REVIEW: Storybook Dining with Snow White Characters Begins A New Chapter for Artist Point, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Artist Point opened with Disney’s Wilderness Lodge back in 1994, during Walt Disney World’s rush to add many signature restaurants and shed the notion that all theme park food was hamburgers, corn dogs, and popcorn. Since that time, Disney has added dozens of fine dining experiences to the resort, and Artist Point perhaps got a little lost in the shuffle. The restaurant didn’t often have more than half of its tables filled with guests, so maybe it was time for something new to happen. That something new comes in the form of a character dining experience that turns the serenity of Artist Point into the hustle and bustle of Chef Mickey’s.
The interior of Artist Point wasn’t heavily altered when you really examine what was done, but it changes the ambiance in a BIG way. Tree branches were strung across the ceilings, emanating from the existing pillars of the restaurant. The branches feature glittering lights that change color and dance when characters enter or take part in choreographed sing-alongs. The branches cover some of the beautiful murals that the restaurant was known for, but we’re just going to have to get over it.
We could also go down the rabbit-hole story-wise here, where the backstory of Artist Point has it as a lookout for artists in the Pacific Northwest, particularly in a national park setting, but now a German fairytale with mythical creatures is somehow inside of this grand lodge. It makes about as much sense as the Toy Story Land universe and I don’t have the energy or patience to fight this battle any longer.
While the Artist Point cast costumes remain, a Magic Mirror-inspired border now holds every CM name tag in the establishment. Little touches like this make the overhaul feel less rushed and help establish that the change to character dining wasn’t some hastily-made money grab.
The table settings are pretty cute, featuring an autograph card wrapped around each guest’s napkin. The centerpiece is a tree-shaped Lazy Susan, used for the serving of the shared appetizers and desserts.
Storybook Dining with Snow White at Artist Point costs $55.00 per person for adults ages 10 and up, $33.00 per child. It surprisingly is just one table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan, which definitely tips the scales in favor of eating here if you want some bang for your buck. Unfortunately, they are now no longer accepting Tables in Wonderland, despite the fact that the website still lists Artist Point as a participating location. With it still listed, I decided to valet park at the resort, since complimentary valet is included when you use your Tables in Wonderland card at participating resort and Disney Springs locations. However, since the restaurant refused the discount under pretenses that is now “Storybook Dining at Artist Point” and no longer just Artist Point, I then had to have a lengthy discussion to get the free valet service. The manager at valet absolutely refused since the offering is operated by a third-party and not Disney, but the front desk was willing to provide the payment quickly to retrieve my car since the website clearly still listed Artist Point. They said it will be removed from the list by the start of 2019.
In a world where Disneyland Resort offers multiple hotel character meals with pretty much the same batch of characters, I will say it’s nice to see a new ensemble. While Snow White can be found at other similar experiences, the Dwarfs and the Evil Queen can not. The three ancillary Snow White characters also do not appear in meet and greets outside of seasonal events at Walt Disney World, so it does feel a bit special seeing them here. Our interactions with each were lengthy and memorable.
Snow White, Dopey, and Grumpy will travel from table to table, and when you’re done eating, you can make your way to the middle of the restaurant (for some reason this was the location chosen) to see the Evil Queen with a themed backdrop. The Evil Queen will have a PhotoPass photographer with her and I know many will be happy to know that all 4 characters do indeed sign autographs.
Throughout the meal, the characters will make announced entrances, but also take part in a “Silly Song Sing-A-Long” and a march around the restaurant to “Whistle While You Work.” You can see video highlights of these moments below:
OK, let’s get to the food service. Here’s the full menu:
They push the themed cocktails hard, seeing as though the menu is pretty small but three cocktails appear twice in it…
Appetizers and desserts are shared, so the only choices you need to make are beverage and entree.
Artist Point once had an extensive wine list. This is it now.
The children’s menu is adorably themed.
We decided to try a few of the themed cocktails to start off the experience:
Evil to the Core ($11.25)
Patrón Silver Tequila, Habanero, Blackberry, Orange Juice
This tastes (and looks) very similar to many offerings of this style you can find all around Walt Disney World. It’s syrup-heavy and sweeter than expected, with a massive pile of blackberry seeds sitting at the bottom. I wouldn’t have this again.
This drink came out smoking, which was neat, but it lasted so short of a period that none of us got a picture of it. This was the most unique of the three drinks we ordered, not only in presentation, but it had a smoky flavor as well. It was also the strongest of the drinks we had by far thanks to the Johnnie Walker Black scotch. I would order this again.
Enchanted Apple ($12.50)
Skyy Citrus Vodka, DeKuyper Pucker Sour Apple, and White Cranberry Juice
An interesting take on the cosmopolitan, but the taste was perhaps too artificial for some. The sour apple overpowered the other, so be advised if you were ordering this for any cranberry or citrus flavor.
