Cinderella’s Royal Table – Lunch Review

Recommended:   NO!

Yes, you too can spend a criminal amount of money to eat inside of the castle at Magic Kingdom.  While your personal mileage may vary, expect to be extremely disappointed overall.

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Disney spared no expense in terms of the details in Cinderella’s Royal Table. The entrance hall alone was spectacular.

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Then the dining area was incredibly decorated as well.

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I wanted to go through the areas slowly and get pictures for my daughter’s cosplay page (as she was perfectly dressed as Cinderella), but it was so busy there was nothing but a rush from cast members to keep moving along.

Alas, even though the details were magnificent, Disney skimped a LOT on everything else.  Considering that I had to pre-pay $204 (for our party of four) six months in advance, they shouldn’t have many excuses to not be a top experience in Disney World.  After all, if your guests have to pay in full upfront, it’s not like you’re hurting for revenue to keep the wheels greased at a place like this.  By the by, if you’re on the dining plan, this meal eats up two of your sit-down dining credits.

To try to go through the rest of the venue in order, first, you check in for your reservation (this restaurant is reservation only 99% of the time, and it’s booked up to six months in advance).

Then, you get to pose with Cinderella herself.

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After that, you guide yourself upstairs and are seated at a pre-determined spot, and you get a menu.  Since you pre-pay for this meal, you can pick whatever you want as an entree and dessert, with a pre-selected appetizer.  You drink is also included in the meal.

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Now, our server wasn’t mean, she wasn’t awful at her job, but she came off as very grumpy throughout our time at her table.  This was during Spring Break, so maybe she was overloaded and exhausted, but she definitely had an attitude that we needed to hurry up and get out so that they could flip the table for another party.  Considering that her tip was included in my pre-payment of the meal (and it was something to the tune of $30-40 without me being able to alter or have input on that amount!) I felt like she had a really, really unacceptable attitude.

Part of the children’s meal included a plastic Wishing Star and either a Wand (for girls) or a Sword (for boys).

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Our server smacked them on the table while walking through to get elsewhere.  She gruffly said “these are gifts from Cinderella” and kept marching on without ever stopping.  Again, maybe she was overloaded, but it was an abrasive action that I didn’t appreciate.

The appetizer came out quicker than expected.  I don’t know how they managed to make cheese and crackers taste terrible, but they did it.  They also had an over-seasoned salad with some type of pear (?) in it.  The crackers, I believe, were the same gluten free crackers from the Perfectly Princess Tea Party, and they were still like eating plastic.  I know that gluten free is a growing diet trend, but maybe you should ask your guest if they want that trend forced upon them.  There is nothing about the appetizer that was appetizing in my opinion.

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We had been sitting for maybe five minutes at this point, and the waitress had pressed us to order four times already.  I was having trouble deciding on an entree, and trying to help my kids decide on their own, but I felt like I wasn’t moving to the server’s pace, and that she was getting put out over it.  Maybe I’m wrong, but for $204 for a family of four to eat somewhere, I should get to relax, think about exactly what I want, and enjoy my time in the facility too!

Four additional princesses do come to the table at this restaurant, and, just due to our luck of timing, they showed up before our food.  Let me touch on them and then I’ll get back to the food.

We met Snow White:
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Ariel (still inexplicably wearing green):
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and Aurora:
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Back to the food, I settled on the ribs, my husband went after the pork, and we decided we would split those two entrees so that we could try both.  I am not joking at all when I tell you that the entree was two bites. The photos below are not of super-sized plates.

The pork was two small coins of meat on a bed of rice, just a little larger than two hot dog slices,

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and the ribs were two small cubes of meat on mashed potatoes.

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I couldn’t believe these miniscule portion sizes!  I wish I had thought to put a quarter on the plate for an accurate comparison.  Disappointed didn’t even begin to cover it.  For half the price of this meal I could have gone to one of a half-dozen other character meals that included a full buffet!

