REVIEW: Cruella’s Hide-A-Way in Tony’s Town Square Restaurant Should Remain Hidden at Magic Kingdom’s “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party”
Tony’s Town Square Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom and I have a strange relationship. In my early years of visiting, my family would regularly go to Tony’s. It was a different time, where most table service restaurants in the park weren’t very good, but neither were the counter service options. It was a landscape filled with uncreative, uninspired dishes that were only there to fulfill the human need for sustenance. If you wanted good food at Disney World, you didn’t go to the Magic Kingdom. Now, we live in a world where there are actually a few good options in this park, from Skipper Canteen to Pecos Bill’s. In this day and age, Tony’s looks even worse than it used to. It is American-Italian cuisine on par with or possibly worse than an Olive Garden (cue the hate mail from the Olive Garden annual passholders.) Our last few reviews of Tony’s are ROUGH, and rightfully so. That being said, people love to read about how bad Tony’s is. With that known, it was a no-brainer to book the new Cruella’s Hide-A-Way add-on being offered at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in 2019. You may recall that the restaurant offers Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom. You may even recall that we gave that similar offering a mostly positive review. Well, Tony pushed his luck renting the place out to Ms. De Vil…
For those unaware of what Cruella’s Hide-A-Way is, here is Disney’s description:
You’re invited to the most happening event at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! Enjoy the fun and exciting atmosphere at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant—decked out especially for this beguiling bash!
As you dine, you’ll rub elbows with high society as Cruella stops by your table for some witty repartee. Later, catch a glimpse of the rest of the sinister gang from your reserved seating section for Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade.
Dine in style on savory dishes and sweet treats from a bountiful buffet. Whet your appetite with hors d’oeuvres like international and domestic cheeses and assorted canapes. Venture onto some additional savory samplers with a taste from the Witches Cauldron—a kettle of gooey and creamy spinach dip with ciabatta crostini, assorted Halloween flatbreads and more!
Finally, satisfy your sweet tooth with such desserts as chocolate-dipped strawberries, cheesecake and mini cannolis, Kanine Krunchy cake and Mini De Vil brownies.
This fiendishly fun event will take place at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant from 9:30 PM through 12:30 AM during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
With your reservation booked, you can check in as early as 2:00 pm to get your wristband for the evening’s festivities. With your wristband, you are invited to return at 9:30 pm for the start of the party (they may also open a few minutes early, if you want a head start on other guests.) You can then come and go as you please until 12:30 am, 30 minutes after the end of the party.
The setting is festive enough, with a number of decorations hastily purchased from a nearby HomeGoods. Halloween feels like a stretch for Tony’s though… the Christmas decor definitely felt more natural in the venue.
Around 9:00 pm, a line started forming for the “first-come, first-served” style seating. This was a very different experience for us from the Most Merriest Party. If you want to sit somewhere in particular, you may want to show up a few minutes early, but why you would book this after reading this review is beyond me. The real problem was the food lines. They were LONG. I can’t imagine finding value in waiting 10 minutes or so to get a plate of the hot food, especially when it’s not very good. More on that later…
As far as food service, guests will find the antipasto (a selection of artisanal meats and cheeses) spread underneath the statue of Lady and the Tramp in the center of the restaurant’s largest room. The statue is covered (only in the front) by Cruella-esque black and white feathers.
Lady and the Tramp look like guests trying to see the ride from the front row of Slinky Dog Dash with that giant head in the way.
Cheeses included Colby Jack, Swiss, Cheddar, and Pepper Jack, as best I could tell. Meats were Salami, Prosciutto, Mortadella, and Capicollo. Nearby, you’ll find breads, breadsticks, peppers, a sun-dried tomato spread, baby carrots, olives, grapes, strawberries, and more. All of this was of good enough quality and a nice way to start things off.
As with the Christmas version, the hot food stations are the weakest link, but seemingly even weaker this time around. Who thought we would miss the Tony’s empanadas?
Options include mini-meatball skewers, fried mozzerella, three types of arancini (braised beef, truffled mushroom, and mozzarella), mini pizza slices, spinach dip with ciabatta crostini, and a station with a chef preparing butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sauce, hazelnuts, crispy capicola, parmesan, and fresh sage. It’s all mostly inedible, but surprise, the one food item finished in front of you is actually good. Two out of three arancini aren’t bad (I think that’s a Meat Loaf song), but the butternut squash ravioli might be the greatest food item ever served in Tony’s, if that means anything.
Moving on to dessert, the presentation and look of the food was back to where I expected, but taste and quality was severely lacking.
Desserts include “Kanine Krunchies” (shortbread and pumpkin buttercream), brownies, red velvet cheesecake, cannolis, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and a Cruella’s shoe push pop. It’s not the largest selection (at least compared to the Magic Kingdom dessert parties), but it will do the trick. You’re probably better off with said dessert parties though, also offered during the Halloween Party.
