Storybook Dining at Artist Point is a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs character meal at Walt Disney World’s Wilderness Lodge, serving a prix fixe menu. In this restaurant review, we’ll share food photos from our meal, weigh the pros and cons of this new character dining experience, and whether it’s worth the money or Disney Dining Plan credits.
Walt Disney World fans are probably familiar with the saga of Artist Point, but here’s a quick refresher for those new to this character meal. The Storybook Dining character experience is a new addition to Artist Point as of December 2018, which was previously a Signature Restaurant. When this change was announced in the fall, it was very controversial (just read the 90+ comments on that post). Some loved the idea of more character dining, some found it to be a cheapening of the experience at a Deluxe Resort.
I’m not going to fixate on this because I already did so in the above-mentioned announcement, but I can see both sides of this controversy. Wilderness Lodge is a Deluxe Resort and fine dining should be a standard amenity, even if that restaurant was seldom more than half-full and offered aggressive discounts to Cast Members.
On the other hand, Walt Disney World hotels play by a different set of rules. If you surveyed Wilderness Lodge guests and asked which they desired more, I’d hazard a guess character dining would win out. Guests love characters and this incarnation of Artist Point will likely prove to be significantly more popular, and a hot ticket ADR, as opposed to something you could get as a half-empty walk-up.
Many people have pointed to this being yet another instance of Walt Disney World being ‘cartoonified’ with everything shifting to be aimed at families. I don’t know what Walt Disney World these people are visiting, but the proliferation of themed bars, fine dining at Disney Springs, and elevated menus around the resort suggests otherwise to me.
For better or worse, the changes at Artist Point are about a redistribution of guest demographics, not a change in Walt Disney World’s emphasis. Between conventioneers and couples, more Walt Disney World guests than ever before are visiting without children.
On a personal note, I will miss the old Artist Point. As mentioned in the preface to my old review, I’ve hiked to the actual Artist Point in Yosemite National Park, and dined in a number of the grand National Park Lodge dining rooms that Artist Point evoked. For me, dining at Artist Point was a transportive experience to those memories.
In terms of theme, the new-look Artist Point is interesting. A ‘forest’ of light-up trees were added to create a canopy of leaves in Artist Point. These trees look like they’re carved right out of the support beams in the restaurant, and look like a natural, seamless addition. This is to make the environment better evoke the sensibility of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, rather than one of the National Park lodge grand dining rooms.
This is a smart idea in practice, and the end result is charming and whimsical. I didn’t expect to like the look of this forest, but it suits the character dinner well. It also allows for some fun light effects in the branches, as the leaves change color upon the arrival of certain characters, and ‘dance’ when the Dwarfs do their little parade. It’s fun and cute. (The photos below don’t really do it justice due to the daylight, but as soon as it’s dark, the tree branches twinkle and dance with light–it’s a neat effect.)
My one quasi-complaint here is that it feels like a half-measure in execution for anyone who has previously dined at Artist Point. Above the tree branches are semi-obscured murals from the original Artist Point, not fully hidden from view. This makes Artist Point feel a bit like a hodgepodge of contrasting styles, which I suppose mirrors the very notion of a German fairytale set in a United States National Park lodge. But whatever.
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure this is a complaint. As someone who loved the previous look of Artist Point, it’s at least somewhat reassuring that this could all be undone in relatively short order and restored to “normal” should the Storybook Dining concept go away at some point down the road.
Artist Point fans will probably be split on the new look for that reason. It’s almost the same deal as EPCOT Center–do you enjoy vestiges of the past even if you know those things are never returning in earnest, or would you rather plow forward with something totally new and distinctly its own thing?
Most Walt Disney World guests probably won’t notice the ‘split style’ of the environment, or care even if they do. For first-timers and many others, this version of Artist Point is the only version they’ll ever know. In this version, the setting is endearing. In any event, the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs characters are the stars of the meal here, with all other atmospheric elements playing second fiddle.
As for the characters, you’ll find Snow White, Evil Queen, Dopey, and Grumpy at Artist Point’s Storybook Dining. Snow White and the Dwarfs meet guests at their tables, while Evil Queen is at a staged photo op in the middle of the restaurant that you can do at the end of your meal (but probably shouldn’t).
