Fantastic Food at Disney World’s Worst Restaurant: Another Festivus Miracle!
Welcome, new comers. The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances. I got a lot of problems with Walt Disney World. And now you’re gonna hear about it! (Not really–already did that this Festivus ‘season.’)
You, Crescent Lake Resorts. Your counter service restaurants stink! You couldn’t serve an edible pizza if you had a hot date with a brick oven…I lost my train of thought.
Now as Festivus rolls on, we come to the feats of strength. This year, the honor goes to…us. Until we conquer a meal at Beach Club Marketplace, the worst counter service restaurant at Walt Disney World, Festivus is not over. Let’s rumble!
After we stopped crying and fought the food at Beach Club Marketplace, we were hit by another Festivus Miracle: it actually has some interesting and fantastic food following the recent refurbishment!
We’ve dined at most Walt Disney World restaurants several times, and nowhere has been as consistently bad as Beach Club Marketplace. Not Restaurantosaurus, Electric Umbrella or Liberty Inn. Those last two were so poorly regarded that Walt Disney World overhauled and renamed the locations. It’s something of a surprise Beach Club Marketplace didn’t also receive a new name to cleanse its reputation like those other cursed counter service spots.
Prior to the refurbishment, this is the last meal we had at Beach Club Marketplace. That’s “pizza” in case you can’t tell, and not something I assembled myself from a Lunchables kit. This was a couple years ago–we’ve been too terrified to pay Beach Club Marketplace a return visit until now.
To us, Beach Club Marketplace was basically the Kruger Industrial Smoothing of Walt Disney World dining. Their motto was “we don’t care, and it shows.” Fortunately, someone at Disney’s Beach Club Resort started caring more recently.
The refurbishment is not as significant of an overhaul as what happened with the Market at Ale & Compass a couple years ago, which also improved that counter service restaurant and marketplace at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.
Here, flooring was replaced, space was freed up in the center of the floor, and some of the food prep area was remodeled and fixtures were swapped out. The space and layout still more or less looks like it did before.
What actually drew us back was the lengthy menu of Beach Club Marketplace Holiday Bakery offerings.
You probably can’t read that list above, so here are the options:
- Signature Stollen Bread – Fruit Bread full of Nuts, Spices, and Fruit coated with Vanilla Powdered Sugar
- Guava & Cheese Bread – A delicious Guava and Cheese mixture inside of a ring of even tastier Bread
- Sable Cookie Tree – Stacked Cookie Tree comprised of Vanilla Sable Cookies decorated with Royal Icing, Mini Pearls, and Snow Sugar
- Trio of Holiday Fudge – White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge, White Chocolate Gingerbread Fudge, and a Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa Fudge
- Marshmallow Snowmen Pops – Chocolate-covered Marshmallows decorated to look like adorable Snowmen on a festive Red and White Straw
- Mickey Head Gingerbread Cookie – Traditional Sugar-glazed Mickey Head Gingerbread with a Chocolate Backing
- Holiday Cookies ‘n Cream Bon Bons – Festive Red and Green Cookies ‘n Cream Bon Bons filled with Cookie Cream Mousse and a Cookie base coated in Sprayed Chocolate
- Santa Mickey Cupcake – Traditional Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream decorated as a Santa Hat with Chocolate Mickey Ears
- Peppermint Cheesecake – New York-style Cheesecake with Chocolate Whipped Cream, Peppermint-flavored Sugar Crystals, and Oreo crust.
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies – Chocolate lovers Crinkle Cookies with a dusting of Sweet Snow
- Peppermint Brownie – Chocolate Brownies with a Peppermint-Chocolate Ganache and Festive Sprinkles (Plant-based)
Note that both the official online menu and Mobile Ordering are inaccurate for Beach Club Marketplace. The online menu has incorrect prices and several fall items that are no longer available; Mobile Ordering has accurate pricing and omits the long-gone fall items, but doesn’t list everything in the display cases.
Accordingly, we recommend perusing in-person. You can also stop in and get your mug refilled while browsing the selection.
As with the other Deluxe Resorts, Beach Club is selling a build-your-own version of its iconic Gingerbread Christmas Carousel. These are actually pretty cool, and look like they’d be fun to put together.
