Change. It can be a great thing, or absolutely it can completely ruin something that was perfectly wonderful before. We’ve all dealt with a lot of change over the past few years — whether due to the pandemic or due to the ever-changing nature of life. Now, there are more changes to encounter in Disney World, but don’t worry — we’re here to guide you every step of the way.
One of the most iconic restaurants in all of Disney World is Cinderella’s Royal Table, located inside the Castle itself. It’s one of those you’ve-got-to-do-it-at-least-once type of spots, but it ain’t cheap to eat at and reservations aren’t always easy to come by. When Cinderella’s Royal Table first reopened (post-pandemic closures), a number of changes were made. Now things are different again with a NEW food item and modifications when it comes to the character aspect of the meal. Are these changes for the best or will they take away from the experience you used to have here? Let’s find out!
The atmosphere at Cinderella’s Royal Table is something that certainly hasn’t changed! Regardless of what other changes might take place, the classic and gorgeous atmosphere is still sure to make you feel like royalty.
For starters, the restaurant is located INSIDE of Cinderella Castle. As they say — location, location, location! The location is one of the big things (and sometimes one of the only things) that makes this restaurant a must-do.
The Cast Members here are generally dressed in fairy god-person-type outfits, which we love! And you may find yourself being called by a royal title even though your Ancestry.com results failed to reveal a royal lineage.
In terms of seating, there are standard tables and chairs here, which are located on the various levels and in the various different seating spaces within the restaurant. From what we’ve experienced, the tables here can feel a bit squished together sometimes, so that’s something to keep in mind.
We were lucky enough to get a table right next to a window during our last trip, which felt nice and spacious in terms of having more than enough breathing room between us and other guests. If you can request a table next to the window, it’s definitely worth doing. Those windows will give you some of the most unique views of Magic Kingdom. Of course, Disney might not always be able to accommodate this request, but it never hurts to ask!
The ceilings are really high and beautifully decorated, really giving off those castle vibes.
And when you sit down, you’ll find a cloth napkin with utensils at your table.
No paper plates and plastic forks and knives here. It truly is a “fancy” dining experience, though still totally kid-friendly!
Character Dining CHANGES
Now, let’s get to our first big change for this meal. Back in the olden days (pre-pandemic), Cinderella Castle was a full-on character meal. As you entered the restaurant, you would have the opportunity to stand in line and take a photo with Cinderella to start your experience.
Once seated inside, you’d get the chance to see some more royal ladies including Snow White, Aurora, Jasmine, and Ariel (though the visiting princesses would fluctuate from time to time).
As we all know, due to the pandemic, Disney World closed for a period of time in 2020. When it reopened, Cinderella’s Royal Table didn’t initially reopen with it. But in September of 2020, the iconic spot reopened for select meals (and then later also reopened for breakfast).
When it reopened, one BIG feature of the meal was missing…the princesses! Instead of getting to chat with your favorite royal gals or snap a photo with Cindy at the front, guests were only able to wave at Cinderella from afar while seated at their tables.
No true selfies. No hugs. And no autographs. For the past several months, Cinderella has only made a brief appearance during meals here. When she pops up, she waves to guests and walks around one elevated dining area in the restaurant. She does some swirls, pauses for some distanced photos, and then makes her way off to her remaining royal duties.
But now things have CHANGED (again). During our most recent trip to Cinderella’s Royal Table, we noticed that Cinderella was not popping up during mealtimes at all. Instead, Cinderella is now available to take distanced photos within the lobby of the restaurant. This is sort-of a return to how things were before, where guests could meet with Cinderella in the lobby prior to starting their meal.
Photos are still distanced, so you can’t get up close to Cindy and give her a hug. She’s also on a raised platform, also adding to that distance. But, to be honest, our experience here felt very rushed.
It could have been a product of this being a more recent change, but we were only given a very quick moment to snap a photo with Cindy before we were whisked away to the dining room. Do we HAVE to leave?!
We spoke with Cast Members to see if we could get another chance to meet Cinderella after our meal, but they told us that the only chance to take photos with her is BEFORE the meal, right when you walk into the lobby.
During our meal, Cinderella did not make her post-COVID-opening rounds at all. So basically if you’re looking for princesses at this former princess character meal, you’ll only find Cinderella here now and you’ll only get the chance to see her before your meal begins.
