It can be argued that the number one reason to travel to a Disney park is to meet the characters that you love (of course anything can be argued, even if it’s flat wrong…but I digress). One of the best methods of getting some alone time with Mickey and the gang is a character meal. In the upcoming months I plan on writing a series of reviews covering most of the character meals available at Walt Disney World. Following my upcoming trip I will have eaten at 2/3 of the available character meals in calendar year 2011 (what can I say, my daughter loves characters and I love meals).
My goal with this series is to give you a good overall impression of each of these dining experiences (and a healthy dose of snarky comments, of course). Today I am starting at the top, with the most sought after (and therefore, most expensive) character meal: Cinderella’s Royal Table.
I’m starting with this because, in my opinion, this is much of the reason to splurge for this meal. If you are unaware, this meal is held in the second floor dining room in Cinderella’s Castle, which is a huge advantage because who doesn’t love to eat in a castle (unless you’re in the dungeon). At one point a few years ago, Cinderella’s Royal Table was next to impossible to book. You had to call at exactly 7 a.m. exactly 90 days prior to your visit and I believe you had to employ some sort of voodoo doctor in order to get a reservation. Nowadays the characters have been added to all mealtimes (previously it was only breakfast) and the price has increased (try not to be too shocked), which has effectively calmed down the demand ever so slightly.
There are actually two stages you will encounter upon walking into the restaurant.
The first is a greeting room in which you’ll find Cinderella herself (and this is the only time you see her). The good news is that the greeting room is wonderfully decorated with shields and exposed beams to look very much like a castle’s great room. The bad news is that it’s hard to envision yourself in a storybook castle because of all the other people crammed in there waiting to meet and get a picture with Cinderella.
Stage two is acceptance…oh, I mean the dining room (acceptance comes after you see your credit card bill). The dining room is one level above the greeting room and to get there you go up a wonderful spiral staircase which opens into a vaulted, regal dining area. The restaurant itself is fairly small with windows overlooking Fantasyland, and the overall impression definitely gives you the feeling of eating in a castle (well, at least a fake castle).
The meal that I attended was graced by Belle, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Ariel (Little Mermaid), and Snow White. As I mentioned, Cinderella only takes pictures in the beginning, she does not come to the dining room (I’m pretty sure she thinks she’s better than you). As always, the ladies were kind, gracious, and extremely pleasant. Even though my daughter generally just stares blankly at “face” characters, they all did their best to involve her.
One other advantage to the small size and round-ish shape of the dining room is that the princesses seem to pass by very often. Even times they don’t stop to chat they seem to always be walking by and waving or saying hi. Of course, if you’re actually trying to eat and yet constantly taking pictures, you can end up with a fair amount of bacon grease on your camera…what, just me?
I do have a one character complaint, but the complaint is with costuming. Belle is wearing her “peasant” blue dress with a white apron during the meal while all the other ladies are wearing their fancy gowns. Not to go all Seinfeld on you, but what’s the deal with that?
We ate breakfast in the castle, which is still the most popular meal judging by the quickness at which reservations disappear. Throughout Walt Disney World breakfast is the safest, and therefore least interesting, meal. I would estimate that 102% (+/- 3% margin of error) of restaurants serve the same breakfast.
I will say that the breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table is slightly more interesting than most because it is not a buffet and the presentation attempts to be a little fancy (with mixed results). The downside is that there are only a few different choices. In addition to the standard bacon, eggs, and sausage plate, you also have the options of either French toast or granola. Like most breakfasts in the parks nothing we ate was fantastic, but it was not offensive either (I’m really selling it, right? Sorry, I’m kind of a food snob).
Odds, Ends, and Details
Okay, let’s finally get the dirty business out of the way; the price. According to AllEars.net, Cinderella’s Royal Table will set you back the following for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (adult/child): $44.80/$29.86, $48.54/$31.11, and $54.76/$33.60. Yes, that’s per person, although the prices do include photos with Cinderella, so you’ve got that going for you.
One other thing that I should mention is that little ones get a special gift, which is either a wand or a sword (yes, they arm your children…watch your eyes). Periodically the lights will sparkle and the enchanted (recorded) voice of the Fairy Godmother will ask the kids to wave their wand/sword and do something (make a wish maybe…sorry, I took this time to shove food in my face, so I don’t remember what the shtick was).
One major advantage to eating in the castle (especially early in the morning) is that it takes a minimum amount of time away from park touring. Being right in the middle of the park allows you to walk right out of the castle and right into Fantasyland which cuts way down on transportation time. When you like to tour as efficiently (i.e. neurotically) as I do that can help a lot.
As a total experience, I thought eating in Cinderella’s Castle was a very good one, although not a cheap one. Whether or not it is worth the money probably depends a lot on how much you can spend and how much you or your children like the princesses. If you need a meal…if no one else can help…and if you can find it…maybe you can eat at…Cinderella’s Royal Table (yeah, it’s a A-Team joke…did anyone get that?).
As always, I welcome your comments, concerns, scorn, and personal insults. Thanks for reading!