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Mickey's Backyard BBQ is great All-American activity for the summer

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Heading to Mickey's Backyard BBQ for the first time on the Fourth of July, I was a little skeptical about how the Fort Wilderness dinner show would play out -- especially for my kids, who have experienced other similar dining experiences elsewhere at Walt Disney World.

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Many of those other dinner shows were the subjects of glowing online reviews, and my family and I usually had an idea of what to expect before we showed up for the first time. Not so with the Backyard BBQ, though. In fact, what little information I could find online even contained several negative comments about the food and the experience.

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But all seven people in our party had a great time, and there were no complaints about even the smallest detail. We took AllEars.Net readers' advice and arrived about an hour before the start time. Although this did mean some standing around, it also allowed us to be near the front of the line for our choice of seats. (There is a playground near Pioneer Hall, so the kids could burn off some energy and break up the wait.) Cast members even walked the queue, serving drinks.

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When it was time to enter the outdoor pavilion, cast members took groups of 20 to 25 guests and led them to picnic tables with benches. No stampede at this rodeo! We requested a table in the front, bordering the main dance floor. Cast members assured us there were no bad seats in the pavilion, but I do think our location was perfect for our two families. It allowed the elementary-school-age kids to come and go on the dance floor, in view of the adults who were eating and hanging out.

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As soon as you are seated, cast members invite you to visit the buffets. There are four lines serving the identical menu, so we never really saw a long queue form. Guests can choose from BBQ chicken, pork ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, tossed salad, potato salad, cole slaw, corn bread, baked beans, corn on the cob, watermelon and ice cream bars. Lemonade, ice tea, beer (Bud Lite) and wine (red, white or blush) are included, too, in this all-you-care-to-eat dinner. The food remains available almost until the end of the 90-minute experience. Everyone in our party enjoyed the meal, and we actually found the food to be even more flavorful than we expected, given the venue's outdoor setting and the food choices. (Those with special dietary concerns can request ahead of time to be served meals that meet their needs.)

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Live entertainment begins shortly after everyone is seated. This means the dinner experience is loud, so if you are sensitive to noise, you might want to reconsider. We had to shout to hear each other, but that didn't bother us at all. There was too much going on to have an in-depth conversation anyway. The live country-western band was good, playing popular and patriotic songs. A cowboy performs rope tricks and even invites a few lucky kids in the audience to join him. Plus, there is line dancing to well-known favorite songs.

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Throughout the evening, Disney characters are circulating among the diners. They dance with the kids and pose for photos. If they are not on the dance floor, Mickey Mouse and his pals might even sign autographs. Please know that this is not like other Disney World character meals; the characters do not come to each table, so you are not guaranteed to see each one. I'm told that the usual characters at Mickey's Backyard BBQ are Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Chip and Dale.

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For our Fourth of July dinner show, we also saw Donald Duck, Pluto, Phineas and Ferb. The characters were decked out in their Colonial-era threads, though they usually wear western get-ups. Another difference for the holiday was that Mickey and Minnie stayed outside the pavilion posing for photos the entire time. They did not join the festivities on the dance floor, which they normally would do.

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All-in-all, we enjoyed Mickey's Backyard BBQ immensely. Perhaps the guests who did not have a good experience were ones who had different expectations for the meal and the dining ambience. But make no mistake: This experience is not comparable to an indoor character meal. It's an outdoor, casual picnic with rollicking entertainment to delight youngsters and get everyone out on the dance floor.

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For our celebration of the Fourth, the experience was as summertime-appropriate as the Mickey ice cream bars the kids enjoyed for dessert afterward.

Prices, which include tax and gratuity, are $54.99 for adults and $31.99 for guests ages 3 to 9. Mickey's Backyard BBQ is open seasonally.


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Comments (25)

Cindy:

We whole heartedly agree with you on this experience. We don't have children, but make Mickey's Backyard BBQ a must stop when we're at Disney. The food has always been good and is a nice change of pace from what we normally eat while at Disney. Neither of us are country music fans, but the show is enjoyable and entertaining. Based on our experiences, we've often wondered why others had such negative reviews and opinions of the BBQ. Glad to see that there are others that have as much of a good time as we do at the BBQ.

Christine Lewis:

Thank you for this review. Like you I had only read not so good reviews with a few nice reviews. We have been going back in forth because of the noise, my daughter has hearing issues and loud noise can bother her.

Callie:

Thank you for this review! Like you said at the top, it's hard to find pictures and information about this particular meal. Looks like a lot of fun, and now perhaps we will use this as a splurge on 2 dining credits!

Ginette Halvorsen:

Thanks for the review. I am unsure to do this or not. I have a 2 year old and we love country music. Does Mickey and Minnie pose outside before you are seated on a normal non holiday show? In your opinion is a 2 year old to little for this, should I wait another year or so? Thank you.

