During a recent visit to Walt Disney World, my family had supper at the Garden Grill in the Land, at Epcot.
We had the Harvest Feast supper at Garden Grill. This was the first time we’d eaten at this restaurant, but having tried every other character meal multiple times, we had to fill in the gap… especially since Chip and Dale are no longer at Chef Mickey’s (my fave character meal at Disney). My youngest, Ceili, has become quite the fan of the chipmunks, so the timing was right to go check out Garden Grill.
Garden Grill is in the Land pavilion – just the floor above where the Soarin’ ride is.
When we checked in at the podium, we immediately received our pager to await for the next available table. The pager vibrates and blinks red lights when you’re being called. Given our dinner reservation was for 7:30 pm (and everything shuts down in Epcot at 9:00), we didn’t have to wait long. I think we were one of the last tables seated that night.
The Garden Grill is an unassuming restaurant from the outside, and equally unassuming on the inside. Everyone in the party is seated in a booth, and the booth slowly rotates around the restaurant rotunda-style. The food is brought to the table on a large platter, and is served family-style. It is plentiful, but basic fare. My 4 year old received the typical chicken fare (although a drumstick this time, instead of nuggets) that all kids 3-9 seemed doomed to eat at Disney. It was either that, or Disney’s weird blend of macaroni and cheese that seems more paste-like than Kraft Dinner. (It’s a sad state of affairs when my 4 year old says she likes my KD better – I didn’t know whether to be flattered or embarrassed.)
My 11 year old, my husband, and I (3 adults, under Disney dining rules), received the “harvest feast” on a platter. Obviously, all 4 of us ate that assortment of Mahi Mahi, turkey, and roast beef. The food was good, but somewhat bland. I’m a huge fan of turkey, so any appearance of that makes me smile. (I miss my thanksgiving feast at Liberty Tree Tavern at Magic Kingdom, since they stopped serving character meals.)
But my biggest complaint about all character meals at Disney also held true at Garden Grill. All the character meal food seems to have been prepared for a mass audience that apparently has no taste buds. The chefs are so careful about keeping everyone happy, and working around the various allergies, etc., that they are frightened about adding any seasoning, flavour, or originality to the meals.
This was true of the Mahi Mahi, turkey, and roast beef at Garden Grill as well. The salad was quite good, however, and really was representative of a harvest bounty.
But, no one goes to a character meal for fine dining. You go to see the characters. And, you’ll not be disappointed at Garden Grill. We saw both Chip (with the black nose) and Dale (with the red nose).
We even had some birthday greetings, a song, and a little cake for Bill and Ciara.
The meal (with soft drinks, and before tip) came to $114.98 USD.
This is another good plug for the Disney regular dining plan. Had we purchased it/ got in on the free dining promo; the meal plan would have cost us (for 3 people>10 yrs old, $42 x3) + (1 child <9 x $12)= $138 USD per night of stay. So, for $23 more, we would have had this meal, plus each of the 4 of us would have had another counter service meal, and a snack. You certainly couldn’t purchase a quick-service meal and a snack for anyone for less than $6.
My family usually does get the dining plan. We did not purchase it this time as we were using our annual pass tickets (so we did not purchase a vacation package, which is required). However, purchasing piecemeal did reinforce the value of the dining plan. (Particularly when you get it for free under the dining promo.)
We had a nice time at the Garden Grill. While the food wasn’t terrific, it was plentiful and good; and the characters were awesome. My girls really enjoyed the experience.