Character Meals: Vol. 3 – Garden Grill

by 12 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

Welcome back (or just welcome if you didn’t read my other posts about Cinderella’s Royal Table or Chef Mickey’s)!  Today I’m going to tell you what I think about a lesser known character meal: The Garden Grill.

Now I have absolutely no facts to back up my assertion that it is “lesser known,” but I have always been surprised by how many people I speak to don’t know this meal exists.  Whether you knew of its existence or not, please read along with my impression of the experience and make as many comments as you like below (or just shout them out, especially if you are at work right now).

Atmosphere

The Garden Grill is located in The Land pavilion in Epcot’s Future World.  You’ve probably all walked past it at least once because it’s right at the top of the escalator/stairs that lead to Soarin’.  The entire restaurant rotates, passing scenes from the Living with the Land attraction.  Obviously, because of the rotation, the entire space is round; to maximize capacity, it is split into two concentric levels.

We were seated in the inside circle, which meant that there was a half-wall and the outer circle between us and the show scenes from Living with the Land.  So, from a seated position, I could see the very tops of the scenes and the half-wall…not the best view I’ve had for a meal.  Even from the outer circle, the interesting scenes do not create the end-all in restaurant atmosphere. It is fun, though, when your dining partner doesn’t realize the restaurant rotates until you’re suddenly in a “thunderstorm,” like my wife did (it’s okay, she doesn’t read this. She’s sick of my constant Disney talk).

One question that I had to ask during the meal was how the wait staff finds the tables.  You see, while the tables are on the rotating floor, the kitchen is not.  So every time a server comes out of the kitchen, the tables are in a slightly different spot (relative to the kitchen).  The answer is basically “you get used to it,” which is much less interesting than the system of hidden codes and secret signals that I had devised in my head.

Characters

The characters at The Garden Grill are Mickey (in his best farmer getup), Pluto, Chip, and Dale (who are all naked, well furry…you know what I mean).  The interaction with the characters was great. We saw each character twice, and I think we saw Chip three times (and we weren’t there very long).  They all spent an adequate amount of time at our table, and their visits were spaced pretty well, allowing us time to actually eat in between.  I really don’t have anything bad to say about the characters.

Food

I may have mentioned this before, but I’m a bit of a food snob.  I’m not super picky, but it bothers me when restaurants can’t at least make things fresh and properly seasoned.

I was pleasantly surprised by the food at The Garden Grill. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was obviously fresh (some grown in The Land pavilion…allegedly) and it was well seasoned.  The food is all served family style, and refills are available.

The only things that I remember being particularly yummy were the maple butter served with the bread basket and the fruit crisp dessert.  The other items were simple, home-style dishes such as beef loin, turkey breast, and smashed potatoes.  I found none of it life-altering, but it was good, and I happily requested more when it was gone.

Odds, Ends, and Details

Dinner is the only meal served at The Garden Grill. It costs $34.99 for adults and $16.99 for children (according to AllEars.Net).

Final Thoughts

This is not a meal I would pick as a special occasion dinner, but if you like the characters and are looking for a solid dinner, this is a winner (ooh, rhyming).  It is relatively quiet and relatively small, which allows for a very nice dining experience.

I also find The Garden Grill to be easy on my touring.  With a location in Future World right next to a headliner attraction (Soarin’), you can easily squeeze it in between a few rides.  I very much enjoy the relaxed feeling of The Garden Grill, and I will be returning.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
Posted on October 4, 2011

12 Responses to “Character Meals: Vol. 3 – Garden Grill”

  • We ate her in mid September for the first time and it was a great, relaxed meal. Compared to some of the other character dining experiences it was much quieter and relaxed. Just get ready for ten minutes of kids exclaiming “oh we are almost to the rainforest” followed by ten minutes of “we are almost to the desert”. It moves very,very slowly,lol!

  • by Debbie from Chicago on October 4, 2011, at 8:48 am EDT

    We went for my birthday 2 years ago. They actually brought out a small cake(no extra charge) sang Happy Birthday, but also our waiter came by again and sang Jolly Holiday…I felt like I was on Broadway seeing Mary Poppins. Food was pretty good and the charcters came by 3 times. We had a really great time and will be going back this November. I really think it’s a little gem.

  • This is one of my favorites because it’s so relaxed and sooooo quiet compared to the other locations. We don’t have kids so we were looking for something on the quieter side and this worked out great!

  • We loved the Garden Grill. While family style may not be the fastest way to get food, it was nice not to have to run to a buffet and miss Mickey coming over. We are going again in December!

  • One of my favorite hilarious family Disney memories involves this meal at the Garden Grill. Picture a party of people all over fifteen years old wanting a good meal in the park… and being totally unaware of the characters arriving.

  • I went to GG for the first time in Aug. The food was quite good, and of course unlimited. The salad, bread, and cobbler were especially good. My biggest complaint is the service. It took 25 mins for us just to get drinks and salad/bread. Is that normal, or part of the “relaxed” atmosphere? The meal just took forever!

  • I LOVE the Garden Grill. I have not been since it switched to family style, but it sounds like everything else is still the same. The last time I ate there was in Spring 2006. I think the circular design keeps makes the meal seem more secluded. Instead of seeing about a hundred people eat, you can only see a few tables. It really is a quiet, neat restaurant that I would recommend to a family or group of any age.

  • by Larry Scaglioni on October 5, 2011, at 11:03 am EDT

    Love this meal. The character interaction is the best. Chip & Dale are a hoot. Been there twice. Once in 2008 & again in 2010. Saw the characters at least 3 times. It got to the point that when Mickey walked by again, my daughters just waved and didn’t give it another thought.

    Food was outstanding. The dessert was excellent.

    We’ve done a lot of characters meals (CRT, Crystal Palace, Tusker House, Chef Mickey’s, 1900 Park Faire breakfast & dinner, Princess storybook lunch, and the old one at Liberty Tree Tavern) and I would say this one is our favorite.

    Because the character interaction (especially Chip & Dale) was beyond compare, and the food was excellent.

  • Nice place to eat and play with the characters!

    And they have a spectacular Hidden Mickey in a big mural. I loved it so much, I took a picture because I would never find it again. It is sooooo well hidden!

  • Of the four character meals we did on our last trip (Chef Mickeys, Ohana, and the Crystal Palace were the others) this one was the one we enjoyed the most as parents. The restaraunt is reall quiet compared to the others and the characters really take their time at your table and you do not feel rushed. And the family-style service is wonderful when you’ve been walking all day and you wqant them to bring it all to you instead of having to get up and make multiple trips to a buffet to fill plates for your children and yourself. Just a wonderful experience from top to bottom. And the fact that the food just seems fresher and tastier is icing on the cake!

  • We really enjoyed the Garden Grill on our last visit (10/11) and have reservations to return on our trip next month. The food was good, and the service pleasant. My only complaint is that when your table rotates out into the Land pavillion, you kind of feel like a caged monkey at the zoo. All of those people walking by, and many of them stop and take pictures of the characters. I’m quite sure our family is in at least 10 stranger’s scrapbooks, lol….but obviously, this was not bothersome enough to keep me from returning.

Leave a reply, your thoughts are welcome!

Want a cool avatar next to your comments? Add one at Gravatar