Now, it’s possible that things here will change again! Perhaps this return to having Cindy out in the lobby (just as she was before the pandemic closures) means that we’ll get more princesses walking through meals in the future (again, as a return to pre-pandemic practices). But at the moment, that is not taking place.
Now, let’s get onto the food! When you arrive at Cinderella’s Royal Table, there are some paper menus available, as well as a QR code which you can scan to see the menu online. For this meal, we visited at lunch.
Lunch, like dinner, is priced at $62 per adult and $37 for kids (3-9). The adult meal includes your choice of one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert. We made a special trip out to this spot recently because a new menu item has arrived — specifically the When Will My Life Begin Chicken and Pasta. (Hello Rapunzel fans! This is for you!)
The kids’ meal includes their choice of one appetizer, an entree, two side selections, and a dessert.
Fountain drinks, hot tea, and other select drinks are included in the lunch price.
Alcoholic drinks, including champagne and sparkling wine, drink flights, wine, and beer are available at an additional cost.
Here’s another look at the paper menu we got for wines…
…and specialty cocktails.
We were also able to get a look at the allergy-friendly menu for adults…
…and kids. If you have specific allergies, be sure to speak with the Cast Members there for assistance.
$62 is a fairly hefty price to spend on lunch though. Is the new dish worth it? Let’s see!
Eats and Drinks
For our appetizer this time we went with the Royal Cheese Course. This dish comes with a Selection of Plant-based Cheeses, a Toasted Baguette, and Accompaniments. Yes, you read that right — these are plant-based cheeses and the whole dish is plant-based, making it a great choice for those seeking a plant-based appetizer.
The cheeses were all vegan cheeses made with cashew. The ones we got were a garlic and herb and cheese and a sun-dried tomato cheese. In terms of accompaniments, we got an orange marmalade and a mustard seed spread.
You might be thinking to yourself “are these vegan cheeses actually good?” Or you may have even had vegan cheese in the past and been less than impressed. But these vegan cheeses might actually surprise you because they certainly surprised us!
Our reporter who tried them said that the vegan cheeses were actually amazing and that they never would have guessed that the cheeses were vegan! The garlic and herb was our favorite as it really delivered in terms of garlic flavor. YUM! It was also a little tangier than a regular cheese — maybe along the lines of a Swiss cheese, so keep that in mind.
The sun-dried tomato cheese was really good and had a delicious saltiness from the tomato.
The orange marmalade had chunks of orange pieces in it, which was super refreshing. The combination of the cheeses with the fruit spread was *chef’s kiss!*
The mustard seed, on the other hand, was not a “win” for our reporter who tried it — but they shared that they’re not a mustard fan, so you’ll have to take that with a grain of salt. To them, it was very pungent and sour and had a kick of pepper to it. If you love mustard though, then you might want to give this a try to see what you think!
The little bread pieces were really tasty and had the flavor of like a wheat hard bread chip.
On the side, we also got cinnamon cashews which were really fresh and had a nice cinnamon flavor to them!
Our one complaint? We really wish there were more bread pieces. We finished our bread with lots of cheese and toppings to spare!
But aside from our bread dilemma, we do think this is surprisingly a dish a decent amount of people would like. Our reporter couldn’t even tell it wasn’t “real” cheese. So maybe you order it secretly for a friend and see if they can notice that it’s vegan cheese as a fun challenge?
Next, we have our entree, the When Will My Life Begin Chicken and Pasta. This dish is BRAND NEW to Cinderella’s Royal Table and is meant to be a special 50th Anniversary dish, so of course we had to give it a try!
This chicken and pasta option is made with Tangled Pasta, Braised Chicken, Forest and Moss Flowers, and Pine Nut Pesto served in a Frying Pan! In a frying pan?! How appropriate! We think this is a serving style Rapunzel herself would totally approve of!
The noodles in this dish were cooked al dente and, quite frankly, to perfection. They had just the right amount of chewiness to them. The pine nut pesto had a very strong garlic flavor! Our reporter said that they love garlic, but even to them it felt like they were being hit in the face with that garlic flavor. The garlic-forward nature of this dish might be a bit too much for some people, so keep that in mind before ordering it.
There was an olive oil base, so the dish was also quite oily. Free lip moisturizer with our meal? Don’t mind if we do. The pine nuts were fresh and had a nice nuttiness to them. We actually wish there would have been more in the dish because they added a really great texture difference.
