Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom is themed as Beast’s Castle from Beauty and the Beast. It’s a 2013 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.
Be Our Guest Restaurant officially opened to the general public on December 7, 2012, so there’s still quite a bit of demand for this new restaurant, making dinner reservations difficult to score. When we visited for lunch, the waiting line outside of the restaurant to get inside was about 15 minutes long, and it took us a little over 30 minutes from the time we got in line until the time our food arrived. We got in line just as the restaurant opened–if you wait until the noon hour, don’t be surprised if you’re in line outside for 30 minutes on busier days.
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 the highlight of the New Fantasyland expansion.
I’ll touch upon this in our full review in more detail, but 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 the 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 the best element of the expansion. 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.
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!
We dined at Be Our Guest Restaurant with Josh from easyWDW.com. He already posted his review of the experience, which you can read here. He ordered the $11.99 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 seemed to be pricey but undersized entrees.
Sarah ordered the $9.99 Quinoa Salad with Green Beans, Potatoes, Olives, Roasted Red Peppers, Golden Beets, and Tomatoes. Sarah is a big fan of quinoa, and she thought this salad was pretty good. 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.
I ordered the $10.99 Croque Monsieur – Grilled Sandwich with Carved Ham, Gruyere Cheese, and Bechamel with Pommes Frites (not pictured). It was a good sandwich, but small for the price (even by Disney standards) and the fries were fairly uninspired. 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.
For dessert, we 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 $2.99.
Before heading out, we wandered around a bit to explore the rest of the restaurant, including the West Wing. Next time, I really want to eat in the West Wing, as the execution of theme and general design in there is definitely the best, I think. When we were in the West Wing, there was a large crowd gathered to photograph the rose. I noticed that almost everyone was firing their flashes at this 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.
Overall, Be Our Guest Restaurant gets high marks in this review primarily because of its ambiance and theming. While we didn’t love it like we love Gaston’s Tavern in New Fantasyland, it is right up there with Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater as one of coolest and best-themed restaurants at Walt Disney World, despite some 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. The food (at lunch, at least) does not quite live up to the rest of the experience, as it is only good rather than great.
In addition, 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 generally smaller. Although Be Our Guest Restaurant isn’t our favorite Magic Kingdom restaurant, it’s still a must-visit for lunch, especially if you’re unable to score the elusive Be Our Guest dinner reservations. The ambiance and detail really pull up our overall score for Be Our Guest Restaurant.
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!