I recently went on a tour of character meals throughout Epcot and the nearby resort hotel area to specifically pinpoint the pros and cons to each. You can watch the final result in this video. After experiencing Garden Grill, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and Cape May Cafe it was time to round out my tour with a stop at Trattoria al Forno at Disney's BoardWalk. This Italian table service restaurant first opened 5 years ago in 2014, replacing the Cat Cora establishment Kouzzina. The previous Italian eatery was famous for it's appetizing breakfast offering, but since
Cora's departure Disney debuted the Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast here which added a few characters to the experience. Unlike other character meals, Bon Voyage Breakfast is not a buffet. Instead it is a combination of a la carte and family style. On a cool March morning, after a quick round in Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios, I arrived to Trattoria al Forno for a late breakfast to put my curiosity to rest and see how Trattoria al Forno measured up to the rest.
First of all, the decor and design of the restaurant is beautiful. In many ways I think it doesn't necessarily fit the turn-of-the-century, Atlantic City theme of the resort. The walls are covered in dark wood paneling, warm tones and opulent chandeliers. A big departure of the lighter colors featured on the exterior of the resorts many buildings and the newly reimagined Flying Fish dining room. But it is indeed a beautiful restaurant to walk in to. The waiting area includes an impressive wine cabinet exclusively featuring Italian labels only. There are also about a dozen or so framed photographs on the wall of what I assume are of the 'family' that runs the restaurant. If for some reason you've come to Bon Voyage Breakfast unprepared to meet characters, there is a small pop-up shop selling merchandise items from The Little Mermaid and Tangled.
After a very short wait in the lobby area, I was escorted to my table. Along the way I witnessed a stunning show kitchen with an open pizza oven and where several Disney chefs pull together enticing dishes. I also took note in some beautiful chandeliers in the main dining room along with a display of fine china and silverware along the back wall. I was finally sat in wait seemed like the very last table in the room, tucked away in a cozy spot right by the windows. This is an impressive and mature dining room that is not typically associated with a character meal at Disney. I was left wondering what dinner is like here, when the characters go away and the focus is just on good food. But that is another review.
At the start of my meal, my waiter Steven gave me one menu featuring an array of mostly American breakfast items; some of which had an Italian flare. Each was individually priced at around $15. I then learned that there are in fact two menus at this restaurant; the initial one I received and a second that is very similar but with but more specifically themed to the characters that would later visit the table. So you can make this a moderately priced meal if you wish, but I opted to go for the full 'story' experience instead. As I stated earlier, this is not a buffet. Even if you opt for the character-themed menu you choose one entrée and the entire table will receive a skillet of pastries to begin. It was more than enough for me to enjoy but I was told that you could request more pastries at no additional cost. So in some ways you can stock-up on food if you miss the all-you-can-eat feature at other establishments with more pastries here.
The pastry skillet is very cute and features a sun-shaped pastry inspired by the lanterns in Tangled, which was essentially a crispy and flaky croissant packed down into a thin layer. A delicious pain au chocolat made in twist form instead of a traditional bun-shape. A funfetti muffin, a second blueberry muffin and finally a raspberry jam-filled pastry as well. Each one was fresh and interesting. However the pain au chocolat twist was my favorite of them all because it was no shy on the chocolate.
For my main entrée I went for King Triton's Shipwreck al Forno, at the waiter's recommendation. He stated that both this and the Tangled Eggs, which consisted of an open-face omelet with mozzarella, tomato and basil, were the two best items on the menu since they were a little more unique than the remaining dishes. When my entrée came out, I realized he was not joking that this dish was enormous and something you won't find at any other breakfast on Disney property. This is a huge breakfast calzone stuffed with scrambled eggs, bell peppers, salumi, bacon, sausage and cheese. It is served in a pool of tomato sauce and topped with King Triton's trident on top.
The outer crust of the calzone was very thick and almost a little tough to cut through, but it does seem necessary in order to keep all those fillings in. The salumi was my favorite ingredient featured inside because it gave the calzone a distinctive spicy and peppery kick. I was a little disappointed that you receive bacon bits as opposed to real strips of bacon. However, this is a very hearty calzone and since it was a late lunch, I had no problem with the robust tomato sauce at the bottom to dip into. In fact, had I booked an earlier seating here, I don't think I could stomach this. In the end my choice on the calzone worked out better in more ways than one.
As I finished up my indulgent calzone, characters began to appear. I almost forgot that characters were even coming around because they were nowhere in sight when I first sat at my table. This restaurant does things a little differently in that the four characters featured are introduced to the dining room one by one. Flynn was the first character to arrive and made a brief few rounds before Rapunzel was announced and entered the room. Given that the dining room is very large, I began to notice that it would take a significant amount of time for them to arrive at my table and I already finished my meal. My waiter presumably picked up on my unease to hog up the table to wait for characters and assured me there was no rush to leave. He stated that I could wait for all four characters to come by and offered more coffee.
After Rapunzel and Flynn paid me a visit, Prince Eric made the rounds next. After another somewhat long wait, Ariel rounded out the four characters too. Each interaction was great. I sometimes feel strange doing a character meal without children, but each character spent an acceptable amount of time with me and gladly posed for pictures. However, I will admit that this was the first time in a long time that there wasn't enough time for the characters to come around twice. Even if I was with a bigger party that consisted of exciting kids. This is a big, open dining room and it takes time for the characters to get to your table. I think that depending on where you sit and where the characters begin greeting tables, you may experience a case on impatient kids. Eyes glued to Rapunzel as she slowly makes her way to your table and you try and remind them to finish their food. This is one of the flaws of this experience. You can tell the restaurant was not designed with characters in mind. (Which makes sense since this was added a few years after the restaurant opened.)
Then like always comes the bill. I don't know if it's because I am finally getting to the point that I am jaded and experienced many character meals at Disney, but this was the first time I felt a true sense of sticker shock. The meal was priced at a flat $40 per adult. Luckily this restaurant does include a 10% discount for Annual Passholders. But this is at nearly the same exact price as both Garden Grill in The Land for breakfast and Cape May Cafe's breakfast at Disney's Beach Club. Both of those establishments offer a true all-you-can-eat meal. But then I took a moment and considered how satisfied I was with my meal. I was actually just as full as I was when I had to be rolled out of Garden Grill. But I think that is because of my choice to go with the calzone. Had I ordered something more moderate in size, I don't think I would feel as content with my meal. Therefore, in my personal case I paid the same as I would at a buffet and left just as full because of my specific choice. Some guests may go for smaller dishes and feel that the price is too high for a meal that is not a traditional buffet. But like I always say, you must remember that you're paying to eat and meet characters in one go. So how you value that experience may differ to the next person.
The Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno is pretty darn good. But I do believe that it is meant for a very specific audience. I know some guests will agree with my husband that American buffets can feel over-indulgent. For those critics, I say come to this breakfast instead of places like Chef Mickey's and Garden Grill. Secondly, while the character interactions are great, they are very specific. I enjoy the fact that Disney has finally decided to feature princes at this restaurant, something I wish would happen at other princess meals. Or even at select character meet and greet locations instead of just the parties at Magic Kingdom for Christmas and Halloween. But unless your little one puts Rapunzel, Flynn, Ariel and Eric high on their list, it may be better to dine elsewhere. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and Cinderella's Royal Table offer more variety of characters, but that comes at a higher price.
Special shout out to my waiter Steven who was possibly the nicest server I've experienced in recent years at Walt Disney World. He never dropped his smile. Steven was always attentive and ready to answer my questions. He was quick, but patient. A true asset to the restaurant how certainly added to my good experience here.