4 hours, 5 diamonds, $500 dinner and no kids allowed: Inside Disney World's reopened Victoria & Albert's

As a Disney World regular who samples as much theme park food as possible — both because I love it and because I do my best to keep up a list of the best restaurants at Disney World — I’ve had my fair share of all the Disney classics. Yet there’s been one big-name Disney restaurant that I’d never stepped foot in until recently: the elusive Victoria & Albert’s.

Named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, this Victorian-themed restaurant on the second floor of the crown jewel of Disney’s resort hotels, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, has intrigued (and intimidated) me for years. With an age requirement that disqualifies little kids (no one younger than 10 is permitted to dine here), a fancy dress code and a high price tag, I’ve wondered repeatedly whether I’d be refined enough to fit in and enjoy this AAA Five Diamond Award-winning fine-dining spot for all it is worth.

However, when the acclaimed eatery announced it was reopening after a two-and-a-half year closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which it also underwent a well-timed refurbishment, I was eager to get past my nerves and experience the restaurant for myself.

So when Disney sent an invite to a media reopening dinner, I found myself packing my fancy dress and heels faster than you could say “Jiminy Cricket.”


Going into the meal, I had so many questions. What is an upscale, kid-free restaurant doing at Disney World? Who is willing to drop more than $300 per person on a leisurely meal at the theme park capital of the world? What is it like to eat and drink for four straight hours? And would a first-time visitor like me feel awkward dining in a room full of people who know infinitely more about food and wine than I could ever hope to absorb?

Here’s what I found out.

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What it’s like inside Victoria & Albert’s

Despite doing my best to dress the part, I was absolutely nervous as I walked into Victoria & Albert’s.

From the moment you enter the high-end restaurant, you feel like you’re far from the casual, family-filled areas commonly associated with Walt Disney World. Live harp music can be heard upon arrival, and all around you stands a small army of servers who are just as dressed to the nines as the guests.

Although I was wary of how I’d feel in this fine dining venue, I immediately found myself at ease as I stepped inside the space. My coworker and I were met at the door like we were old, expected and welcomed friends.


My bag was stored and welcome drinks were placed in our hands before I’d even gotten a chance to fully process exactly where we were — and wow was there a lot to take in.

Featuring decor that leaned heavily into a palate of blues, gold and ivory, the opulent space included the main dining room with about 12 tables, the smaller Queen Victoria’s dining room with four more tables, and a kitchen with a special chef’s table where diners could watch the meal taking shape. (More on that shortly.)


The venue was far from the themed character meals you’re used to at other Disney restaurants. In fact, we only spotted one obvious Disney character in Victoria & Albert’s: Cinderella on the hallway artwork. Most of the murals appeared to be beautiful garden and woodland scenes, like you’d expect to see at a grand, old English country estate.


This is the kind of place where your chair and napkins are reset every time you get up, your purse gets its very own seat, and you and your companions’ plates are served in synchrony, as if part of a practiced dance.

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You are also asked for dining and dietary preferences well in advance of a meal at Victoria & Albert’s, so there should be no hiccups (or allergens) on the menu for the evening. Upon sitting down, you find a place setting with a printed menu tucked into a golden envelope — your golden ticket to dine, if you will.


I opted for the traditional menu with a wine pairing, plus a couple of extra courses that are typically only available at the chef’s table or in Queen Victoria’s dining room. While the starting price is $295 for seven courses and $150 for the optional wine pairing, the 10-course menu we had this night would typically set you back $375 for the food and $200 for the accompanying wine.

Guests are not limited to this traditional menu. There is also a plant-based menu, and zero-proof cocktail pairings are available. You can essentially have the menu tailored to whatever your restrictions and preferences are as long as you provide some advance notice.


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Being Disney’s guest for 4-plus hours

Knowing this would be a meal of a lifetime, I strategically skipped lunch and arrived hungry, which I recommend doing if you visit.


The first serving of appetizers was small in size but packed a big punch when it came to flavor. The pink pineapple (below left) was fresh, cool and just the right amount of sweet, but the Thai basil and spiced mango langoustine tartelette (middle) took things to another level with the most beautiful layer of edible flowers in a profusion of colors and flavors. A savory eclair with Iberico ham and miso caramel (right) rounded out the appetizer trio, and each was served on its own special dish.


Next came a caviar course. I’d only had caviar one place before, in Lufthansa first class (using miles, of course). This caviar was quite different, as it arrived atop a creamy cauliflower panna cotta.

While the caviar was certainly enjoyable, it was a bit briny for my taste, so it wasn’t my favorite course of the night. Still, we were off to a great start and found ourselves feeling like the 10-course plating was manageable after getting a third of the way through the meal.


All of the courses I ended up liking best came in the first half of the menu. I quickly found myself favoring the lighter, layered options that mostly featured seafood. They had more flavors than I could ever attempt to describe.

My absolute favorite from a flavor standpoint was probably the Danish hiramasa, an elegant, delightful course composed of fresh yellowtail, carrot and yuzu. It was sweet, savory and spicy all at once and paired perfectly with the riesling served alongside it.

The wild turbot and the Glacier 51 toothfish from the Australian Antarctic that followed were also right up there on my list of standout courses.

The chicken and truffle course (the sixth one during our meal) marked the turning point for me. While I loved the dish, I was starting to find myself feeling full and no longer able to comfortably enjoy what was being served.

Once we hit the seventh course, which featured lamb with pickled blueberries, I knew I was in trouble. I don’t typically eat rich, meat-centric dishes, so that, coupled with my growing feeling of fullness, likely affected my view of the dish. However, many others in the room found the lamb and subsequent Wagyu beef course to be the highlights of the evening.


