Magic Kingdom’s two most popular table service restaurants both offer the experience of dining inside a castle, which is the main draw of both Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest Restaurant. This Walt Disney World dining comparison weighs the pros & cons of these highly-hyped spots to help you choose where to dine during your WDW vacation. (Updated March 12, 2023.)
It’s worth noting up front that you may not have a choice. If you’re already in Magic Kingdom and are trying to decide which to do, it might already be too late. Both are among the most popular dining reservations at Walt Disney World, and frequently book up almost 60 days in advance. To that point, we highly recommend consulting our Top 10 Tips for Booking Difficult Advance Dining Reservations, ideally before your trip–but there is some advice for last-minute ADRs.
Additionally, if you’re looking for food photos or specific thoughts on dishes we’ve tried, you should consult our Be Our Guest Restaurant Lunch & Dinner Review and Cinderella’s Royal Table Review. This ‘versus’ post takes a more holistic approach, comparing the overall comparative experience of each to see how these restaurants stack up to one another.
Moreover, we’re only comparing lunch and dinner inside Beast’s and Cinderella Castle. Currently, breakfast is only served at Cinderella’s Royal Table, but will likely return to Be Our Guest…at some point? Who knows. (We expected it to be back about a year ago, and we’re still waiting!) A lot of this post will apply equally to all meals, and we’ll also offer conclusions about other meals at the end, but the direct comparisons pertain to dinner, specifically.
Alright, let’s get ready to rumble: Be Our Guest Restaurant v. Cinderella’s Royal Table. NO HOLDS BARRED…
Theme: Both restaurants are set inside castles, and both make our lists of the Top 10 Themed Restaurants at Walt Disney World and Top 20 Themed Restaurants at Walt Disney World. Even though Be Our Guest Restaurant ranks higher on those lists, I think it’s a closer call than those rankings most bear out.
The thematic strength of Cinderella’s Royal Table is that it feels like you’re actually inside a gothic castle (probably because you actually are), which is really cool. The design is regal and feels lived in, albeit without the opulence that some kids may expect. Don’t underestimate the psychological effect of walking inside Cinderella Castle, going up its stairs, and looking out the windows.
I’d also go a step further and say the interior of Cinderella’s Royal Table is underrated. It’s historically accurate rather than movie-accurate, which definitely appeals more to people like me who are primarily Disney parks fans rather than Disney animation fans. Regardless of that, the whole package is awesome.
By contrast, our experience with Be Our Guest Restaurant is not that of dining inside a castle. The suspension of disbelief just doesn’t work, as it’s pretty hard to fathom that you’re entering the toy castle on the roof of the mountains when you enter the doors. (Maybe the effect works for kids?)
With that said, Be Our Guest Restaurant does feel like you’re entering the world of Beauty and the Beast, and this is particularly true in the more intimate dining rooms. They’re like being “on set” of the movie, which is itself really cool. But it’s not the same. Be Our Guest Restaurant very much has a simulated feeling, whereas Cinderella’s Royal Table is inside a castle.
Atmosphere: While there’s a certain romanticism about dining inside a castle, they’re not fine dining restaurants. There’s a regal quality to both, and these restaurants succeed at making kids feel like royalty. But they are family-friendly restaurants, and relatively cavernous and chaotic ones, at that. I won’t sugarcoat the fact that both of these restaurants are loud.
Part of this is the inherent design of restaurants designed to the interior of a castle. Another part of that is the natural consequence of restaurants that cater primarily towards families. If you’re a couple looking for a quiet and sophisticated date night restaurant, you should be looking elsewhere altogether.
I’m not a huge fan of the ballroom at Be Our Guest Restaurant. I’ve said before that it’s like a cafeteria or mess hall, and I think that’s the most apt way to put it. The tables are close together, the center of the room is massive, and there’s not enough to break up the space or dampen the noise. It’s a fancy-looking mess hall, sure, but it still feels like a mess hall.
By contrast, the main area at Cinderella’s Royal Table is large, but it at least feels more intimate. The space is broken up a bit by multiple tiers, pillars, and other design artifice that works to its advantage. While both have a lot of faux concrete that can make these dining rooms cacophonous, Cinderella’s Royal Table seems to have more fabrics that absorb the noise.
If we were going solely on the main dining rooms at each, Cinderella’s Royal Table would be the decisive winner. However, Be Our Guest Restaurant has the West Wing and Rose Gallery, each of which offer a significantly better vibe. The West Wing can be noisy (something about which I’m reminded I should tell families as it can scare small children), but it’s themed noise, not just screaming patrons. We highly recommend requesting a table in one of these rooms as they are on par with, or arguably better than, the atmosphere of Cinderella’s Royal Table.
Cuisine: The most divisive aspect of both restaurants is their food. We happen to really enjoy each, but you will find plenty of people who disagree. When it comes to Be Our Guest Restaurant, this can likely be attributed to inconsistency. The throughput is pretty staggering, and it’s likely the kitchen is in a perpetual state of chaos.
With Cinderella’s Royal Table, critique of the cuisine might come down to expectations based upon price. This meal is on par with other Signature Restaurants price-wise, and the food is definitely a rung or two below Citricos, Jiko, Flying Fish, or other top tier resort restaurants. You have to take into account that you’re paying for the Magic Kingdom in-castle location, as well as meeting princesses.
