (yes they talk to each other, and you!), you will find menus and photos of the food on screens, giving you time to decide what you may wish to eat prior to actually getting to the ordering kiosk. Once you work your way through the Armory Room, you reach a podium where a cast member takes your party size, and hands you a "Magic Rose". This rose is tagged with an RFID, and will identify you throughout your time in the castle. The now familiar Mickey head RFID reader is also positioned at the podium, which would suggest that later on when RFID bracelets are in use, you will not need the rose. You are then directed to an available kiosk to place your order. Guests paying by credit card are directed to un-manned kiosks, guests using cash go to a manned kiosk.
The ordering kiosks represent a next generation of system for Disney (see photos of the kiosks at the bottom of this article). Gone are the old pressure sensitive screens where you end up repeatedly pressing harder and harder to register your touch. These screens work just like an iPhone. Very light touch, and you can swipe up and down, and the screen gracefully moves with your touch. Very intuitive to use, and immediately familiar to anyone who uses a modern smartphone. Besides the impressive touch screen, the ordering system is great to use. Your first action is to touch the rose to the Mickey head RFID scanner at the kiosk. The screen then asks you to begin to place your order. You can see all of the options, including pictures of the food. You can modify dishes, leaving for example sauces off the dish, or substituting fries for vegetables. Things then go even further, with you being able to view a full ingredient list, full nutritional data (yes, you can now see just how many calories and grams of fat are in that Disney food!), and any allergy risks. You really are presented with everything you could possibly want to know about the dishes - this is a really big step forward for Disney, and they should be congratulated for being one of the very first to give full nutritional breakdown for theme park food. Once you have selected all your foods, desserts, beverages and made any modifications, you confirm the order. The Mickey head reader takes a swipe from your credit card, and out pops a receipt. Don't worry if you are not very technical - lots of cast are on hand to help with any problems that may crop up during your ordering.
This is now where things at Be Our Guest get really clever and so convenient. You now take the rose and go to any table in the restaurant - that's right, no carrying trays hunting for a seat, you just find a place you would like to eat and take a seat.
Once you have found that seat in any of the three dining rooms, you can then grab a self service fountain drink if you purchased one, along with your silverware (yes, it is actual metal silverware), and a very thick paper, almost cloth-like napkin. After a short wait, as if by magic, a server comes along with a trolley, stocked with your food, all delivered to your table without you carrying a thing. It is basically table service dining, but at quick service pricing. You even get real ceramic dinnerware - no paper trays and boxes here.
So how was the food? In a word, fantastic. This is by far the best quick service restaurant food in the Magic Kingdom, and ranks right up there as one of the best in Walt Disney World. The grilled steak sandwich was beautifully seared, medium well, with a garlic herb butter on a good sized french roll. We substituted the fries for green bean jardiniere, which was a great accompaniment to the sandwich. Priced at 10.99, it is on a par with other quick service dishes throughout the parks. For dessert, we had the lemon meringue cupcake. It was a perfect light sweet ending to the lunch, not too large, and a nice ratio of cake to lemon cream filling and meringue on top. (You can see photos of the food at the bottom of this article)
contains some interesting dishes, a notch above other quick service restaurants at Disney. Dishes like Tuna Nicoise Salad, Quinoa Salad and Braised Pork add some real quality food to the lineup. No burgers and chicken strips in sight here - thank goodness. This restaurant is about real food. It seemed that the french fries served with some dishes are just regular quick service fries, which is a shame, as there would have been a great potential here to do some really standout fries with some kind of seasoning, but at least they can be substituted out for something more fitting with the main dish. Even the kids menu is special - this is the place to take kids for real food in the Magic Kingdom.
You can view all the menus and pricing here.
At the completion of the meal everything was cleared by a server, no carrying trays of paper to a trash can. Everything is taken care of for you - you really are their guest!
The Dining Rooms
For lunch, all three dining rooms are available
. For dinner, only the Ballroom and West Wing will be in use. It seemed that the Ballroom was the most popular with guests, with the two smaller dining rooms, the West Wing and the Rose Gallery being less so. The Ballroom did exhibit one problem, noise. Perhaps it was the fact it was full of guests, or maybe the size and shape of the room, but it was loud. The other two dining rooms were much more peaceful. The tables are large, with excellent comfortable seating. A great advantage of this restaurant being a hybrid quick service lunch and table service dinner is that the lunch guests get all of that luxury that has been put in place for the full table service dinner guests.
Lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant has to be one of the best value dining options that there is at Walt Disney World. For the price that you would pay to eat at say Cosmic Rays, you can eat in a beautiful, stunning restaurant, without having to fight for a table, no carrying your own food trays, and getting real silverware and dinnerware, and on top of all that - the best quality food.
So just how quick was the service? To give an idea of how long the process took, we entered the Armory Room at 12:30pm and made it to the ordering kiosk at 12:40pm. It took us 5 minutes to order and pay, but that would have been only 2 minutes if we had been straight to business, and not spending time looking through all the screens to see what it could do. We got seated at 12:45pm, and the food was delivered at 12:52pm. Pretty impressive stuff in our opinion.
It was obvious from the early looks that we got at Be Our Guest Restaurant that it was something special. The details on the outside and inside set the scene, but now that we have visited the restaurant as an actual guest eating there, it is clear that this is one the best restaurants that Disney has produced. It isn't just eye candy, it is a pleasure to dine at. The ordering system is revolutionary NextGen technology, the fact that you don't have to carry food hunting for a table is amazing, and the quality of the food offerings make this restaurant a winner.
When was the last time you felt like you wanted to stay longer and just sit at your table in a Disney quick service restaurant? You won't want to leave this place after you have finished eating - we didn't.
We'll be back later with a review of the dinner service, but for now, if you get a chance to eat lunch at Be Our Guest - do it, it comes highly recommended.
Head to the photos below for a look at lunch at 'Be Our Guest Restaurant.' You can also see more photos here.