It feels like forever since our Walt Disney World honeymoon now – and I suppose it has been a little while, it’s just taking me some time to get through all my reviews! Today we’re focusing in on the Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom, hidden tucked away inside the Beast’s castle in Fantasyland.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Beast’s castle is another attraction and that it houses more than simply a restaurant. Look at it! When it was first created, I remember it being referred to as Florida’s second castle, and it’s so gorgeously constructed that this seems like a good claim to make. What you might not realise, however, is how tiny this castle is in relation to what it seems. It looks far off in the distance on a rocky outcrop of foreboding mountains. But this is all thanks to the Disney magic – also known in this respect as “forced perspective”. Note here how teeny tiny the beautiful French chateau exterior is in comparison to the building which is houses the restaurant below it. Many of the buildings in Disney use this technique to appear bigger and grander than they really are – even Cinderella Castle – and I think it really lends to the Disney magic, secrets hidden in plain sight and illusions around every corner.
Be Our Guest opened in 2012 as part of the New Fantasyland expansion, named after the iconic song from Beauty and the Beast (and I’m sorry that you can’t stop singing it now!). When we visited Disney in 2011, it was underway being built, and by the time our 2014 trip rolled around, it was in full swing but very difficult to get a reservation at. For our honeymoon, we decided we had to give it a go, but decided that, rather than having lunch or dinner there, we’d go for something a little different for us: breakfast.
Just to note, Be Our Guest currently operates as a quick service for breakfast and lunch and a signature restaurant for dinner, meaning it requires two dining plan credits for a meal there.
Breakfast seems to be a bigger “thing” in America than it is over here. Where we’d grab a cereal bar or a piece of toast, maybe the occasional full English, in America, breakfast is an event. I’m not a big breakfast person in general, but it’s something that makes for a fun outing when you’re travelling.
Our morning plans while on our Disney honeymoon were generally to get to the parks as early as possible to make use of our Extra Magic Hours and the quieter crowds before lunchtime, as well as avoiding the frequent afternoon rain. This worked excellently, meaning we successfully avoided the busiest times of the day but meant that we were often just grabbing breakfast on the go – an iced coffee and pastry from Starbucks in the parks or a quick snack and a bigger, but early, lunch.
We decided Be Our Guest would be our choice for the one breakfast to actually book for one big reason: early entry to Magic Kingdom! I’d been dying to see the inside of Be Our Guest for a few years, but what appealed to us even more was the fact that an early reservation there would get you into the park before everyone else, eek!
When making my Disney plans (I had a spreadsheet, of course!), I picked a day towards the end of our trip for our Be Our Guest breakfast. We wanted to make sure that we wouldn’t struggle to get the reservation (since your window to book opens 180 days before the first day of your trip, it means it’s less likely that others will be trying to book that day yet), but also to make it a treat towards the end of the holiday. We also wanted to ensure it was a day that Magic Kingdom didn’t have Extra Magic Hours, as this made the point of getting into the park early kind of defunct, but it was a tricky task as the days for these weren’t released yet, so I was going on some very well-researched guesswork!
I managed to snag us an 8.50am reservation via the My Disney Experience app and luckily it turned out not to be an EMH day. This was good, but not amazing, as the park opened for regular guests at 9am. Our plan was to be finished eating and out into the park before guests were allowed in – although guests are, of course, allowed down Main Street USA and up to the ropes at each land for rope drop on a morning. I kept an eye on the app though and one magical day, I spotted an 8.40am reservation had opened – I quickly swapped to this and felt very smug. But I could do better. I checked daily in the weeks leading up to the trip, and by the time it came around, I’d managed to get us an 8.15am booking!
So what’s really interesting is that there seems to be no hard and fast rule on what time you can enter the park if you have a breakfast reservation in Magic Kingdom. Basically, we were told to get there as early as possible and see what happens. We grabbed the first boat across from Wilderness Lodge to Magic Kingdom (although I did slightly panic that they wouldn’t be running that early and debated over an Uber – don’t worry, they were running from about 7am!), and arrived at the front of the park for about 7.20am. There are cast members stationed along the entrance at this time of day who will check your reservation before allowing you through the barriers into a sort of holding area before you go through the station. Here you’re given a “map” of Magic Kingdom which shows the route you’re able to take to your reservation – this is due to certain areas being closed to guests before official park opening, for example, Cinderella Castle hosts the welcome show so you can’t walk through it. We were held here from around 7.30am until just before 7.50am, at which point we were allowed onto Main Street USA.
