By now, you’ve heard of Disney’s new Character Dining: Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White. And I have to admit, when I heard that Disney was doing this, my initial reaction was surprised. Artist Point (pre Snow White) was one of Disney World’s fine dining destinations that, unfortunately, I never got to experience. But ask anyone who has, Artist Point was wonderful. Whether you were looking for a nice steak or some wonderful seafood, Artist Point was a (fancy) staple for many.
But look, I said I was surprised when I heard of the change, not immediately depressed. Sure, Disney decided to get rid of fancy luxury, but in return, we got Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy and the Evil Queen! Maybe not fancy luxury, BUT DOPEY AND GRUMPY! Sure, there are other places you can see Snow White while visiting Disney World, but other than the Halloween and Christmas Parties, I’m not aware of any place in Disney World were you can see any of the seven dwarfs! And throw in the Evil Queen and its a Character Dining experience unlike any other!
So you better believe on our recent stay at Fort Wilderness Lodge, we made reservations to check out this new dining adventure. Me, my wife and the girls (3 yr old and infant). And like with every meal, I could not wait to try the food! Admittedly, I searched the menu and some reviews prior to dining, and I was extremely excited to try all the food.
The price is steep. Adults (ages 10+) $55.00, children (ages 3-9) $33.00 . If you are on the dining plan, one (1) Disney Dining Plan Entitlement per Adult/Child. So having to fork over $33.00 for my 3 year old who, absent being covered in chocolate, takes two bites of her food and wants to go play, I wasn’t super thrilled. But hey I convinced myself as I normally do: we are at Disney, its going to be magical, the food will be great. Weeellllll, the food was anything but great.
The way it works is pretty straight forward. Every table will get appetizers to share (3 different items) AND desserts (4 different desserts) to share. All you have to do is choose your entrée. Pretty simple and truly, you do get a lot of food. But perhaps a lot of food is meaningless, if it is not very good.
The Shared Appetizers are: Winter Squash Bisque (Caramel Loli, Granola); Wicked Shrimp Cocktail (Soy, Miso, Avocado, Thai Chili, Greens); Hunter’s Pie (Chicken, Black Truffle, Stone Fruit Preserve)
Wicked Shrimp Cocktail
Winter Squash Bisque
I told you, you get a ton of food! My 3 year old even got her own little appetizer, with some carrots, cheese, fruit, and a biscuit that came with her own honey butter that she got to make herself by shaking:
But here’s the deal; a lot of food isn’t what anyone is really expecting with this experience; or at least I was not. If you want to make it a Buffett like many of the other Character Dining experiences, go for it. But if it’s going to be a seated meal, it increases the expectations that the food will be…better than a buffet? Am I wrong? The Bisque, while it had decent flavor, was extremely cold. The Hunter’s Pie was essentially an extremely dry meatball wrapped in a pie crust, that the stone fruit preserve simply could not save (I tried). And the Shrimp…what can I say? Just a cold piece of shrimp with very subtle flavor. High expectations? Perhaps. But the appetizers are a huge miss. Quite frankly, I’m not sure how this selection of food appeals to the everyday diner. I’ll eat anything, but I saw tables around us taking bites of their appetizers and putting them down.
Surely the entrees will be better. Each diner gets to chose one of the following:
Entrées (Choose one (1) Entrée)
- Seafood Stew (Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Mussels, Tomato, Fennel)
- A Stroll through Nature (Butternut Squash, Arugula, Gnocchi, Sage, Parmesan)
- Brother’s Grimm Roasted Chicken (Confit Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Apples, and Chestnut Butter)
- Magic Mirror Slow-braised Veal Shank (Celery Root Mashed, Wilted Winter Greens, Jus)
- Bashful’s Butter-poached Snapper (Root Vegetable Risotto, Wild Mushroom, Citrus- Butter Sauce)
- Royal Prime Rib Roast (Horseradish Mashed Potato, Hay-smoked Carrots, Popover, Jus)
I was excited. I was between the Veal Shank and Rib Roast, but opted for the Veal Shank simply as a result of “”Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”. My wife Ordered “A Stroll through Nature”.
These dishes were better than the appetizers, but only slightly. Flavors were great for both dishes; but again, the gnocchi was cold and missing that texture that I’ve come to expect with gnocchi. Whether its finished under a broiler with a sprinkling of cheese or placed in a pan with some butter to give a little crunch, I’ve come to enjoy gnocchi more when it has some crunch/texture to it. I get it, the gnocchi should be tender and cooked and this gnocchi was tender and cooked; but it was just one note all the way through with the butternut squash. The Veal Shank- yes, it was fall of the bone and the veal itself was delicious. But the celery root mash absolutely killed this dish. The mash was cold and lumpy; missing that smooth richness. After two bites of the mash, I was done with it.
My daughter ordered her $33 Princess Pasta with cheese sauce. Was this fancy mac and cheese worth $33; not even close- but she likes her mac and cheese and that’s what she wanted.
The lack of “finish” on the dishes presented to us was evident. Cold food that lacks flavor. To me, this is the result of trying to do fine dining en masse. It’s clear that the menu was designed so that the food can be plated and sent out. Nothing appears to be cooked to order.
During dinner, I ordered a cocktail: The Smoking Mirror (Johnnie Walker Black, Wildberry, Lime, Rosemary Smoke). Fun little presentation, tasty drink; not nearly enough 🙂
The Desserts, like the Appetizers, are shared for the table. The desserts were playful and fit the overall theme very nicely:
- Miner’s Treasures (Sponge Cake, Chocolate Gems, and Buttercream Icing),
- Fairy Tale Gooseberry Pie (Meringue, Gooseberry),
- “Poison” Apple (White Chocolate-Apple Mousse, Sour Center)
Fairy Tale Gooseberry Pie
The family favorite, hands down, was the Poison Apple. It’s beautiful and tasted amazing! The meringue on the Gooseberry Pie was delicious. And who doesn’t like cake, with buttercream icing and fun little chocolate gems. The desserts were the best thing we ate the entire evening.
Right when you are finishing your dining experience, your server will bring “The Hunter’s Gift to the Queen” which is Crackled Maple Popcorn with a Ganache Heart. Very nice presentation to end the meal; which of course, I forgot to take a picture of!
Now you are likely asking yourself, why did Pete say “next time”… sounds like the food would not be worth it? Remember, DOPEY, GRUMPY, EVIL QUEEN, SNOW WHITE?! I mean, let’s be real, the 4 main reasons you make reservations is to see these characters. And with two young kids and a wife who absolutely loves Disney as much as I do, meeting these characters is THE reason for this experience. My 10 month old absolutely loved Dopey! So much so, he came back to our table just to interact with her for a few minutes… I guess he liked her too 🙂
Here are a few more pics of all the fun we had with the Characters:
I hope you do give this place a try, and form your own opinions. But for us, its the moments captured with the characters that will bring us back…not the food.
Want to see more pics of my Disney Adventures and Disney eats, follow me on Instagram @outnumberedfather and like the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/outnumberedfather.
“Reminding all parents that together, we can take back control of the living room. Since 2018”