1900 Park Fare – A Breakfast Review

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My wife and I have a tradition (okay, it’s only the last couple of years, but still) of going to Walt Disney World for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. On our first trip, we made the mistake of also getting the Disney Dining Plan. This was not the smartest move on our part, but in our way we made it work. We tried to focus on eating breakfast at places we had not tried before, and therefore ended up at 1900 Park Fare.

The entrance to 1900 Park Fare is opposite the birdcage elevator seen here.

If you’re not familiar with 1900 Park Fare, it’s tucked away on the bottom floor of the Grand Floridian, near the front of the building. For breakfast, it is a character dining experience, with the chance to meet some characters you don’t normally get to see. Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, and other characters are on-hand to greet guests. That alone was reason for me to try it out, as I’ve never been able to wait in line and greet Mary Poppins.

So, with great anticipation my wife and I took the bus to the Magic Kingdom, then a boat over to the Grand Floridian. And there lies the first problem with 1900 Park Fare – it’s not easy to get to unless you are driving. Since we were reliant on Disney transportation, it took us nearly an hour and ten minutes to arrive, and we missed our reservation time even though we left an hour before the 9 a.m. Advanced Dining Reservation.

That led to a bit of waiting on our part. Normally that is no big deal for me. I actually don’t mind sitting and talking to my wife, but we were both hungry that morning, and the 20 minute wait for a table combined with my desire to get back in the parks was not a great combination. So the end result was that I was not a happy camper when I arrived in the front door of 1900 Park Fare.

This was only made worse by the fact that once our buzzer went off, we were immediately shepherded to a photo backdrop where we were asked to wait in line to take a picture. While it was a nice backdrop, there were no characters there and we had absolutely no intention of buying the photo, which was not included in the price of the meal. It seemed a serious waste of time for a couple without kids and I honestly would not have enjoyed it even with my kids. Sure, I could have asked to skip it, and I understand that Disney will allow that, but it’s really unnecessary when there are no characters around.

The check-in area, right before the unnecessary photo op.

Fortunately, we were soon escorted to our table and allowed to eat! Our waitress came by quickly after we were seated, explained the buffet, and took our drink orders (water and coffee for both of us). Finally, about 9:45, we were able to go eat, only 45 minutes after when we originally had an ADR. Sure, part of that was our fault, but Disney is usually better about such things.

I am not picky about breakfast foods, so it was easy for me to load up at the buffet. This is standard Disney breakfast fare – eggs, bacon, sausage, stale biscuits, gravy, pancakes and assorted pastries. There were, of course, other items like fruit and cereals and healthy stuff, but let’s be honest – I’m on vacation, so I wanted the fattening items. In terms of food quality, it was about what I expected, which is not much.

Disney has a pretty standard breakfast formula, and it doesn’t deviate much from it. The meats and eggs are hot and good, the breads are stale, and the restaurants have no clue how to make gravy. The pastries, provided that they are freshly baked, are generally very good. This was the case with my experience at 1900 Park Fare. As such, I was pleased with the meal, if not overwhelmed by it. Sure, there were more items to get, like freshly carved meats and made-to-order omelets, but the lines were so long that I couldn’t wait for them and still eat the other food on my plate. I did try the “legendary” strawberry soup, but it struck me more as melted ice cream than anything else.

There are few Disney breakfast spots that really strike my fancy (Kona Cafe is the best), so it was more the experience that I was looking forward to when I booked this meal.

That was a disappointment. The characters on site for our meal were Mary Poppins, Alice, the Mad Hatter, Pooh, and Tigger. Now, I have seen Pooh and Tigger many times at The Crystal Palace, so I wasn’t exactly waiting for that opportunity. But as fate would have it, they are the two who came to our table first. And then we waited. Again. Eventually, Mary Poppins came by, but we never did get to see Alice or the Mad Hatter.

