‘Be Our Guest Restaurant’ in Walt Disney World’s New Fantasyland magically drops Magic Kingdom diners into the splendor, elegance and fairytale charm of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, with a setting right out of the hit animated feature film: the magnificent castle of The Beast, where guests dine in three richly appointed rooms that bring to the story to life.
“This is a whole new level of theming for a Disney restaurant,” said Maribeth Bisienere, vice president of Food & Beverage and Merchandise for The Walt Disney Company. “More than ever, we’re using storytelling and creativity as we develop our menus.”
Be Our Guest Restaurant is the next step in the evolution of creating delightful dining experiences for Disney theme park guests, she added.
The storytelling starts with Walt Disney Imagineering, This time it’s all about the mysterious new Magic Kingdom castle that’s home to Beast from Beauty and the Beast, a forbidding castle in the Fantasyland “countryside.” Guests pass through an old gateway to a stone bridge and through wrought-iron gates with six beastly figures along the sides – the first of many that reinforce the story of the Beast’s transformation.
The restaurant’s spacious interior re-creates the look of the film in great detail. Lunch guests enter through the Armor Hallway, where six suits of armor stand along the wall (listen closely for an occasional whisper from the metal figures), and into the Beast’s Parlor to place lunch orders on five guest-activated terminals. For dinner, guests enter directly into the majestic Ballroom.
There are three dining rooms: the stately Ballroom, the forbidden, dramatic West Wing and the delicate Rose Gallery. The Ballroom conveys the elegance of the film with a coffered, 20-foot ceiling with fluffy clouds and cherubs, sparkling chandeliers and a terrazzo floor. At the far end of the room, 18-foot-tall arched windows look out to the French countryside, where special effects create a light snowfall through the starry sky.
The West Wing dining room is darker and more mysterious, with the glass bell jar containing the enchanted rose slowly dropping petals as time runs out for the beast. Over the fireplace, a portrait of the young prince in human form is slashed by the claws of the beast. As lightning flashes, the image in the portrait transforms, changing from prince to Beast.
The Rose Gallery dining room features a large music box centerpiece nearly 7 feet tall with Belle and the Beast slowly twirling atop. Along the walls are paintings and tapestries that celebrate the characters from the story, with four of the tapestries inspired by background art from the film. Throughout the room, carved roses are featured, including intricate tile mosaics on the floor.
Music is an important element throughout the restaurant, with musical themes from the film adding to the ambience. In the Ballroom, a 50-piece orchestra recorded the music from the film. In the adjacent Rose Gallery, special music box arrangements were recorded of the same pieces heard in the Ballroom, in perfect synchrony, so that guests moving from room to room will hear the same tune transformed from one style to another. In the West Wing, a somber, melancholy arrangement creates yet another mood.
The restaurant seats 546 for lunch and 340 for dinner. (In the evenings the Rose Gallery is closed to guests and used as a staging area for table-service dining.)
About four years ago, the Disney Food & Beverage team started creating a menu to match the theatrics. A team of Disney chefs, including longtime Disney Chef Roland Muller, a native of Alsace, France, developed the French-inspired dishes, creating both a quick-service menu for lunch and more elegant table-service menu for dinner.
“Our role is to finish the story,” said Walt Disney World Executive Chef Lenny DeGeorge. He describes lunch as more of a French bistro, with dishes such as a classic Croque Monsieur (ham, Gruyere cheese and béchamel), braised pork coq au vin style, vegetable quiche and a tuna Niçoise salad.
Guests order at touch-screen devices and head for tables where high-tech touches ensure that food quickly is delivered to each table.
“We wanted dishes that are recognizable, but also movie-themed,” said DeGeorge. “Everything is fresh, made to order, and for lunch we are hoping for the bustling kind of energy like the movie scene in the dining room.”