Interactions were good at our meal. The two Dwarfs chosen have contrasting personalities, and can express that reasonably well in encounters with guests. Same goes for Evil Queen and Snow White, both of whom were at the top of their game.
There’s a wide personality range in these 4 characters, and that makes for a varied experience. Another Dwarf or two might’ve been nice, but it’s nonetheless a good character meal, with great engagement.
Obviously, this is not quite the same as getting a photo with all seven of the Dwarfs at once like you could do at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The trade-off is that you don’t wait two hours and have genuine interactions rather than just being rushed through a photo op with characters-as-props. Personally, that’s a trade-off that I will absolutely take, but I’m not a huge Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs fan in the first place.
Meeting Evil Queen was the one odd component of the experience. For the bulk of our meal, she was just standing at her meet & greet location, awaiting guests. We’d catch her icy gaze every once in a while, which was amusing because clearly she didn’t have anything better to do, but was still in the middle of her set.
Then, at the end of our meal, which coincided with the end of several other tables’ meals, she concluded her set. This led to us and other parties just standing around the middle of the restaurant, waiting for her to return. This is probably on us, as our sever had told us multiple times that we could visit her whenever, but we figured the best option for that would be the end of the meal.
In short, heed your server’s advice and visit the Evil Queen in between courses or whenever convenient, rather than waiting until the end of your meal. Oh, and request a table away from this meet & greet, as it seemed like an awkward situation for the tables in that area, which regularly had other guests hovering around them.
I’m not sure why the Evil Queen wanted to flash the Wu Tang hand sign, but I was happy to oblige–I’m down with the Wu.
I also appreciated that there were a couple of PhotoPass photographers here, which is easier than handing my own camera off to another guest for photos.
Now let’s take a look at the food. We’ve already rambled on for quite a while, so here are simply photos of drinks our party ordered:
The prix fixe menu at Artist Point begins with shared Appetizers for the Table. These consist of three things: Winter Squash Bisque, Hunter’s Pie, and the Wicked Shrimp Cocktail.
The Winter Squash Bisque is served in a black cauldron with a marshmallow lollipop, making for a cute presentation.
This soup is also delicious; creamy, buttery, and thick. The final bite of soup and the marshmallow is pure bliss.
The Hunter’s Pie is also good, consisting of densely-packed chicken and a flakey exterior. There’s supposed to be black truffle here, but I didn’t really taste it.
The stone fruit preserve provides some sweet, peachy flavor to contrast with the savoriness, and works well.
Finally, there’s the Wicked Shrimp Cocktail. The presentation was awkward for sharing and this didn’t do a ton for me, but I also didn’t have a chance to try all of its components because our entrees arrived.
Normally, I’d complain about this as I hate when restaurants rush guests to churn tables faster. In this case, it was probably on us, as we were a table of bloggers who spent way too long meticulously photographing every single individual leaf of arugula in each dish. (FOR YOU!)
On the plus side, our endeavors to bring you readers 67 tilted photos of Hunter’s Pies probably tipped off someone in the restaurant to the fact that we were bloggers, and our server brought us around a couple of things we didn’t order during the entree round.
A Stroll through Nature is the vegetarian option, and consists of Butternut Squash, Arugula, Gnocchi, Sage, and Parmesan.
Despite being the ‘last straw’ choice when we were choosing what to order, this ended up being the surprise hit of the meal. It was rich and creamy, and dialed the cheesiness up about as far as you can go without being over the top. This was a strong and modestly ambitious dish that would appeal even to non-vegetarians. I loved it.
Replacing the famed Cedar Plank Salmon is tough for any fish dish, and Bashful’s Butter-poached Snapper (with Root Vegetable Risotto, Wild Mushroom, Citrus-Butter Sauce) is tasked with that unenviable role.
It’s nothing special. A mild and inoffensive fish, with the accompaniments not doing much to buoy it. I’m not personally a huge fan of even well-executed snapper, so perhaps someone else’s opinion would carry more weight here.
For poultry, Artist Point serves the Brother’s Grimm Roasted Chicken with Confit Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Apples, and Chestnut Butter.
