One of the underappreciated changes being made at Walt Disney World since reopening is the feature in the My Disney Experience mobile app to check dining availability. If you are on-property, allow GPS locating on your phone, you may actually grab a spot in a high-demand restaurant. Last month, my wife and I were in line for Pirates of the Caribbean, and we decided to check the app. BOOM! Cinderella’s Royal Table had an availability in five minutes. We decided to stay in line for the ride, and see what we could grab later.
Before I discuss our eventual choice, I want to make you aware that this was a very crowded day at Magic Kingdom. Haunted Mansion was routinely at a 50-to-70-minute wait. Even It’s A Small World was 50-minutes when we walked past it in the mid-afternoon. That being said, we still had multiple availabilities show up for Be Our Guest, Liberty Tree Tavern, and Jungle Skipper Canteen. It is harder to get certain dining reservations right now, because seating is limited even beyond the capacity limitations in the parks. This may be a solid option for your family to get that dream dining experience at the last minute.
Eventually, my wife and settled on The Plaza Restaurant at the Hub on Main Street USA. When I was a kid, this was our regular lunch dining location. We would hit the rides really hard in the morning; take a lunch at The Plaza; and cool down right before staking out a prime location for the afternoon parade. After the parade, we would be refreshed to hit the park hard again until it was time for the fireworks. Until this day last month, I hadn’t been back to The Plaza since I was twelve. This seemed as good of a time as any to get a good review for all of you.
The first thing we noticed was the extreme dedication to social distancing between tables. The Plaza is an indoor restaurant, and a lot of guests are still weary about eating inside at this particular time. Honestly, they could have easily fit another two or three tables, and still provided the required distance. Walt Disney World seemed to want to err on the side of over-caution, at least at this location. My wife has only been back in the parks a handful of times, so her mind was put at ease by the arraignment.
So, I am one to nit-pick when it comes to soda. Listen, I have to be honest. It is unfortunate that The Plaza does not offer Coke Zero as an option, and I had to go with a Diet Coke with no ice. Is that a deal-breaker? Absolutely not. It is just something worth mentioning.
We started off with an appetizer of the Plaza Loaded Fries, which are $9.00. The offering comes with crispy fries, melted cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomato, but we got them without bacon, because I am a vegetarian. Our server was great with making sure they accommodated us on that special request. Disney is uniformly great at accommodating special requests, and dietary needs. While this appetizer was flavorful and made with all quality products, I did feel the portion was a little small for the price tag. We did not have that issue with the entrees.
My wife knew that their signature option was the Home-style Meatloaf. At $22.00 we were expecting this to really fill her up for the rest of the day, and it did not disappoint on that front. The serving of meatloaf was gigantic on top of the mashed potatoes and green beans. Those vegetables were simple, but quality and the green beans were lightly buttered. Some restaurants try to hide inferior ingredients by smothering them in butter, but that was not needed here. There was a savory, light tomato sauce to compliment the meatloaf well. The loaf itself was pure comfort food that brought that homemade feeling. It took her quite awhile to finish her serving, and she didn’t ask me for another snack the rest of the day in the park. That is the sign of a filling meal. If you are a meat-eater, I would recommend this dish. While I hadn’t been to The Plaza in many years, I am friends with a lot of people in the Disney community, and they all swear by it.
As a vegetarian, I have been extremely impressed with the way Disney has stepped-up its plant-based game in recent years. Enter: The Bangers & Mash for $22.00. This is an order of plant-based Bratwurst sausages, mashed potatoes, and mushroom gravy. This was next-level quality. Sausage is an easier option to replicate for a plant-based meal, because you would probably be surprised to see how little the meat-to-spice ratio is in a normal sausage. The mushroom gravy was really a nice touch to provide that savory sauce, without needing to use meat products. This was completed with delicious and creamy (even though I have no idea how they made them that solid and kept it plant-based) mashed potatoes and a side of green beans. This, right now, is the best plant-based option being offered in Magic Kingdom when it comes to full entrees.
The Plaza provides a great atmosphere, with a view of Cinderella Castle out the window, and a chance to see the character cavalcades proceed down Main Street USA while you eat. The entrees are filling and made with fresh, quality ingredients. They are flavorful, without being over-seasoned or drenched in butter and salt. This is a great place to get into the air-conditioning at the hottest points in the day; enjoy some food with substance; and adults can even partake in an alcoholic beverage, if they want. You aren’t getting the flash of Be Our Guest; the humor of Jungle Skipper Canteen; or the location of Cinderella’s Royal Table. You are getting a solid meal to rejuvenate you for the rest of your theme park day.