Be Our Guest & Gaston’s Tavern

Be Our Guest & Gaston’s Tavern

For the very first time on the WDW Ride Guide we are going to relax, pull up a chair, and let the dining room proudly present… our dinner.  Actually, our breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and snack in between.  I’m referring to two unique eateries inside the Magic Kingdom.

The first is the arguably the best themed restaurant inside Walt Disney World, Be our Guest.  This elaborate dining venue offers guests a chance to step inside the Beast’s castle and soak up rich surroundings inspired by the animated film.  The second stop on our culinary tour today will be Gaston’s Tavern.  Although much smaller in scale, this macho retreat is full of rip roaring fun.

Since we have two separate destinations, we will have two sets of know before you go facts.  Let’s get started with at Be our Guest…

Know before you go essential facts:

  • The restaurant is located in the Magic Kingdom in New Fantasyland
  • Advanced Dining Reservations are offered, and highly recommended
  • Some dining plans are accepted
  • Breakfast is served from 8 am to 10 am
  • Lunch is served from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm
  • Dinner is served from 4:00 pm to shortly before park closing
  • The Beast is the only character, and appears at only at dinner
  • Valid park admission is required
  • The restaurant opened on December 6, 2012.  Breakfast was added on March 20, 2015.

Be Our Guest is an elaborately themed fast casual restaurant in the Magic Kingdom that gives diners the option of three rooms recreated from the animated film.  The Grand Ballroom, The West Wing, and The Castle Gallery, each offer a unique setting to enjoy the french inspired menu.  Together, the three rooms can host up to 550 guests at a time.  Let’s start with the real showstopper, The Grand Ballroom.

Picture the famous scene where the Beast and Belle fall in love while dancing the night away.  Belle is in her signature yellow ball gown and the Beast in his buttoned up blue suit.  The light sparkles in the grand room as the stars shine through the windows, and the gold chandeliers hang high above from the mural covered ceiling.  The giant dance floor glitters as the two seem to float effortlessly around the room.  This is the setting of The Grand Ballroom.  The Imagineers have done an amazing job of recreating this room down to the tiniest details.  Look very closely out the windows and you will see snowflakes falling through the night sky.  The one significant difference from the film and the real life restaurant are the couple hundred people sitting at tables in the huge room.  It may look as though Belle and the Beast could waltz in and begin dancing at any moment, but the reality is there would not be enough room for them to get in two steps!

The Grand Ballroom is alive with the hustle and bustle of a fast casual restaurant.  Visitors are constantly coming and going and many will be walking around just to take in the incredible views.  This will not be the most relaxed meal you have inside Walt Disney World, but it will be among the most memorable.  The Grand Ballroom has so much to take in you may have to remind yourself to stop looking around the room and take a bite of your food every few minutes.  Of the three rooms this is the most grand, but also the loudest and most chaotic.

If a quiet retreat sounds more appealing you can try to grab one of the few tables inside The West Wing.  The smallest room of the bunch, this darkened room is the home of the Beast.  Hanging on the wall is his portrait, which has been slashed by his own massive claws.  When the lightning strikes outside, the portrait magically changes to reveal the image of the Beast for a brief moment.  Those brave enough to eat in this darkened room will feel a sense of unease, much like Belle did when she defied the Beast’s orders and entered the forbidden domain.  Small children that are frightened by the dark will be better off dining in one of the other two rooms.  The focal point of the room however, is the enchanted rose which rests on the table in front of the window.  Carefully secluded, but easily viewed, the rose sparkles with magic.  Watch long enough and you will see a rose pedal fall.  This, along with the state of the castle, is your signal that you have entered the story before the spell has been broken. If you would like to dine somewhere a little more lighthearted and well lit, the final room might fit you best.

The Castle Gallery is a bright room with large paintings of Belle and the Beast on the surrounding walls.  Each painting showcases a moment in the budding relationship of Belle and the Beast.  Some are even snapshots into moments not seen in the film.  The playful scenes give this room the most whimsy.  At the center of the room is a life size music box with Belle and the Beast.  They are dancing together as the music box slowly spins the couple around and around.  The instrumental version of “Be Our Guest” adds to the room’s sense of fun and charm.  If you remember our Enchanted Tales with Belle episode, I mentioned a small carving that sits in Maurice’s workshop.  That carving is the model for the life size music box that lives in this room.  As is the tradition in his family, this was Maurice’s wedding gift to Belle and the Beast.  Of course, that means the time frame of this room is slightly ahead of the rest of the castle’s theme.  I guess it’s best not to overthink it too much.  There is more seating here than in The West Wing, but it feels less hectic than The Grand Ballroom.  Of the three, this might be the most overlooked option.

