Cinderella’s Royal Table is a table service princess character meal inside Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. This review features food photos, our thoughts from dinner at the restaurant, and whether we think this character dining experience is worth the money.
Walt Disney World considers Cinderella’s Royal Table a “Fairytale Dining Experience,” which I think just refers to the fact that you can meet Cinderella and other visiting princesses here. The meal also includes a photo of your party and Cinderella taken by PhotoPass photographers. The menu consists of American cuisine that is almost fine-dining caliber. This is actually quite a surprise given that it’s a character meal.
Cinderella’s Royal Table is arguably the flagship restaurant in the Magic Kingdom (only Be Our Guest Restaurant surpasses it in popularity), and one of the most uniquely “Disney” restaurants in all of Walt Disney World. Despite its popularity, Cinderella’s Royal Table accepts Tables in Wonderland for a 20% discount (you receive a refund when you present your card in the restaurant for the amount of the discount), and participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a 2-credit Signature meal. Due to that, it is not a good choice if you’re trying to maximize your value on the Disney Dining Plan.
Due to some ADR-hoarding a number of years ago by a group called “Howie’s Angels,” (nothing surprises me in Disney fandom anymore) Cinderella’s Royal Table requires prepayment in full for secure an Advance Dining Reservation. It’s a bit surprising that this policy is still in effect, as Howie and his crew are long gone, and the popularity of Cinderella’s Royal Table is not what it once was. Moreover, the policy makes it cumbersome to use discounts or the Disney Dining Plan.
With Be Our Guest Restaurant now being the top draw in the Magic Kingdom, Cinderella’s Royal Table ADRs are now easier to score. For years we had no chance at dining here as the restaurant booked up a full 180 days in advance, and we never make ADRs that early. I found this reservation a month before our trip, so we figured ‘what the heck,’ it would be awesome to dine in Cinderella Castle. We had previously been inside the Castle, but that was for a tour of the Cinderella Castle Suite, so…not quite the same.
We cringed at the cost and the idea of paying for a photo package we didn’t really want, and for meeting characters we didn’t really have an interest in meeting. Still, we booked it because it was something new to try, and I really wanted to photograph and see the inside of the restaurant, which I’ve always thought was really cool.
I can still remember looking in the Walt Disney World book I had as a kid and seeing the star-filter enhanced photo of King Stefan’s Banquet Hall, and thinking how awesome it would be to eat inside Cinderella Castle. We further justified eating at here despite the price in the name of research, as many people have asked us about this restaurant.
So, although we figured it wouldn’t be worth the money to us, we convinced ourselves to give it a try anyway. We were downright shocked by the restaurant…
In terms of ambiance, Cinderella’s Royal Table was spectacular. It looked like it had been fairly unchanged since it was King Stefan’s Banquet Hall, and I honestly think that is probably for the best.
The restaurant seemed to be in great condition, from the carpet to the intricate details to the flags overhead.
Note that a year or so ago, there was a fairly significant and lengthy refurbishment to Cinderella’s Royal Table and another refurbishment will be occurring for a brief period in February and March 2018. The menu changed slightly during the last refurbishment, and another menu change is possible during the 2018 refurbishment.
I hope Disney’s Imagineers never change the look or feel of the restaurant, because it feels very regal, beautifully designed, and most of all, like an authentic European castle. I trust in the Imagineers, but I really hope they don’t opt for a “modern” refresh, as that’s totally unnecessary here.
The guest ambiance was also surprisingly good. Now, this definitely is a ‘your mileage may vary situation’, but there were no crying children, and the restaurant overall was not loud like we expected. We’ve been to some chaotic character meals, and this didn’t have that feeling at all.
It wasn’t peaceful or subdued like a fine dining experience late at night can be, but it was shockingly relaxed. Perhaps Disney has utilized fabrics and other sound-dampening techniques, or maybe we just got lucky. Regardless of why, we were stunned and impressed.
Above is the photo I really wanted from Cinderella’s Royal Table. It took me awkwardly setting up a tripod, but it was worth it!
Although I was excited about finally seeing the inside of the restaurant, I was also dreading the meal a bit, as I fully expected a loud restaurant full of tired kids (we had a late ADR), phoned-in cuisine, and awkward character interactions. We were very fortunate in that only one of those things occurred.
I think there’s some variety to the princesses who meet at Cinderella’s Royal Table, but the one constant is Cinderella downstairs.
On the evening we dined here, Aurora, Snow White, Ariel, and Rapunzel were also meeting guests.
I’m not a big fan of meeting face characters. It also feels like an awkward experience, and while I’m comfortable cheesing it up with fur characters, I don’t have that comfort level meeting real people.
But, that’s my problem. These characters were great, and Sarah had a lot of fun with them.
She especially liked Snow White, who had a bit of sharp wit about her, without breaking character.
In fact, I enjoyed watching her character interactions with each of the princesses. Most did a really good job, and were pretty good representations of the characters depicted.
On to the food. Note that Cinderella’s Royal Table is not all you can eat. You order off of a prix fixe menu, and may not order extra portions. This hasn’t always been the case, so if you dined here in the past…things have changed.
Dinner started out with bread service. This was rather pedestrian.
I started with the Crawfish and Shrimp with Grits. This consists of crawfish and shrimp in a New Orleans-style barbecue sauce with goat cheese grits.
