In recent years, dining at Walt Disney World has become an attraction in itself.
With signature dining at resort restaurants, Epcot festivals, the expansive array of eateries in Disney Springs and signature creative snacks in the parks, the dining options draw as much of a crowd as the thrill-seekers.
In fact, my husband and I joke that while he makes a list of souvenirs he wants to buy, I make a list of food I want to eat.
One signature dining option that is often overlooked and sometimes not even known about is a chance for you to dine with a real, active Disney Imagineer.
There are lunch and dinner options available, and we’ve always done the lunch version. It’s cheaper than the dinner experience, and I prefer the restaurant offered for lunch better than the one offered for dinner (Citricos).
The cost for lunch is approximately $100 per person, which, considering what you get, is an incredible value! Not only do you get a four-course meal at the Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (park admission is required), but you also get about a three hour, almost private audience with an Imagineer. I’d say that’s money well spent! So, if this is something you’d like to try, here’s what you need to know.
Reserving the Experience
These experiences are only offered on certain days, and for lunch, only 12 seats are available per day it’s offered. At the 180 day mark, make sure you call (I wasn’t able to do it online) right when the lines open to reserve your spot.
This was a Christmas gift for my husband, so I also inquired about how much the total would be per person with tax and gratuity included. Then, I purchased a Disney gift card for the exact amount and presented that to him as his gift with a little certificate telling him about the experience.
As I mentioned, lunch is typically held at the Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We arrived 15 minutes early and were escorted through the restaurant to the private Bamboo Room in the back.
There, our Imagineer was waiting for us as well as a few private maître d’s. Once we all introduced ourselves and sat down, we were presented with personalized menus, which we kept as souvenirs, and our drink orders were taken.
Lunch was a four-course meal of soup, their famous Cobb Salad, a choice of three entrees, and a dessert duo featuring their also-famous Grapefruit Cake.
We started with a big, delicious bowl of roasted tomato soup that had a round fried piece of mozzarella on top. The signature Cobb Salad was a smaller portion than if you ordered it as a meal, but just as tasty.
For the entree, you could choose from Char-Grilled Fillet of Beef, Vegetarian Pho (which is a type of Asian soup) and Cioppino, a seafood stew full of scallops, a full lobster tail, fish, pasta and a large bread crouton.
Dessert was two mini portions of grapefruit cake and a banana-toffee-coconut creation that was out of this world. All throughout, our maître d’s refilled our drinks, cleared our plates and basically treated us like royalty.
The most exciting part of this meal is meeting the Imagineer! When we did this dining experience about 10 years ago, our Imagineer with was the Senior Project Manager of the Cinderella Castle Suite.
This time, we ate with Laura Alletag, the Senior Project Manager for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which will take place of the Great Movie Ride in the Chinese Theater.
She was super sweet and so eager and excited to chat with us about anything and everything. Of course, there were some things she wasn’t at liberty to discuss, but you can tell she loved talking with us just as much as we loved chatting with her. She told us about her story and how she became an Imagineer.
Laura talked about the level of detail that goes into creating an attraction as well of the level of care taken for this particular attraction since it’s replacing the coveted and much-loved Great Movie Ride. She spoke about the responsibility she feels as a role model for young girls in the STEM fields.
Throughout dinner, Laura answered questions from adults and children, from the silly to the intriguing, all with a smile on her face.
You never know what Imagineer you are going to get — there is a rather large pool of them who rotate through the dining experience. At the end, she took photos with everyone and signed our menus as well.
If you have the time, this is a dining experience I would highly recommend as it is really one that kids and adults both enjoy!
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