Wondering if dining at Grand Floridian Cafe will be a good choice for your family and your highly sensitive kids?
Grand Floridian Cafe is located on the ground floor of the Grand Floridian Resort, which is part of the monorail loop of resorts near Magic Kingdom. It is lesser known than its neighboring restaurant, 1900 Park Fare; popular for its character dining where you can meet Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, and the stepsisters (not open as of March 2021). While Grand Floridian Cafe is not a reservation that you have to fight for, it is still worth checking out.
It is a table service restaurant, which means it’s a full-service sit-down dining experience in Disney language. The overall vibe is filled with elegant Victorian charm as reflected in the rest of the hotel, but it’s totally unpretentious. There are tons of windows, which look out at the beautiful rose gardens outside, letting in so much natural light. .
You can find their menu here, which they describe as “American classics reinvented”. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and they’re actually really popular for their brunch fare.
If you’re wondering about the level of sensory overload and whether it would be a good place to dine with your highly sensitive kids, let me break it down for you in this review and rating of the Grand Floridian Cafe.
Noise Level at Grand Floridian Cafe 1/5
One of the most common triggers for meltdowns among highly sensitive and sensory sensitive kids is loud noises! Thankfully, the noise level at Grand Floridian Cafe is not at an overwhelming level.
As of March 2021, they are still operating at reduced capacity for indoor dining. They currently also offer outdoor seating as well, so the noise level from guests should be even lower than what we experienced in June 2019.
There aren’t any intense sound effects, like what you might find at T-Rex Restaurant at Disney Springs.
You don’t experience the chaos that sometimes comes with character dining. Think about restaurants like Chef Mickey’s, where you get the combined noises of excited families and the monorail passing through amplified in that HUGE Grand Canyon Concourse. I discuss this a little in my review of Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort.
The noise level at Grand Floridian Cafe should not be bothersome to highly sensitive children. However, expect a reasonable amount of noise because it is fairly casual. It’s definitely not a quiet, intimate, steakhouse dinner. The seating style is fairly open, so conversations from other dining parties could still travel throughout the restaurant.
Darkness at Grand Floridian Cafe 0/5
Some highly sensitive children have a fear of the dark, which is why it’s another important factor to consider when choosing where you want to eat.
The Grand Floridian Cafe is NOT dark at all! As mentioned earlier, there are beautiful large windows that line about two-thirds of the restaurant walls. Natural light is abundant here, if you are dining during daytime hours. We had an early dinner here and it was very well-lit.
The lighter color palette of the decor also contributes to that feeling of overall “brightness”. There is a lot of light green, cream, and pink colors used, to reflect the subtle Victorian theme.
Crowded/Close Proximity to Others 2/5
When we dined here in June 2019, it was obviously operating at full capacity. It probably feels much less crowded currently than it did then, due to COVID-19 protocols.
The dining tables are located fairly close to each other, but it doesn’t feel like you’re sitting right on top of each other. The way the tables are laid out is very “open”—as in, there aren’t a lot of partitions that separate diners from each other.
Highly sensitive kids are easily overstimulated, especially in crowded places. So while dining at Grand Floridian Cafe doesn’t you put in completely tight quarters with other guests, it still doesn’t exactly allow you to have your “own little space”, like you might when are sitting in a booth at Garden Grill at Epcot.
“Scare” Factor at Grand Floridian Cafe 0/5
My highly sensitive kids seem to scare more easily than your average child, so scoping out what might be potentially scary to my kids is important to me. Typically, the things that scare kids at Disney restaurants are: characters, “scary” theming, sudden noises, and being in dark and enclosed spaces.
None of these things apply when it comes to Grand Floridian Cafe! Grand Floridian Cafe has NO characters. If you’re searching for character dining, then this certainly doesn’t fit the bill. But it’s great if you want a more low-key dining experience with your family. In terms of “scary” decor, I can’t imagine any decorations or theming here that would be considered scary to even the most sensitive of kiddos.
There are no sudden noises to startle and scare highly sensitive kids, and kids who are scared of the dark have nothing to worry about here.
Food Familiarity 2/5
For many highly sensitive kids, unfamiliar foods can trigger meltdowns. This can be challenging during your family vacation, where you are away from home and all their usual foods and snacks. I’m really lucky that my kids are generally not very picky when it comes to their food, but it always helps to know if they have kid-friendly staples at restaurants.
Grand Floridian Cafe’s breakfast and lunch kids’ menus feature scrambled eggs, toast, waffles, pancakes, and cheese flatbread. *Menu subject to change. Most of these foods are pretty familiar to children.
Their dinner menu appears a little more adventurous with a beef skewer with sweet soy dipping sauce, miso-glazed salmon, and cheese flatbread. The cheese flatbread seems like fancy name for what is really a cheese pizza.
My son is a fish lover, so I know he would totally go for that salmon. My daughter loves her meat, so the beef skewer would be right up her alley too. But I also recognize that not all kids are going to like these foods.
If you don’t see anything on the menu that suits your kids’ tastes, don’t hesitate to ask your server! Disney restaurants are so great at accommodating different families’ needs, whether it is because of picky eaters or food allergies. Don’t be shy and ask them for more options!
How do we understand the rating? A lower score means less sensory overload, while a higher score means a greater likelihood of being overwhelmed and overstimulated. Based on my experience, I would HIGHLY recommend Grand Floridian Cafe for families with highly sensitive or sensory sensitive kids.
It isn’t too loud, it is brightly lit, and not having any Disney characters around makes the dining experience feel a lot more relaxing. The kids’ dinner menu might appear a little out of your child’s comfort zone, but Disney is great at accommodating. And while the open seating style could put you at closer proximity to others, it generally would not be experienced as overwhelming or confining.
If you’re at Magic Kingdom and your family needs to decompress a little for a meal, hop on the monorail or take the new walkway to the Grand Floridian and eat here!
Have you been to Grand Floridian Cafe at Disney World? What was your experience like?
Do you think you’ll try dining here during your trip to Disney World?
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