Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is home to two of the most magical dining locations you can imagine: Cinderella’s Royal Table and the Be Our Guest Restaurant. Both are very popular with guests, including myself, because who wouldn’t want the chance to dine in a castle like Disney royalty, right? But which one should you choose on your vacation and which of the two offers the most pixie dust for your buck? That’s exactly what I intend to find out in this Magic Kingdom Dinner Showdown: Cinderella’s Royal Table vs. Be Our Guest Restaurant.
First of all, Cinderella’s Royal Table, located inside Cinderella Castle, is a character meal featuring Disney Princesses at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is standard, American fare, while lunch and dinner offer more sophisticated dishes. Touring Plans currently rates this dining destination three stars.
Be Our Guest, however, is only open for lunch and dinner; but the two different mealtimes offer different experiences. At lunch, Be Our Guest is a quick service restaurant where you order your food ahead of time with a Cast Member or at a kiosk and then choose your own table. The menu is centered around soups and sandwiches. At dinner, the dessert menu remains the same, but Be Our Guest becomes a table service restaurant offering a traditional, sit-down restaurant experience. Touring Plans currently rates this dining destination four stars.
Challenge #1: Price
Cinderella’s Royal Table is unique in that the menu is prix fixe. This means there is a set price for your meal, but you choose which selection of dishes you prefer. An average price for an adult meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table is currently around $70 per person and $45 per child.
Dinner at Be Our Guest offer a more typical dining set-up with individual prices for each menu item. To offer a price comparison to Cinderella’s Royal Table, if I were to order a soft drink, an appetizer of Potato Leek Soup, the Grilled Strip Steak, and then the Grey Stuff for dessert, my bill would average to about $50.00 per person. A kid’s dinner consisting of a drink, a garden salad for an appetizer, the Beast’s Casserole (macaroni and cheese), and the Grey Stuff for dessert would cost around $10 to $12.
It’s important to note that if you are using the Disney Dining Plan, Cinderella’s Royal Table requires two table service credits (which includes the gratuity and – until January 4, 2015 – a photo package), whereas Be Our Guest requires only one credit but does not include the gratuity.
Winner: Be Our Guest. This New Fantasyland location is much cheaper than Cinderella’s Royal Table and shouldn’t put as much as dent in your budget if you’re paying out of pocket.
Category #2: Location
Cinderella’s Royal Table is literally located inside the iconic Cinderella Castle with windows overlooking Fantasyland. In fact, if you can manage a dining reservation during Wishes, you can enjoy a whole new view of the park’s famous fireworks display! Meanwhile, Be Our Guest can be found in New Fantasyland, across a drawbridge and inside a rocky hill topped with the Beast’s Castle.
Winner: Cinderella’s Royal Table. A dining room inside one of the most iconic castles of all time is pretty hard to top!
Challenge #3: Menu
The Cinderella’s Royal Table dinner menu may be a little fancier than some guests may be accustomed to, but it has definitely improved over the years. A few dishes that are found on the menu are Pan-seared Chicken, Rice with Roasted Vegetables, and Roasted Pork Tenderloin. A common complaint about the menu is that the serving sizes are noticeably small, but that just leaves more room for the Clock Strikes Twelve, a artistic chocolate creation made to look like a clock!
Be Our Guest’s dinner menu offers French-influenced dishes that appeal more to American tastes, with items such as Herb-crusted Lamb Rack, Grilled Strip Streak, and Ratatouille. I crave Be Our Guest’s Potato Leek Soup on a regular basis. It’s so good, and I order it every time! Be Our Guest offers a cupcake dessert menu, but the Grey Stuff is its most famous dessert. This light and fluffy cookies and cream-flavored concoction is very good and a clever nod to the Beauty and the Beast film.
Winner: Be Our Guest. There are very few complaints about Be Our Guest’s menu, and several dishes are already incredibly popular with guests.
Challenge #4: Souvenirs
When it’s time for your reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table, you won’t be ushered straight to the dining room. Instead, you are taken into a hall where you will enter a line to meet Cinderella for photos and autographs! Later on, during your meal, several prints of your photos will be brought to your table, one of which is placed in a souvenir, castle frame. The best part? It’s included in the meal price! Also, if you have any little princes and princesses in tow, they will receive a free wand or sword to take home with them.