Dinner is a more elegant affair with starters such as mussels Provençal, French onion soup and charcuterie (cured meats with cornichons, pickled onions and toasted whole-grain bread). Entrées pay homage to a castle feast in the 1400s with whole roasted hen, thyme-scented pork rack chop, and pan-seared salmon with leek fondue and saffron potatoes. Gourmet cupcakes – strawberry cream cheese, triple chocolate and lemon meringue — and mousse-filled cream puffs are finished tableside.
And just for dinner, select wines and beers will be offered that complement the French-inspired cuisine.
“As part of the overall theming, we wanted to offer wine that enhances the guest experience and complement the French-inspired cuisine,” says Stuart McGuire, beverage director, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. ”The wines focus primarily on France’s famous wine growing regions including Champagne, Alsace, Loire, Rhone, Burgundy and Bordeaux.
“We’ll also offer the leading French beer, Kronenbourg 1664,” says McGuire. “And, staying in the general region, we’ll also offer Belgian beers.”
L’amour Vrais, French for “true love,” is a souvenir, castle-themed goblet with one of two signature non-alcoholic drinks: an all-natural fruit juice punch and wild berry extract sweetened with organic cane juice and topped with lemon-lime foam, or an all-natural pure squeezed lemonade sweetened with organic cane juice and topped with wildberry foam.
Just for Kids
For lunch, the kids’ menu includes a grilled carved turkey sandwich, braised pork with sautéed green beans and potato-vegetable mash, turkey meatloaf (shaped like Mickey Mouse) and seared mahi mahi. Dinner is grilled steak, fish or chicken breast with fresh vegetables.
“We’re even making the ketchup from scratch using carrots,” said DeGeorge. “And the meatloaf also has vegetables, so kids are getting their vegetables and don’t even realize it.”
‘Every Detail Part of Story’
Servers complete the picture, dressed in a style inspired by European fashions from the 1400s to the 1600s: a royal purple embroidered doublet, or vest, over a shirt with knickers that reach just below the knee. For evening service, a jabot or ruffle, buttoned at the throat, is added.
“From the moment they cross the bridge into the castle, it’s all about immersing our guests in the dining experience,” says Bisienere. “Every detail is part of the story.”
Yesterday, Walt Disney Imagineering filed a notice of commencement with the Orange County Comptroller’s office to indicate intentions for ‘selective demolition’ to take place at Epcot’s ‘Wonders of Life’ pavilion. The notice comes just a just a few short weeks prior to the theme park’s 30th anniversary.
The pavilion, which initially opened in 1989 under sponsorship of MetLife, who would eventually drop sponsorship in 2001. The pavilion, which celebrated its last hurrah during the holiday season in 2006, has slowly transformed itself into the theme park’s ‘Festival Center,’ with access to ‘Body Wars’ being sealed off and the theaters for ‘Cranium Command’ and ‘The Making of Me’ being repurposed to hold festival-related docs and presentations. The future for the original theming of the pavilion, with its iconic double-helix DNA structure outside, grew ever more bleak, with reports often stating that should the pavilion ever return, it would not be in the familiar form it once was.
This prediction seemingly continues to be the case with the latest filing, which has Tampa-based Kimmins Contracting Group performing the work. Just what the work entails is anyone’s guess at this point as the textbook ‘definition’ of selective demolition is pretty vague and can involve virtually anything short of razing the entire building itself, but usually does involve modifying the physical form of the building in some capacity all the while maintaining the structure’s integrity.
There’s absolutely no reason to believe it based simply on this filing, but could Walt Disney World be preparing to make an announcement regarding the pavilion’s future just in time for Epcot’s 30th on October 1?
The Disneyland Resort has announced that it will be offering a special preview opportunity for Annual Passholders to view the ‘Art of Frankenweenie‘ traveling exhibit on the evening of September 13, before it becomes accessible to regular park guests.
Passholders have the choice of packages, either a simple viewing experience or a complete dining package with both experiences taking place after park closing.
The preview-only experience is free and requires registration which will open on September 5. While registrants can register up to three additional guests, all must be annual passholders to attend the event which will run from 8 pm to 12 am. When registering, passholders can choose from available slotted times (in 20 minute increments) to visit the exhibition in the animation courtyard in Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure and will be able to visit select attractions that will remain open until 12 am. Space to the event is limited.