Patti:

We love the BBQ!!! However- the last time we went there was a rainstorm and the *ENTIRE* pavilion flooded. They admitted there wasn't good drainage in the pavilion but the show would go on.

The kids still had a great time splashing around in the water but the characters retired early and those that didn't want to get their feet/legs wet weren't very happy. With that said.... we're still going back :)

The boats were not running because of the storm and there was much confusion at the bus stop about what bus was going where.. because there were SO many people trying to get back to their resorts. Luckily, we always stay at the lodge so even though we couldn't take the boat it was just a very short bus ride over.

Julie :

We just got back about two weeks ago from a stay in the cabins and chose not to do the BBQ. Now after reading your review, I sooooo wish that we would have done it!! It looks like the perfect experience for our 4 kiddos. This family will definitely try out Mickey's BBQ on our next visit.
Thanks Kristen for the great blog!

We went there a few years ago It was terrible there was plenty of room to sit the family at the table got angry because they wanted the whole table.The men at the table were so drunk trying to look down your shirts.And It was so loud and over priced the food was cold and hamburgers were hard Had to get up and get your own ice cream and drinks

The songs the band played was not for kids It was that old crying in your beer music and rhinestone cowboy I hate that song. The crowd was uncontrollable.I do not think there should have been that much drinking with kids around.and the bath room was pretty far.

Will never go back and with kids NO!Disney should not have this Dinner show there's much better things to do at Disney and a lot better places to eat also and less money

Sarah:

I also really enjoyed our meal at the Backyard BBQ both times we have been. You are definitely right to point out that this isn't like any other character meal though.

Tim:

I experienced this BBQ on June 28, and it isn't up to par with any of the other character dinning experiences that our family has done at WDW.

The food is sub-par for the price you are paying. The hamburgers were dry and had zero taste. The ribs were the best part of the meal, but they were still sub-par. Our group of nine (5 kids & 4 adults) left after 40 minutes to go back and enjoy the parks. One of the adults in our party, who has visited WDW the past eight years, for a week at a time, said that the Hop-Dee-Do-Review was 1000 times better than this BBQ.

Recommendations for improving the BBQ; 1) add a soda machine; seems petty, but the "instant" lemonade and fruit punch that was offered wasn't very flavorful. 2) split the picnic tables apart; for a $52 dinner for one adult, I don't need to be rubbing elbows with the guy next to me, nor do I need to be fighting for my place at the table; as when I returned from the buffet; the new family that had be seated next to us, was spreading out into our area.....no fun. Save your money and enjoy one of the MANY OTHER character dinning experiences that WDW offers.

Bob:

Great review! Thanks!

Jon:

Thanks for a great review. Wife and I have visited WDW 9 or 10 times and have done a lot of the character meals, but not the BBQ. Thanks to this review, it goes on the list for our next visit. Got to say I don't understand the nay-sayers. How can you NOT have a fantastic time anywhere you go in The World? I guess it's all a matter of attitude and perspective. Even when we went in fall of '05 for 19 days, we still had a great time and good food and I wouldn't give up those memories at gunpoint.

donna:

We loved the BBQ. It was loads of fun and the food was what you would expect at a BBQ. We must of gone on an off night because it was not crowded at all. Mostly families with school aged kids. The characters danced and goofy even came and sat down with us at our table. He was trying to get some of my daughters hot dog. But she wasn't sharing so she showed him where to get his own hotdog at the buffet.

I think people need to understand it will be loud, it is BBQ food, nothing fancy, and that it is country themed. If you want a fancy dinner this is not the place for you.

Dave:

Nice review, but...$55 for hamburgers, hot dogs and ribs?? Not sure the food and this level of entertainment is worth such a steep price.

Diane:

@Callie - When we went, Chip & Dale posed outside (in aprons! with oven mitts!) before we were seated. Mickey & Minnie posed at the two intermissions and after the event. Because the kids leave their seats and go dance with the characters, two might be a bit young in my opinion. But others who have taken a two year old may differ in opinion.


My family of six attended this in June 2010. It was sold out the night we went. We had plenty of room at our table and had no issues with other people seated with us. Everyone was polite and we really had enough room that I didn't feel like we were on top of each other. We had more room than you get at Biergarten actually. Once the music started, my children were hardly ever at the table anyway. We don't drink and tend to be hyper aware of those who have overindulged. I didn't notice anyone who had perhaps had to much. At least not near us so that was fortunate.


I thought the food was mediocre. Comparatively, I also thought the food at Chef Mickey's was mediocre and that Tusker House was marginally better. I do think the ribs were better than the burgers. The burgers weren't great but they were better than the ones at, say, the ABC Commissary. We were really there for the experience and didn't expect much from the food. I did think it was plentiful and they did keep it out much longer than I thought they would. It was nice that the frozen treats were in a freezer and all you can eat.

