The Festival of Fantasy Parade is such a must-see at Walt Disney World. The “3 O’Clock Parade” as some call it, is a huge highlight for many at Magic Kingdom, Orlando, with its catchy songs, favourite Disney characters and incredibly impressive floats. Its certainly up there with one of the ‘must-not-miss’ activities when visiting Walt Disney World.
Many line the curbs on Main Street USA and Frontierland securing their spots to watch the parade a good half hour to sometimes an hour before the parade even starts. This can come as a welcomed break if you manage to sit on the curb to rest your well walked legs, but equally in the Florida heat and humidity can often become a bit of an endurance test in that midday hot sun.
The Festival of Fantasy Parade Viewing and Dining Package offers you the chance to book a 3 course meal together with a ticket to a designated viewing area for you to watch the parade from. Meaning you can skip the hustle and bustle of trying to stake out a good spot to watch the parade and instead providing you with a great reserved viewing area.
Walt Disney World seems pretty awash at the moment with Dining Packages but we tried this package in late February, and here’s an overview and review of how we found it.
The Festival of Fantasy Parade Viewing and Dining Package provides you a 3 course meal which in this case is a Lunch. The Lunch comprises of an appetiser, entree and dessert, plus a non-alcoholic beverage. During or at the end of your meal you will be give a ‘VIP ticket’ which allows you into a reserved/sectioned off area for you to watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade from.
$$ – The current cost is per $54 per Adult and $19 per child (don’t forget Disney classes a child as aged 9 and under only). This price includes your meal at the restaurant with the viewing area for the parade. Tax is not included and neither its the tip, so don’t forget to take cash to the restaurant with you (we kept forgetting to do this during our holiday & ended up with one of us constantly running to an ATM).
DISNEY DINING PLAN? If you are on the Disney Dining Plan then this Package is included. It will cost you one table service credit per person participating. (Always remember tips are excluded from the Disney Dining Plan so you will still need to leave a cash tip on the day even if you are paying with your Disney Dining Plan).
As usual you will need a valid park ticket to enter Magic Kingdom to be able to enjoy the restaurant/parade/package, etc.
You can book all dining reservations from 180 days in advance by either calling Disney on (407) 939-3463 or, if like me, you prefer to book online (especially if you are outside the USA), then you can book on the Disney World official website directly. Simply search for ‘Festival of Fantasy Parade Package’ and it will come up in the results, from there choose your date, then time slot and book. Currently you may make a reservation for lunch between 11:30am and 12:30pm.
As mentioned above the meal is served at lunch time only with the last booking currently being 12:30pm. We booked our meal for 12:15pm and I think overall it took us about 1.5 hours (we were a family of 4), we did take our time though and several smaller sized parties came and left in the time we were in the restaurant. The meal is served at Tony’s Restaurant which is in the town square area of Magic Kingdom. Literally as you enter Magic Kingdom the Town Square is in front of you and to the right is the Theatre where you can currently meet Mickey & Minnie as part of Mickey’s 90th Birthday Celebrations, plus you can also meet Tinkerbell in the Theatre too. Tony’s restaurant is within that Theatre block on the left hand side.
Tony’s is an Italian Restaurant themed around Lady and the Tramp. If you love the movie like we do then you’ll more than likely know the restaurant from the movie with the famous Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene, and of course Tony himself singing “Bella Note”. The restaurant itself feels quite light and airy with an adorable Lady and the Tramp water feature in the middle. We noticed that all the diners participating in the Festival of Fantasy Parade package were sat together in the middle section of the restaurant.
Italian food, so lots of pasta!
If you’ve ever googled Tony’s Restaurant then you may already know that the restaurant doesn’t really rate very highly with people for a Disney Restaurant, which is such a shame as the restaurant is located in such a prime Disney spot. There is a new Head Chef who is apparently very aware of these reviews and is trying to turn things around, adding new dishes to the menu. We went with low expectations to be honest because of the previous reviews and our opinion of the food was still quite mixed.
FOR APPETISER – both my husband and I had the Caprese Salad which is kind of standard for us. Whilst this wasn’t the best Caprese Salad we have ever had, it was still tasty, light and very pleasant.
FOR ENTREE – My husband ordered the days Sustainable Fish – which was delicious and I must admit I had food envy when his dish arrived. If you love your fish then I would definitely recommend this dish, infact I would recommend ordering from the newer menu items as they seem to come out higher rated with people by far. I had the Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo (which is an older menu item) and whilst it wasn’t terrible, it certainly was that great either to be honest, with the chicken being rather dry and the sauce rather bland.
