In the middle of the Walt Disney World Resort sits the Starwood Hotels called the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin. Tucked away inside the Swan & Dolphin is a restaurant called the Garden Grove. After my recent experience, I consider the Garden Grove a hidden gem at Disney World. The Garden Grove is a restaurant that features breakfast, lunch and dinner. The highight of this restaurant is the Character Dinner. The Swan & Dolphin is a convention hotel, so more of the guests tend to be adults vs families. During the weekday, the Garden Grove Character Dining is nearly empty vs the weekend. This allows you the exclusive opportunity to spend more time with your favorite Disney Characters. On my recent visit to Garden Grove, my kids got numerous pictures with Goofy and Pluto, got autographs, and even danced around the restaurant. Our family spent more time with the Disney Characters at this restaurant than any other Disney Character Dining experience. It was amazing!
This restaurant is themed after the gardens of Central Park in New York City and you certainly feel that atmosphere in Garden Grove. It is a beautiful restaurant with a huge dome ceiling. The restaurant is in a big circle with large pillars around the outside of the restaurant. Large greenery and white ball lights hung around the outside of restaurant. The white ball lights looked like paper lanterns. In the center of the restaurant is a 25 foot oak tree with twinkling lights and paper lanterns. My daughter thought the lights were fairy lights twinkling in the tree. There are painted tree murals along half of the restaurant walls. During the day the light shines into the restaurant through the dome and picture windows on the other half of the restaurant walls. The tables are wooden tables with light green material, still giving you the feel of being outside.
This restaurant features a unique dining experience. They offer a kids menu and adult menu, in addition to the salad and soup buffet. They also offer a dessert buffet, after your meal. For the adult menu, you have a few entree choices. These entrees include, a 16 ounce Prime Rib with Au Jus, 1/2 Thyme Roasted Organic Chicken, 8 ounce Cedar Plank Blankened Salmon or Chef’s Vegetarian Creation. The prices vary on your entree. The Prime Rib is $36.99, the chicken is $29.99, the salmon is $32.99, and the vegetarian dish is $29.99. Each entree is served with several Chef selected side dishes. My entree came with corn on the cob and carrots with a truffle sauce.
The Garden Grove offers a wide variety of beverages, including coffee, tea and Coca Cola products. They offer their exclusive seasonal draft beer called Phins and Feathers. This is a seasonal beer brewed just for the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin. This beer has hints of local Florida citrus and is brewed by the Shipyard Brewery. You can also enjoy a seasonal Sangria, other draft beer options, or a selection of wine by the glass or carafe.
Once you have ordered your entree and beverage, you were escorted to the soup and salad buffet. The soups are home-made with the option of the Soup of the Day or the Clam Chowder. You could then select a wide variety of breads to accompany your salad. For the salad buffet, you selected your favorite fresh lettuces, raw garden vegetables, or pickled vegetables. You could then eat your salad as prepared or take it to the Chef to “chop it or toss it.” I loved this idea! I took my salad up to the Chef and chose one of the four house made dressings which was a Red Wine Vinagrette and had him “chop” my salad. It was fun to watch him chop my salad and it tasted even better.
For the kids, they could choose their favorite soup from the soup and salad buffet. The server brought both kids a Salad Spinner with lettuce, vegetables, and their favorite salad dressing. A Salad Spinner is a bowl that seals at the top with a knob. You push down the knob and it causes the salad to spin around the bowl. It is normally used to remove water from lettuce. The Garden Grove uses it for endless entertainment for the kids! The kids spent almost 30 minutes spinning the salad dressing throughout their salad. They never ate the salad, but they had so much fun using the Salad Spinner.
After dinner, you can enjoy the dessert tastes at the dessert buffet. They offer a variety of treats, all in sample portions. Behind the dessert buffet, you can see the chocolate room. The Garden Grove has a chocolate room where they prepare different treats. Over the holidays, you can see the Chefs create chocolate masterpieces. On the other side the chocolate room is the bakery.
During the day, you may see the Chefs hard at work preparing all of the desserts for the Garden Grove restaurant. These two rooms add to the experience of dining at the Garden Grove restaurant. The Garden Grove was a wonderful dining experience for the whole family. I loved the quaint atmosphere, the excellent service, and the family time with the Disney Characters. You can book the Garden Grove online using Open Table or by calling your travel professional. During your next Disney World vacation, think of another Character Dining experience outside of the Disney World Resorts at the Garden Grove Restaurant.