This is the sixth and final post in the Weekend Getaway to Orlando series. Other posts include Eating Around the World at Epcot World Showcase, L'Artisan des Glaces (Epcot Center), Via Napoli, Jiko, the Cooking Place, and Bluezoo Orlando by Todd English. This post is the 15th post in the #21PostsInMay Challenge.
This was it.
This was the original reason I had wanted to go to Disney World.
Back in 2012, I received wind of the fact that a new castle had been built at the Magical Kingdom in Disney World. Belle's castle, or more accurately, the Beast's Castle, was perched high on a rocky mountain in Fantasyland.
Now, I'm not really a princess type of girl, and a new castle alone is not quite enough reason to entice me to visit a park.
However, the castle had a restaurant inside, called Be Our Guest. The inside of this castle was modeled meticulously after the one in the movie. There was a West Wing, the room with armored knights, and most importantly . . . the grand ballroom.
The first time I saw a photo of the grand ballroom I knew I had to go. It took my breath away.
We didn't end up going to Disney World in 2012 due to other reasons. So this year, when Bryan's business trip took him to Orlando, I happily jumped at the chance to go, and immediately (after some amazing luck and persistence - more on that below) secured a dinner reservation at Be Our Guest.
Just like the real castle, it's virtually impossible to get into the castle without permission. There are guards standing at the gates. If you don't have a reservation for a meal, forget it. It's not that simple just to head inside to take a peek.
Guests wait outside momentarily until their party is called, at which point the huge, heavy doors of the castle open up to let them inside.
The first thing you see is a life-sized mosaic of one of the opening storybook scenes from the movie.
Look up ahead, and it's your first glimpse of the ballroom!
There are multiple rooms in which guests can be seated, though guests are encouraged to explore all the rooms in the castle. I was thrilled that we got seated in the grand ballroom, which is exactly where I wanted to be.
We sat near the wall closest to the entrance , which meant throughout most of the meal I got to face the stunning blue windows (and the chandelier!) while Bryan stared at a white marble wall. Sorry Bryan, but thanks! Heh, we switched seats during dessert time so he could enjoy the view of the beautiful and spacious room as well.
The menu is decidedly French (of course!) and includes French classics such as grilled steak with "pomme frites" (fries), braised pork "coq au vin style", and ratatouille, a peasant-style vegetable dish. I was very impressed with the service. Our server knew the menu well and could quickly rattle off suggestions for beer and wine. She never broke character, and assured us that the Beast would come out to greet his guests later, but only did so during the evening since he's busy during the day.
Be Our Guest is the only place in the Magical Kingdom that serves alcohol. I guess they decided that it would be too wrong for an authentic French restaurant not to serve wine. Bryan started with Saison DuPont, a Belgian beer. We then both enjoyed a bottle of Château Batailley, Pauillac ($99), which was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The wine is described as having "generous black currant fruit with hints of toast, chocolate and earth tones with spicy, well-integrated oak." We both liked it a lot.
Bryan started with a classic French Onion Soup ($7.99), which came topped with a large crispy crouton covered with broiled Gruyère cheese. The soup was solid - well executed in the most classic sense.
I started with the Seasonal Salad Trio ($7.99), which consisted of three different mini-salads served on a long white rectangular plate. I was pleasantly surprised that these salads were not your ho-hum, run-of-the-mill salads but included some pretty interesting ingredients combinations.
My favorite was the Roasted Beet, Golden Raisin, and Orange Salad, which had roasted red and yellow beets, golden raisins, and orange segments tossed together with a champagne vinaigrette.
Watermelon, Radish, and Mint Salad
Green Bean, Tomato, Roasted Shallot Salad
For my entree, I decided to go with the vegetarian entree, the Layered Ratatouille ($18.49), which consisted of thin slices of oven-baked zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, and caramelized onions layered on a bed of quinoa served with a bell pepper sauce. Unfortunately, the sauce was very salty and really needed to be mixed with everything to be tolerable. I know I am generally sensitive to salt, but the lady who was sitting right next to me actually sent the dish back because she found it so salty she could hardly eat it.
I didn't feel like being quite so mean, since I felt like I could eat it if I mixed it together with the quinoa. The roasted vegetables had a nice, intense flavor, but the oversalted sauce did put a dent in the dish.
