By Shannon J. Black –
As a foodie, I never realized the challenges that dining out with my first child would bring. No longer was I eating at the restaurants I admired for cuisine quality and service, but rather my criteria for selecting a dinner spot was all about where the high chairs were clean, the crayon selection impressive, the wait staff child-friendly and the chef as speedy as a toddler’s attention span is short. Additionally, I had never spent much time at America’s theme parks, so I just recently realized the food at most of them is typically inedible.
So, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Walt Disney World had “imagineered” dining with the Be Our Guest restaurant in the new Magic Kingdom in Fantasyland. The restaurant brings Disney’s film Beauty and the Beast (1991) to life in the Beast’s enchanted castle. Tiny guests and their adult escorts can enjoy a “culinary cabaret” of French-inspired fare in any of three elaborately themed rooms from the movie – the West Wing, Belle’s Library or the Grand Ballroom, which is a two-story space. As a longtime Beauty and the Beast film fan, I was eager to experience the movie as a fairytale culinary feast, but most important, to introduce my 18-month-old daughter Olivia to the magic. She was completely in awe of the restaurant from the moment we walked in.
Quick-service lunch is ordered on a touch-screen shortly after entering the castle and guests are given a “rose” which helps the food magically appear at the table. The menu features a variety of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, desserts and children meals. I enjoyed braised pork ($11.99), which was slow-cooked and meltingly delicious – and served with some of the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. My husband opted for the roast beef sandwich ($12.19), which was served warm on a baguette with horseradish sour cream and pommes frites. Olivia happily ate all of her whole-grain macaroni ($6.99) with marinara sauce and mozzarella served with flavored applesauce. She literally danced through most of her meal.
Dinner is seated and much more formal. The only restaurant in the Magic Kingdom to serve alcohol, the restaurant offers wines and beers. Our server was adept in dealing with a temperamental toddler and immediately offered Olivia a coloring book and brought out our bread. For dinner we enjoyed the French onion soup ($7.49), which we
learned was one of their vegetarian offerings; the chicken Provençal ($21.99), pan-seared chicken simmered in a rustic blend of heirloom tomatoes, olives, white wine, and fresh herbs; and the thyme-scented pork chop ($23.99) which was served with au gratin macaroni that was out of this world. Desserts are rolled to the table and we made our selections from the cart. We had to try the chocolate cream puff ($3.99) filled with chocolate mousse topped with whip cream. Although I had hoped that Lumière would personally wait on us at dinner, we were thrilled when the Beast (or the “Master” as the wait staff call him) made an appearance.
Be Our Guest is an ideal real-life re-enactment of the movie and both a clever and enjoyable escape from standard theme park dining. From the falling snow you can see outside the Grand Ballroom to the rose in the West Wing, our dining experience was nothing less than enchanted.
Be Our Guest is open for lunch 10:30 am – 2:30 p.m. daily. Dinner usually begins at 4 p.m. and closing depends Magic Kingdom park hours. Prices for lunch are approximately $14.99 and for dinner $15 to $29.99 for adults. Lunch is walk-up only but reservations are strongly recommended for dinner. Guests should call (407) WDW-DINE or look at availability online at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/#/reservations.