This was another favorite at our table, with the lean chicken being juicy, flavorful, and having a robust, herby flavor. This is actually one of the best chicken dishes I’ve had at Walt Disney World.
Oddly, and probably not worthy of mentioning but for the fact that it amused me, but the apples tasted thoroughly like Brussels sprouts. Probably not something I need to taste again in my life.
Next, the Royal Prime Rib Roast, with Horseradish Mashed Potato, Hay-smoked Carrots, Popover, and Jus.
A lot of you are going to gravitate towards this, so it might be disheartening to hear that it was the closest thing to a letdown we had during the meal. The cut was a bit too fatty and slightly tough, while also being a bit on the bland and dry side. I didn’t dislike the Royal Prime Rib Roast, and perhaps you’ll have better luck, but it was my least favorite dish on a table that included a dish without meat. (Also, steer clear of the carrots.)
Finally, the Magic Mirror Slow-braised Veal Shank, which is what I ordered. Containing Celery Root Mashed, Wilted Winter Greens, and Jus, this was the standout of the meal.
The good news for the serious carnivores out there is that tender veal shank was a generous portion, perfectly-prepared, with bold flavor. I won the entree lottery with this one, as it was by far the best, and right up there with the Filet Mignon on the Be Our Guest Restaurant Prix Fixe Menu in terms of quality.
As with the appetizers, desserts are also shared.
We’ll start with the Miner’s Treasures, which is Sponge Cake, Chocolate Gems, and Buttercream Icing. This is cupcake constructed in a different fashion, and the sweetness of the dish overwhelmed whatever else was going on. To me, it simply tasted like “artificial purple.” (Maybe with a hint of artificial green. 😉 )
The “Poison” Apple (White Chocolate-Apple Mousse, Sour Center) was my favorite. The sweet exterior lures you in, and gives way to a sour punch inside.
It’s a playful, sharp contrast, and one I really enjoyed.
The Fairy Tale Gooseberry Pie (Meringue, Gooseberry) was also good. It’s sweet, dense, and mildly tart.
None of these desserts are on par with what you’d order from a standalone menu, but individually, the latter two are far superior to what you’d find on a buffet.
Finally, the meal ends with the Hunter’s Gift to the Queen, which is Crackled Maple Popcorn and a Ganache Heart. This one is all about presentation, and it’s fun.
If one thing can be said about all of these desserts, it’s that they’re befitting of the experience. This feels like a themed character meal through and through.
Price-wise, $55 per adult or 1 credit on the Disney Dining Plan seems very fair given the quality of the cuisine and the character experience. Artist Point not accepting Tables in Wonderland was a bummer and somewhat surprising given that this isn’t a new restaurant, but my total cost after tip was still only ~$70, which isn’t bad (by Walt Disney World standards) for the amount and quality of the food, and fun of the experience.
We’ll monitor this meal going forward, as Storybook Dining at Artist Point is certainly a restaurant that could offer enticing introductory pricing before spiking $10-15/person…or even jumping to 2 credits on the Disney Dining Plan. Then again, it took Be Our Guest Restaurant 5 years to make that change, and it’s never happened at Akershus.
Overall, I enjoyed Storybook Dining at Artist Point much more than expected. It was nice seeing the beautiful murals and National Parks art, even if it’s partially obscured by the trees and dancing of Dwarfs. The menu is far less ambitious and inventive than its previous incarnation, but that’s hardly a surprise as it has gone from Signature to character status. Within the character dining category, Artist Point serves the best food at Walt Disney World, and is your top pick if you want quality over quantity. What is offered on the prix fixe menu is mostly good to very good, and these options will be crowd-pleasers. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan and enjoy characters, Artist Point is a no-brainer, presenting objective value on par with Akershus while offering significantly better cuisine. Even paying out of pocket, Artist Point is a solid choice for Snow White fans.
What do you think of Storybook Dining at Artist Point? Are you excited to try this ambitious new character meal? Do you understand why the change was made, are are you bitter about losing the Signature Restaurant? Where does it rank in terms of dining at Walt Disney World for you? Have any favorite dishes at the new-look Artist Point? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!