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Monday, October 8, 2012

Disneyland Resort - A to Z - Ariel's Grotto

I'm always looking for a new series of things to write about. Sometimes I think I have a good idea of a series of things to write about with my Disneyland adventures but it often dies out of boredom. I guess my most recent series are the posts on my Disneyland Bucket List. Since I pretty have much done everything there is to do in and around Disneyland, the Bucket List stopped at #5. I'm sure there will be more but it might be awhile before I think of something else to put in there.

I chanced upon a food blog yesterday where someone took recipes and restaurant reviews and blogged about them A - Z. Nice idea (Jaymee Sire). I could easily apply that to the rides, attractions, and dining places around the Disneyland Resort.

But it needs to be interesting and something of a challenge. Take the letter A for instance (which seems like an appropriate place to start). I could write about Autopia but I think the last time I rode around in one of those cars was 2004 and if I went to Disneyland tomorrow, Autopia would be the furthest thing from my mind. I know how to drive. I could take the Alice in Wonderland ride, and a fine ride it is, but that nice little attraction has its own thread life running through this blog with its seemingly endless quest to get rid of what were supposed to be temporary plastic tarps and hideous guard rails.

For A I'm going with what has proved to be a challenge over the years - dining at Ariel's Grotto. Mrs DisneylandTraveler and I first went to Ariel's Grotto back in 2004 when it was general Disney character dining. We had out of town visitors with small children in our dining party so the interaction with the characters was great. Unfortunately, the food was bad, not just bad, real bad. I recall having something harmless like meat loaf with mash potatoes. Instead of a nice brown gravy, this concoction was slathered with some kind of tomato based gravy that was just horrible. Probably my single worst dining experience at the Disneyland Resort. I wasn't in any hurry to get back.

But we did go back - 2007 - for my great niece's 4th birthday. By this time, the character dining had morphed into a Disney Princess dining experience which it is today. There was a large group of us, both adults and children. Again, the kids meeting princesses as they came to our table one by one was very sweet even if the official Disney photographer tried to annoyingly get in on the act (and sell you some "professional" photos). 

Rylie meets Mulan - Ariel's Grotto 2007
But the food. Recalling my horrible meal back in 2004, I took the safest route I could think of on the menu - a chicken Caesar salad - and it was fine if nondescript. But the others who dined at our table offered up some other choice words about their entrees. The one remark I will always remember is my niece calling her meal "jack nasty", and expression I had never heard before but really did fit. What Ariel's Grotto tried to pass off as "chicken pot pie" seemed to be particularly offensive to a few.

When World of Color launched, Disney removed the Princesses for the dinner hours to create a World of Color dining package (which is no longer offered). For our very first viewing of WoC, Mrs. DLT and I decided to take this route. The deciding factor was that the old menu had changed and what was now being offered with the price fixed menu seemed to have some interesting choices. Finally, in our third try at Ariel's Grotto, there some measure of success as the food was really pretty good. I had cioppino and Mrs. DLT had the tri-tip. Neither of us had any complaints (nor should we at a price approaching almost $40 a meal). Plus the passes we received for WoC viewing were dead center with only the long standing wait for the show to begin putting damper on the evening.

Like I said, WoC dining is no longer offered at Ariel's Grotto for some reason. It's back to all Princesses, all day. In this current set up as strictly a character dining I would not expect Mrs. DLT and I to go back to Ariel's Grotto which is kind of too bad. We enjoyed our meal the last time we ate there and the views from the outside tables are simply lovely.

A view from our outside dining table at Ariel's Grotto 2010

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