Are you heading to Disneyland this summer?
If you are, be sure and make the most of your trip with a character dining experience. My family celebrated my daughter’s 4th birthday earlier this summer at Disneyland and while we were there we decided to check out Ariel’s Grotto for lunch and get some one-on-one time with some of our favorite princesses.
If you know you want to include Ariel’s Grotto in your trip, plan ahead. You’ll want to make a reservation well in advance.
We did not plan ahead but we got lucky and there was a cancellation so we jumped on it.
First, we definitely had to meet our host. My daughter was so excited she didn’t know what to do with herself.
I loved that we had plenty of time with Ariel. Because it’s reservations only, the dining area is not overly crowded so we didn’t feel rushed at all.
Quick Tip: Ask to be seated outside. We were seated outside but we soon realized we got the best seats in the house. Because of the way the tables are set up, we had a lot more time with each princess than the guests seated inside had and we had a great backdrop for our photos. Inside, it was quite a bit more crowded and the princesses had to juggle their time between the tables that were all around them.
I was on the fence about taking the time to go to a sit down restaurant with 6 kids in the middle of our visit to the park but it was the highlight of my daughter’s trip.
We were given some time to eat our food and then the princesses started coming out one by one. They each performed a little dance before coming over to our table and visiting.
The princesses were so attentive (if I could hire them as babysitters I totally would).
My daughter ate the whole thing up and it was so fun to see her face light up. We created some amazing memories and I know it was an experience that she is going to remember.
She talked the ear off of every princess that came by. I was so surprised that she was that talkative but the intimate atmosphere just made her feel like she was hanging out with a friend so she talked like crazy.
We had some amazing photo opportunities with each princess — and every single one of them heard all about what my daughter wanted for her birthday, what her favorite Disneyland rides were, whether or not each princess’s movie was her “favorite” etc.
I’m actually not sure I’ve ever heard my daughter talk so much in her life.
Sweet Rapunzel spent a solid 10 minutes talking with my daughter. She was so patient with her and even took the time to check out all the drawings my daughter had made on her menu.
Tangled is not my daughter’s favorite movie so we were kind of amazed she showed the most interest in talking to her.
When we left, my daughter said, “Mom, I don’t like her movie but Rapunzel’s dress is so purple” . . . which translates to “she is absolutely awesome and I want to be her best friend”.
My twins, who just turned 2, were not quite as into the princesses but they really enjoyed their lunch. My boys are older (8-13), but they loved the atmosphere and had a lot of fun watching their sisters meet the princesses.
We ended our visit with a spectacular dessert (which was pretty much heaven on a plate). My kids couldn’t even finish theirs, although I had no problem helping them out.
The kid’s dessert was awesome. The adult dessert left me craving it for days afterwards.
Things to Know Before visiting Ariel’s Grotto
- Make a reservation. They fill up quickly and you likely won’t get in unless you plan ahead. Consider the time of day you want to visit. During the day you have the chance to meet the princesses, which is fantastic for younger kids. At night you get a front row seat to the World of Color show.
- Buy the photo package. I didn’t buy the photo package while we were there because I always take a ton of my own photos but I regretted not getting it. Their photos turned out better and the package was a pretty good value.
- Serving sizes are big. My older kids typically order off the adult menu. My oldest is turning 13 and can usually out-eat me. They all would have done just fine on the kids menu and we ended up taking a lot of food with us. Between the bread, appetizers, meal, and their amazing dessert plate, you really end up with a lot of food.
- Come dressed for pictures. There are so many great photo opportunities. We visited in the middle of the day when we were hot and sweaty, which gave us a nice break from the heat, but we weren’t especially photo worthy.
- Let them know if you are celebrating. Disneyland is fantastic if you are celebrating a special occasion. Since we were celebrating my daughter’s birthday they added a special cupcake to her dessert. They lit a candle on her cupcake and sang to her before we all enjoyed our treats.
- You’ll receive a special Ariel’s Grotto button. If you are collecting buttons or just looking for a special souvenir, you’ll enjoy this.
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