I will admit, the ribs were absolutely delicious, though.  I don’t like mashed potatoes, but these were actually very scrumptious.  The pork, on the other hand, was bland and dry, and that flavor extended to the rice as well.  Overall, had the waitress not been so grumpy, I think we would have asked for a refill on our food (sort of as a joke, sort of hoping that a second helping was possible).  So, 0 for 2 on the meal courses.

On the children’s side of things they were given grapes and cheese cubes as an entree.

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My daughter had the chicken leg with rice.  She wouldn’t touch her greens, but for the price of the meal, they became an “offering” to my husband.

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My son had, I believe, a beef tip kids meal and said that he enjoyed it.

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Then the desserts arrived seconds after our entrees were finished (adding all the more to the super-rushed atmosphere).

My husband and I both had The Clock Strikes Twelve.  It was beautifully crafted and delicious.  I believe it was vanilla ice cream in a chocolate shell with a white chocolate ring on the top and a graham cracker hand.  A chocolate sauce making roman numeral numbers was a gorgeous touch, and a small pool of custard was on the side.  My only complaint is that the dessert was bigger than the entire entree portion size.
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My son had the smores dessert choice, which looked fantastic and had a chocolate Maleficent dragon “painted” on the plate.
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My daughter, however, got the raw end of the deal.  She picked the yogurt with blueberries.  It sounded great, but nowhere did they disclose that it was GREEK yogurt.  If you don’t know the difference, it’s a harsh taste and not at all like the typical yogurt you’d find in the US (which is essentially flabby ice cream).  If you aren’t used to the stuff, it can take a while to get used to, and they should have warned her as it was a dessert option on the kids menu.
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Side note, in front of the yogurt is the plastic Wishing Star that they give the kids.  I apparently didn’t get a better photo of them.

Most character meals have a get-up-and-do-stuff moment.  Some places have a parade for the little ones, others have a mini-dance party, it just depends on the venue.  At Cinderella’s Royal Table, the barely audible loud speaker starts saying something about making a wish with your star and wand.  As people quiet down you can hear better, but it’s still not very loud.  On the magic cue, some lights flicker towards the ceiling, then all the princesses walk away.

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My kids always participate in these moments, but the fact that the staff didn’t even call attention to it, and that you could barely hear it happening, well, that was just another disappointment of this venue.  I was kind of irritated that, for so much more money, the little girls couldn’t even walk around with the princesses on parade or do a dance or song or SOMETHING!

Now, if you noticed earlier, I only described 3 princesses coming to the table.  That’s because we got skipped by Jasmine.  None of the characters had handlers, which was odd enough, but there were also no staff members coming around and checking that each character had visited us, something that has always happened at every other character meal we’ve had.  In fact, I think this was our first time at a Disney sit-down restaurant that a manager didn’t pop by the table to check in.

So, my husband flagged down our waitress as we saw all the princesses leaving.  He asked if they were coming back out and the server gets and attitude and says, “what, are you going to tell me that they didn’t stop by your table?”  Really?  This is why I NEVER tip in advance.  If you have a guaranteed $30 in your pocket, you can be a complete jerk and you still get a huge tip for a bad job!

My husband said that it was just Jasmine that missed us.  The waitress sighed and started walking away.  She also stopped by a neighboring table and said “you know, you already paid in advance, so you can leave any time.”  In a nice tone, that wouldn’t be anything off putting to say, but it was not a friendly tone.

Jasmine reappeared and chatted my daughter up for a few minutes before disappearing to the back again.  Then we were made to feel like we needed to rush out as fast as possible, because our desserts had been finished for a whole five minutes.
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Also, when I booked the restaurant in October of 2014, I was required to pay for the entire meal upfront.  I already mentioned that, but part of the “package” I paid for as a diner included a free set of photos with Cinderella.  I felt so rushed and irritated while at Cinderella’s Royal Table that I didn’t realize until I returned home that the waitress never brought those photos to us, and there was no desk or location to get them from in the castle.