On the other hand, Bryan's dish turned out great. He ordered the Herb-crusted Lamb ($28.99), which came with buttered mashed celery root, broccolini, and a stone-ground mustard demi-glace. The lamb was well seasoned and was cooked a perfect medium rare. All in all, it was a solid dish that was executed well.
Dessert comes on a cart so you can see all your options.
The most famous item is called The Grey Stuff, which makes reference to a part in the movie where Lumiere, a candle, sings to Belle telling her "try the grey stuff, it's delicious! Don't believe me, ask the dishes!"
If course I had to get The "Grey Stuff" ($4.19), which was actually really good. It was basically a dense, cookie-like brownie topped with some sort of grey, creamy frosting. It wasn't too sweet, and I enjoyed it.
After our meal, we explored all the other rooms (hee hee, it's "snowing" outside!).
One of the larger rooms, called the Gallery, holds a variety of Disney paintings on the wall, each showing different scenes of characters from the movie. The room seems to be reserved for very large parties. I saw lots of long tables with dozens of chairs on each side. In the middle there's a huge spinning model of Belle and the Beast dancing.
There's a hallway with several knights in armor. In the movie, Belle walks down a hallway in the castle and the heads of the armor turn to follow her.
Finally, there's the forbidden West Wing, the one location the Beast forbade Belle to visit. You can see that this room feels very, very different from the grand ballroom. Although it was fun to visit, I'm glad I got to eat in the grand ballroom instead.
The details in this room are stunning and would excite any Beauty & the Beast aficionado. Above is the image of the Prince that the Beast slashed with his claws.
On top of a table inside the West Wing is the famous enchanted rose underneath a glass bulb. The image, which I think is a hologram, moves ever so slightly, making it seem as if the rose is slowly wilting.
Finally, at least a couple times during the night, the Beast makes an appearance to "greet his special guests." People can line up to get photos with the Beast. As part of a silly inside joke, we tried to take a photo with the Beast while Bryan pretended to be playing on his Nintendo 3DS. It was funny because the Beast "got mad" and tried to grab the Nintendo out of Bryan's hand. We had to explain to him that we were taking the photo as a joke for a friend (Hi Ed!).
Ha ha . . . he then let us take the photo.
We had a really fun time at Be Our Guest. Of course, both Bryan and I have nostalgic reasons for enjoying the restaurant. We grew up with that movie (it came out when we were kids!), and it's definitely one of our favorites. I've seen it countless times, so it was really fun to see how much work Disney put into recreating the castle to such detail. They really did an incredible job.
Is it worth it just for the food?
Well, if you want a nice, sit-down dinner with wine, this is the only public place inside the Magical Kingdom that has alcohol (please note, alcohol is only available during dinner). For that reason alone, I think a lot of people would say it's worth it, since the food is pretty good and it's nice to enjoy it with wine. If you take the wine out of the picture, I would say the food is nice, but not destination-worthy. You're better off leaving the park if you want really memorable food.
Having said that, you don't come here just for the food. You come for the overall experience: to explore the Beast's castle; to suspend belief (for a moment) and pretend you're actually a guest at the castle; to dine in this "magical" space. For kids, it's absolutely worth it. For any fan of the movie, it's also worth it. Honestly, I think most people would really enjoy coming here. It's by far the best dinner option inside the Magical Kingdom.
This place is super popular and reservations are notoriously hard to get, especially dinner reservations. You can reserve online here or call them at (407) 939-5277. If you stay at an on-site Disney property, you can book up to 180 days in advance. Trust me - reservations are so hard to get that you'll want to book at least a couple months early. In my case, because the whole trip was sort of a last minute decision (I think I called them about 3 weeks before), I originally was not able to get any dinner reservations. Sadly, all I could manage to grab was an 8:10am breakfast reservation on a Monday, which was not ideal. After all, breakfast and lunch at the castle are not full-service meals. They are "counter service", which means you order your food at a counter and just bring it to any table you want (open seating). Dinner is the only full-service experience that includes waitstaff, visits from the Beast, and alcohol.
It was only through sheer luck and persistence (I called back constantly to check on cancellations), that I was able to grab a Sunday night dinner due to a cancellation. You don't want to rely on luck. Book ahead!
This was one of my favorite dinners and I would highly recommend it to anyone. The food is surprisingly good (except for my ratatouille), especially for amusement park food. And the entire experience itself is just really special.
Be Our Guest Disney World