Our September 2019 vacation allowed us to take advantage of Disney’s Free Dining promotion. Our package included Quick Service dining which we upgraded to the Disney Dining Plan so we could also enjoy sit-down meals as well. Our five night stay gave us just enough credits to try three new dining choices: Cinderella’s Royal Table, Coral Reef, and Storybook Dining, and then return to one of our old favorites, Tusker House.
Cinderella’s Royal Table
As I mentioned when recapping our first day of this trip, I ALWAYS I wanted eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table! So why did I wait until our fourth trip? A few reasons:
- The meal is two credits on the Disney Dining Plan.
- The timing was never right to use the two credits.
- We didn’t want to pay out of pocket.
- I have heard mixed reviews on the food.
- Other menus were more appealing.
After a very short rest we received our “invitation” to the meal and were escorted to meet Cinderella. We took our picture with her then we invited to to the formal dining room. While we were waiting to be seated at the table I saw the most magical moment for one little girl. There was no one else waiting in the lobby to meet Cinderella and she seemed very shy. Cinderella took a seat with the girl and tried to put her at ease. It was such a beautiful moment for the girl.
Our seat in the dining room gave view of the entire room and a glimpse out the windows with subtle stained-glass decorations. We could see the top of the Carousel and Beast’s Castle. It was stunning! The ambiance was perfect.
The meal included a wand for all ladies at the table and sword for the gentlemen. The kids had some fun with their toys. They were being silly when Snow White showed up at our table. I was so excited about the Castle that I had actually forgotten there were princesses coming around during the meal. Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine, and Ariel also visited us during the meal.
We remembered to take pictures of our food this time. I had the bar set very low based on some of reviews I had read and comments that had been shared on social media. You already know I’m a picky eater so I was pretty nervous. I loved my meal! I had beef tenderloin. They were super accommodating to substituting all the veggies with two different styles of potatoes– because I couldn’t just choose one. It was no surprise that Grumpy ordered some chicken. He was a bit disappointed that there was no broccoli. The kids ordered mac and cheese and chicken fingers even after much begging to try something else. I did not take a picture of the chicken fingers, but they were nothing special.
I was just as happy with dessert as I was with the food. The cheescake I ordered was a deconstructed version which I really liked and the kids each a had decorate your own cupcake plate. That was huge hit with them!
Our meal was scheduled for a somewhat late time, 1:15pm. It was actually great timing. Although we didn’t have a seat with a direct view of the park, we weren’t far away and the tables nearby the windows soon cleared out leaving us with this gorgeous view.
Overall, I decided that the restaurant is much better suited for a date night than a family meal. I enjoyed the ambiance and food, but did not love “spending” two credits for the kids meals.
Coral Reef Restaurant
We shuffled this reservation around a few times due to last minute changes to our schedule, but I made sure to squeeze it in. It was another late lunch, which is pretty uncommon for us, but when doing table service dining I think it works much better into the schedule and is often less crowded.
The restaurant was tucked at the end of some construction walls that guided us. The late time again provided a less crowded environment. I think that added to the calmness of viewing the aquarium.
We did not do as great of a job taking photos of our meals this time. It did start with rolls. I have a love-hate with bread before meals. It’s amazing, but we could stuff ourselves with it. These were no exception. They were so tasty!
The kids and I all ordered steaks and Grumpy went with chicken. Again, no surprises. I thought it was very good and meal worth eating again. I was a bit skeptical about the mashed potatoes the server described. She assured me they were amazing and she’d replace them if I didn’t love them. I cleared my plate!
Dessert for the kids was the most notable menu item. It’s a ice cream cake made of fruity pebbles! It’s also a BIG ice cream cake. They honestly could have shared one and it would have been enough. I was kind of wishing it was cocoa pebbles with chocolate ice cream. That would be dreamy for me!
Although Tusker House was a repeat for us, we have only had dinner here. This reservation was for breakfast time and was expected to roll into the lunch window. It was the kids and my way of getting a breakfast buffet and still having meal options for Grumpy.
There were Mickey and Simba waffles! We had a lot of waffles! My little Peanut piled his plates, with waffles, breakfast meat, donuts, fruit, cereal, and even tater tots (he skipped right by the breakfast potatoes).