This was SO exciting – we were among probably the first 50 guests into the park and down Main Street USA that day which made it ALL worth it for me. And on top of that, everyone stopped on Main Street at the Photopass photographers for a photo, but our tip here would be to bypass these and go STRAIGHT to the castle. We didn’t rush or run at all but were LITERALLY the first people there and managed to get some fantastic empty castle photos! It was honestly like something out of a dream!
Even more interesting, it appears that there’s no hard and fast rule on when you can actually enter Be Our Guest for your reservation. I mean, if you had a 10am reservation and were there at 8.15am, they’d probably turn you away, but we’d heard you could get in early, so we gave it a go. Fortunately, they checked our reservation and waved us straight in at around 8am.
As you can tell, the most exciting part about this whole breakfast experience for me was most definitely the early entry to Magic Kingdom, but on with the actual review!
As I said, breakfast at Be Our Guest counts as a quick service credit on the dining plan, but it’s a little different from your usual counter service. Once you’ve checked in at the first desk, you’re guided through into the entrance of the Beast’s castle, past the whispering suits of armour (stop to listen to them!) and into an antechamber. This is where you order your food on the screens in front of you.
Once you’ve done this, your order is linked to your Magic Band so you simply walk out, get your drinks (these are self-service off the side) and your cutlery, napkins etc. and find yourself a seat in one of the dining rooms. We chose a 2 seater table in the Grand Ballroom, where Belle and Beast dance under the vaulted ceiling, while snow swirls at the windows. You also have the option of the West Wing, which we wandered into but was very dark – I wanted to see my food! – and the Castle Gallery which is Belle’s own private library, but wasn’t open yet that day (I believe they open it at busier times). The interior is stunningly themed and feels totally different to the hot and humid Florida sunshine outside – you could honestly think you were in the middle of snowy France once you’re tucked away in there, were it not for all us tourists in our shorts and sandals!
But wait, you haven’t got any food yet?!
Here’s where Be Our Guest differs from most counter service restaurants – instead of picking up your food on a tray, your food is magically brought directly to your table by cast members acting as servants in the chateau with gilded waiter trolleys. This honestly felt like magic as the cast members are able to locate your table using Magic Band technology – there are no other signals for them to find you such as table numbers! And with the vast number of tables inside the restaurant, this is a pretty astoundingly accurate technology!
It took around 10 minutes for our food to make its way out of those Gothic archways and to our table, so a little longer than the usual quick service wait might be, but we were too busy taking in the splendour of our surroundings and enjoying the atmosphere to be bothered.
Onto the food, finally! I chose the Croissant Doughnut which is topped with a banana caramel sauce, whipped creme and ganache, and served with fresh fruit. Ben picked the Open-Faced Bacon and Egg Sandwich which includes poached eggs, bacon, brie and rocket served on a croissant with fresh fruit. Every meal is also served with a selection of pastries. Both meals cost $28 unless you’re on the dining plan, so it gets you very good value for a quick service credit! This is definitely pricey for a breakfast, even if you do get a lot of food (we barely touched the additional pastries!), but for me, the experience of getting into the park early and seeing the inside of the Beast’s castle makes it totally worth it.
In terms of flavour and quality, I have to admit the food was nothing special. Had I not got the whole experience on top of it, I probably wouldn’t rate the restaurant all that much. It wasn’t bad in any way but was just not anything to write home about. It was nice to get a lovely fresh fruit salad first thing in the morning though!
And by the time we left the restaurant, it was still pre-9am – in fact, I think it was only about 8.30am! We ended up waiting on a nearby wall for Seven Dwarves’ Mine Train to open, which it did so just before rope drop, then we were guided through the Fastpass entrance and rode it before park opening – in the front row!! We were about the third train of the day with no wait at all. We came off and noticed there was no queue still as people hadn’t got through rope drop yet but everyone who wanted to ride it before park opening had already done so…so we walked back around to the front…
This time we were walked through the regular entrance directly behind a cast member – the first time we’ve actually gone through the normal queue! She set off each of the magical interactive queue elements as we walked, including the new ones that had just launched that week, and we were the first people on the ride post-park opening!! We were actually given front row seats again, but swapped with the people behind who had children that looked like they would appreciate it more than us – passing the magic on!