Now, let’s get to the chicken. The chicken itself was nice and fresh, but very. very. VERY bland on its own. It definitely needed the garlic and pesto to make things flavorful! The texture was also quite moist, but slightly chewy, which we found to be just a bit odd when it comes to the chicken.
The leaves and flowers just tasted like edible garnish flavors — nothing special, but definitely gives the dish points in the presentation department. Our one complaint — again we felt like there weren’t enough carbs! Why do you want to take away our beautiful carbs, Disney?! We wish there was a bit less chicken in this dish and more of the pasta. We finished up our pasta rather quickly, but then found that we were left with quite a few pieces of chicken. Had there been more pasta to eat that leftover chicken with, we think it would have made the dish better.
The frying pan the dish was served in appeared to be made of plastic, which means you won’t have to worry about it being overly heavy or anything. The design was adorable and totally Instagram-worthy! If you love garlic, chicken, and pasta, this would be a great choice for you! If you don’t LOVE garlic oil though, you’ll want to stay away.
Overall, we wish there was more pasta and more pine nuts, but other than that we really enjoyed this dish and it’s something we’d get again in the future!
Finally, it’s time to end things with dessert! Normally only one dessert would be included with your meal, but there was a bit of a confusion with the dessert we ordered, so we actually got the chance to sample two.
First up, we have the Jaq & Gus. This is a Cheesecake with seasonal flavors and garnishes, meaning the flavors and garnishes can change over time. When we had this dish back in September of 2020, the flavor was pumpkin and it had gingerbread, caramel, and pumpkin seeds. This time, the flavors were a bit more plain and fruity. We got a vanilla cheesecake with shortbread crumble, whipped cream, a chocolate garnish, an edible flower, two blueberries, a raspberry flavored hard cream, and raspberry flavored fluffy jam.
The vanilla cheesecake itself was suuuuuuper creamy (gotta love it!) and not too overpowering when it comes to that signature sourness that can be a part of cheesecakes. The shortbread crumble was nice and light. And the raspberry flavored fluffy jam added a beautiful layer of brightness and freshness to the dish — it was probably our favorite part! The chocolate and dark chocolate pieces of the dish were also really nice, light, and fluffy.
We will say this dessert was lacking a bit in the berry department though! TWO blueberries?! That’s IT?! We wish there were more blueberries or berries in general so we could pair that fruitiness with our cheesecake. The fluffy jam did help, and we felt like it was needed to add that level of brightness to the cheesecake and keep it from being too plain.
Overall, it’s a pretty simple dessert and we think it could be a crowd-pleaser, even for people who don’t really love cheesecake.
Finally, we also got to try The Clock Strikes Twelve. This is a dark chocolate mousse with a caramel and crunchy Praline center, served with chocolate sauce and hazelnut gelato. Though this dessert has been here for a while, it looks like things have changed. Previously, it wasn’t described as having that praline center, and it was served with raspberry coulis instead of the hazelnut gelato.
We’ve liked this one before — finding the mousse to be light and airy, while the ganache was creamy and decadent. So, how did it taste now that it has changed? Well, this was actually our favorite dessert out of the two we tried recently! The dark chocolate was (once again) super rich and yummy. But we think the level of richness really makes it one you’ll want to share!
The crunchy praline on the inside truly makes the whole dish and takes it to another level. It provides a much-needed crunch to an otherwise relatively soft dessert. Sometimes that texture difference is undervalued, but it didn’t go unnoticed by us! The clock on top is made of white chocolate and is stuck on with a vanilla buttercream icing, adding more layers of flavor.
And we’ve GOT to talk about that hazelnut gelato!! I mean COME ON! It was absolutely delicious and the fresh hazelnuts on top were an awesome touch — slightly salty and yummy, they added an awesome layer of flavor to the dish as a whole.
The only thing we’d maybe change about this dessert is the layer of richness it has. It was STRONG in the chocolate department, making it one you might have to share with the table. But it is absolutely delicious and we think one a ton of people would like. Though, be warned, if you don’t like dark chocolate, this is one you’ll want to avoid!
And that brings us to the end of our meal! So, is Cinderella’s Royal Table worth it with all the changes that have been made recently?
