Sometimes not having a dining reservation at Walt Disney World can lead to an interesting result. This was the case when my wife, Amy, and I were searching for somewhere to eat dinner several weeks ago. We went through the normal process of logging onto the My Disney Experience App and looking through our available options. Our rules were simple. We wanted somewhere new and somewhere associated with a DVC property. The result: Chef Mickey’s!
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what made Chef Mickey’s stick out that night. Part of it may have been the fact that I had not been there since breakfast as a child. Another was that despite all the negative reviews I’ve seen, I was still intrigued by the fact that it was always busy and a must-do for many families visiting Walt Disney World.
Amy and I arrived at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and proceeded to the check-in stand where we were greeted by a wonderful Cast Member welcoming us to Chef Mickey’s. After checking in, we were led to the waiting area where we could get our picture taken and hang out while we waited for our table to be ready. This area is definitely geared towards entertaining young children while they wait with many playing and jumping around the seating area.
My understanding with Chef Mickey’s is that the restaurant is seated according to three different rooms. One room is set at a time in order to better control the flow of guests through their meal and character experiences. Once people started to be called back, I knew our turn would be coming soon.
We were seated at a small table close to a window and quickly greeted by our server who took our drink order and invited us to enjoy the buffet. While we were never rushed directly, I did quickly get the idea that there was a timeframe in which we were expected to eat, greet characters, and make our way to the door.
The buffet offered at Chef Mickey’s is classified as “contemporary American cuisine”. We were amazed at the wide variety of foods available that seemed aimed to please any palate and any age. Pricing can range from $47-55 for adults and $27-33 for children depending on the season.
Here are some offerings we especially enjoyed:
- Three fresh summer salad options provided a wonderful start to the meal. These included a blueberry power greens salad, a tomato and basil ricotta salad, and a seasonal apple potato salad. All were prepared with fresh-looking ingredients, as well as light dressings that did not overpower the flavors of the vegetables.
- A large bread selection included buttery rolls that reminded us of the Parker Houser Rolls being served at the Ale & Compass Restaurant. Served alongside was a hummus sun-dried tomato spread. This was Amy’s favorite part of the dinner.
- By far my favorite option was the large selection of peeled cocktail shrimp available. I’m happy if you say there is cocktail shrimp on the menu, but to have them peeled is something you rarely find at buffets anymore. These were large shrimp and I ate my weight in them alone.
- If looking for something on the lighter side, there were plenty of fresh vegetable options, including asparagus and green beans that I also found enjoyable. While well cooked, they were not seasoned which just took a little salt and pepper to solve.
- Lastly, a favorite we found late in the meal was the pot roast with mushroom sauce. This, to me, screamed comfort food and was tender and covered in an amazing mushroom gravy.
Here are a few options we decided didn’t warrant seconds:
- Several Chinese options were on the buffet including a sweet and spicy chicken as well as pork potstickers. While these weren’t necessarily bad, if you are looking for these types of foods, there are much cheaper options both on and off property.
- Carved Strip Loin was being served, however, I found the meat to be very tough even though appearing to be medium-rare in temperature. I was thankful I could smear some horseradish cream sauce on it to make it more bearable.
- Amy tried most of the pasta options and found them to be bland and not worth the calories. Despite varying sauces and styles, they all lacked flavor.
- A fresh glazed salmon was served that I found to have a very mild taste. While not bad, it was not what I was expecting when the word “glazed” was involved.
The buffet also included a nice variety of foods for children or picky eaters such as tater tots, corndog nuggets, fresh broccoli, and more.
I found the dessert selections to be one of the bigger highlights of the meal. My personal favorite was the butter cake, as well as the worms and dirt tart, and pistachio macarons. Amy enjoyed the ice cream sundae station and was also brought a small cupcake and candle to celebrate her birthday that had recently occurred.
I have always loved the style and design of the Contemporary Resort and found myself multiple times looking around watching the monorail go by or admiring the famous Mary Blair mural and surrounding architecture.
One of the largest highlights of the Chef Mickey’s experience is that it is the only character dining experience on property that features “The Fab 5” in their entirety: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. This is a large factor in justifying the price of this dinner and we had nothing but wonderful character experiences with each one. Amy took an entertaining video of Goofy dancing that we will laugh about for years to come.
With the characters in mind, it should also be noted that this is definitely a loud dining experience. There’s lots of excitement from families and their children as they meet their favorite Disney character. Add that to the fact that cavernous inside of the resort does an excellent job of amplifying this sound. It’s definitely not the ideal date night location unless you really love Mickey Mouse.
Overall, I feel I cannot honestly say Chef Mickey’s is bad. I will say it is not great and will likely not get another visit from me for a while. I appreciate what the chef and kitchen are trying to do with making the food options appealing to both adults and children, but the large selection does not make up for the overall lack of flavor. If you or your family love great character interactions and are looking for a place to see them all, this restaurant is definitely a place where you will get your money’s worth. On the other hand, if you are a foodie at heart, you may find yourself daydreaming of all the better locations you could have spent your cash and your stomach space.