The dining package is available for $290 (tax inclusive) per person and runs from 7 pm through 12 am with the a champagne reception taking place in the exhibition area at 7 pm. At 8 pm, a multi-course dinner with wine pairings will be served in front of the Tower of Terror. In addition, valet parking at the Disney Grand Californian is also included with this package as well as a surprise ‘special experience’ from 11:30 pm until 1:30 am. Tickets for the event can be purchased by September 9 over the phone by calling (714) 781-PASS (7277) or in person at any Disneyland Resort ticket booth, while space is available. As with the free event, attendees will also have the opportunity to visit select attractions through 12 am.
In addition to the attractions, attendees can also visit the Muppet*Vision 3D theater for an 8 minute sneak peek of the film in 4D as well as have access to special Frankenweenie-themed merchandise before it goes on sale to the public.
Below is our gallery of photos and video from the exhibit as well as the merchandise on display when it was on display at San Diego Comic-Con. Click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger version.
Earlier today, the official Disney Parks blog held a webchat with Walt Disney Imagineer Melissa Jeselnick, who is one of the lead Imagineers in transitioning Epcot’s Test Track to the Test Track 2.0 phase.
Essentially, the story of the attraction is switching from testing to design, according to Jeselnick. The interior queue is being completely changed to align itself with the new focus. ‘We’ll have actual items, sketches, cars, models from GM that have never been seen before by anyone outside the Chevrolet family,’ she added.
The queue will consist of the Test Track Design Studios. It’s there that guests will design their own custom concept vehicle which ‘follows’ them into the vehicle, now known as a sim car. Although the vehicles are all physically the same, the custom design configuration itself will be scored in categories such as Capability, Efficiency, Responsiveness and Speed. Possible customizations for the vehicle design include body shape, color and tire selection.
For the concept art seen here, Jeselnick explains that the attraction will consist of several scenes. By the time the guest reaches the point shown here, they have already experienced at’s just before our final virtual scene. By that point of the ride, you’ve experienced the Capability, Efficiency, Responsiveness and Power virtual scenes and are being set up for Speed.
In the Capability scene, the guest’s vehicle is tested for rough road and weather conditions; the Efficiency scene tests the car design’s environmental footprint; the Responsiveness scene phase tests maneuverability; and Speed is tested.
Jeselnick also noted that the custom designed vehicle continues to follow the guests even through the post-show area (where Chevrolet will display cars currently available in the pavilion showroom as well as offer concept car photo opportunities). There will be some element allowing guests to compare their custom vehicle design scores with other guests throughout the day. Jeselnick also offered the possibility of guests being able to interact with their designs beyond the attraction, though she stopped short of mentioning what they may be. It would not be unprecedented for there to be some online component, for example, or possibly even a special PhotoPass opportunity where guests can virtually join their creation.
While the attraction will enjoy a new sponsor (Chevrolet as opposed to General Motors), a new queue and ride experience, a brand new soundtrack, a new marquee (shown above) and more, some elements will remain the same. The track itself is not being altered and the attraction will continue to offer both FASTPASS and Single Rider options. While the standby queue will offer full customization opportunities, the FASTPASS and Single Rider queues will allow guests to choose from a selection of pre-configured vehicles.
First Look: Tinker Bell and Periwinkle Characters from Disney Parks; New ‘Secret of the Wings’ Clips
The official Disney Parks blog today shared this first image of Tinker Bell and Periwinkle /aka/ Peri /aka/ Tink’s sister as they will appear at both Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland in mid-September (September 17 in Orlando according to this site, to be precise).
Peri will be joining Tink in Pixie Hollow in honor of their upcoming 3D Blu-ray release, Secret of the Wings, available to own on October 23, 2012. For Tinker Bell and the other warm season fairies, the Winter Woods remains a mysterious and forbidden place. Secret of the Wings takes audiences on an amazing journey of discovery with Tink, into this forbidden world where she discovers a magical secret that changes her life forever.
Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios New Zealand, we also have a couple of new clips to share. In the first clip, titled ‘Sisters,’ Tink and Peri learn that they are ‘two fairies born of the same laugh’ in a way that only Pixie Hollow could announce the news:
The next clip, titled ‘Exactly Alike,’ overlaps a bit with a previously released clip and introduces Gliss and Spike as Peri shows her newly-discovered sibling around the Winter Woods:
Via an email to Disney Travel Agents regarding the newly made announcements regarding the Enchanted Forest portion of the New Fantasyland Expansion at the Walt Disney World Resort on December 6, 2012 (soft opening November 19), a few pieces of concept art were released. They appear to be new, but it is quite possible they’ve been released previously and we just missed them, but even if they are old news they are beautiful enough to warrant sharing again.
- The castle of the Beast stands majestically upon a hill and houses the Be Our Guest Restaurant (reservations open for November 19 on August 20 at
12 pm7 AM ET), which will feature a lavish dining experience in the elegant ballroom, gallery and mysterious ‘West Wing’ of the castle. With seating for 550, this eatery promises a French bistro flavor, offering ‘great food fast’ service by day and full table service dining in the evening.
- Maurice’s Cottage (decorated with a few of his wacky contraptions!) is situated in Belle’s Village amongst a French countryside setting complete with a wishing well and rustic foot bridge. The inventor’s humble workshop welcomes guests into the first scene of Enchanted Tales with Belle and Lumiere, a lively retelling of the ‘tale as old as time.’
- Nearby in Belle’s Village, guests will find the rousing Gaston’s Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts.
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid is a major new attraction that takes guests on a ride with Ariel and her friends through their exciting adventures above and below the waves – all against a musical backdrop of songs from the classic film.
- Ariel’s Grotto provides a way to meet and greet with The Little Mermaid herself.
Walt Disney World has announced some changes to its lineup of narrators for its annual holiday event, the Candlelight Processional, held at the America Gardens Theatre, beginng November 23 of this year.
As we previously noted on Twitter, Isabella Rossellini will no longer be performing from November 23 – 25. We know her spot to be filled by actress Geena Davis. In addition, Andy Garcia has signed on for December 2 – 4, James Denton for December 8 & 9, Jodi Benson extended to December 10 – 13 and music singer Amy Grant from December 26 – 28. The full narration schedule as it currently stands is as follows:
Schedule & Narrators
American Gardens Theatre (5:00 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 8:15 p.m.)
November 23 to November 25, 2012 — Geena Davis
November 26 to November 29, 2012 — Neil Patrick Harris
November 30 to December 1, 2012 — Whoopi Goldberg
December 2 to December 4, 2012 — Andy Garcia
December 5 to December 7, 2012 — TBA
December 8 to December 9, 2012 — James Denton
December 10 to December 13, 2012 — Jodi Benson
December 14 to December 16, 2012 — Olivia Newton John
December 17 to December 19, 2012 — TBA
December 20 to December 22, 2012 — Trace Adkins
December 23 to December 25, 2012 — Gary Sinise
December 26 to December 28, 2012 — Amy Grant
December 29 to December 30, 2012 — Marlee Matlin / Jack Jason
Although the event is free (with park admission), lunch and dinner packages are available in which diners will also receive reserved seating (with remaining seats to be filled in via standby line) as well as access to a reserved viewing area for Illuminations.
Lunch Packages range from $32.99–$55.99 for Guests 10+, and $12.50–$17.99 for Guests 3–9 at restaurants including: Biergarten Restaurant, Coral Reef Restaurant, Le Cellier Steakhouse, Les Chefs de France, Nine Dragons Restaurant, Restaurant Marrakesh, Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room, San Angel Inn, Teppan Edo, Tokyo Dining, Tutto Italia Ristorante and Via Napoli.