For the money we paid for the Dining Plan, it was still a disappointment. A regular breakfast at 1900 Park Fare would be just under $27 per person. With tip included, that comes out to a whopping $68 for breakfast! For that price, I don’t expect to have to wait in long lines, be forced to pay for a picture that I had to wait for, or get mediocre food. My experience may not be indicative of the restaurant as a whole, because I can see where there could be good things there, but at least on this one Friday morning, it was not everything I had hoped it would be.

What about you? Have you guys tried 1900 Park Fare? What did you think?

 

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Posted on March 26, 2012

25 Responses to “1900 Park Fare – A Breakfast Review”

  • We have had a few great experiences at 1900 Park Fare. We have dined there either three or four times over the past few years. BUT…we were there for dinner. The step sisters, evil step mother, Prince Charming, and Cinderella were wonderful. Lots of antics with the step sisters. The food was very good for a buffet. A nice selection and good quality. We would go back again.

  • by Michelle B. on March 26, 2012, at 2:04 pm EDT

    We ate there for breakfast last year while staying at the GF. Even though we were 10 minutes early for our ADR, we had to wait 15 minutes, and they weren’t busy. So even if you were on-time you probably would have had to wait. I really did enjoy the strawberry soup/ice cream, but to me there is nothing wrong with melted ice cream for breakfast!

    We had a similar experience with the non-opp photo opp. except the PhotoPass person’s camera didn’t even work. As for characters, likewise Pooh and Tigger made it around twice before we saw Alice and Mad Hatter. Tigger was great though as I had a stuffed Angry Bird with me and he launched it across the restaurant. I was pleased that Tigger plays Angry Birds!

    THEN we had a 35 minute wait between waiting for our check, paying it, and getting the receipt! Since you did not mention anything about issues paying your bill, feel fortunate that your experience could have been worse.

  • We have gone a couple times for breakfast and really enjoyed the quality food available. The times we have gone we have booked very early in the morning and were seated quickly which allowed us to see the characters as they filled the remaining seats.

  • by Scarlett Litton on March 26, 2012, at 2:12 pm EDT

    I went to 1900 Park Fare for dinner once, and I also thought the photo opp was ridiculous. We just didn’t get in line. A seater asked if we wanted to skip the photo, we said yes, and they sat us immediately.

    • It was the same for us the first time we went to the Tusker House character lunch. As soon as I figured it out, we got out of line and sat down to wait for our table. It’s funny that Ryan says, “Sure, I could have asked to skip it, and I understand that Disney will allow that.” You don’t have to ask, and, of course, Disney doesn’t make it mandatory! Can you imagine if they treated it like riding a coaster where they won’t allow the ride to go unless you’ve fastened your restraint. “I’m sorry, sir, the breakfast cannot continue until you’ve had your photo taken!”

      The second time we went to Tusker House there was no line for the photo, and I had my camera ready so that the photographer could use it after taking the requisite Disney shot. I got a nice photo of me with Donald, and it didn’t cost anything extra.

  • We tried 1900 Park Fare last September for the first time. We have done so many character meals over the years, but never this one. Our first problem was as per the review: we left POFQ well over an hour before our reservation, got right onto a bus for MK and expected to have time to walk around the resort after arriving early. We didn’t expect the monorail to break down between MK and the Contemporary and arrived about 20 minutes late but they seated us immediately. Service was good, we really enjoyed the food there and the character interaction was fair. On the whole it wasn’t a bad meal but we also felt we have had better ‘character meal experiences’ for the price they charge for these buffets. My other gripe was the restrooms which I felt, considering you have streams of very young children going through this adequately sized restaurant, 2 or 3 stalls and a line running out the door continuously is less than ideal.

    • Regarding the photo op, I didn’t notice until afterwards, but we weren’t offered one. It didn’t matter as I wouldn’t have purchased the photo pack, but it’s not like Disney to forgo the opportunity to make an extra buck or two!

  • We ate breakfast their last December. The food was really good and all the characters came to our table within 25 minutes. They came back by about 30 minutes later and offered more pictures if we wanted. It was great. The lines were not long for the specialty items on the buffet even though the restaurant was full. It might be the difference between busy season and off season, but we would go back any time.

