For the longest time, the hardest meal to get into at Disney’s Magic Kingdom has been breakfast at Cinderella’s Castle. It was the only character meal there, and featured Cinderella, Prince Charming, and the other familiar characters from the Cinderella story. Recently, Disney has added the nearly as popular character lunch. Having a 4 year old daughter, and not willing to go to the extremes necessary to get the Cindy breakfast, I booked the character lunch for our recent trip to Disney World.
I want to start by saying I am not a fan of the character meals at the castle. I have been to breakfast there with only adults, and I took my oldest when she was about 4 or 5. The character interaction at this meal is minimal in my opinion, and the food at the breakfast has always been just so-so. Aside from the fact that it is a sight to remember watching your princess infatuated daughter go goo-goo eyed over seeing her heroines in person, there isn’t much to the breakfast here that I can recommend. I was more optimistic about the lunch, but not so optimistic that I was going to set myself up to be disappointed if I ended up with an opinion similar to the one I have for the breakfast.
We arrived at 2:40 for our 2:45 “reservation”. Here’s the thing about Disney dining reservations – they are not true reservations. Formerly called Priority Seatings and now called Advanced Dining Reservations, basically all it does is guarantee that when you walk up to the podium, you will be given the next table available for your party size. There is not a table in the restaurant being held for you, but if another party your size walks up without an ADR, you will be given priority over them when a table becomes available. We were not seated until nearly 3:15, and by that time, Eilis was really antsy and the baby had woken up from her nap. When the bells finally chimed and our name was called, Eilis and I were in the potty and we missed it.
We are sent upstairs to the castle dining room, where we are escorted to our table. There is an elevator if you need one. As soon as our butts are in the chair, they are asking us for drink orders, so we ordered without checking out the menu. Had I waited and been given the chance to look at the menu, I would have seen that there are some specialty drinks available that offer a souvenir mug. I would have ordered that for Eilis instead of the diet Coke she ended up with.
Before our drinks are served, a waiter brings us our appetizers. These are pre-selected, and there is a different selection for the children and the adults. Eilis’ platter arrives with fresh grapes, an assortment of cheeses, carrot and celery sticks, and a ranch dip for the vegetables. She is way too busy enjoying seeing the princesses to appreciate her appetizers, but she eventually eats everything but some of the cheese.
The adult appetizer varies, so you cannot expect the same items we had on our recent visit. The platter is prepared based on the number of adults at your table. Our platter arrived with two slices of buffalo mozarella; two fried wontons; two pieces of cold, grilled chicken, and something else neither Jim nor I can remember. I’m not a fan of the buffalo mozarella, and the restaurant was not winning any awards with the cold grilled chicken. The fried wontons were tasty, and since I cannot remember the last appetizer, I am going to guess it wasn’t a memorable dish either.
Eilis chose chicken strips, which came with more grapes, and she enjoyed them very much. Jim had the Major Domo pie. This was shredded prime rib surrounded by a puff pastry in a thick sauce with strips of sauteed vegetables. Inside the pastry, there were creamy mashed potatoes. Jim declared it “alright” – not great, not terrific, not incredible and I must eat it again. I had the pork tenderloin. Very tender, the pork was presented in several large chunks, drizzled with the same cabernet sauce that surrounded the Major Domo pie, and positioned around the cheese grits, which were topped with thin, crispy onions. It was really very good, although the portion was a bit on the smallish side, as we were eating this lunch very late with only a small breakfast behind us. It was a nice size portion if this was genuinely lunch, but by the time we are served, it is 3:30.
Dessert arrived before they could even clear the dirty dishes from lunch. Jim and I were each given a blueberry buckle cobbler, topped with a lemon ice cream and raspberry creme fraiche, and served with two strawberries. Having not had a blueberry buckle before, I didn’t know what to expect. It looked similar to a blueberry muffin, but it was much more moist than a muffin. The lemon ice cream was fantastic – I wish I had a whole bowl of just that – it was so cool and refreshing! This was a great dessert. The dessert that they gave to Eilis was a bowl of vanilla ice cream topped with a chocolate Cinderella crown. She was really too full to eat it, but she nibbled a bit at the crown.
Lunch here is $23.99 per person for adults (which is anyone over 9), and for children 3-9, the meal costs $12.99. In my opinion, this is a bit steep for what you are getting, although you are really paying for the look on your daughter’s face, which is priceless. But, if it doesn’t matter to you which character you are seeing, consider doing the Crystal Palace for lunch. You will get much better character interaction, a buffet of all you can eat delicious food, and a bill that is about $4 cheaper per person. I’m glad we did this meal once, for the photos I have of my daughter, but I would not go back again. That works to the advantage of the many people who spend hours on the phone trying to book this meal.
Oh – one other thing – when you book this meal (as with the breakfast at the castle), you will pay a deposit of $10 per adult and $5 per child. This will be deducted from your final bill. If you do not show up for the meal, and have not cancelled 24 hours in advance, you will forfiet this deposit.
If you MUST eat with Cinderella, I would suggest trying 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian for their all you can eat buffet dinner with the Princess.