The Garden Grill Restaurant is located in The Land Pavilion at Epcot. This character meal is usually open only for dinner. Occasionally it will open earlier, such as during the holiday season. Since the Garden Grill is one of the restaurants you can eat at with the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package it opens before five to accommodate those who are going to the early showing of the Candlelight Processional.
When you enter the restaurant the first thing you will notice is that you are on a moving walkway. The server will tell you about this and mention that it goes very slowly so doesn't affect motion sickness. I can tell you that he was wrong and will go into more of that below.
The characters at the Garden Grill are dressed up as farmers. Chip and Dale, Pluto and Mickey Mouse are usually there for you to visit with.
Meals here are served family style. What this means is you do not go to a buffet, nor do you order a meal. Instead a plate is put in the middle of the table with your entree and side dishes. You then serve yourself from this large plate. The servers will refill any item from the plate that you request more of by simply bringing another plate. For the children, they are given there own plate with all options for that evenings children's meals.
Once everyone is satisfactorily full the dessert will be brought out in the same fashion as the meal. Like the rest of the meal, you can request more of the dessert as well.
The meals at the Garden Grill use many of the vegetables that can be seen on the Behind the Seeds Tour, or the Living with the Land attraction. Everything is fresh and very well prepared.
We ate there at part of the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package and were excited because it was our first character meal at Walt Disney World. Our reservation was for 3:45 and we checked in a the podium at about 3:35. Each family checking in was given a light beeper that would light up when it was your turn to be seated. The wait at this point was no more than five minutes for our family.
As we were taking to our seats we were told about the moving restaurant and that it moves so slowly people don't even notice. I have severe motion sickness and wear a Transdermscope patch because of this. I felt ill the whole time we were in the restaurant because I could feel us moving. One suggestion I have for people with severe motion sickness is that you do not face outward when you are seated. Seeing the moving scenery doesn't help if you have motion sickness.
That being said, the moving scenery is a big part of this meal. You will witness a thunderstorm, a rainforest, a prairie and more all from the Living with the Land attraction. This is all very well done and it feels like you are actually watching the real thing. One thing you get to see here that can't be seen on the attraction is the farmhouse you get a birds eye view of while dining.
Our server was prompt in coming to our table for drink orders and he explained the family serving style and how it would work. For our meal the platter held fish, steak, potatoes and green beans. Alex was on the children's menu and he got a plate with chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, french fries and fruit. The chicken nuggets here are not the standard ones you get at counter service restaurants. They looked like a much better quality and tasted better as well. On the adult platter I tasted everything, and enjoyed it all. The fish and the steak were both perfectly done and the mashed potatoes were fluffy and had the perfect consistency.
For dessert Alex was brought a sundae and a cupcake, while the adult dessert platter was a blueberry cobbler with homemade whipped cream. The whipped cream was incredible! It looked like whipped butter but tasted sweet and creamy. Andy, who is not a whipped cream type of person even thought it was very good.
Each character came to our table twice during the meal. Chip, Dale and Pluto spent a few minutes playing around with Alex or 'talking' to us while signing the autograph book. Mickey was pretty quick at the table, but it didn't seemed 'rushed' even though it was a short time.
This meal was different than any other character meal we had ever done, and we all enjoyed the experience. Next time I will fortify myself with Dramamine before going. And next time we will be prepared for the short time with the characters. We will definitely eat here again though. The food was wonderful, the service top notch and the interaction with characters left us laughing.
If you have any questions about this meal, don't hesitate to ask on our forums so that I can answer you.