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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Disneyland Dining--Ariel's Grotto

Ariel is the husband's favorite Princess.

 One of the goals for our Summer 2015 vacation to Disneyland was to try all of the character dining.  We figured if we were only going to make this trip once, we better do it up right!  So on the first day we visited Disney's California Adventure, we made an 11:00 am reservation to dine at Ariel's Grotto.
 Ariel's Grotto is located in the Paradise Pier area of the park.  Walk up and over the "bridge" to find Ariel's Grotto on the right hand side, overlooking the water.  Ariel's Grotto features character dining for both breakfast and lunch.

 We checked in outside of the restaurant, were given a buzzer/pager, and when it went off, we went inside.  It was then that we were placed in a line going down the spiral staircase with continuous reminders to stay to the right.  Note:  Checking in and making our way down the stairs (there is an elevator, too) was the worst part of this experience.  We didn't really know where we were going or why, and no one seemed to want to fill us in.  By the time we got to the bottom of the stairs, we had figured out what was happening.

Bathrooms are also located on the bottom floor, just to the left of the bottom of the staircase.

At the bottom of the stairs, Ariel was greeting guests.  A Photopass photographer was on hand to take photos.  Guests could either purchase the photo package or if they had Photopass +, the photo package was included as well as having the photos added to their Photopass account.

 The restaurant has two distinct areas--inside and outside.  The inside was designed to give the impression of being "under the sea" and outside overlooked the water of the World of Color Lagoon.  We were seated inside.  Watching the function of the restaurant, it was evident that all tables inside were seated first and then the outside which functioned well for the visiting Disney Princesses.

We were given menus for lunch and the bread course was delivered to our table. 

The boy was hungry.  Well, we all were given the time change, the 7:00 am park opening, it had been several hours since we had eaten breakfast in our hotel room.  We had even devoured the snacks in our bags waiting in the Olaf meet and greet line earlier in the morning.

Soon the music blared and our attention was drawn to the court appointed spokesman for the visiting Disney Princesses.  He delivered his lines in a way that left guests excited and guessing as to which Disney Princess would be coming and once announced, appropriate music played along with a bit of a dance as a the Princess appeared.  The Princesses came out one at a time, with an appropriate amount of time in between as to allow the Princess to get a start moving from table to table.  We were sitting at the table furthest back from the happenings, but could still see and hear just fine.

 The soup course arrived--Lobster Bisque--yummy.  We had a choice of soup or salad with our entree.

 Rapunzel was the first Disney Princess to come to our table.  Great interaction, autographs, and photos.  It was at this character meal that I determined that mom's don't get to eat at character meals. Preparing autograph paraphernalia and readying the camera, and then capturing the shots kept me from getting at my meal.  Oh, well!

Belle was next in her lovely yellow frock.

 And then, our meal was served.  The boy had Sauteed Shrimp and Angel Hair Pasta - with seasonal vegetables and basil, tossed in a tomato broth and very much enjoyed it even though the picture does not indicate as such.  The shrimp came with tails on and had to be cut off.
 I had Fire-Roasted Corn Cakes - sauteed spinach, onions, and shiitake mushrooms with spicy bean salsa and chili oil drizzle and it was delicious.  The boy asked for a bite and gave my dish a thumbs up.  One of the many things I appreciate about the boy is his willingness to try new foods.

The husband ordered the Fresh Catch of the day and was very impressed.

 Soon Tiana and Cinderella were at our table saying hello.

Then it was time for dessert which is a sampler platter featuring creme brulee, an all around favorite of the entire family. 

Be ready to shell (get it?) some bucks for this meal as even for lunch, it was expensive.  We had pre-purchased Premium Character Dining Vouchers and used them to pay for this meal.  The voucher also included tax and gratuity.  There are Passholder and DVC discounts available.

It was, however, one of our favorite meals and experiences.  The food was top notch and the service was great.  Once we got past the chaos of the upstairs, it was as if we were in a different world on the bottom level. 

As far as I know, this is the only place to meet Ariel in all of Disneyland.  The other Princesses can be found in the other park.  If I were in search of Disney Princesses, coming to California Adventure for this experience along with being able to meet Anna and Elsa would do the trick.

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