Be Our Guest offers a light-up, souvenir goblet that is sure to delight and impress your little ones and maybe even your own inner child! It’s a great souvenir; however, it costs around $19. Didn’t purchase it during your meal? Several shops throughout the Magic Kingdom sell the goblets, as well.
Winner: Cinderella’s Royal Table. Two different souvenirs, and both are included! Cinderella’s Royal Table wins hands down.
Challenge #5: Characters
One of the biggest differences between these two Magic Kingdom restaurants is that Cinderella’s Royal Table is characterized as a Character Meal while Be Our Guest is not. Character Meals have Disney characters stop and visit with guests as they dine. Naturally Character Meals are very popular and a must-do for many families at Disney World; at Cinderella’s Royal Table, Disney Princesses make the rounds throughout the dining room for photos and autographs! The lineup of Disney Princesses varies, but you can expect anyone from Belle to Jasmine to Snow White to Sleeping Beauty. Cinderella does not meet with guests at their tables. Instead, you meet with her and get a souvenir photo when first entering the restaurant.
Be Our Guest is not a Character Meal, but you currently have the chance to meet the Beast when visiting for dinner. The Beast does not go from table to table, but rather makes an appearance in the different dining rooms and invites diners to meet with him in a separate room for a photo before they leave.
Winner: Cinderella’s Royal Table. While the Beast is cool, you really can’t beat a lineup of popular Disney princesses, plus Cinderella herself!
Challenge #6: Setting
The hall just inside the entrance of Cinderella’s Royal Table, where you meet Cinderella, features an ornate, medieval theme; but there are plenty of details from the film, too, including a small Gus and Jacque watching from above! A winding staircase or an royal elevator takes you to the dining room where the medieval theme only grows stronger with Gothic arches, banners, and leaded windows. It’s like walking into a history book, just with pixie dust. The only downside to the dining room is that there are few tables overlooking Fantasyland. You can request one of these tables, but there are no guarantees.
As you approach Be Our Guest, you may forget that you’re even in Central Florida as you take in the pine trees, boulders, and waterfalls. Then, once you enter the doors of the restaurant, you will see a mosaic representing the stained glass windows from the film, “enchanted” suits of armor that whisper and snore, fierce gargoyles, and so much more. Some guests, including myself, have even had Cast Members offer candelabras to a member of their family to lead the way to their table! Be Our Guest offers three separate dining rooms: the Rose Gallery, the West Wing, and the Ballroom. The Rose Gallery is nice, but the West Wing and the Ballroom are the most popular! The West Wing is dim and spooky with torn tapestries and changing portraits and the iconic wilting rose, and the Ballroom looks exactly as it does in the film. Massive chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and fake snow falls gently outside the huge windows at the end of the room. As of right now, you can’t request the room of your choice, but diners are free to roam about the restaurant to take photos.
Winner: Be Our Guest. This was a hard one, and I’m sure not everyone will agree, but hear me out! While Cinderella’s Royal Table dining room offers a fairy tale setting, the Gothic, medieval setting doesn’t remind me of Cinderella. Be Our Guest, however, truly makes me feel like I’m in the Beast’s Castle. Also, there’s only one dining room at Cinderella’s Royal Table, while Be Our Guest offers three. Who doesn’t like variety, right?
Challenge #7: Popularity
Cinderella’s Royal Table can be difficult to get reservations for, and for many years it was considered the holy grail of reservations. Today, making a reservation there is a little easier. In contrast, Be Our Guest is still very new to the Magic Kingdom, and getting an advance reservation is an absolute feat these days! Part of the cause for the mania is because Be Our Guest is not open for breakfast and is a quick service restaurant at lunch. The dinner experience is only available in the evenings, meaning there is a limited time window to enjoy this experience. Guests are also excited to see and explore the Beast’s Castle for themselves.
Winner: Be Our Guest. Guests are booking reservations for this restaurant months in advance, and there’s rarely ever an open time window!
While comparing restaurants is always a matter of opinion, Be Our Guest is the winner of our Magic Kingdom Dinner Showdown! For me, the delicious menu, realistic setting, and price put it over the edge, but what do you think? Do you agree?