If you are a parent of all boys, the question of whether or not to attend ‘princess’ events at Walt Disney World may not have an obvious answer. I am the mother of two boys, and the only princess items in our house are a wand and a tiara I bought for my Halloween costume, plus the Frozen DVD. In our house, ‘princess’ toys would be turned into makeshift weapons. On my family’s most recent trip to Disney World, I decided that I wanted to have dinner with Cinderella. So I got up early on the first day I was eligible to make dining reservation and was lucky enough to get a time I wanted for Cinderella’s Royal Table (CRT). My next step was telling my two boys and husband that we were going to have dinner at Cinderella Castle. I was not sure what sort of response I would get; however, I was more than pleased. My boys were ecstatic! The news was greeted by cheers and animated jumping up and down. I suppose I could have predicted this enthusiasm. Who would not be excited about eating dinner in this truly iconic Disney symbol? After all, it is the symbol you see at the beginning of every Disney movie (including the future Star Wars movies). It is the piece of architecture in the Magic Kingdom that makes you stop in your tracks and realize you really are at Disney World. Everyone pauses to take a photo in front of Cinderella Castle.
The night of our scheduled dinner finally arrived. After checking in with the outdoor reservation desk we entered the foyer of the castle and stood behind velvet ropes waiting to meet Cinderella, herself. Dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table includes a photo with Cinderella. The photo session goes quickly and is a little rushed, so you don’t actually get much time to talk with her. My boys were a little star struck with Cinderella, so they forgot all of the questions they had been planning to ask her about the castle. After photos, you wait for the hostess to call for the Lord or Lady of your party and to escort you upstairs to dinner. Once you are seated at your table in the dining room, there is a lot going on – princesses visiting tables, wands, swords, special birthday cakes being delivered (this is an extra, but more details later). Plus there are the decorations of the castle itself – flags, stained glass windows, stone archways and columns. My boys had been longing to see what the inside of this place looked like. They were fully entertained and sat absorbing everything surrounding them. It was hard to focus on the menu to decide what to eat for dinner. While they were watching everything going on, our waitress quietly slipped a sword to each boy. She also gave them wishing stars. All boys receive a plastic sword “engraved” with the letters CRT. All girls receive a wand. All children receive sparkling wishing stars.
The highlight of the evening was having all of the princesses visit our table while we ate. The night we were there, so were Snow White, Aurora (from Sleeping Beauty), Ariel, and Jasmine. I wondered what each princess would talk about with my boys. Jasmine was probably the best. She asked the boys if they were good princes or mischievous monkeys. She asked them how they were enjoying their visit, and then she made both of them stand and pose in her signature stance with crossed arms for an excellent photo opportunity. My boys loved all of the attention from the princesses.
Towards the end of our meal the wishing ceremony took place. Lights sparkle around the room, and all the children are asked to hold their wishing stars and to make a wish.
As for the food, it is secondary to the surroundings and entertainment. I did enjoy the all courses of my meal, which was a pleasant surprise because I have read mixed reviews about the food at CRT. One of my boys is a Disney adult at 10 years old, so he ordered off the adult menu. He eats as much as an adult, especially after a full day of walking, so he was happy with steak and shrimp from the adult menu. My younger son is still on the children’s menu, and he was pleased to have the chicken nuggets. They do have better options than chicken nuggets on the children’s menu, such as beef tenderloin, chicken pot pie, or roasted chicken. Dinner for both children and adults includes an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert.
For my family of high energy boys, this character meal was definitely worth it. All day in the park, they ran from one ride to another, not taking the time to meet any characters. This character meal gave us a chance to stop and to savor one of things that makes Disney so special – the characters. I really feel that the experience added a lot to our trip. It was definitely one of the highlights of our vacation.
So if you think your boys might be open to a dinner to Cinderella’s Royal Table, go for it. There is so much going on they will be entertained. Since our visit to CRT, each time we see the castle, our boys point to a window in the middle and say, “We ate right there.” I imagine I will be reminded of our experience a year from now when I see the castle at the beginning of the next Star Wars movie (due out in December 2015).
Extra Notes about Dinner at CRT:
- Reservations can be made 180 days in advance. If you are staying on Disney property, you can make reservations for your whole stay, starting 180 days from your first night. Reservations for CRT are highly recommended.
- As mentioned earlier, for special occasions, you can order a special dessert to be delivered to your table. This is an extra upgrade, of course. For children there is “Her Royal Highness” package, which includes a princess-themed cake. I am not sure if the boys would go for this, but it is fun to watch others receive the fancy cake. If you are interested in this upgrade, first make your reservations, and then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- CRT is one of the more expensive options at the Magic Kingdom. If you are using the Disney Dining Plan, CRT requires two table service credits per person (although that includes the gratuity, which is unusual).
- There are only a few Disney table service meals that automatically include a gratuity in the price (most are dinner shows). CRT is one of those restaurants. We used the Disney Dining Plan, and I was slightly confused after dinner because I was waiting for the waitress to have me fill in the tip amount. Nope, that was already included.