Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland is the best counter service option in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Here, you step inside Beast’s Castle in a restaurant themed to Beauty and the Beast. It’s a 2015 Disney Dining Plan participant as a one-credit counter service restaurant at lunch, and as a one-credit table service restaurant at dinner. At lunch, it makes our list of the best counter service values when on the Disney Dining Plan, but it just missed our list for the best values on the Dining Plan at dinner.
Both the lunch counter service and dinner table service menus feature French-inspired cuisine, and although the menus are ambitious for the usually unadventurous Magic Kingdom restaurants, most guests will find something that appeals to them at Be Our Guest Restaurant.
We’ve dined here a few times over the course of the last couple of years, and each time Be Our Guest Restaurant impresses us a bit more (we have updated this review several times since our first time eating here). During my last meal here, I finally had the chance to dine in the West Wing, which really put the experience over the top for me.
Why is Be Our Guest Restaurant so popular? Let’s take a look…
Be Our Guest Restaurant is only a couple of years old, and there’s still a ton of demand for this new restaurant, making dinner reservations difficult to score. When we have visited for lunch, we have encountered waits of around 15 to 40 minutes, and it usually takes another 10 minutes or so to receive our food after we complete our order.
The process for dining at Be Our Guest Restaurant continues to evolve. Recently, Disney announced that it will soon eliminate FastPass+ booking of the restaurant, but announced the introduction of a new ADR system, which will launch February 25, 2015. This is great news for off-site Walt Disney World guests, as it will allow any guests to make lunch ADRs for Be Our Guest, and will also allow the pre-ordering of their meals.
In the interim, or if you’re unable to get an ADR, we recommend getting in line just before the restaurant opens–if you wait until the noon hour, don’t be surprised if you’re in line outside for 30 minutes or more. We shall see how the system continues to evolve, but don’t be surprised if things change again–Disney has tweaked the process numerous times since Be Our Guest Restaurant opened, and it seems like it’s now one step away from being a table service restaurant for both lunch and dinner (we wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen eventually, as it would make the restaurant easier for Disney to operate).
This only bears mentioning for emphasis, as I’m sure most people reading this are already somewhat familiar with Be Our Guest Restaurant, but the place is incredibly lavish and the top to bottom details and effects are stunning. People aren’t kidding when they say that this is one of the highlights of the New Fantasyland expansion.
Personally, I think Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the crown jewel of New Fantasyland, but Be Our Guest Restaurant is a lavishly designed restaurant, and is arguably a more impressive experience (for what it is) than Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid.
I find that simultaneously cool and disappointing. It’s great that so much effort went into making this restaurant an awesome experience. It’s disappointing that a highlight of a multi-year expansion billed as the “biggest in Magic Kingdom history” is a restaurant. We highly value restaurants at Walt Disney World (probably more than the average guest), but we still see attractions as the heart of the experience.
In the grand scheme of things, New Fantasyland loses points with me for Be Our Guest Restaurant being one of the best element of the expansion (this was especially true before Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opened when Be Our Guest Restaurant was the best part of the expansion, not that it has opened and that’s the best thing, it doesn’t bother me so much).
In the confined context of this review, which is only of Be Our Guest Restaurant, the restaurant gains a lot of points for that incredible detail. If you step foot in New Fantasyland without going inside Be Our Guest Restaurant you have not had the full experience of the expansion.
The details and theming are incredible, but they largely speak for themselves. I won’t bore you by fixating on them, except by pointing out a couple of things I don’t like.
First, Beast’s Castle that sits atop the rockwork. It seems like everyone else is gushing over the amazing forced perspective here, but I don’t think it works. To me, it looks like a toy castle perched up there. I seem to be in the minority on this, though.
Second, the ballroom is gorgeous, but because of its large size and noise level, it feels like an oddly luxurious mess hall to me. Finally, I don’t care for the lifelike look of the faces of the babies painted on the ceiling of the ballroom (in some cases they look arbitrary pasted onto the bodies). I realize this is an Imagineer tribute, but I just don’t think it works. On the one hand, having real children up there gives some character to the art.