Nosh or Not
Take some time out of your busy Magic Kingdom day to eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table if:
- You want to feel like royalty and get some EPIC views. Truly, the big draw of Cinderella’s Royal Table has been and continues to be the atmosphere. Who doesn’t want to eat IN the castle and get some awesome views of the park around them?! The atmosphere inside has that very royal flair to it, and you’re sure to feel like a royal yourself while dining here.
- You want to eat a larger meal. This isn’t a buffet or family-style meal, so it won’t give you THAT much food, but if you are in Magic Kingdom and looking for a larger meal, this could satisfy that itch. At the $62 price you do get an appetizer, entree, and dessert, which can be quite filling.
- You want to say “hi” to Cindy and get that sort-of character dining aspect before your meal. The character dining here is nowhere near where it used to be, and it has changed AGAIN since the post-pandemic reopening. But if dining in a spot that is fit for royalty AND getting the chance to see a royal right before your meal sounds like a dream come true for you or little ones in your party, then this could be the spot to visit. Just make sure to keep in mind that you will only get that brief meeting with Cinderella before your meal — she won’t pop up during your meal anymore and you can’t see her after your meal (according to the Cast Member we spoke with).
Let that clock strike midnight and eat elsewhere if:
- You’re on a budget. Cinderella’s Royal Table AIN’T CHEAP folks. $62 for a meal isn’t anything to laugh at. Yes, the food we had today was great (though we haven’t always enjoyed the food here in the past) and the atmosphere is second to none, but if you’re sticking to a tight budget in the parks, this is not the place to go.
- You want a LOT of characters or at least a more “complete” character meal experience. Again, this place is not the character meal it once was. The only character you can see here now is Cindy before your meal. If you want to really see a whole bunch of characters while you eat or you want a bit more time to take some distanced selfies with them (and maybe even see them do a dance or two) you’ll want to head to the other character meal spots that are currently available — like Topolino’s Terrace, Chef Mickey’s, Garden Grill, Hollywood & Vine, and more.
- You want some really unique food. Don’t get us wrong, we actually really enjoyed everything we ate during this last meal. From the vegan cheese that totally surprised us, to the new pasta that was super yummy, to those tasty desserts — we actually had some great food and we’d get some of these items again. But, Cinderella’s Royal Table doesn’t exactly deliver on “unique” food. It’s more standard, safe dishes that are pretty solid but nothing that’ll make you say “HOLY COW! I’ve never had anything like that ever before and it’s incredible!” So if you’re looking for more adventurous items, head instead to a place like Skipper Canteen in Magic Kingdom (or check out some of the restaurants at Animal Kingdom Lodge and other spots in Disney World).
Overall, we had a really nice experience during our most recent meal here. Our server was wonderful, gave us helpful suggestions, and was fun to talk to. All our meal came in a timely manner (no waiting FOREVER) and our server timed things out well, waiting until we were done with one course before bringing out another.
In the past we’ve said this spot feels like it serves “wedding banquet food.” Our most recent experience makes it feel like they’ve actually stepped things up a notch! The vegan cheese was a surprising delight and a bit more unique in a way. The Tangled-themed pasta was SUPER fun in terms of appearance — we love that they’re just embracing that princess feel. And it was actually quite good! The desserts were also good, and the changes that have been made on The Clock Strikes Twelve have made it much better in our opinion.
Is the food anything that’ll BLOW you away? Maybe not. But will it satisfy you and taste good? Yes! Pair that with the chance to see Cinderella in her own castle, those spectacular views of the park, and the iconic atmosphere and you’ve got yourself a pretty good meal!
It continues to be one of those places that we think you’ve GOT to do at least once in your life, particularly with little royals who might feel like they’re at the top of the world after dining here. It is a little bit cramped (so be careful if you tend to feel a bit claustrophobic and ask for a window table with more room). And things can get loud here with the little royals who are present, so keep that in mind.
The price is expensive, and it can really add up if you bring the whole family here, but we thought our food here during our most recent experience was really good and we love the atmosphere. So maybe change is a good thing? (Except for when it comes to that verrrrry limited character greeting maybe).
What do you think? Would you try Cinderella’s Royal Table now that there is a new menu item and character changes? Tell us in the comments! And stay tuned for more Disney news and reviews!
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The post Things Have CHANGED at An Iconic Disney World Restaurant. Is It Any Better Now? first appeared on the disney food blog.