Dinner Packages range from $49.99–$66.99 for Guests 10+, and $14.50–$26.99 for Guests 3–9 at restaurants including: Biergarten Restaurant, Coral Reef Restaurant, The Garden Grill Restaurant, La Hacienda de San Angel, Les Chefs de France, Nine Dragons Restaurant, Restaurant Marrakesh, Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room, San Angel Inn, Teppan Edo, Tokyo Dining, Tutto Italia Ristorante and Via Napoli.
Starting this fall, Walt Disney World Resort guests will become the stars of ‘Phineas and Ferb & YOU: A Brand New Reality.’ The virtual experience will allow guests to play with animated characters from Disney’s Emmy Award-winning animated series ‘Phineas and Ferb.’ The fun happens at Downtown Disney West Side, next to Bongos Cuban Café from September 1 through December 1, 2012 from 2 pm – 9:30 pm daily.
How it works: As many three guests are invited to stand inside the virtual experience set, and out of 20 randomly pre-determined animation segments, Phineas and Ferb, Agent P or even Dr. Doofenshmirtz will magically appear to play and dance alongside them. It all happens in a virtual (on-screen) 30-second experience. But the fun doesn’t end there! Guests may visit a special website to download and share with family and friends a complimentary souvenir photo of their starring role. To complement this limited time engagement, special Phineas and Ferb merchandise will be available at a nearby merchandise stand.
For more Phineas and Ferb fun at the Walt Disney World Resort, guests may go undercover with Agent P—the alter ego of Perry the Platypus—on a fun-filled quest around World Showcase at Epcot or meet and greet Phineas and Ferb at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
After starting the roll out of FASTPASS+ technology at the Magic Kingdom, which not only included the installation of temporary (and subsequent permanent) RFID readers at return lines at select attractions, along with limited tests, as well as pilot programs to enter the theme parks via RFID and — most recently — pay for purchases and unlock hotel rooms using embedded RFID chips in the Key to the World (KTTW) cards at the Contemporary Resort, it appears Walt Disney World (NYSE:DIS) is steadily pushing on to establish its NextGen technology at the Resort, this time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Within the past 24 hours (give or take), Walt Disney World has filed construction commencement notices with the Orange County Comptroller’s office, for virtually all of the theme parks’ attractions and shows. Citing a very generic ‘provide labor, material and/or electrical for construction’ reason, all of the documents list Disney’s own Buena Vista Construction Company as the contractor, as was the case for all recent work performed on Haunted Mansion, to cite an example.
Attractions referenced so far in the paperwork include Star Tours, Great Movie Ride, American Idol Experience, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, Disney Junior Live on Stage, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Rock’n'Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, Muppet*Vision 3D, and Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show.
FASTPASS+ is an enhanced version of the FASTPASS attraction reservation system which will allow select guests to schedule opportunities to visit attractions and character meet and greets in advance of their visit to the Walt Disney World Resort. It is part of a larger program, MAGIC+, or ‘My Disney Experience’ which will allow the guest to customize and interact with the theme park environments way beyond what is possible today. Walt Disney World recently released an app titled My Disney Experience for Apple iOS devices which will provide the foundation of the new opportunities, which include allowing guests to integrate their mobile activity with their online accounts to share information and perform new tasks such as creating dining reservations from virtually anywhere. To aid with using the new app, the company has already rolled out free WiFi inside the Magic Kingdom Park and its resorts, with the rest of the theme parks expected to follow suit.
After presenting its technique for cloning the human face in an effort to produce more realistic audio animatronics at SIGGRAPH, Disney Research Zurich has released this video which takes a closer look at the process, which we began discussing on here last month.
The video starts off by giving an overview of the patent application which we previously described. Essentially the project aims to correct issues with traditional audio animatronics in which the synthetic skin is stretched as actuators contort it to form various expressions. By using an array of high definition cameras to produce marker-less motion capture, the system can accurately determine how a specific synthetic skin material, such as silicone, should be cut in terms of varying thicknesses and attached to the animatronic skeleton so that the desired expressions are replicated precisely, down to the wrinkle level. The video then goes on to give a full demonstration of the process, from scanning the subject, to producing the mold, to comparing the original actor with his audio animatronic counterpart.