    • LOL, we would have assumed automatically that your smart phone had foiled you, as they tend to do to the best of us on a regular basis! :D

  • I have been to 1900 Park Fare once, in January 2011. This was my oldest daughter’s (16) request because she was in an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ phase at the time. We were a party of seven and booked this on a ‘non-park’ day so we had a later ADR of around 11, as I recall. During booking, the agent told me to allow up to 90 minutes of travel time and I took that to heart as we were 1)relying on Disney transportation and would have to transfer, and 2)were coming from the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

    We took the bus to MK, then the monorail to the Grand Floridian. We were about 15 minutes early and seated within 5-10 minutes. There was the requisite photo op, but it is what it is. If you’ve been to WDW, you know it’s coming, so why get cranky about it? There are things I do at my job that, while I consider pointless, I have to do anyway, so I smile and let the cast members do their thing.

    The dining room wasn’t crowded. I enjoyed the buffet, especially the lobster eggs Benedict and the in-question chilled strawberry soup. All of the characters came to our table, nicely spaced apart. Mad Hatter and Mary Poppins came twice. My son, who was nine months old at the time, took a shining to Mary and could not take his eyes off her as she circulated the dining room. She noticed and gave him special attention, including a big kiss with red lip prints on his forehead. Everyone in my party agreed it was our best character meal of the ten day trip and it is now on our must do list.

  • by Brian Noble on March 26, 2012, at 3:22 pm EDT

    Handy 1900 PF breakfast tip: get a late seating, as close to the end of service as you can get. The dining room is half-full at the most, and only gets more and more empty as time goes on. The characters generally stick around, though, which means the time you can spend with them goes way up—and that can lead to a lot of fun. For example, we played croquet with Mary, Alice, and Hatter and my son was the hedgehog ball…it was absolutely hilarious.

  • …Jealous of the photo with Mary Poppins. ;)

  • We have enjoyed both Breakfast and Dinner here on a few occasions. On my daughters 14th birthday we had breakfast and it was a lot of fun. The Mad Hatter paid her plenty of attention and the food was good especially the omelets. Plus watching my wife eat candy for breakfast was a treat for the entire family. Sorry it did not work out as well for you.

  • LOL!! I was ROTFL when I read ‘stale bread’……… It’s too crazy what Disney gets away with all the time.

    Thank you everyone for your comments on the Character Breakfast. I’m a character myself :) and so far I haven’t convinced my family to take me to any of these dining options.

    With all of your tips, I’m sure I’ll be able to make sure my family has a great experience!

  • We have eaten there for both breakfast and dinner, and I believe we had a short wait each time, even though we arrived on time (we were staying at the resort, so we didn’t have the transportation concerns – I don’t think we’ve ever eaten there when staying at a different resort). We had a good experience at breakfast, but we had a fantastic experience at dinner. Our daughters had dressed as Cinderella’s stepsisters for Halloween (my mother made the costumes – their baby cousin was Cinderella) and they wore them to dinner. All the characters at dinner made a huge production when they saw them and it was a really special event that we’ll always remember. The food was decent, as I recall – nothing spectacular, but better than average.

  • We ate at 1900 Park Fare for breakfast last year. We loved the breakfast and the characters. We got to see all of them. What I didn’t like was the atmosphere of the Grand Floridian. It struck us to high class and we felt really out of place wearing jean shorts and t-shirts (our standard park wear). Besides that it was great. We have booked dinner there this year as the daughter wants to eat dinner with Cinderella.