The price point is well beyond what we’re willing to spend for something like this, though.
As for the desserts we ordered, let’s start with the Trio of Holiday Fudge. This was the only thing we were on the fence about getting, and in hindsight, wished we had bought the Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (a Christmas Eve tradition in my family) or the Peppermint Brownie (looked dense and delicious).
Both the White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge and Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa Fudge were really good, albeit a tad dry. Flavorful and high quality. The White Chocolate Gingerbread Fudge missed the mark for us, but I’m not sure that’s a flavor combination that could’ve possibly done anything for me. It didn’t help that the portions were small and this package was pricey.
Next, the Peppermint Cheesecake.
This was excellent. The cheesecake itself was fairly dense, with rich flavor and semi-smooth consistency broken up a bit by speckles of Oreos. The cookie pieces and base helped bridge the gap between the sweetness of the cheesecake and boldness of the peppermint. Chocolate was the literal and figurative icing on the cake. We’d highly recommend this.
Finally, the Holiday Cookies ‘n Cream Bon Bons.
Holy cow. This is a blast from the past. These were a one-time Walt Disney World fan favorite, disappearing from the Cape May Cafe buffet around 5 or so years ago. They’re every bit as good as we remember, with an Oreo as the foundation, with a rich cookies and cream mousse inside, a light shell providing a bit of crunch, and dab of strong chocolate ganache on top. By far our favorite item of the bunch, and a must-buy if you’re interested in trying an iconic and bygone-era Walt Disney World dessert. Here’s hoping they stick around after Christmas!
In the past, the biggest issue with Beach Club Marketplace has been its limited entree menu. If you didn’t want a very basic grab and go sandwich or salad, you were stuck with “pizza” or whatever was on offer at the hot station.
To our surprise, there were many choices. About a half dozen sandwiches (several of which looked good), soups & salads, foot-long hot dog, variety of mac & cheese pastas, and the Half-Roasted Chicken Dinner, which is served after 5 pm.
Honestly, I’m not sure how many of these things are new post-refurbishment. That last “pizza” left us scarred, and with a wealth of great options in EPCOT, it’s not like we’re regularly checking what’s on the menu at Beach Club Marketplace.
I was very tempted by the chicken dinner, but didn’t want to roll the dice. (We ended up seeing it plated while waiting for our meal, and it looked solid–I’d consider giving it a try next time.)
Instead, I went the safe route with the Pulled Pork-topped Baked Macaroni & Cheese: Cavatappi Pasta with a Five-Cheese Blend topped with Pulled Pork.
Mac & Cheese is another one of those things that Walt Disney World tends to do really well, along with salmon, scallops, and calamari. (There must be something else that’s not seafood, but I’m drawing a blank.) Once I narrowed it down to that, I figured the pulled pork was the safest topping since Disney does this style well elsewhere.
Don’t let the goldfish crackers garnishing it fool you–this mac & cheese is top notch. It’s a heavy dish with a substantial pasta and thick blend of five (rich) cheeses. The top had a nice crispness adding to the texture, and the generous portion of pulled pork further added to the dish.
It may not be much to look at, but this mac & cheese tasted delicious and was thoroughly filling. (If I weren’t a pig, it might’ve been a good option to split and share, also ordering something lighter.) It reminded me a lot of the same dish at Flame Tree BBQ–minus the onion rings.
To test this theory in the name of Very Important Disney Research, we headed to Animal Kingdom for lunch today so I could eat the Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Pulled Pork there. (Another Festivus Miracle!)
The conclusion of my highly scientific taste-testing is that the Beach Club Marketplace version wins on size, cost, texture, density, cheesiness, and flavor of the dish as a whole. The Flame Tree BBQ version wins on quality and flavor of the pulled pork. Overall, the Beach Club Marketplace incarnation is the decisive winner.
Ultimately, that might only be one entree, but for Beach Club Marketplace to have even one dish that’s on par with Flame Tree BBQ would be a gigantic improvement. For Walt Disney World’s once-worst counter service restaurant to offer a bunch of fantastic Christmas desserts, and an entree that’s better than one of my favorite things from one of my favorite counter service restaurants? In the immortal words of Frank Costanza, this is the best Festivus ever!