On the other hand, using real people instead of generic babies draws too much attention to each individual baby and looks a little creepy. I think that “generic” babies would convey the “feel” of the art they’re going for, without causing unduly visual fixation. I’m generally all for Imagineer tributes and others seem to like this, so again, maybe this is just me.
This brings me to the question of “where to dine.” As you might know, Be Our Guest Restaurant has three very different dining rooms: the Ballroom, the Rose Gallery, and the West Wing. For the reasons discussed above, I’m not a fan of the Ballroom. However, it is by far the easiest place to grab a table, and kids might like this location best.
Above is the Rose Gallery. It’s much more intimate, has some pretty details (like the dancing Belle and Beast music box pictured above), and some pretty paintings and tapestries on the wall. This room has the most relaxed and quiet feel of the three rooms.
Then, there’s the West Wing. You know, the West Wing. The place you’re not supposed to go. Apparently, no Walt Disney World guests have actually seen Beauty and the Beast, that, or they refuse to heed the warnings repeated throughout the movie.
The refusal to heed these warnings is absolutely understandable, because the West Wing is totally awesome. Lightning and thunder reverberate through the room. The decor is shredded. Lights are low and foreboding. There’s a glowing rose with petals slowly falling…
It’s by far the best-themed of the rooms, and has a truly ominous feeling to it. Our first 3 times dining at Be Our Guest Restaurant, we couldn’t eat in here because it was so packed, with other guests waiting for tables. It took me visiting by myself and just hovering in the corner like a creep for 15 minutes before I was finally I able to dine here. Totally worth it.
(As a bit of an aside–we don’t have kids, but I could see younger children potentially be frightened by this room. YMMV.)
Be Our Guest Restaurant uses an RFID ordering system that is surely a part of the big NextGen initiative that Disney has been undertaking for the last couple of years. To my knowledge, it’s the first newly constructed restaurant to use RFID in this way. Basically, you tap this rose before ordering your meal from a touchscreen, and take the rose to any table that strikes your fancy.
Cast Members then bring your food to you based on where the rose “says” you are. So if you really want to punk someone good, deposit your rose below their table after ordering and watch them get flustered and upset as your food is given to them. I highly suggest you try this prank on us if you ever see us at Be Our Guest Restaurant!
The first time we dined at Be Our Guest Restaurant, we did so with easyWDW Josh; you can read his review of the experience here. He ordered the Braised Pork – Slow Cooked Pork with Vegetables and Bacon with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans Jardiniere, which was a low calorie option. He seemed to enjoy it for what it was, and he indicated that he’d highly recommend it even though it wasn’t a lot of food.
One motif of Be Our Guest’s lunch menu seems to be ambitious, but slightly undersized entrees. This isn’t such a bad thing, as you’ll probably want to get a soup (French Onion!) plus another entree plus dessert, which will be expensive, but a delicious experience. The restaurant actually feels like it’s striving for an experience somewhere between counter service and table service in terms of quality. We view this as a good thing, as it’s a serious upgrade over much of the forgettable dining in the Magic Kingdom. However, if you’re on a budget, have a huge appetite, or are a really picky eater, this may be a problem.
Here’s the Quinoa Salad with Green Beans, Potatoes, Olives, Roasted Red Peppers, Golden Beets, and Tomatoes. Sarah loves this salad. She is a big fan of quinoa, and was impressed to find something like this at a Magic Kingdom counter service restaurant. As the “victim” (or survivor?) of a quinoa-addicted spouse, I can say with some certainty that reasonable people would find this–and any other “food” containing quinoa–disgusting. I have had my fair share of quinoa, and it is never good. It’s only remotely palatable when heavily seasoned; most of the time it’s bland and not worth consuming.
If you like quinoa and/or salad, you might give it a try, but unless you are really concerned about eating healthy, I think there are much more intriguing options on the menu. It’s also worth noting that Sarah ended up being hungry again two hours after we had lunch, though, so you might be better off spending your $10+ on something more substantial and filling.