KIDS MENU – Our children had the Macaroni and Cheese, and the Spaghetti Meatballs, and neither of them liked either of the dishes. Our eldest loves her Spaghetti dishes and we were expecting there to be more of a bolognese type of sauce, but this dish honesty looked like ‘canned tomato sauce’ plonked over the meatballs in the middle of the Spaghetti. There was no seasoning, no veggies mixed up, even a 7 year old looked disappointed when she saw the food. So whilst there is certainly a long way to go for this restaurant for it to be a ‘must eat’ place, I would advise to pick carefully off the menu so that way you get to enjoy food of better quality than what we had.
The restaurant itself has some great servers and staff who were very helpful, the theming is adorable and the location fantastic for people watching. Its such a shame about some of the food items though as the restaurant has so much potential.
DESSERT – My husband and I were pretty full from starter and main, so we both skipped dessert and had coffees instead. One of our children chose ice cream which came with Mickey sprinkles, and the other chose the chocolate cupcake which had a gorgeous Lady and the Tramp topping. The desserts were a hit with the kids.
If you give your autograph books to your server whilst dining at Tony’s, they may just be able to take the books out to the back to get Lady and the Tramp’s paw print them for you. The looks on our children’s faces when our server came back with Lady and the Tramps Paw Print autographs was priceless, and its such a lovely touch.
Most people doing this package will be doing it for the parade viewing area. As mentioned above, during or at the end of your meal you will be given one ticket per each person in your lunch party (remind your server if you don’t have a ticket when your receipt arrives). This ticket then gives you access to a designated/roped off area for you to watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade from. So keep hold of that ticket! There will be Cast Members patrolling the area to make sure only those with tickets are able to use this area.
PARADE DINING PACKAGE VIEWING AREA – The viewing area will be right opposite Tony’s restaurant in the middle of the Town’s Square, by the American flagpole. You will have the whole of one side from the bottom of Main Street USA round towards Tony’s and the Theatre, to opposite the entrance/railroad balcony (the area is a bit of a D-Shape).
They advise you to get there approx 35 to 10 minutes before the parade starts. We went over about 2:45pm (so 15mins before the parade started) and there was plenty of space, infact that’s what I loved about this reserved area most, so much space around you to enjoy the parade, especially ideal with little ones. Our girls had no-one next to them so could stand and dance as the parade came by, interacting with the characters with no obstructions which was fantastic, especially as it was their first time seeing the parade. We watched the parade opposite the entrance/railroad part and it was a decent spot.
UNIQUE PARADE VIEWING SPOT TIP! – I did notice that the area at the bottom of Main Street USA looking up at the Castle (so you could watch the parade coming from the castle down Main Street USA towards you) filled up first, and I think this is a fantastic viewing spot. I would say if you want to bag that spot then to get there a lot earlier than we did, as that part was pretty full up when we arrived, and as you went round the bend to where we stood the crowd thinned out hugely. There is no denying though that that little spot is a unique place to watch the parade and must feel amazing experiencing the parade coming down Main Street USA right towards you.
With the food being a mixed bag I would say this isn’t a dining package you would be choosing for the food, you are really booking this (in my opinion) for the viewing area which happens to have a lunch included.
WOULD WE BOOK AGAIN? Honestly I am not so sure. Whilst there are other areas around the park you can watch the parade from that offer better vantage points I would say that with little ones who want to interact with the passing characters in the parade, having very little people around you to enjoy the parade with space was incredibly pleasant. I imagine on heavy crowded days this package may well be worth it, especially if your time in the park is limited as it saves you time staking out a parade spot. That being said if your time in the park is limited I’m not sure Tony’s restaurant would be a recommendation to eat in be honest.
If you aren’t too bothered about being up close and personal with the parade and the characters then I would definitely give this package a miss. If you have young ones who don’t want to sit in the hot Florida heat waiting for the parade and you have Disney Dining table credits a plenty, or its in budget, then it may be worth a consideration. If we were visiting the parks in peak time it may be a consideration, but at a lower crowded times then I wouldn’t book it again in all honesty.
If you are interested at maybe eating at Tony’s whilst the parade on, I would recommend booking a table about 2:30pm with window seating and that way you could eat and watch the parade passing by in comfort (and air conditioning). This isn’t something you would be able to do with this package but its certainly a great option to think about.
GENERAL PARADE VIEWING TIP! On another note, over the years we have found that most people head to the castle area/Main Street USA to watch the parade. One option without doing this package is to head over to Frontierland which is often that bit quieter and you can find some great vantage points there to watch the parade. Plus as the parade starts in Frontierland it will pass you a lot quicker than if you are stood along the Main Street USA area, so if its a really hot day I would highly recommend heading over to Frontierland to watch it.