In 2007, we enjoyed our family’s first visit to Epcot. Our plans were to spend the majority of the day in Future World, have an early supper, and spend the evening in World Showcase. We had dinner reservations at The Garden Grill for 5:00pm. However, at about 4:15 we had enjoyed all the Future World attractions on our “to do” list. As the tour planner and director of our little troupe, I felt torn. I wanted to go ahead and start enjoying the sights and activities in World Showcase, but knew we’d have to backtrack to Future World for dinner soon.
We decided to try to eat early. The Garden Grill was not yet open, but a CM was at the restaurant’s greeting station preparing for the evening’s meal service. I went up to him and told him my name and my ADR number. I asked if it would we possible to move our ADR to the time of the restaurant’s opening, which was 4:30. He was so kind and assured me that the change would be no problem at all. In less than 20 minutes, that same CM called our names.
It was rather exciting to be the first people ushered into the restaurant. If you have not had the opportunity to visit The Garden Grill, you may not realize what a unique restaurant it is. The restaurant is inside The Land Pavilion, is round, and rotates! The tables are on the outer edge of the circle and the kitchen, which cannot be seen, is in the middle. As you eat, you slowly rotate around. One rotation takes about 45 minutes to an hour. During the rotation, you can see into the lobby-like area of the pavilion near the Sunshine Food Court. As you continue around, you can peer into The Living With the Land attraction and see people who are enjoying touring through the many interesting agricultural sights there.
As the CM seated us, he informed us that we had been selected to be The Family of the Day at The Garden Grill. As part of this honor, we were given a special photo opportunity with all of the characters together. Typically, the characters visit each table one at a time, but they came to our table as a group. Farmer Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale came by for pictures and hugs.
The restaurant’s chef came out of the kitchen and presented us with a special, one-of-a-kind appetizer of BBQ ribs on a bed of cole slaw and tortilla chips. (This appetizer was not listed on the menu.) Our food was excellent, and the servers put light-up ice cubes in our drinks. We brought the plastic ice cubes home with us and pull them out occasionally for special dinners. They still light up!
In addition to the Magical Moments Certificate for being selected as the Family of the Day, we also received a family fastpass to use on any ride in the park. We saved it for the end of the evening and used it to enjoy one last ride on Soarin’ before heading back to the hotel.
Being chosen as Family of the Day was such a fun surprise. Everyone at The Garden Grill made us feel like royalty. This was not a treat we could have planned for, but it was a magical way to cap off our last evening in Walt Disney World.