CHARACTER MEAL REVIEW - Garden Grill @ Epcot
Finding character meals is not always an easy task. Kevin reviews what may be the most accessible character meal in the resort.
Written by Kevin Baxter
From the official WDW website: Come to the party and meet Mickey and his pals, who host a family-style signature skillet for you! Family-style favorites include grilled steak, rotisserie meats and country-style catfish. This rotating restaurant overlooks scenes from the Living with the Land attraction and even features food grown in the Land greenhouse. The children's meals feature a fun interactive dessert. It's a Garden of delights!Tweet
Wow, is that ever a horrible blurb! "Party" makes the whole experience way more fun than it actually is. Mickey's "pals" consist solely of Chip and Dale. The food is all-you-can-eat, or as Disney likes to call it, "All You Care to Eat." Whatever. And don't get me started on those "scenes from the Living with the Land attraction." Just don't.
Okay, about one-third of the restaurant will actually overlook the Land pavilion, but its location prevents you from seeing any of the floorspace. But you can look up at the stuff hanging from the ceiling! Another third will have you facing a wall and the final third actually does overlook Living, but just barely. We were seated in the middle ring and could barely see anything, though a closer inspection shows that you overlook the boats more than the actual scenes. It seems to me that the whole rotating restaurant idea was shoehorned in, rather than worked into the actual layout of the Living ride.
So the rotation isn't much of a draw; how about the characters? Ehhhh. I'm not into the characters at all, but chose this restaurant so my traveling companion could relieve some of her character obsession without having to wait in lines out in the parks. I do enjoy Chip and Dale, though, but I don't think three characters are really enough. Especially in this character-starved park.
Anyhow, the characters do come around often, but because it was very slow on our visit, they were spending a lot of time at the few tables, so it took a while for them to get to us. And a while for them to leave. I don't need to see them ever again!
Okay, I wasn't thrilled with the atmosphere or the characters; what about the food? The menu, which features Bread, Country-Style Catfish, Grilled Flank Steak, Rotisserie Meats, Potatoes and Vegetables (most of which probably grown in the Land pavilion), Cornbread Stuffing and
Unfortunately that dessert is basically where the innovation ends. The "countryfied" theme doesn't lend itself to anything experimental. Then again, I haven't found a character meal that gets too fanciful with the food. Considering how many high-quality restaurants there are in Epcot, I don't fault Disney for making one of them a meat-and-potatoes kinda place.
The food is edible, for the most part, though totally unmemorable. I do recall us enjoying the kiddie food more than the adult food, which isn't a good sign. In fact, I remember the bread more than anything else.
Still, for those that prefer sit-down restaurants for at least one meal this is one of the cheaper alternatives. The Garden Grill doesn't jack up prices as badly as some, and kid prices don't change at all. Plus, this is the only park restaurant I can think of that offers characters from opening to closing, which is extremely convenient. The characters and the all-you-can-eat aspects are a good alternative, as long as diners are fairly easy to please foodwise. That said, I don't care about the characters, I'm not a huge eater and I am not easy to please, so I give the restaurant a TPI rating of 6 - Fair.
The Garden Grill also offers an ice cream social in the middle of the afternoon. If it were me, I would eat a late lunch downstairs at the food court and do the ice cream social for dessert. The restaurant also has "Rehitching Ceremony" where married couples can be "rehitched" in a silly little ceremony. Ask about it when you make a Priority Seating reservation at 407-WDW-DINE up to 90 days beforehand.
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