Walt Disney World's Be Our Guest Restaurant with Young Kids

French Onion soup and the West Wing. Photo credit: Chris Bird, Standby Traveling Mom

With the ability to fly standby as an airline employee family, we often make travel plans last minute. One place that’s not really an option is at Walt Disney World, where just about everything needs to be planned in advance, including where you eat. One of Disney World’s most sought-after dining experiences is the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom.DestinationReview

Be Our Guest Restaurant: Reservations

The maximum number of days out you can book a dinner reservation (lunch is first-come-first-served) at Be Our Guest (or any of Disney’s full-service restaurants or dinner shows) is 180 days. And people are doing just that. To. The. Day.

Photo credit: Walt Disney World,  Gene Duncan, photographer)

Photo credit: Walt Disney World; Gene Duncan, photographer

My family and I decided about 30 days out that we were going to travel together to Disney World for the TravelingMom writers’  retreat. Be Our Guest Restaurant was the first thing I went online to book. I really wasn’t expecting to find any openings in the five days we were going to be there, but lo and behold, there was one! It was at 9:30 pm on a Saturday night. Ugh. That was going to be difficult with a seven-year-old, but, surely it would be worth it to keep her up late for just one night? Read on and you be the judge.

Walt Disney World's Be Our Guest Restaurant with Young Kids

Photo credit: Chris Bird, Standby Traveling Mom

Be Our Guest Restaurant: Pricing

Be Our Guest was to be our one big “splurge” while at Disney World. The menu is pricey and for my husband, daughter Reagan and I, the bill came to $100. That was for one kids’ meal, two starters, two entrees and three desserts. No drinks except for Reagan’s milk, which was included in the price of her kids’ meal.

Be Our Guest Restaurant: Lunch vs. Dinner

For dinner, when you walk through the front doors of the Beast’s enchanted castle into the foyer, you are given a beeper to let you know when your table is ready. The Ballroom, with its’ 20-foot-tall ceilings, is immediately ahead and off to the right is a hall lined with suits of armor that whisper to you as you walk past. This is where you line up at lunch to go into the parlor down the hall, where the touchscreen terminals used for ordering are located. You then find your own table. At dinnertime, you are seated by a hostess and your order is placed with a waiter or waitress.

Be Our Guest Restaurant: The West Wing

We were seated in the West Wing, one of two smaller dining rooms on either side of the enormous Ballroom. I was thrilled, as this was the dining room I had hoped we would get. Dark and foreboding, the magical rose floats under its glass dome at the back of the room and the ceiling is draped in shredded tapestry among the lowly-lit chandeliers. The room is dark and there is the sound of rain and thunder in the background and the occasional crash of lightning to set the mood, rather than music as in all the other rooms.

It was my daughter who noticed that the painting of the Prince on the wall quickly changes to the Beast with each crash of lightning and then changes back. In fact, she was noticing everything. She couldn’t even focus on her menu she was so distracted by the dark ambiance and décor of the room.

Just as our entrées were arriving, Reagan was in full meltdown mode. She was terrified of this room and wanted to leave. With each lightning strike she would let out a little whimper and cling tighter to my neck. We asked the waitress if we could be moved into the Ballroom and she quickly obliged and helped us carry our plates to our new table.

According to our waitress, this happens with young kids seated in the West Wing a couple times a day. We all acknowledged that it is also more likely to happen the more tired your kiddo gets.

Be Our Guest Restaurant: Character Meet and Greet with the Beast

At one point in the evening, before we had moved to the Ballroom, there was an extra-loud crash of lightning that sent Reagan screaming into my lap. It was the announcement that our host, the Beast was there to greet us all. He walked through each of the dining rooms and into the library where everyone could come visit with him.

Be Our Guest Restaurant: The Ballroom

Once in the Ballroom, Reagan was happy. The windows at the back of the room have a view of the French countryside and mountains at twilight where snow is perpetually falling. The music and lighting from the gorgeous crystal chandeliers above is uplifting. On the downside, because of the size of the room and the number of tables, this room feels the most cafeteria-like.

Walt Disney World's Be Our Guest Restaurant with Young Kids

Mickey Meatloaf kid’s meal | Photo credit: Chris Bird, Standby Traveling Mom

Be Our Guest Restaurant: Food Critique

The only thing Reagan wasn’t happy with now was her meal. I had ordered her the Mickey Meatloaf (turkey meat), which comes with a side of broccoli florets (2), zucchini (3) and a sweet dipping sauce. I have to admit, I tried the Mickey-shaped meatloaf and it was less than appealing. Fortunately, I had ordered the Thyme-scented Pork Rack Chop for myself, which came with Au Gratin Macaroni – just what the doctor ordered. Reagan happily gobbled it up. My pork chop was more of a thick steak than I was expecting, and not very flavorful. I didn’t eat much of it.

My husband Danny decided to try something new and ordered the Layered Ratatouille. He came to regret that decision and wished he had ordered my pork chop instead. I gladly shared it with him.

I was glad I had started with French Onion soup. It was a good size bowl of soup and every sip hit the spot on that unusually cold, rainy May day.

Dessert to the rescue! After a disappointing dinner, we each picked a different dessert off the dessert cart and were satisfied at last. Danny ordered the Chocolate Cream Puff, Reagan the Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake (Belle’s favorite, we were told) and I had The “Grey Stuff,” which I highly recommend. Of the three, we agreed that the Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake took the cake.

All in all, with the exception of my French Onion soup and dessert, we found the food to be mediocre at best. On presentation, the restaurant gets 4 out of 5 roses, but on execution, 2 out of 5. This surprised me after everything I had heard and read about this restaurant. Granted, our food had also gotten a bit cold before we could eat it after all the drama that unfolded upon its arrival.

Following dessert, I’m happy to report that Reagan was up to meeting the Beast and getting a picture with him in the library.

“The Grey Stuff” – Be Our Guest Restaurant’s Signature Dessert. Photo credit: TripAdvisor

Be Our Guest Restaurant: The Rose Gallery

Before departing we peeked into the third dining room, The Rose Gallery, where a music box with Belle and the Beast on top is turning around and around in the middle of the room while playing sweet music. The walls are decorated with pictures of Belle and the Beast living happily ever after. This is the cheeriest of the three rooms.

Be Our Guest Restaurant: Conclusions

  1. No matter which room you dine in at Be Our Guest, all are enchanting. But it is definitely best to be aware of your child’s fear factor, day or night, when it comes to The West Wing. If it means waiting longer for one of the other two rooms, it may be worth the wait.
  2. If the only time slots available for dinner will be past your child’s bedtime and you know your child is prone to meltdowns, consider lunch instead. The only difference between lunch and dinner is the way you place your order and the menu selections.
  3. If you really want to do dinner at Be Our Guest, be sure to line up your reservations 180 days in advance to get the time and day that works best for your family!
  4. Portion sizes on the kids’ meals are very small. If your child is a healthy eater, you may want to order them an adult size entrée instead.
  5. Dinner entrées do not come with soup and salad, but you absolutely must order the French Onion soup as a starter. Not only was it yummy, it was a pretty large cup of soup and a great value compared to other items.
  6. Don’t skip dessert! Small in size, these dainty desserts are worth indulging in.
  7. Don’t skip this experience! It’s not just about the food, it’s about creating memories.

We will definitely dine at Be Our Guest again, but next time it will be lunch!