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Are you a fan of Beach Club Marketplace, or have you likewise been burned by it in the past? Do you avoid it and other counter service spots around Crescent Lake in favor of the superior options at EPCOT? Have you been to Beach Club Marketplace since it reopened? Any favorite menu items here? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
This looks like a very nice improvement! While captain cook’s, gasparllias, the Mara, and roaring fork have been stellar choices for years… the beach club marketplace has been a sad place. Like- you’re better off eating whatever “food” is for sale at the speedway gas station nearby level of bad. Glad to see some improvements!
The refurb gave them the opportunity to finally replace a piece of equipment that always smelled like it was burning something. A cast member once told us it was burnt cheese. My kids noticed the difference when we were there in early December – no more smell!
Is there any way to get in touch with one of the restaurants. I had one of the best ever meals in or or out of DW At Tonis in MK. I want this recipe so bad. Is there any way to ask for it. Help would be appreciated.
Try emailing [email protected]
We were at the Beach Club a couple of weeks ago. Had the chicken dinner our first night. It was a surprisingly good choice. The chicken was roasted just right, not over- or under done. The mashed potatoes were not too creamy, they had some body. The dinner reminded me a bit of the similar option that used to be available at Cosmic Rays, only better at the Beach Club.
On a related note, we preferred the QS breakfast options at The Market at Ale & Compass at the Yacht Club, which, as you know, is a only short walk from the Market at the Beach Club.
Taking your Beach Club meal to the Solarium or to the outdoor dining area provides seating and ambiance options.
I tried one bite each of the fudge. It was inedible. Horrible flavors and totally dry. Would have returned it but it was Christmas Eve!
Awesome to hear about the chicken dinner and breakfast at the Market at Ale & Compass–thanks for sharing!
Still need more solid QS at crescent bay but happy festivus and Christmas and holidays Tom and Sarah. Thank you for all your updates, reviews and trip reports. Ps. I need to start watching some Seinfeld reruns.
FRIED CHICKEN! The other non-seafood entree that Disney does exceptionally well is fried chicken. I’m sure there are others, but I’ve never met a fried chicken at Disney I didn’t like.
My old boss used to do the goldfish crackers garnish on mac and cheese on the truck and the restaurant. I like it. I like pulled pork mac and cheese even more.
That “pizza” has been haunting my nightmares ever since you originally posted it a few years ago and I finally figured out why; it looks exactly like Chef Boyardee pizza, which I ate a ton of (to my chagrin) as a kid.
I’d never paid much attention to mac & cheese at WDW, though or kid, a mac & cheese lover if there ever has been one, has always paid attention to it. Of course, prior to this time, all our trips, save one, have been during 90+ degree weather.
So, I was surprised by how good the Goldfish garnish actually was. Disney indeed does very good mac & cheese, resulting in a “Well, duh!” reaction from the kid.
Lamb is the other thing WDW does surprisingly well and with consistency.
That last food you were trying to recall that disney world does well is fried chicken, obviously. Even setting aside the gourmet kind, I can’t eat at a buffet without stopping by the kiddie buffet for a few chicken nuggets!
Oh, and waffles. Bonus points to sleepy hollow where they combine the two.
I’ve never had Boardwalk pizza, but have you had pizza from the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris? By far the worst “meal” in my life (at least that I’ve paid for). It’s a running joke in our house – whenever we cook something that turns out bad, my daughter says “well, it’s better than that pizza in Dinseyland Paris”.
Boardwalk pizza was nothing to rave about.
Haha I was scarred by the bad pizza there also. It was not filling either. I am happy to hear they improved the menu.
You can’t call that pizza. It’s flatbread.
I’m hesitant to even call it “food” without the use of air quotes.
It tasted worse than it looked. And I’m not a picky eater. Thank goodness they got rid of that “pizza“
I do have to add that the pizza at Gasparilla’s at the GF this summer looked pretty similar. I was willing to chalk it up to corona though
That pizza picture will haunt my dreams.
dude, I want your job. Can you employ me?
I’m so glad to hear! I’ve been scarred by that Beach Club pizza too!
Is my family the only one that called chocolate crinkle cookies “wagon wheels”? (In hindsight, I have no idea why – they look nothing like wagon wheels.)