When you compare either of these to other character meals, there is no comparison. (In fairness, most character meals are buffets, so you’re trading quantity for quality here.) The quality of the ingredients, the melding of the flavors, and the care of the presentation impresses at both. We give high marks to the cuisine at both, and taking price out of the equation (something we’ll add back in below), we’d give the advantage to Cinderella’s Royal Table in terms of cuisine.
Characters: Be Our Guest Restaurant never was a character dining experience, but meeting Beast at the end of the meal always used to be a nice treat. That has been absent from the meal for a while, but should make a comeback at some point in the near future. For now, Beast (usually) makes periodic appearances in the dining room, roaming around briefly for photos and introductions.
On a positive note, the Disney princesses have officially returned to the dining room at Cinderella’s Royal Table as of March 2023. In this regard, it’s now once again similar to Breakfast à la Art at Topolino’s Terrace — Flavors of the Riviera and Story Book Dining at Artist Point with Snow White, our two favorite character meals at Walt Disney World (not in substance–all three character meals are very different).
So in that sense, there’s no comparison between Be Our Guest Restaurant and Cinderella’s Royal Table, but there never really was. For those wanting to meet their favorite royal characters, Cinderella’s Royal Table is the hands-down winner. Even once Be Our Guest Restaurant is totally back to normal, it’s not a proper character dining experience. For many families, meeting and mingling with the princesses is a significant value-add.
Cost: This is an easy victory for Be Our Guest Restaurant, which costs $67 per adult and $39 per child as of March 2023. By contrast, the cost of breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table is $65 per adult and $39 per child. Lunch or dinner with the princesses inside Cinderella Castle now costs $79 per adult and $47 per kid.
Of course, value is not strictly about menu prices, but the intersection of cost and quality. We’d say that both restaurants are close to equal in terms of food quality. Both now serve prix fixe menus that are a rung below Signature quality, but above normal in-park or character dining. We give Cinderella’s Royal Table the edge, but it’s a slight edge. No matter how much better the food is, it’s not “better enough” to justify the massive chasm in price.
Others may contend that meeting the princesses in a pleasant environment with no waiting offers a significant value. For some, this is certainly going to be true. Are princesses worth $12-$18 times the number of people in your party? Value there is in the eye of the beholder.
From my perspective, the premium pricing for Cinderella’s Royal Table is worth the money for lunch and dinner. When you account for the slightly superior cuisine quality, better themed design and atmosphere, and the princesses, it’s a pretty easy win. But then again, not everyone cares about princesses and Beauty and the Beast fans might actually prefer that setting.
Hassle: Neither of these are the tough ADRs that they once were. That’s relative, as both used to be nearly impossible even at the 180 day mark. Now, that ADR window has been reduced to 60 days (technically 60+10 for on-site guests) and both are easier but still not easy. Still probably among the top 10 restaurants at Walt Disney World in terms of booking difficulty, but you can find tables inside of a month out from time to time.
Depending upon your dates, you might also be able to find same-day availability for either, with Be Our Guest Restaurant becoming increasingly common for morning-of and Walk-Up Waitlist availability. With that said, this is highly dependent upon party size. Those with 4 or fewer are going to have far more success in this regard.
Still, both Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest Restaurant can be a hassle to book. The best practice is booking them 60+10 days out. The food is not that good (certainly not much better than Skipper Canteen, which regularly has same-day walk-up availability), so it really depends upon whether eating inside a castle and with royalty is important for you or your kids. For some families, it’ll be the absolute highlight of a trip to Walt Disney World. Others are simply booking one of the two based on hype, without having their own justification for doing one of the two.
I know this flies in the face of the internet hype machine that builds up these restaurants as must dos, but they definitely are not for everyone. And that’s as someone who actually finds the lunch and dinner menus at both to be very solid. I only mention this because we hear from a lot of readers who find either or both to be overrated, and there’s definitely a “that’s it?!” vibe with both that is usually a result of hearing too much hype. These restaurants absolutely live up to or exceed expectations for many Walt Disney World guests, but certainly not everyone.
Ultimately, there’s a reason both Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest Restaurant are two of the most recognizable and popular restaurants at Walt Disney World. In their own ways, they each deliver in terms of theme, and can make for a very memorable experience for kids…and even adults like us. So long as you go in with appropriate expectations, we really don’t think either Be Our Guest Restaurant or Cinderella’s Royal Table will disappoint.
With that said, each restaurant has its own distinct selling points. Even though both are “in-castle” dining, the actual appeal of each should differ. If you want an authentic in-castle dining experience or a character meal, choose Cinderella’s Royal Table. If you want a meal that more or less captures the essence of Beauty and the Beast or you’re simply on a tighter budget, choose Be Our Guest Restaurant. If you have kids who are obsessed with princesses and the movie Beauty and the Beast, find a way to do both.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Do you agree or disagree with our comparison of Be Our Guest Restaurant and Cinderella’s Royal Table? Which restaurant would you give the edge in terms of theme and ambiance? In terms of cuisine? Are either or neither worth the hassle and cost? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!