Pinocchio Village Haus is a counter service restaurant at the edge of regular ‘ole Fantasyland and New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom that experienced a resurgence of sorts with a new menu in 2012. It participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a one-credit counter service restaurant at lunch and dinner. It’s not one of the best counter service restaurants on the Disney Dining Plan, but it’s not a poor value either. Plus, thanks to the new menu, it’s now one of the better restaurant choices in the Magic Kingdom.
That Pinocchio Village Haus is now one of the better restaurants in the Magic Kingdom is saying a lot, especially as there has been a serious counter service renaissance in the Magic Kingdom during the past couple of years. No longer is it a race to the bottom. Instead, a number of restaurants in the Magic Kingdom have at least some intriguing and delicious menu items. Pinocchio Village Haus is just one of several restaurants that has had a nice turnaround, and it has gone from a place we’d never consider eating to one at which we’ll now dine during certain hours.
Before we get to the praise, let’s take a look at Pinocchio Village Haus’ primary weakness: being a popular restaurant in the middle of Fantasyland. During the lunch hours, Pinocchio Village Haus is more or less the trenches of a war zone. Except in Pinocchio Village Haus, tranquility is the main casualty. Our first visit to Pinocchio Village Haus was prior to the new menu and during this lunch hour. Not only did we have to deal with the mayhem of the crowds, but our food was generally bad. This time we wised up and didn’t dine there until later in the evening, but even then, it was still fairly busy.
As far as theming goes, Pinocchio Village Haus is moderately interesting. The exterior looks Bavarian, and although it’s not quite a “village,” it’s made to appear as if there are multiple buildings in the area. It’s the most ornate building exterior in Fantasyland (not including the buildings in New Fantasyland, as I’m still unsure of whether this is a separate land; the capitalized “New” suggests it’s a proper name and as such is a distinct land, but what happens when it’s no longer new?) and unlike the other facades, has depth and dimensionality.
The ordering area looks as if it’s a courtyard (it’s obviously indoors), with moderately sized rooms emanating out from this area. The most popular of these overlooks the loading area of ‘it’s a small world,’ and I assume this is the most difficult place to snag a seat. I’m sure if you waited you’d have luck, but we’re impatient and have never been able to find a seat in here. I’m not sure that we’d want to, anyway, as this room is rather loud. In general, these rooms are cutely themed with some neat details like murals, clocks, and statues, and have an “old-timey” charm to them. To some, that old-timey charm might instead look like dated ambiance that’s due for a refresh. While I think a refresh might be nice, the look is definitely intentional. It’s not as if this is your grandparents’ living room, looking the same today as it did during the Cuban Missile Crisis with its formaldehyde finishing and burnt sienna shag carpeting.
Rather than dining inside, we prefer eating outside on the balcony overlooking Fantasyland. For a while, whenever we passed by Pinocchio Village Haus this area was closed, but in December 2012, we finally saw it open and were able to dine up there! Seating is very limited up here but most people don’t know about this location, so you might have luck getting a spot up here. This location is great; not only do you get away from the noise and crowds in the main dining rooms, but you have an excellent view of Fantasyland and New Fantasyland. If all of the seating were like this, Pinocchio Village Haus would receive higher marks.
One area where Pinocchio Village Haus does receive high marks is the food on the new menu. Gone are the greasy pizzas comparable to what you’d find at Pizza Planet, replaced by flatbreads. I’ve been a little surprised at the divided reaction to these flatbreads. I’ve read many complaints from people whose children (or in some cases, they themselves) prefer the regular pizza that the flatbreads replaced. I disagree with the notion of judging things based upon the preferences of children (who also love playing in cardboard boxes and eat things that come out of their own noses, among other suspect preferences) so the idea that kids won’t like flatbreads in no way impacts the score here. By any reasonable measure, these flatbreads are substantially better than the pizzas they replaced.
The options for these new flatbreads are Pepperoni, Barbecue Chicken, and Caprese. Also present is a Meatball Sub Sandwich and a Penne Pasta, along with some salad. I’ve had the Meatball Sub Sandwich in the past, and it has been fairly decent, but probably not something I’d order again. On this trip, we tried the Barbecue Chicken Flatbread and Caprese Flatbread.
Far and away, the Caprese Flatbread was the better of the two. Not that the Barbecue Chicken Flatbread was bad, the Caprese Flatbread just had a more nuanced taste, with the cheese, tomatoes, basil, and balsamic all offering excellent complementary flavors. It was more like a flatbread that you’d order at the California Grill as an appetizer than the flatbread you’d find at a counter service restaurant in Fantasyland. The downside was that it was also more like a flatbread that would be served as an appetizer in terms of how filling it was.
The BBQ Chicken Flatbread was much more filling and still tasted good, but definitely tasted like counter service restaurant fare. We probably wouldn’t order it again, but it was by no means bad or even average. Just not as good as the Caprese Flatbread.
Both flatbreads could have used more cheese, too. In the future, we’ll probably order the Caprese as a late-night snack to split rather than as a full meal, as we were hungry again shortly after eating at Pinocchio Village Haus.
Overall, Pinocchio Village Haus is now part of a trio of high quality counter service restaurants that also includes Gaston’s Tavern in New Fantasyland and Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland that reverse the old words of wisdom, “never eat in Fantasyland.” While part of this wisdom still rings true in the sense that these restaurants are going to be a zoo (and not in the good way–the only primates this zoo has are human children) at lunch, but part predicated on the belief that Fantasyland has lousy food no longer holds water. Pinocchio Village Haus is a great place to relax late at night with a flatbread snack. We recommend it during off-hours for lunch or dinner with slight hesitation unless your party includes mostly small eaters.