  • We did the character breakfast last year and the experience was really poor. The food selection was reduced and wasn’t as high quality as a few years ago, and when we were seated I noticed my juice glass was obviously used and put on the new table by accident. It took forever to get a new one by our server who was barely present- at check time we waited for about 1/2 hr and finally flagged down another CM. But mostly, it was that we had a strange experience with the characters who seemed really distracted/ disinterested. They (esp. Alice and Mary Poppins) really wouldn’t make any eye contact- they said only a word or two and signed the kids autograph books while looking around the room (as if checking how much work was left- we were at one of the last seatings)- we actually had to ask for the pic before they took off even though our camera was ready in hand. The experience was so uncharacteristic for normally great WDW meals, so it’s off the list for us now :(

  • We’ve had breakfast at 1900 several times and have always been pleased. We’ve also never waited more than a few minutes–actually, on our last trip we were late (monorail delays) and we were still seated within just a few minutes of checking in. We opted to skip the photo op at the beginning with no problems–I recall that several years back Mary would sit there, and you’d meet with her before heading in to breakfast. Then the other characters would come around.

    We’ve also never had a problem seeing all the characters, either. On one trip the Mad Hatter and Tigger were having a blast with each other–the Mad Hatter kept yelling for Alice to “get the ax” as he chased Tigger. The service has always been pleasant and we’ve found the food to be good, too. Sorry it wasn’t your cup of tea. :)

  • by Karen thompson on March 27, 2012, at 9:52 pm EDT

    We visited Disney during Christmas and we all know how busy it is during that time. We opted for a later seating time, I think around 10 or 10:30. All of the characters you mentioned were there, and we had quality time and pictures with each one. I agree with you, the food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had either. But the selection is large enough that even the pickiest eater will get full and enjoy their food. We too had to wait a few minutes to be “seated” only to find out that we had to go through the picture line. I was not aware that we could skip it. Other than that we had a very pleasant experience and I would recommend it to a friend.

  • On a visit several years ago, we were struck by how noisy the restaurant is and it was made even worse by the absolute SCREAMING from the Mad Hatter!!! He was so loud that my daughter refuses to go back to that restaurant because he totally freaked her out!!!! The food was ok and the service was poor at best. We will not be back.

  • We had a late ADR for breakfast on our trip a couple of years ago and, whilst the food was only OK, it was some of the best character interaction we as 2 adults with no kids have had.
    We had various pictures taken with all the characters and the Mad Hatter was constantly trying to distract us or photobomb us at exactly the wrong moment.
    It made for some great pictures and memories!

  • I wanted to echo the good comments . My family have generally had pleasant experience at this and other on property restaurants. I felt the need to comment for the first time because of all the negativity I have seen in this review and the more recent reviews. You know what folks these establishments are ran by humans and there will be issues as there is anywhere. All you complainers don’t bother visiting if you are going to whine, complain and nit pick Disney to death. This way Disney won’t be as busy when my family and others who truly appreciate the wonderful experiences visit. I find for the most part any bad part of our many visits have been unappreciative and rude guests.

  • by Page Krebsbach on July 17, 2013, at 9:43 am EDT

    Ryan, I’m super enjoying all of your reviews! Hope you will be posting some new ones soon. We are heading out in 2 weeks to WDW for a 12 day stay with our new annual passes, and again in October for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler. I’ve always been tempted to book 1900 Park Fare for breakfast, because like you, hey I’m on vacation and I want to enjoy myself! But now I’m somewhat hesitant regarding the sticker price….wowza, those better be some amazing eggs and bacon for $68 buckaroos, even with a Tables in Wonderland discount!

    Generally, we find the quality of the breakfast food at table service restaurants around the WDW Resort to be excellent and plentiful, and the service kind, friendly, and accommodating.

    As far as the photo ops go, sometimes were are in, and sometimes we are out. On our trip in September 2012, we arrived at Chef Mickey’s after the daily rain storm, and my 2 daughters and myself looked like drenched mole rats, and only my husband looked adorable in his Mickey baseball cap. I guess now looking back, it would have been a fun photo of the 3 female family members, all wet in their Mickey plastic rain ponchos, and my husband all dry and cute – since he had been in the Contemporary Resort Bar watching ESPN all afternoon!:-) But I really was in no mood at the time and the Cast Member quickly knew, and ushered us straight past the requisite photo op and on to our perfect table, with our attentive server (who quickly brought me a glass of wine), and on to a great experience!