I emailed Disney’s customer service and they thanked for my interest in their complimentary photos, but said that they discontinued giving them out in January.  Wait wait wait – what?!  One of the main draws of choosing this restaurant over another character meal was the free photo set, because we didn’t buy Memory Maker, and the photos cost around $40 a piece after taxes.  That was basically the freebie that almost balanced out the insane amount of money they charged us to eat there.

I responded asking for a manger, because it wasn’t right to charge me six months in advance, then change what I signed up for without notifying me.  Disney World makes hundreds of announcements a month, it’s unrealistic for me to go through them all hoping that one applies to my vacation – especially for something I pre-paid to get!  Since all the money I paid didn’t go to food, couldn’t it have gone to at least a courtesy email about changes to my package and given me an opportunity to cancel my reservation?  Ultimately, this conversation went nowhere and, since this was our last Disney World visit, it certainly left me with a bad impression.

My overall thoughts on Cinderella’s Royal Table:

  • The portion sizes were pathetically small to where the kids’ meals had more food than the adults.
  • The prices were double every other sit down restaurant in the park.
  • The staff was not very nice and made us feel rushed every minute we were there.
  • It’s nice to have the princesses come to you, but they’ll only spend 1-2 minute per table, so any experience is minimal.
  • Considering the ungodly expense, the princess line up should be better.  I understand that Cinderella needs to be at Cinderella’s Royal Table, but I personally feel that the rest of the characters should be updated to the more difficult-to-meet princesses that have longer wait times (make skipping those big lines more worthwhile!).  Elsa, Anna, Merida (who is only available at limited times, weather permitting), and Rapunzel make the most sense to have in the restaurant, as their lines are always long, they are newer (and thus more relevant/recognizable for the children meeting them), and then it keeps the characters between here and Akershus completely different (meaning I can justify going to both places and spending more money!).
  • I felt very burnt over the “free” photo set getting ripped out of our hands without advance warning.

Truly, I was not over-the-moon for Akershus (the princess character meal in EPCOT’s Norway), but it was roughly half the price of Cinderella’s Royal Table, the entrees were twice the size, and it included a salad bar.  The princess line up is also very similar, except you get to meet Belle instead of Jasmine.  And, at least during our visit, the staff at Akershus was very good.  Overall, if you’re making a choice for a princess meal, Akershus is a much better deal, even though the adult entrees are a little strange (being Norwegian-themed food an all).  Alternatively, I would also recommend 1900 Park Fare for dinner as it has really good food, and features the Cinderella cast (Cinderella, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, Drizella, and Prince Charming).  We did their breakfast buffet and left very impressed and happy with everything food-wise, although the morning characters are English themed.

Akershus Lunch Review

Recommended:  No for the food.  Yes to see the Princesses in one swoop.

Located in Norway, but surprisingly void of Anna and Elsa, I’m torn on whether or not to recommend Akershus, which is the only character meal available in the EPCOT World Showcase.

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If you are looking to collect a lot of princess autographs quickly, this would be the way to go.  A number of princesses, like Snow White and Belle, are not available for very hospitable hours.  Usually, you have to already know where they’ll be and line up a half an hour before they arrive to get your photo and autograph.  Typically, once the princess arrives to her outdoor station, the line to meet her has already been cut off.  Then, if it rains, the character doesn’t come out at all.  So, when thinking of Arkerhus in those terms, it is an easy way to meet five princesses in one shot.

They say the line up can change any time, but these are the princesses that we saw:

Belle meets you as you enter the restaurant.
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Then you’ll see Cinderella,
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Followed closely by Aurora,
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next is Ariel (in a green dress that she NEVER wears in any of the films – my daughter thought she was Merida because of that),
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and last is Snow White.
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Snow White only hangs around in EPCOT these days, and she is one of those weather-permitting princesses.  We’ve had trouble getting to her in the past, which is what brought us to Akershus in the first place.

However, be warned that there are NO Photo Pass photographers once you get to your table, so you will be on your own there.  There are also a lot of tables crammed into a little bit of building (Akershus was clearly built before Disney World saw the volume of tourist that is does today), so getting great pictures that show off the princesses beautiful dresses will not be a likely possibility.

