I just posted my “review” of the fabulous (AAA 5-diamond rated) Victoria & Albert’s restaurant, located in Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, in Orlando, over on my personal blog. Check it out, if you’re considering a trip to Orlando sometime in 2008–it’s well worth the necessary 180-days-in-advance reservation and the hefty price tag per meal.
But there is another reason that Victoria & Albert’s has been buzzworthy among travel-bloggers this month, and that is due to Disney World’s recent (and in my opinion, good and proper) decision to “ban” children under the age of 10 from the restaurant. The howls of protest went up all over the internet, but interestingly to me, they all seemed to be from people who had never actually been to the restaurant. Disney World has 97 OTHER fine restaurants to choose from, so why anyone would get upset at not being able to take their young child to a 3-hour, 7-course, $125-per-person (minimum) dinner is beyond me.
I think that the disappointment of the protesters is ill-placed in this instance, having just returned from a Disney World vacation last month, which included an amazing anniversary dinner at Victoria & Albert’s. As I said in the post on my own blog, I cannot imagine ANYONE wanting to bring a child of any age to this particular restaurant, when there are 97 other restaurants to choose from, including several in the resorts themselves!
Honestly: Our meal, for the two of us, cost around $400 with gratuity (thank you, Mom-In-Law for the anniversary gift!)–and we do not even drink. I can only imagine the cost if you include wine pairings with each course, and/or other drinks. The seatings last about 3 hours, with lengthy pauses between each of the 7 formal courses (and the 2 or 3 “mini” courses like the amuse bouche, coffee, and final sweets). It’s so quiet you could hear a pin drop, even with the gentle harp music. The food is very upscale, and caters to a far more sophisticated palate than children have. Seriously–take a look at the menu, and imagine the response of the typical kid. Our daughter likes a lot of different foods, and we do frequently expose her to “finer” dining and new things, but there is nothing that we ate that night that she would have enjoyed–not even the desserts.
I think that Disney World has done all their patrons, especially the children, a favor with this rule, and I even wish they’d extend it farther, not necessarily with more “bannings,” but perhaps with some warnings/guidelines about some of their other upscale restaurants’ suitability for young children. For example, The California Grill atop the Contemporary Resort was splendid for us, but as I looked around the dining room at the many children who were there, including our daughter, it was plain to see that they were antsy and miserable after the first hour, and that meal is designed to go on a long time, too, being built around the fireworks shows. It’s not about not knowing how to behave–our daughter is very well-mannered at restaurants–it’s a question of what is appropriate to require of a young child.
Our daughter was much happier staying in our rooms at the Grand Floridian with her grandmommy, eating chicken-noodle soup and sandwiches from room service in her bathrobe and slippers, than she would have been with us that night, believe me.
I suspect that most, if not all, of the people who are getting up in arms over this move by Disney Resorts have never set foot inside Victoria & Albert’s. Give it a try–it’s a memorable experience that you’ll recall fondly for a long time, and you’ll quickly see why it’s “not for kids.”