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.
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.
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?