AJ and I were originally going to start our Disney Global Tour with an evening flight down to Orlando. When the opportunity came up for us to take an afternoon flight that departed from a more convenient airport (thanks, JetBlue!), we took it.
We found ourselves checked into Wilderness Lodge by dinner time and wondered where we should eat. My friend Samus had recommended Artist Point as a good splurge restaurant, so we decided to go for it. Why not start this crazy six-week trip off with a bang?
Even though Artist Point is the high-end restaurant at Wilderness Lodge, it still retains the slightly rustic feel of the rest of the hotel. The dining room is quite grand, with lots of wood and wrought iron fixtures. It’s elegantly woodsy.
I was surprised to find that it was pretty quiet for such a large room, which made for a laid-back atmosphere. The music wasn’t cranked up very high. We did see some kids there, as with any restaurant in Disney World, so it’s not so upscale that it’s no longer family-friendly.
The cuisine is Pacific Northwest-inspired. The menu has lots of seafood and game, and the execution and complexity of flavors are on par with what you would expect from an upscale restaurant.
We started by sharing the venison tartare. For the main course, AJ ordered a halibut paella dish that came with a tomato broth, and I had the diver sea scallops with jasmine rice and shiitake mushrooms. We also ordered sides of pee wee potatoes with cultured elderflower butter and crispy Brussels sprouts with fermented bean dressing.
They had quiet an extensive wine, beer, and cocktail list. I mostly only paid attention to the wine list, which had a lot of selections from the Pacific Northwest. I had a Riesling from Oregon that was delicious with my scallops.
Most of the entrees are in the $40 range. That puts this restaurant firmly in the “splurge” category, at least for us, but we thought it was totally worth it. In short, the food was phenomenal – well seasoned with unique flavor combinations. We consider it the best meal we had at Disney World.
The hostesses were very professional, even when they had to politely tell us that we couldn’t be seated as walk-ins. Our server was equally friendly and also helpful in making recommendations. We proceeded not to follow those recommendations, but they were appreciated nonetheless. She maintained her friendly and courteous manner whenever we saw her.
The downside about the service was that it was just… slow. She said she was coming back with bread, but we actually got the appetizer quite a while before the bread ever made an appearance. We had to wait quite a long time between courses and between finishing our meal and getting the check. Water refills were also slow in coming.
As someone who has been a server, I tend to be pretty forgiving, especially if the restaurant is busy. It didn’t seem to be anywhere near capacity, but you never know what’s going on behind the scenes. We didn’t really have anywhere to be, so it didn’t matter much.
1. Make a Reservation
Even though there were a lot of empty tables when we tried to walk in, they wouldn’t seat us without a reservation. We’d recommend making one in advance for convenience. You can easily see the available times and make reservations from the My Disney Experience app.
2. Remember the Dress Code
Artist Point is what Disney calls a Signature Dining experience. It’s by no means a black tie affair, but they do ask that you wear something that’s relatively put-together – collared shirts and dress shorts or pants for men and dresses, dress shorts, or pants for women. No swimwear, flip flops, or hats. Jeans are okay, as long as they don’t have holes. You can find more detailed info here.
3. Portion Sizes are Large
I’m used to upscale restaurants serving smaller portion sizes for each course. Normally, I would expect to have to order an appetizer and some sides in order to have enough food. That didn’t seem to be the case here. We weren’t able to finish the amount of food we ordered. We weren’t sorry that we got to try the appetizer and sides, but they definitely weren’t necessary.