I will pause here to say we dined in The Castle Gallery.  I had my heart set on The West Wing, but after not being to find an open table we settled for the Gallery.  In hindsight I was not at all disappointed in this turn of events.  The room had a nice relaxing atmosphere and we were still able to get up and walk through The West Wing and The Grand Ballroom.  No matter which one of the three you choose, be sure to take a few minutes to explore the other two.  Each room has its own style, but each is an Imagineering feat in itself.  Regardless of which room you choose, you can still enjoy the same great food in all three locations.

Be Our Guest now serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  So far we have only had the opportunity to dine at lunch.  We do have breakfast reservations for our next trip, and I almost pushed this blog back until after that experience.  However, I wanted to get this out to you now, and if you subscribe to the podcast I will be putting out short episodes from our vacation.  Be sure to follow along for a review on our breakfast at Be Our Guest.  Hopefully, someday we can give you a review on dinner as well.  For now, just a couple of notes from our lunch.

I ordered the Braised Pork and Rachel ordered the Vegetable Quiche.  I was a little nervous about the food, as I had heard some mediocre reviews.  Perhaps it was my low expectation level, but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of flavor in my braised pork.  The meat was tender, juicy, and delicious!  I would gladly order the same dish again in the future.  Rachel was a little disappointed in her vegetable quiche and I think would opt for something different on a future visit.  For dessert, we shared a pair of cupcakes.  My favorite was the Master’s Cupcake with the Grey Stuff icing, but Rachel might have preferred the Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake.  Both were delicious and we didn’t leave a morsel on the plate.  Overall, I would grade our quick service lunch an A+.  When compared to other WDW quick service options, this food was at the top of its class.  If comparing this to a table service meal, you could be more critical.  I think some fall into this trap because of the overall dining experience.  The restaurant feels fancier than many table service locations, plus your food is delivered to your table, much like a typical table service restaurant at Disney.  However, you still get your own drinks and silverware, and you don’t have a wait staff that constantly checks on you.  How you order is rather unique and one of my favorite aspects of Be Our Guest.

Guests can order breakfast and lunch via automated touch screen terminals.  After walking through the Hall of Knights you will come to a room filled with several touchscreen terminals.  You will usually have a small wait, giving you a few minutes to review the menu before arriving at the terminal.  Once there, you can see a small picture of each menu item, along with the price.  You make your selections here and then submit your order.  After ordering you can proceed to one of the three dining rooms of your choice.  Sounds pretty easy huh?  Well, forget all of that!  There is an even better way!

With an Advanced Dining Reservation (which you really must have), you will have the ability to choose your meal up to 30 days in advance of your visit.  Think of this as Fastpass+ for dining!  From the comfort of home, you can go into your My Disney Experience account and click on your Be Our Guest reservation.  Once inside the 30 day window, you will be able to review the menu for both breakfast and lunch.  Similar to the terminals, you will make your selection and add it to your cart.  Once you submit your order you are done.  Now when you arrive on the day of your reservation you can skip the ordering line.  One quick note, you will bypass the Hall of Knights when utilizing online ordering.  Be sure to walk through here on your way out of the castle as the suits of armor actually talk!  Of course that can wait, so all you need to do upon arrival is tell the Cast Member that you placed your order in advance online.  They will retrieve your reservation, give you a rose to place at your table, and then you go select your seat.  A few minutes later, a nice Cast Member will roll a serving cart out to your table and unveil your breakfast or lunch.  It’s almost like magic!  The process is very seamless and makes navigating the crowded castle more pleasant.  The only downside to this process is that it doesn’t work well for those with special dietary needs.  If you or someone in your party has food allergies, it is still best to wait and speak to a Cast Member at the restaurant.  The online order process is best utilized by those not needing any modifications to the meal.

If you select a dinner dining time, the advanced ordering is not an option.  This is a table service meal that will work like other table service meals on property.  There are two significant additions to the dinner experience.  First, this is the only meal where the Beast will make an appearance.  It is not a character meal, meaning the Beast won’t come around and visit each table.  He does walk through The Grand Ballroom about every 20 minutes as he comes and goes from his study.  Inside the study he is available for photos in front of the fireplace.  You do have to wait until the end of your meal to take advantage of this photo op.  Your receipt serves as your entry ticket, and this orderly process helps control the flow of guests wanting to meet the Beast.  The second addition, is that of alcohol.  Be Our Guest was the first restaurant in the Magic Kingdom to offer alcoholic beverages.  There is an extensive wine selection, plus half a dozen French and Belgium beers to choose from.  I stick to the non-alcoholic beverages myself, but for many this is a welcome addition to an already fabulous meal.  With a full service meal at dinner, alcoholic offerings, and the appearance of the Beast, you may have already guessed this is the most difficult reservation to snag.

If you want to have any chance at grabbing an Advanced Dining Reservation you need to be ready to go at 7 am EST, 180 days out from your trip.  Make Be our Guest your first ADR priority.  Dinner will be the hardiest to obtain so try for that first if you want to meet the Beast.  Lunch will follow, and then breakfast is usually the easiest of the three to book.