Here’s the Tuna Nicoise Salad. Sarah liked this even more than the Quinoa Salad, which is saying something. Here, you get warm seared tuna steak with chilled green beans, potatoes, olives, roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, and a poached egg. This isn’t your typical, half-hearted Walt Disney World salad. The salad is fresh and features quality ingredients, and the seared tuna steak gives it a great flavor and some protein. I’m not a salad guy, and even I would consider ordering this in the future. This is definitely a solid choice.
Here’s the Carved Prime Chuck Roast Beef Sandwich, another more recent addition to the Be Our Guest Restaurant menu. Of the things I’ve had, this is the highlight.
You can order it cooked to your preference (a nice touch) and the meat is fairly high quality, as is the baguette on which it’s served. Horseradish Sour Cream ties the whole thing together, making this one of the best counter service entrees in all of the Magic Kingdom.
I’ve also had the Croque Monsieur – Grilled Sandwich with Carved Ham, Gruyere Cheese, and Bechamel with Pommes Frites. It was a good sandwich, but small for the price (even by Disney standards). It’s not something I’d order again, nor would I recommend trying it unless there’s nothing else on the menu that interests you. Not that it’s bad, it’s just nothing special.
One final item for the “entrees” is the French Onion Soup. I’m not normally big on soups, but this was delicious, with the melted cheese and slightly salty broth being a lethal combination. And by lethal, I mean that this is something you’ll find yourself craving after your trip, causing you to start thinking about booking another trip, which would be “lethal” to your finances. A bit of a stretch, but we go for the dramatic here!
It took Walt Disney World nearly a year, but they finally caved to guest demand and added the Grey Stuff Cupcake to the regular menu. We thought it was pretty good, but not as great as the hype led us to believe. More than anything, this is a novelty dessert offered so that people can say, “try the grey stuff, it’s delicious” and post photos with “clever” captions on Facebook and Instagram. It will not go down as one of the best snacks in the Magic Kingdom, even if it is really popular. There’s nothing wrong with a little novelty and it’s worth a try for that reason alone, but it’s a bit of a stretch to say “it’s delicious” about this dessert.
For dessert, we have also had the Lemon Meringue and Strawberry Cupcakes. Sarah really liked both of these, I only liked the Strawberry cupcake (I don’t care for lemon meringue in general, though, so my opinion is worthless on that cupcake).
For some reason I was expecting these to be cheesecake (my bad–they’re clearly labeled as cupcakes on the menu). I don’t know if it was just my expectations for a cheesecake or if this was actually the case, but I found them to be a tad dry. Still good and worth the price.
Before heading out, make sure to wander around a bit to explore the rest of the restaurant, especially the West Wing, if you didn’t get a chance to dine there.
As a note for those wanting nice photos…turn off your flash. I’ve noticed that almost everyone uses their flashes when photographing the rose and at the snowfall outside the ballroom. If you want good photos of these effects, you need to turn off your flash and use manual settings, as flash sort of ruins the effect.
Overall, Be Our Guest Restaurant gets high marks in this review. Very high marks. From the ambitious menu to the ambiance and theming, Be Our Guest Restaurant is a winner that will be popular for years to come. I still think I slightly prefer the overall experience at Gaston’s Tavern in New Fantasyland, but that’s just personal preference. Regardless, both are very good, and each bring something unique to the table. Be Our Guest Restaurant is right up there with Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater as one of coolest and best-themed restaurants at Walt Disney World, despite some thematic misfires. The restaurant also scores points with us for trying more inventive cuisine, which should be lauded given that this is a restaurant located in the kid’s haven of New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. It is worth noting that Disney has tinkered with the menu here a lot, so you should check a current menu before you get your heart set on any of these items when planning.
It’s clear that you’re paying a premium for the location, as menu prices seem higher than the Magic Kingdom norm, and entrees are slightly smaller for some items, but we think it’s worth it for what amounts to a premium counter service restaurant. All things considered, after a few meals here over the course of the last couple of years, Be Our Guest Restaurant has slowly grown on us and taken the crown as our favorite Magic Kingdom restaurant. It’s a must-visit for lunch, especially if you’re unable to score the elusive Be Our Guest dinner reservations.
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What do you think of Be Our Guest Restaurant? Is it worth the wait? Does it live up to the hype? Share your thoughts in the comments!