If you’re a wine connoisseur (or even just an enthusiast), I strongly suggest adding the wine pairing to your repast. You’ll pay extra for this add-on, but you’ll end up enjoying an impressive amount of wines. We couldn’t finish many of the glasses we received but absolutely loved the variety of wines we tried.

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With several plates of food and glasses of wine in our stomachs, and after a drool-worthy cheese course, it was time for dessert. I thought that one plate would be the grand finale. However, it was only the first of four desserts that were part of our meal.

Of all the sugary concoctions we got to try, my personal favorite was the second dessert: a warm chocolate cookie. It absolutely melted in my mouth.


The others were impressive as well, though it was hard for me to fully appreciate them in my slightly buzzed and overwhelmingly full state.


By the end, a nibble of each part of the dessert extravaganza was all we could muster. Fortunately, the restaurant will happily box these dishes up for you to take home if you find yourself too stuffed to eat them during the more than four-hour experience.


Whatever you do, be sure to save room for coffee or tea at the end. Brewed in a vacuum percolator, it was part show, part science experiment and all delicious.


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The Disney experience in a fine dining setting

I’ve only been to two AAA Five Diamond Award-winning restaurants before, and both were in Las Vegas. So, it’s very fair to say that I’m not a fine-dining expert. However, I am an expert on Disney service — and I can say that it carries through here in a way that is sophisticated but approachable.

The serving team can tell you where the cows from whose milk the cheeses were made were raised, and how the grapes grown for the wines were harvested, plus how many layers are in the bread (more than 50 in one case) and how many utensils an average guest goes through (at least 26). Additionally, they tell you short stories as they present course after course in a way that keeps the experience exciting while being informative.


We had genuinely enjoyable conversations with every member of the waitstaff we encountered and laughed more times than I can recount.

If you want world-class food with Disney service that is both friendly and fancy, Victoria & Albert’s is where you’ll find it.

The ideal backdrop for milestone moments

I knew the food would be good, but what I couldn’t quite figure out was who would dine at such a fancy restaurant within Disney World. Since my fellow patrons all appeared to be invited media, I turned to the fine dining venue’s staff to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Unsurprisingly, a mix of people patronizes Victoria & Albert’s. While the clientele on any given night will vary, there are some noticeable trends. On most nights, roughly 40% of diners are first-time visitors, according to the waitstaff I spoke with. However, there are a few repeat guests, too, including one patron who has dined at the restaurant about 150 times.


Travelers from all around the world who simply prefer to dine on the best cuisine in every destination they visit are also known to enjoy a meal at Victoria & Albert’s.

But the real thread that weaves through a large portion of the tables at Victoria & Albert’s is celebrations. Guests overwhelmingly choose the restaurant for extra-special occasions, such as Paw-Paw’s 90th birthday, a college graduation dinner, a 25th wedding anniversary celebration or a romantic honeymoon meal.


The serving team knows that they are stewards of these milestone celebrations. Since meals last four to five hours and involve lots of interaction with the restaurant staff, the servers become a part of the memory of that special moment in time.

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The best table to book at Victoria & Albert’s

The main dining room at Victoria & Albert’s is where you’ll find the harp player and the majority of patrons. It’s also where we sat.

Queen Victoria’s dining room, which is off to the left when you enter, is available for a more intimate experience.

But if you want to be part of the action — and you can find availability — consider booking the Chef’s Table. Located right in the kitchen within steps of the food preparation process, this table offers a one-of-a-kind experience for an already exceptional meal.


You won’t want to sit here if you’re in search of the quietest and most romantic of tables, but I’d still consider it the best table in the house, as you get to see all that goes into making the phenomenal fare you’ll eat while at the restaurant. If I had a chance to pick it for a future visit, I’d do so in a heartbeat.

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Would I pay for a meal at Victoria & Albert’s?

Everybody in their right mind would take Disney up on an invitation to be its guest for a check-free meal at Victoria & Albert’s. But now that I’ve tried it with no financial strings attached, would I ever do it again on my own dime? Maybe.

Like so many of the restaurant’s other guests, I’d reserve Victoria & Albert’s for a major celebration meal. From my experience, it’s clear that the fine dining establishment, which originally opened with the rest of the resort in 1988, is meant to be a highlight of a trip rather than a pricey add-on to a typical Disney vacation.

Assuming my husband would be on board for a trip to Orlando for one of those milestone moments, I would no doubt consider it for a special occasion like a major wedding anniversary. To help rein in the cost, which would exceed $1,000 for two of us with gratuities factored in, I’d stick to the menu with fewer courses.


I’ll never say never to dining here as a paid guest, as it was genuinely a meal to remember. But given the high out-of-pocket expense, it would take the right occasion — and some careful planning — to justify a return visit.

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How to book Victoria & Albert’s

If you decide this is the place for you, you’ll need not only to pack a nice outfit (no shorts, T-shirts or other theme park attire are allowed here) but also make an advance reservation. Currently, reservations are accepted as far out as 60 days in advance.

You can make a Victoria & Albert’s reservation by calling 1-407-939-3862 on Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There’s also an email address you can try: wdw.victoria.and.alberts@disney.com.

If you’re using a Disney vacation planner for your trip, ask your planner about making a reservation. They may be able to handle the booking logistics for you.


Bottom line

I may not remember all the details about the wines or plates, but I’ll never forget what it felt like to spend an evening at Victoria & Albert’s.

I’ll file it away as a place where very special occasions are celebrated. With a little bit of luck — and a lot of money — I’ll hopefully one day have the opportunity to return to celebrate a special event.

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