Our timing was not as good as I anticipated for this meal. We had our breakfast fill and lunch hadn’t started coming out at the time that was posted on the Walt Disney World website. Thank goodness for character entertainment. The interaction here is always my favorite. Diva participated in the parade around the restaurant and gave lots of character hugs.
Lunch food finally came out. Grumpy and I both stopped at the carving station. I sampled some of the meat, but was actually creeped out by the whole fish on the next tray. Grumpy filled his plate from the meat and rest of the buffet, then rushed through his meal so the kids weren’t out of control with their restlessness. He’s a pretty quick eater so it wasn’t too far out of our norm.
I thought I’d try this breakfast/lunch meal combo, but it’s not something I’d do in the future. The timing is too difficult and the selections– on either side seem limited since breakfast is getting less refills and lunch has barely begun.
Storybook Dining at Artist Point
This was another meal that we were very anxious about in good and not so good ways. It provides unique meeting experiences with The Evil Queen, Grumpy, and Dopey and of course, Snow White. While Snow White is found throughout the parks and at other meals, but the rest are not. Meeting Grumpy the Dwarf was very important my Grumpy Husband.
The food though, was a very big concern for me. Pretty much the entire menu had menu apprehensive. We laughed quite a bit with our server as we warned him about our incredibly picky eating habits. Like at Coral Reef he was very reassuring that they would be able to make substitutions for just about anything.
Appetizers were brought out, but Grumpy was the only one to sample them.
Diva and I were open to trying some of the specialty drinks. Diva ordered a Transformation Potion and I did something very rare and ordered an alcoholic drink, the Enchanted Apple. One specialty drink, either alcoholic or non-alcoholic, are currently included with the Disney Dining Plan. Both drinks were a thumbs up. The potion mixture was supposed to be blue, but was arguably purple and added a little extra flavor to the lemonade.
We did get dressed up for this meal and it was so fun. Our outfits were very simple. Outside of the cute caps, if we weren’t at Disney or you weren’t a hug Disney fan you might not even catch our Disney-bound attire. The characters, however, were very aware of it and loved it! Dopey was the first to drop by. He and Dopey Diva were a riot. Then Grumpy! Oh the excitement for him was over the top. And we managed to get a family picture with Snow White.
Dinner came before it was time to meet the Evil Queen. Our meeting with her would be when she beckoned for us. I ordered Prime Rib, Grumpy and Peanut had chicken, and Diva had a giant bowl of pasta. I actually was OK with the Prime Rib as listed on the menu and could have enjoyed a pre-meal basket of the popover that came with the entree. Grumpy opted for broccoli instead of squash with his meal. Peanut was able to get French fries.
When it was finally time to meet the Evil Queen hilarity ensued, but she kept in character and never once cracked a smile. Diva asked why we had to go to her instead of her coming to our table. I backed her up and said everyone else came around and it was a long wait to see her. I got kicked out of the line! We literally could not stop laughing. She was really the star of the dining experience.
Unlike the meal, dessert was a set menu with no substitutions. Well, there are allergy options, but those weren’t something we wanted either. Four dessert items come out for everyone to share– the first three arrive together. A “poison” apple, spongecake dessert, and gooseberry pie.
I thought I might like the apple because of the white chocolate, but the sour center wasn’t appealing. Gooseberry pie was a huge ‘no’ from the whole family. The spongecake dessert was picked but not devoured.
As the dessert time is winding down the final one, The Hunter’s Gift to the Queen arrives. A smoky box opens with some flavored popcorn and ganache hearts. The server poured it from the box for us to enjoy. The popcorn was nearly gone before it was served! We sampled the hearts. This is one of the few times that I did not enjoy a dessert.
Outside of our table service meals we didn’t do any other notable dining than our tradition Be Our Guest lunch, mentioned in the post prior to this one. We continue to love this quick-service choice and, of course, the desserts.
We also took a different approaching to some of our meals because Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival was taking place, giving us the chance to use up many snack credits to sample a variety of food for our dinner. Many of the rest of our meals were eaten at the Pop Century Food Court or our typical go-to restaurants like ABC Commissary.
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