Ariel's Grotto at Disneyland
My wife and I are taking our 3 year-old daughter to Disneyland soon, and I was told about the character dining at the Airel's Grotto at California Adventure. Has anyone eaten there? How is the food? What do you recommend? More importantly for my toddler -- are there lots of princess characters to interact with? Thanks.
We went to Ariel's grotto about 3 years ago...our youngest daughter was about 3 1/2, our oldest 7. They were huge Ariel aficianados and absolutely loved the experience...Ariel holds court on some sort of a half shell outside the main eating area and during dinner, a whole host of Disney characters dances through, poses for pictures, meets and greets and generally gives the kids a great time. Characters included Ariel (who can't walk due to flippers) are Minnie Mouse, Chip n Dale, Goofy and a couple others.
Having said that, the food was horrible, egregiously overpriced and we did not have great expectations. We ordered a meatloaf dinner that was barely palatable cafeteria level food. The food at the Grotto was much worse than the food at other Disney character restaurants, including Goofy's kitchen (where we've been twice -- that's at the Disneyland Hotel). The kids' meals came in the same container that kids' meals at DCA came in, and were twice as expensive. However it was definitely the kids' favorite experience, and the outdoor seating is probably quite a bit nicer than the indoor seating, which again was wholly reminiscent of a cafeteria. They do serve wine to take the edge off, however. Bad overpriced wine.
I had heard at some point that they changed the menu and the food got better but I have not actually spoken to people who have eaten there lately.
Bottom line your daughter will have a blast.
I went six months ago with my then-13 month old. We were lucky enough to get a table as a "walk-in". It was on the edge of the terrace and had a beautiful view of the lake and ferris wheel, etc. There were about four characters that came around and all posed with my son for pictures... Mulan, Cinderella, Snow White and someone else. They were all very friendly although my son was completely oblivious because he was so young. The pictures are pretty funny.
Anyway, the adult food was terrible. I got some pasta that was really bad, and I'm not that hard to please. The only good thing about the food is that they had a really good kid's deal for kids his age. He got a half portion of a kid's meal for free, since I paid full price for my meal (not sure at what age they do that.) I ended up eating all of his leftover corn dogs and french fries, which were far better than my pasta. In addition to dessert, they also gave us an enormous mountain of cotton candy (again, which I ate instead!) On the whole it balanced out to an enjoyable meal and a fair price. Just don't expect the food to be any good and you'll have fun!
make sure you make reservations early. every time my family has tried to eat there the wait was 3 hours or more. to say the least, we decided to eat some place else.