A credit card is required at the time of booking, but you can use your dining plan at the restaurant.  Breakfast and lunch require one quick service credit. Dinner requires you have the Disney Dining Plan or Disney Deluxe Dining Plan to use one table service credit.

Well, we could and probably should stop there, but I promised you some Gaston and I don’t want to let you down!  Let’s hop over to nearby Gaston’s Tavern for a quick bite.

Know before you go essential facts:

  • The quick service eatery is located in the Magic Kingdom in New Fantasyland
  • Advanced Dining Reservations are NOT available
  • Dining plans are NOT accepted, but snack credits can be redeemed here
  • Valid park admission is required
  • The restaurant opened on December 6, 2012.

This small tavern may be light on menu variety, but it delivers a wonderful tribute to the larger than life character of Gaston.  The exterior of the tavern looks like it was plucked right out of the film, and the bronze statue just outside perfectly captures the essence of Gaston and LeFou.  In the statue Gaston shows off his biceps while hosting up a couple of barrels and resting a foot on the arm of LeFou.  The small sidekick scrambles down below to capture the brew pouring out of the barrels above.

Inside, it is LeFou that gets the honorary nod with the signature drink of the tavern, LeFou’s Brew.  This is a non-alcoholic, frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow and topped with a passion fruit mango foam.

This isn’t really a spot that is designed for a large sit down meal.  The seating inside is very limited and the line to order at the counter is usually backed up to the door.  There are additional tables outside, but time of year will determine how good of an option these will be.

The theme of the tavern is on par with Be Our Guest, albeit a much smaller scale.  Gaston’s trophies are on display on every wall, just as they are in the movie.  The large portrait of the one guy in town who has all of him found is surrounded by a tangled mess of antlers.  The dart board can be found hanging on one wall, and the space exudes manliness.  What is strange to me is the menu.  Hummus and chips, apple slices, and a mixed vegetable cup are not exactly what I think of when picturing Gaston gulping down his five dozen egg diet.  Even the drinks are a bit odd, no alcoholic offerings in a place called Gaston’s Tavern.  If ever there was a place for a bevy of brews this is it!

 

Still, I was very excited to tear into a giant cinnamon roll and taste LeFou’s Brew when we visited.  I wish I could say I was equally excited after finishing the roll and sweet frozen beverage.  Sadly, both left me a little disappointed.  The cinnamon roll was one of those items that looks better than it tastes.  It does not lack for size or frosting, but somehow it just doesn’t deliver on the warm gooey promise of its appearance.  When it comes to LeFou’s Brew, I’m reserving full judgement until I get another taste.  I love apples, apple juice, apple cider, apple butter, pretty much everything apple.  So, I thought a frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow sounded like heaven!  I also love me some sweets!  I’ve never understood when someone said the words, “This is too rich.”  For me the sweeter the better, and the only criticism I heard about LeFou’s Brew was that some found it too sweet.  All of this lead to pretty high expectations, which might be why I felt pretty let down after that first frozen sip.

Now, I’m not saying that you need to skip Gaston’s Tavern.  Maybe, just go in with tempered expectations and not too big of an appetite.  Like I said, I will be trying another brew on my next trip, and the theme alone is worth checking out.  The real reason to stop by this tavern is Gaston himself!  You can meet Gaston just outside of his tavern, he appears daily from about 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.  I think I’ve always liked Gaston, but I have to admit that meeting him in person made me a real fan.  Rachel and I stopped to meet Gaston during our last trip and he was a highlight of the vacation.  He asked if I was the champion of my village, and if that was how I captured the fairest maiden, Rachel.  I said, “Of course!” This seemed to please him, but he was quick to compare biceps and put me in my place.  We got some great photos with him and had some good laughs along the way.  Any fans of Beauty and the Beast need to make time to meet Gaston over at Gaston’s Tavern.

Well, looking back on our time at Gaston’s Tavern and Be Our Guest, I have to admit both were worth the wait.  If you haven’t been to one of these spots I highly recommend moving them to the top of your list.  I’m so glad the Imagineers decided to bring the movie to life in the form of these restaurants.  This is one time I think a ride would not have served the movie justice in the same way Be Our Guest does.  Like many classic Disney rides, this place is truly immersive, truly magical, and truly unforgettable.

I hope you have enjoyed our series on Beauty and the Beast.  Rachel and I are planning to see the live action film this weekend and we are excited!  We will be wearing our Gaston and Belle shirts to the theater to help us get in the mood.  If you haven’t seen what I’m talking about be sure to check out our Etsy page at Ride Guide Goods.  Or, like our Facebook page and watch for new designs to be released!

Thank you so much for joining me today.  Next week, we have a Top 5 episode that I can’t wait to share with you.  I hope you will come back, and until then make each day a ride worth taking!

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