I loved this appetizer, which had a really unique flavor (different than standard shrimp and grits). The seafood in it was good, and wasn’t rubbery as is often the case when it’s mixed in a concoction like this.
My only complaint was the presentation, which seemed almost like it was presented in a mixing dish. Obviously this didn’t affect the taste, but this does purport to be fine dining.
Sarah had the Strawberry Salad for her appetizer. This consists of strawberries, feta cheese, arugula, almonds, balsamic glaze, and olive oil.
She found the quality of the salad to be very high with a great mix of complimentary ingredients, and a refreshing taste.
We ‘fought’ over who got to order the Beef Tenderloin. Since we always order different foods for the sake of reviews (YOU’RE WELCOME, AMERICA! 😉 ), we couldn’t both order it.
I “won” this time, but don’t feel sorry for Sarah…she usually wins.
Wow is all I can say about this. Cooked medium-rare to perfection, the meat was almost tender enough to cut with a fork, the cut of meat was excellent, and the glaze gave it a rich flavor. The potatoes were similarly out of this world.
Sarah instead opted for the Slow-roasted Bone-In Pork, which is served on a couscous medley. She was surprised at how flavorful, tender, and juicy the cut of meat was.
I tried it, and I was similarly surprised–especially about the juciness. I think Sarah could have gone for a slightly leaner cut, but I thought it was the perfect amount of lean meat versus fat.
For dessert, Sarah ordered the ‘Clock Strikes Twelve.’ Awesome presentation, but I can’t say it really wowed either of us. Really rich, and that was really the dominating “flavor.”
It wasn’t bad–and maybe it just wasn’t for us.
I had the Chef’s Dessert Trio. Same deal–awesome presentation, sort of ‘meh’ desserts. I really did like the pistachio dessert in the middle. The others were sort of lackluster.
The real “dessert” or happy ending to our meal was the fireworks. In our Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Guide, I wrote that I don’t care for locations outside of Main Street for viewing the fireworks.
While I still prefer those locations, and would absolutely recommend those spots for a first time visitor or someone who will only see the fireworks once during their trip, for us, seeing them from inside Cinderella Castle was pretty special.
The problem for viewing the fireworks from inside Cinderella Castle for a first timer is that you’re not even getting close to the full show.
You’re missing the soundtrack, the near bursts, and it’s difficult to get a solid view of the fireworks out these windows.
What I think was the coolest part of this Wishes! viewing spot is the way the different burst illuminated the inside of the restaurant, basking everyone in different colors throughout the meal. Just contrast the two fireworks photos above.
The beautiful gothic architecture of the interior plus the glow of the fireworks was pure Disney magic. Putting aside the characters and even the better than expected food, this alone made the high price “worth it” for us.
This was one of the highlights of our trip, and as such, it really goes without saying that we recommend making an ADR about an hour before Wishes! starts. Then, although we didn’t do this, we’d recommend requesting a window table. You might have to wait, but it will be worth it.
Arriving early to any restaurants with fireworks views is Tip 4 on our Top 10 Walt Disney World Dining Tips, and I am really disappointed we didn’t follow our own advice. Please learn from our mistake!
Ultimately, I’m of two minds about Cinderella’s Royal Table. The restaurant is really, really expensive, and while surprisingly good, even by Walt Disney World standards, the meal is overpriced.
However, you’re obviously not paying for just the food when you dine here, as evidenced by the fact that the restaurant remains a tough Advance Dining Reservation despite the price and existence of Be Our Guest Restaurant, another “Castle” dining experience. Just as much a part of the meal as the food is the princess interactions and the fact that you’re dining inside Cinderella Castle.
If neither of these things matter to you, there is simply no reason for you to dine at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Even given our praise for the food in this review, you can get better food for less money elsewhere.
However, if princess dining and/or a meal in Cinderella Castle is appealing, it might be easier for you to justify this restaurant as a splurge. In the end, it really comes down to whether you’re comfortable spending this much on a meal that I’d peg at just a rung below fine dining.
Overall, Cinderella’s Royal Table gets two thumbs up from us. We were really surprised by our overwhelmingly positive experience here, and while the food wasn’t the best at Walt Disney World, it was the best food we’ve had at a character meal in a long time, probably ever. Much like we said our Chef Mickey’s Review, the food may not “matter” as many people may not be going for the food. Except, in this case, the food and ambiance here are actually really good.
Price is our only hang-up with Cinderella’s Royal Table–it is impossible to justify this cost (in terms of dollars or Disney Dining Plan credits) given the food. Don’t get us wrong, the food was really good, but it’s not on par with the likes of Jiko, Flying Fish, or other comparably-priced restaurants. The thing is, Cinderella’s Royal Table probably isn’t going to appeal to the same demographics of guests in the first place, though, so it’s tough to penalize it too much for that. If you are a family looking for a “fine family Disney dining experience” and are willing to pay accordingly, Cinderella’s Royal Table is the restaurant for you. If you’re a couple looking for a romantic restaurant were cuisine is paramount, you might want to look for one of the Signature Restaurants in the Magic Kingdom resorts.
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Have you done Cinderella’s Royal Table at Walt Disney World? What did you think? Worthwhile for the characters, ambiance, food, or all of the above? Is this meal something you’d like to try? Any specific recommendations? If you have any questions or thoughts to share, please post them in the comments. We love hearing from readers!