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Posted by on Mar 27, 2012

Garden Grill Review

Note from the Disney Diva: We are committed to sharing REAL opinions and REAL experiences of our Disney Vacations with you, the reader, to help you better decide where to spend your valuable time and money while on Disney vacations. Because we are not directly associated with Disney we can voice our opinions, both good and bad. I hope you, as readers, are coming here for those opinions and are happy to have a non-biased opinion to base your decisions off of.

Author: Princess Diva

What do you get when you cross a character meal with Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel?
The Garden Grill!

Where is it?
The Garden Grill is located inside Epcot’s The Land (just upstairs from Soarin’). In this rotating restaurant, you can enjoy a fresh meal served family style while meeting Chip and Dale, Farmer Mickey and Pluto.

THIS RESTAURANT ONLY SERVES DINNER! Which means you can only get a reservation between 4pm – 8pm. And YES, its a Character Meal, so prices run between $15-$36.00 per person.

We booked The Garden Grill as part of the Candlelight Dinner Packages which allows for reserved seating for the Candlelight Processional. Our reservations were 3 hours before the processional was scheduled to begin. We thought that would give us plenty time to eat and then get to where we needed to be (in America’s Garden Theater in the World Showcase).

Service
When our group arrived at Garden Grill (on time), we checked in and waited. Then we waited, and waited some more. Over 45 minutes after checking in, we were finally seated. The host and manager on duty were not helpful and seemed almost aggregated that we were asking about the wait for our group and if we would finish in time for the processional. As Nick has mentioned in his review of Hoop de Doo, the service matters a great deal!

Our server, on the other hand was in a much better mood! He quickly took our drink orders and explained how dining at the Garden Grill worked.

Upon leaving, we were supposed to be given our reserved seating tickets to the Candlelight Processional, but were not (this was our first time to attend the Candlelight Processional, so we didn’t know that we were supposed to have these). This ended up causing an even bigger fiasco when we tried to get into line and enter the theater. MAKE SURE YOU REMIND YOUR WAITER IF YOURE SUPPOSED TO EVER GET TICKETS AS PART OF A PACKAGE!

We did finally get a seat, and the processional was totally worth the headache of the dinner and missing tickets.

The Food
Everything is served family style. This means that a large platter is brought to the table and everyone can help themselves.

They have a SERIOUS selection if beers, “organic wines” and wine. You can see the drinks menu HERE.

Dinner started with a fresh garden salad, bread basket, and delicious maple butter (I swear, I could have eaten an entire bowl of just the butter…too bad this was the best part about dinner).

As the first course was finished, and salad bowls cleared away, dinner began to arrive. Turkey with potatoes and cranberry sauce, fish with rice, and steak with vegetables were the options from the adult menu.

The kids got to sample chicken drumsticks, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato sticks, and broccoli.

The nice thing about family style dining was everyone could sample everything (my husband liked the kid’s option of the mac and cheese and sweet potato sticks way more than the rice or potatoes), and like a buffet, it was all you could eat.

The down side is the lack of choice and the quality of the main dishes. There is nothing to order, everyone gets the same thing brought to their table. The turkey was dry and the steak was very over cooked.

After everyone had their fill of dinner, fruit cobbler and cookies and cream was served for dessert.

Large Parties NOT welcome
While the novelty of a rotating restaurant is a fun idea, trying to squeeze a large party here should was not feasable. Nobody told us this when we made our ADR and you could tell people were put out by our group’s size (16 of us total).

Servers were grumbling as they tried to squeeze by such a large party with kids hugging and taking pictures with the characters. Getting up and down for trips to the restroom with a bunch of kids was not fun either.

Logistics of a spinning restaurant
The spinning of the restaurant makes it impossible to remember which way you need to go, and it never failed that we ended up taking the long way around which lead to getting in even more people’s way. Even our server got turned around a few times!

The Characters
The character interaction here was good. It was the only time that we got to see Chip and Dale on this trip, and because Garden Grill is so small, we were able to see the characters multiple times which made the kids really happy. Chip and Dale even had time to stop and color with Disney Baby.

Final Review
The Garden Grill is part of the Disney Dining Plan, is part of the Table In Wonderland, and is the only character meal that is part of the Candlelight Dinner Package.

We wanted a character meal, and that is what we got. The kids in the group enjoyed the experience much more than any of the adults. I’m not sure it was worth it just to get a special seat for the Candlelight Processional, so I might pass that and just arrive early for the show.

With so many other character meals to choose from at Walt Disney World…would I return to this one…probably not.

Kristin is the founder and co-director of Tips from the Disney Diva & Devos. She started writing the blog when she realized there were many people going to Disney World and having a miserable time, and it was all from a lack of planning. She knew that she could help and has assembled the finest writing team she can find !

2 Comments

  1. I am so sorry that you had a less than stellar experience at The Garden Grill. This is one of our favorite places to eat and see the characters. Our experiences do contrast with yours in that we travel with a smaller group (6), we usually go in October instead of December and we like the earliest seating for dinner. We usually arrive just before 4 and are greeted by a crew of servers just waiting for us to arrive. We’ve never felt like we were putting someone out or in the way. I will agree with your review of the characters. They always come by more than once and stay for what seems to be a long time. I like the way the servers will say “On your left, Chip!” And go around. They are very used to this. The food has always been excellent when we were there. The salad is grown in the hydroponic labs downstairs. I like my steak well done, so they could burn it for me and it would be ok, LOL. My daughter (12) loves the fish. We are actually really looking forward to returning in October. Thank you for your review!

  2. Oh no! I am sorry you had a bad experience as well! For our kids first trip in 2008 we ate at the Garden Grill without reservations and it was our favorite meal of the trip! I do believe smaller groups are better here as we only had 6 people. The kids enjoyed the characters and the adults enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and the food. I’ve been back to Disney but haven’t been able to fit in Garden Grill again but am hoping to swing it this October!

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