Shared appetizers include a Winter Squash Bisque, Wicked Shrimp Cocktail, and Hunter’s Pie.
The chicken-filled hunter’s pie was my favorite, made unique by the inclusion of the fruit preserve spread that accompanied it.
The Squash Soup was pleasant as well, with the fun added element of a marshmallow wand to stir the “cauldron”. It’s no replacement for the Smoked Mushroom Bisque, but you can still get that next door at the wonderful Territory Lounge.
While the shrimp was enjoyable, I have no idea how a jar of seafood fits in at this restaurant with dishes themed to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Also, the advertised accompaniments did little to make this more than an average shrimp cocktail dish.
For kids, there is also a small tray of fruit, vegetables, cheese, and a create-your-own honey butter kit. Once you mix the butter, you can spread it on the Parker house roll that comes in a small pot.
The quality of the prime rib was just OK, it was pretty bland and a little tough. The horseradish mashed potatoes were my favorite part of the meal, offering enough of a spicy horseradish flavor to satisfy. The popover was good, flaky on the outside, doughy on the inside. The carrots, on the other hand, were the most vile thing I’ve possibly ever had on Disney property. The hay-smoked carrots were hard, possibly under-cooked, and had the smell of a horrible body odor. They taste just like they smell.
Magic Mirror Slow-braised Veal Shank
Celery Root Mashed, Wilted Winter Greens, Jus
The surprise standout of the entrees was the veal shank. It was cooked to perfection (so tender), full of flavor, and a rather sizable portion. I will say, for being a character meal, there was clearly an effort to still do some dishes you won’t find at many locations around Walt Disney World, and there’s some success here. Chef Mickey’s this ain’t.
Vegetarian options don’t often stand up well against meat entrees, but this one does. Loaded with cheese, this Gnocchi heavy entree was our second favorite dish of the five we tried. The squash was perfect, not too hard, not too soft. Possibly the best gnocchi dish at the Vacation Kingdom of the World, and that says a lot because there are quite a few. I know it’s not the best value of the entrees, but it’s so good that you may forget that.
There are also a lot of Snapper dishes here right now, and sadly, this is the most forgettable. I would try to describe a flavor, but there wasn’t any. The risotto is the standout of the dish, but it’s not enough to save the plate.
Brother’s Grimm Roasted Chicken
Confit Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Apples, and Chestnut Butter
The chicken is nothing out of the ordinary, but it is well made offering tender and juicy bites. Where this dish really shines is the accompaniments, including the Brussels Sprouts which are bursting with flavor. The potatoes and apples are enjoyable as well, rounding out the dish nicely.
The centerpiece tree is used once again to provide the shareable desserts.
I was undoubtedly the only person at the table who liked the Miner’s Treasures, featuring green sponge cake, white chocolate gems, and buttercream icing. It is very sweet, but I loved the softness of the cake mixed with the crunch of all of the little chocolate bits. Even the chef told us this is meant to be the dessert for the kids, but I don’t care. You can call me a big child if you will give me your serving of this.
The “Poison” Apple is a white chocolate apple mousse with a sour center. I don’t know how you would do a Snow White meal without an apple-themed dessert, and this does the job. I would consider this the non-offensive option in-between the super sweet Miner’s Treasure and the Gooseberry Pie below. It’s a good thing that the Evil Queen needs you to take “just one bite”, because that’s all this one is.
The Gooseberry Pie is meringue-topped and perfection. The spices mixed with the filling create a rich flavor for this one-of-a-kind dessert that perfectly blendS what Artist Point was with what it is now: delicious, unique, but character themed in a clever way. It’s the ultimate comfort food dessert and perhaps a nod to the old cobbler desserts of Artist Point’s past.
Arriving shortly after all of these other desserts, a small box will come to your table: The Hunter’s Gift to the Queen. A smoking box displays chocolate ganache hearts and caramel popcorn which is then distributed by your server onto your dessert plate. It’s basically a dove chocolate and caramel corn. It is a cute and memorable presentation though, albeit a little morbid since the Huntsman is supposed to deliver the heart of Snow White.
I have been to worse character meals. I have been to better character meals, but not many. Artist Point falls somewhere on the higher end of the spectrum, offering unique characters, a fun atmosphere, and very good food. It’s probably a little adventurous (believe it or not) for the typical Chef Mickey’s crowd, but the journey outside of the comfort zone will be worth it. If you enjoy signature dining, then you have lost Artist Point, one of the very best and probably the easiest to get a reservation for. At the same time, Artist Point was always pretty empty, so this is a change I’ll stomach understanding that this is a business and you need restaurants that can fill seats. If you like your Disney Dining a little more loud and colorful, then you’ll be very pleased. At one table service dining plan credit, this is also a tremendous value. The old Artist Point is dead, but the Storybook Dining with Snow White and friends is one of the fairest character meal experiences of them all.