The characters spread out down the middle between the tables and you are welcome to get up and go dance with them. After each intermission, they switched positions. There is a lot of "group" time with the characters dancing. All the characters did a great job of not letting one child monopolize them and tried to give individual attention to each child (holding their hand and twirling them - stuff like that). I learned from the reviews and can confirm that a lot of people leave at the first intermission. After the second intermission, the number of people had reduced considerably and my children had tons of fun as they got to spend more time dancing with each character. In the end they all danced multiple times with all the characters. The kids didn't care what kind of music it was, just that they got to dance with the characters. I wasn't there for a concert so I didn't care that all the music wasn't to my taste either.

Am I glad we went? Yes. Would I go again? Probably not because it isn't enough to not try other new things, for us anyway. Would I recommend it to families with children who are old enough to get up and go dance? Yes, definitely. Just don't expect it to be like other character meals - no personal visits, shared tables, and don't even think about asking for an autograph - all of which was explained to me twice when I called to make our reservations.

Liz:

I have to say, it has been a few years since we've been to the Backyard BBQ, but it was worth it. My family wasn't into country music or dancing, but I LOVED IT!!! Food was pretty good, no complaints. The atmosphere is just what you'd expect at a picnic. If you're looking for top quality indoor dining, this is not the place for you. It is definitely a fun relaxing alternative to all things Disney.

Patty:

It seems like a lot of fun, but was it hot? I did not book this experience for our upcoming trip in August, because I thought it would be too hot.


KRISTIN: It is outdoors in the Florida summer, so, yes, it was warm. However, the pavilion is shaded and there are plenty of fans, so we were not bothered by the temperature.

Dale:

We visited the Backyard BBQ when our children were 7 and 3. The food was terrible (cold and had no taste), the venue was hot and the dance floor was chaotic. We spent most of the time standing next to our son and daughter on the dance floor to make sure they didn't get lost in the crowd. We did not enjoy the experience and will likely never return.

Cecilia Hale:

My husband, daughter and I have been to this dinner 4 times. We love, love it. It is entertaining and lots of fun. We think the food is great, all you can eat and free drinks. No it is not your regular character meal, but the characters do interact with the little kids, the show is very entertaning and a good break from all of the parks. We always had good seats, not crowded up or anything like that. I guess it depends on what you are looking for. Our last visit we didn't make it, the people we were on vacation with did not want to go my 13 year old daughter got totally mad, she really wanted to go back.

JIm:

Read your review and thought, wow, this looks like a fun, casual thing we should try on our next trip. Then I saw the price - $54 per adult!??! Wow! For some reason, I was expecting this to be a low-cost alternative to some of the more popular and expensive character meals.

I just cant imagine paying that much for that kind of food served at picnic tables. I think if it was $19.99, it might be a decent value (and Disney would still make plenty of money off it).

Chris:

Our family did the backyard barbeque about 3 years ago. We are avid disney-goers and I would agree that this character meal is not like others and could be much improved. Everything at Disney is expensive, so the price is no surprise, but the quality of the experience does not compare with hoop-dee-do, chef mickey's, crystal palace, cinderella's castle, or breakfast with princesses. The interaction is short, and so is this event. The food was to me about the same as hoop-dee-do only not as good. It seemed like we were hustled in and out too quickly - it was like - why is the party over already? Likely because all there really was to do was eat because the entertainment didn't last very long. In an adult's opinion - the beer was the best part! Bathrooms were far, seating was awkward, and it was serve-yourself. Drinks were bland. Yes there is a lot that could be improved on...mostly the service and entertainment. New seating would be nice too - with a little more personal space for families. But don't get me wrong - our family LOVES Disney - but this is one that we would say - did that, but lets wait to see if they change it before we go again! As for hoop-dee-do - we have done that one several times and enjoyed it each time.

DW:

It has been a few years since my family has attended the BackYard BBQ. It does bother me that Disney is now charging $55 for adults and $32 for children nine and under. Disney seems to be pushing the envelope on many of their charges. Times are tough and this type of experience that families will have to decide is it really worth the extra expense. Our children had a nice time at this experience and it was great watching them interact with the characters. However, years later this is the one experience they rarely talk about. If you are on a tight budget you may want to think twice about this expense.

Drew:

Great review! Looks like fun!

Chris:

Thank you for your comments as it is just what I needed to hear as I'm currently in the process of planning for our visit to DW in October!

Jennifer:

I've been to the BBQ with other adults and we had a blast! The food is OK compared to other WDW experiences, but it's the show you're going to see. IMO, kids can get autographs just about everywhere, and character meals only offer limited interaction since it's only at your table. There's nowhere else on property where you can DANCE with the characters. Not to mention the live band. I suppose the price reflects the man-power of the entertainment. In all, if you're looking to sit at a table and take it easy while meeting the characters, go to Chef Mickey's or Cape May. But if you want an experience, mosey on down to Mickey's Backyard BBQ!

Just thought I should mention that they ask that guests with special dietary requirements should contact them 72 hours prior to the event - giving them time to make arrangements.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 7, 2012 7:58 AM.

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