We also felt very rushed with the time the princesses gave our table.  Much like Chef Mickey’s, we got about 2 minutes per princess in.  It was, hello, hugs, autograph, pose for photos, and goodbye.  They keep these characters on too tight of a schedule, it would be nice if the kids could have a few more sentences with each one and create a stronger memory of the event (like my daughter training squirrels with Rapunzel or teaching yoga to Merida).

The princesses also do a gathering/parade for all the little ones who want to join in.  That seems to happen at every character meal, and it’s always a cute touch.
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The Akershus building is magnificently beautiful.  It feels like an Old World castle that has been refurbished by a modern owner.  As you can see in the photograph above, the walls are stone, and put together in an uneven, ancient architecture type of style (something like Merida’s castle, I suppose).

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The artwork on the walls ranged from tapestry and flags to very somber paintings.

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And even the roof was magnificent.  My daughter said it looked like Elsa’s snowflake.  While the waiter denied any resemblance, I’d be surprised if the designers of Frozen didn’t find some inspiration in this building.
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The food is where the experience gets iffy for me.  Norwegian food is weird, if not gross.  At Akershus, there is a set price, and that include the salad bar, an entree, and a plate of three Norwegian desserts for the table.  Here’s a not-too-great picture of the Oven Roasted Chicken Breast.

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It came with potato dumpling and Brussels sprouts, but they had been cooked (boiled?) until they tasted the same with the same bland texture.  Definitely not my favorite meal from Disney, although my father highly recommended the meatballs.

The dessert portion of the meal was interesting.  They brought out two sets of the desserts, which included a piece of Apple Cake (not my cup of tea, personally), Chocolate Mousse (amazing, actually), and Rice Cream (no, not Ice Cream, a tapioca kind of warm, solid, goop – not a fan!).  Having two sets of desserts for five people, and only one of those desserts being any good, essentially leads to a fight over the Chocolate Mousse.  That is worth the fight, fork your children if you have to so that you can try a piece!  haha.  But, really, it would have been nice if everyone has a smaller sized sampler plate than making everyone share.  I actually missed out on the photo opp here, but I found a picture from DisneyFoodBlog.com to share.

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I also didn’t appreciate that we were a party of 5, we had made reservations months in advance, and we were crammed into a table for four.  There was not enough room for plates, the kids had to climb over people to get to the princesses, and the room we were in (the rounded room in the castle tower portion) was already a tight enough space without putting someone on the end like a baby in a high chair.  That was very poor dining management from whomever decided to seat us there…

So, if you’re looking for a good place to eat, skip Akerhus, there is much better places in the World Showcase.  If you’re looking for a guaranteed slew of princesses, this is your best bet in EPCOT.  It just depends on what you’re looking for.

Chef Mickey’s Breakfast Review

Recommended:  No.

To cut to the chase, I didn’t think very highly of Chef Mickey’s at all.  A lot of people recommended it to me, so I worked it into our schedule, but I was not at all impressed with the venue, the service, or the food.  In fact, this is one of those times where I’d say McDonald’s is a better option for breakfast.  But, getting to go inside the Contemporary Resort (one of the monorail resorts) was nice, so at least there’s that benefit!

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Chef Mickey’s is a character meal and a buffet.  Please try to be mindful of where the characters are at all times, because if you get up at the wrong time, you will miss one of them and have to wait an hour for them to come back around to your section.

To go over the characters first, there were five total that you could meet:

Pluto
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Donald
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Goofy
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Minnie
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and Chef Mickey himself.
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The costumes are really cute, but it’s not really a huge selling point to me.  If they signed the autograph books as Chef Mickey, Matradee Donald, etc, I would be more impressed, because then my kids would be collecting exclusive signatures, but, alas, they are identical to the signatures anywhere else in the park.  I also think they could have done a lot more with Minnie’s costume.  Give her at least a cutesy diner outfit if she’s going to play a waitress.

Not only are these characters very easy to find in basically any part of the Disney Parks, but when they come to your table, they made me feel very rushed.  Each character spent two minutes or less with us.  It was basically a wave, a huge for whoever wanted one, a photo, and a wave goodbye.  Then they hurried off to check the next table off their list.

