Disney’s Be Our Guest restaurant review.

To say I was excited over the opening of the Fantasyland expansion is probably an understatement, but what I was looking forward to most was the new Be Our Guest restaurant in the Beast’s Castle.  Unfortunately, we experienced some bumps at dinner a few weeks ago, but when I was in Disney World for last week’s media event surrounding the opening of the new Fantasyland (FYI, I missed the much-discussed dragon because I was inside eating free cupcakes), I got the opportunity to eat lunch at Be Our Guest on my last day.

This location is a table-service restaurant at dinner, but it’s quick-service at lunch. You’ll line up in Belle’s ornate library, surrounded by elegant textiles and dark wood furniture, and order from a computerized screen.  Take the rose that you’re given and scan your order (there are cast members there to help you with this, although it’s not complicated) and then find a table. At lunch, you can sit in the main dining room, the brightly-lit Rose Gallery, or the West Wing, which can be a little scary for younger children.  You’ll need to get your own silverware and soft drinks, but your food is brought to the table on large carts that, as you may notice, have a habit of clogging the walkways.  Make sure you put your rose on the table so that the chip inside can signal your server that you’re ready for your food.

Get Park Wise: There’s no tipping at this location during lunch, although it may seem like the right thing to do given all that your server will do for you. Never fear, however.  Cast Members are compensated to make up for the loss of tips.

The menu here is “grown-up” quick-service and I highly recommend it.  Steak and carved turkey sandwiches, Croque Monsieur, braised pork, and a tuna Nicoise salad are just a few of the highlights on this menu, which feels more high-end than anything else you’ll get in the Magic Kingdom.  I had the carved turkey sandwich and I loved it; even the bread, which is usually bland at Disney restaurants, was delicious. You’ll also find two solidly good soups on the menu, potato leek and French onion.  Throw in some bread and these are a nice option for a light lunch.  The kids’ menu is a little more limited, with nary a chicken nugget in sight, so if you have picky eaters, skip this location. Dessert is the same cupcakes and cream puffs that you’ll find at dinner. At under $4 for the lot of them, they’re a sweet deal, both in taste and for your wallet.

A friend asked me what the difference was between lunch and dinner, and I think it can be summed up in one word:  Expectations.  At dinner, especially given the cost, I expect a decent meal, with table cloths and pleasant surroundings. I didn’t get any of that. While the main dining room is ornate and unquestionably beautiful, the jumble of tables and chairs give off a quick-service vibe that the exemplary service can’t overcome.   Add mediocre and you have all the ingredients for a disappointing dinner. But lunch? Lunch was fantastic. Given the food, the surroundings, and the service, it was worth every penny, if not more.

If you’re on the fence about Be Our Guest for lunch or dinner, pick lunch.  You’ll enjoy the same environment and better food for much less money.  Have you tried Be Our Guest yet? I’d love to hear about your experience.