Overall, they were mostly fine. The brownie is a OK option, the red velvet cheesecake is solid, and the cannolis are always surprisingly passable given Tony’s other takes on Italian food. The push-pop is literaly just a tube of Betty Crocker vanilla icing. The Kanine Krunchies are the most well-themed item (taken right from 101 Dalmatians) and they taste just fine, but it’s strange when the hot food tastes more like dog treats than the item that looks like one.
As far as beverages are concerned, there’s a coffee/tea station and two bars (at times.) One was haphazardly thrown near the restaurant entrance, but it was removed by the time we came back from the parade.
The bars offer canned soft drinks (Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite) and alcoholic drinks, as you might have guessed. Several wines are available (Moncalvina Moscato d’Asti, Folonari Pinot Grigio, Maschio Prosecco, Ruffino Chianti, Allegrini Valpolicella), as are beers in the Peroni and Angry Orchard Rose Cider. The wines are nothing special, with some as cheap as $8 a bottle. The beers are serviceable. You can’t leave the restaurant with any alcohol, but you are free to enjoy as much as you like while inside. I stuck to the wine, and despite not being the most luxurious offerings, they were relatively good.
The appearance from Cruella De Vil of 101 Dalmatians fame was certainly neat, but she’s outside meeting guests at the Halloween Party typically, so this felt special in no way. She was fun to interact with, but waiting 5-10 minutes to meet her is a bit silly given she’s likely out in Fantasyland for most of the evening as well. Why not bust out a character that might be worth the price tag? There are plenty of rare villains in the Disney catalog. I certainly felt Tony was worth a bit of the $99 cost at the Most Merriest Party version, but Cruella did little to add to the perceived value of the event.
The main event of Cruella’s Hide-A-Way is parade viewing for Mickey’s Boo To You Halloween Parade. Disney has given those attending the event the absolute best viewing spot in the entire park for the 11:00 pm performance, taking up roughly 75% of the center island of Town Square, including the often fought-over shot down Main Street behind the Christmas tree. The problem is that it wasn’t really policed very well. Several guests without wristbands ended up in the viewing area. If you’re charging guests $100 a pop for parade viewing, you’d better make sure no one is getting in it for free.
Despite how crowded it was inside Tony’s, the parade viewing area is pretty spacious. The combination of this premiere spot and not having to deal with possible obstructions or annoyances from nearby guests is nice. I know this sound elitist, but you undoubtedly have some experience where you’ve dealt with other less-than-favorable park guests while waiting for a parade or show. No matter how nice you are, a fight over viewing space at an American Disney Park is unavoidable, apparently unless you pay $99.
For the best idea of our parade view, check out our photos from the location:
So, is it worth it? Is it worth $99 a person on top of a party ticket to have 3-hours of access to food, drink, a rare character, and reserved viewing space for the parade? I understand if you want to be spoiled and not think about fighting crowds during your party experience, but this isn’t worth it.
When crowded, the event loses all of the feelings of specialness it had when we attended the Most Merriest Party. Endless beverages and snacks lose their value when you have to wait in a long line to get them. You lose the attentive service that makes something feel like a luxury experience. While Tony offered a unique meet and greet and actually spent time with many tables, Cruella was mobbed the entire length of the event, always having a line to meet. She did none of the advertised table visits she was supposed to because she couldn’t take 3 steps without a vlogger, “character counter”, or the now-rare average guest jumping on her. Do note that PhotoPass photographers are available at the event. As with the preexisting event, don’t expect the best food you’ve ever had at the Magic Kingdom either, but expect lots of access to somewhat enjoyable snacks, drinks, and a climate-controlled environment with plenty of seating. Beyond all of this, the second parade isn’t quite busy enough to warrant booking this.
The event does not include a fireworks viewing spot, but even with the new “Not-So-Spooky Spectacular”, fireworks shows aren’t hard to see in some form if you just walk outside 5-10 minutes before they start. I was able to get a spot all the way up the street by Casey’s Corner just moments before it started. That being said, the new show does have an appearance from a Jack Skellington puppet and more perimeter fireworks that you can only see well from a viewing spot up in the hub.
Here’s the show as it appears when viewed from the hub, a spot you won’t likely get if you try to take full advantage of Cruella’s Hide-A-Way:
If you go to secure a good fireworks spot, you will have an even shorter stay at Tony’s, resulting in less food and drink and less time to sit and enjoy it. We were so busy that we ended up only really enjoying the event for the last half hour. By then, most of the food had been out for a while (the spinach dip had hardened to the point where it was hard to dip the crostini in it) and they were already on last call for adult beverages.
So yes, I recommended Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party, but I in no way can do so for Cruella’s Hide-A-Way. There’s plenty to see and do at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and all that this offering seems to do is remind you throughout the night that you need to go back to Tony’s to extract a $100 value just so you can get a particular parade viewing spot.