I also would have liked to see at least one or two exclusive characters in there – something to give you an incentive to meet these characters as a meal.  As it stands now, they are all over Disney World, and usually the wait time is not that bad.  Would a Pete, Clarabelle, or Dr. Von Drake been too much to ask for? They aren’t so popular or recognized, I know, but one of the five could have been a unique character.

To the plus column, the characters were back-to-back, so we only had to stay at the table for about 10 minutes to check them all off our list.

On to the food, it was pretty terrible.  Other than the pancakes, which were being made in front of you at the buffet, all of the food was stone cold, whether it was supposed to be or not.  The bacon tasted like it had been wrapped in ice – and I saw people constantly changing out the trays, so I don’t believe it was sitting out for a long time.  Either the warmers were broken, or the cooks were really bad at getting their food out in a timely manner.  Either way, I believe that hot meals should be hot, not frozen.

Disney also has this belief that everyone wants to eat nasty, runny eggs that aren’t fully cooked.  I know some people love their eggs like that, but myself and many other people do not want to eat liquid chickens.  But it saves precious minutes of cooking time per batch of eggs, so that’s what we get…

There was a decent variety of items on the buffet, but breakfast food is all very, very cheap stuff in general, so, for the prices they charge, I expect it to at least be good.  I mean, have the cooks use some flavors and spices instead of serving bland, cold food.  The fruit was even tasteless, so there were no real redeeming qualities about this buffet.  Judging by the menu, lunch and dinner may be a much better meal, but I was not happy with breakfast by any stretch of the imagination.

The Crystal Palace – Lunch Review

Recommended:  Yes to meet Eeyore and Piglet.  Toss up to go for the food alone.

I’m not sure what The Crystal Palace was originally designed to be, but I think the Winnie the Pooh character meal was not their initial intent.  This is a beautiful building, very closely resembling the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.  But, somehow, throwing Pooh and his friends in the mix does not hurt the charm of the place at all.  In fact, while it doesn’t seem to fit together theme wise (I know Pooh is a British story), the old and new elements work well together and make the place very fun and lively!

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I have to say that I really, really loved the entry presentation.  The main Pooh cast done in flowers!cp10

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While you dine, your buddies from the Hundred Acre Wood will come to your table.

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Pooh (my husband’s favorite),cp5

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and Piglet.
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Other than during the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, I have not seen Eeyore or Piglet available anywhere else in Disney World.

Now, the downside to a character meal/buffet is that you’re getting up and down, and you may not be able to see the characters coming before they hit – or miss – your table!  Tigger, especially, seems to carve out his own walking path, and we ended up missing him at first.  The waitress asked his handler to get him to stop by again before he left for the other side of the dining hall, but Tigger was Tigger and didn’t listen!  It was over an hour before we were finally able to catch him again, and this was after even a manager asked him to come back.  >.<  So, keep your eyes open, and be prepared to pounce if you see a character walking away from your table!

This was also the anniversary celebration meal for my husband and myself, so we got a little extra gift!  Apparently, it was supposed to be a photo of the Pooh gang, but those ran out.  I still like this one all the same, though!cp7

To get to the food, as I mentioned before, it is a buffet.  The options are pretty random, stretching from salads and traditional carved meats to samples of Indian and Mexican food.  A number of standard desserts were available.  Nothing was really bad, but nothing was really amazing either.  It reminded me of a smaller scale Golden Corral.

Honestly, though, if you have a party of two adults and two children under 10, you are looking at roughly $80 for any sit down meal that you have, before the tip.  At The Crystal Palace, we paid just around the $100 mark before the tip, and that included time with the characters and any beverage that we wanted, so it’s not an awful deal for Disney prices.  For the extra $20, I prefer to get the character experience and let the kids meet the hard-to-find guys.  So, even though the food wasn’t stellar, considering any other sit down lunch would have cost the same, I’m not dissatisfied with what we got.