EPCOT is blessed with an abundance of excellent table-service dining choices. If you’re a creature of habit, or you only have one EPCOT evening built into your vacation schedule, you may have only experienced one or two of these options. That’s exactly the reason my family had never eaten at Biergarten before – we hail from Missouri, where we have plenty of access to really great and authentic German food. Why would we need to also spend our Disney time and money on German food?
It turns out that we needed to spend our time and money on it because of all of the entertainment and atmosphere beyond just the (admittedly great) German food. The restaurant somehow captures all of the camaraderie of Oktoberfest and packages it up in a family-friendly, bell-ringing, mug-clinking experience that is approachable and engaging for everyone.
Location and Transportation
Biergarten is located in the rear of the Germany pavilion in the World Showcase at EPCOT. Dining here will require park admission (and a park reservation or park hopper tickets, if applicable). Lunch is available from noon to 3:55 pm, with dinner service starting promptly at 4 pm, and reservations are available usually until about an hour before park closing.
If you need to get to EPCOT for your reservation, you can walk from a Crescent Lake resort, take the Skyliner or Monorail, ride a Disney bus, take a Minnie Van/Uber/Lyft, or drive yourself and park in the EPCOT lot.
Reservations and Availability
During moderate and busy times of the year, you will certainly need reservations to dine at Biergarten. But if you visit during a slower season, there may be walk-up availability. I recommend a reservation before 6 pm, when the restaurant won’t be quite as crowded and you’ll have an easier time getting through the buffet and seeing the show.
At the time of this writing, pricing for both lunch and dinner at Biergarten is $49 per adult and $27 per child. That’s before taxes and gratuity. But Annual Passholders and DVC members can both currently receive 10% off at this dining location.
When the 2024 Disney Dining Plan begins, this will be a 1-credit meal. It is almost certainly not the best use of a dining credit, but if you order a pricey alcoholic beverage, it’s also not among the worst uses of a credit. Still, you’re better off paying out of pocket at this location.
Biergarten Atmosphere and Entertainment
Since the restaurant is tucked into the back of the pavilion, it is somewhat insulated from the hustle and bustle of the World Showcase lagoon with its beer- and pretzel-wielding crowd. Once you check in, you’ll be guided into the restaurant, which is a tiered semi-circle surrounding a small stage and dance floor. Much like the Mexico Pavilion, Biergarten simulates an evening outdoors. The dark, cool environment is a welcome break from sunny days in EPCOT.
Seats are spread out in rays that seem to emanate from the stage. Tables are arranged to seat 4 or 8. Generally you won’t be seated with another party unless the restaurant is incredibly busy. The tiered, semi-circular arrangement means more steps (and stairs) to get to the buffet line, but also ensures that almost everyone has a great view of the show.
The main draw at Biergarten is the “oompah” show that runs once an hour and lasts for 20-30 minutes. The talented band will play multiple lively songs that encourage audience participation and much toasting. This is especially exciting for kids, and adults that have been sampling the German beers.
After a few songs, you’ll likely be treated to some truly impressive performances of bell ringing and alpenhorn playing. I never thought I’d write about being impressed by bell ringing, but here we are!
Near the end of the set, they will invite anyone in the restaurant to the dance floor as they play a last song or two. If the restaurant isn’t crowded, a few brave souls may find their way to the floor. During more popular hours, servers may join the masses enjoying themselves in front of the stage.
One of my favorite memories from our recent Disney trip was our two girls gleefully galloping down the tiers to the dance floor when they were invited. They literally leaped across the floor and twirled each other around, before striking some totally crazy poses and enjoying themselves more thoroughly than I had seen in a long time. All while … the rest of the dance floor remained mostly empty. Their display of obvious self-confidence and pure fun was a real magical moment that I won’t forget.
The buffet at Biergarten is located in the top/back of the restaurant, near the entrance and exit. There are two distinct buffet lines that essentially mirror one another, with a shared carving station in the middle. Oddly, the right-to-left buffet line on the right side of the carving station is frequently more crowded than the left-to-right buffet line on the left side of the carving station. If you want to avoid the wait, go left!
Your buffet experience starts with a very German version of a salad bar. And when I say salad, I mean options like potato salad and macaroni salad and bean salad and tomato salad and cucumber salad. There is even a sausage salad! In this area, you’ll also find butter, cheese, beets and meats – including liverwurst and bologna. When the salad station has this many carbs and meats, you know you’re in for a good meal.
Continuing along, you’ll find your one green option on the buffet line – some lonely green beans in the midst of a bunch of meat. Options when we dined included chicken, fish, meatballs, pork schnitzel, and a variety of sausages. All were excellently prepared, especially considering that they had to sit on a buffet line. The stand-outs were the schnitzel and sausage. No one comes here for green things and fish.
For the less adventurous eaters in your group, this is the section where they’ll be spending most of their time. The pretzel rolls are glorious as always. The frankfurters are quite a bit paler than your normal American hot dog, and that may throw off visual eaters like my kids. However, I’ve been informed by our mac and cheese expert that the mac and cheese was “great”. The potato pancakes have recently been replaced by potato dumplings, a switch hailed by our server as an excellent choice. I couldn’t get either of my kids to eat the dumplings, but when I tried one it had a great texture … and not much flavor.
If your nose rules your stomach, you may want to side-step around the warm cabbage and warm potato salad, which were definitely the most pungent items on the buffet. But right past those choices is the carving station (usually serving pork loin) and one of the stars of the whole meal – the spätzle. Cheesy and perfectly cooked. One of the few heavy items for which I went back for seconds.
At the end (or beginning, no judgment here) of your meal, you can peruse the dessert options on the buffet.
We are a family of dessert lovers, and this was one of the highlights of the meal for us. That pretzel brownie was so rich and chocolate-y. It even put the Black Forest cake to shame. And you can’t go wrong with a warm apple strudel when celebrating Oktoberfest!
Is Biergarten Right For You?
- If you’re a beer aficionado, this is the place to come enjoy a large draught in a cool, dark, toast-friendly setting.
- If you appreciate good German food, this is an easy win.
- If your kids need space to run around in shade and A/C where they can shout loudly and “clink” their cups and dance to oompah music, my whole family can happily recommend Biergarten as the place to do all of those things.
- If you have vegetarians or vegans in your party, Biergarten is going to be a hard sell. This place is all about the meats.
Have you visited Biergarten recently? What is your favorite part of this engaging meal?