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Character pirate dinner at Disney's Vero Beach is a treasure

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If you're a regular at Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line, you may be looking for a new Disney experience in Florida. A short drive to southern Indian River County could reward you with the treasure you are seeking.

On Florida’s so-called Treasure Coast, Disney's Vero Beach Resort, which is a Disney Vacation Club property that also is open to hotel guests, is just a 90-minute drive from Orlando. It is the only Disney property in the area that is directly on an oceanfront beach. And this beach is special because it's near Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, which is where many of the protected species of sea turtles come to nest in the summer.

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In fact, sea turtles are so prevalent along this coastal area of the state that it’s no surprise that the sea turtle is the resort’s logo. And two exciting events centered on sea turtles take place on the beach in front of Disney's Vero Beach. Summer turtle walks, which are led by guides permitted by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Service, take guests in small groups to see sea turtles nesting on the beach in the darkness of night. Turtle walks only take place in June and July and are open to resort guests only. (There are, however, other locations along the Treasure Coast for turtle walks that are open to the public. You can read more about them here.)

Also, at the end of July, the Tour de Turtles kicks off at various beaches around the world, and Disney's Vero Beach Resort is home to one of them. This "race" is a fun way to raise money for sea turtle preservation while collecting data about the species. You can read more about the Tour de Turtles here.

Its location on a Florida beach is not the only thing that makes this Disney property unique. In the summer -- from April 21 to September 1 -- the resort's main restaurant, Shutters, pays homage to the region’s history of pirate lore and hosts a character pirate dinner on Monday nights. There are no pirate-themed character meals at Walt Disney World, though they are a signature event on Disney Cruise Line ships. So, if your child loves pirates, this could be the landlocked place for you!

Reservations are strongly recommended for the pirate dinner, but I was able to book a table for my family of four the day before, even during a holiday week. The pirate dinner is served from 5 to 9 p.m., and we chose to dine at 5 p.m. because we had plans for a Brevard County turtle walk later that night.

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Shutters is transformed into a pirate's lair with large skull-themed flags throughout the restaurant, which complement the regular nautical decor. Servers wear pirate costumes, and each table is set with eye patches and skull-themed bandanas to encourage guests to get in on the dress-up fun, too. Plus, the kids receive coloring pages that can be used for collecting autographs from Pirate Goofy and Pirate Donald Duck. We appreciated that thoughtful gesture because my son left his autograph book at home.

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Because we were among the first diners seated, we also were among the first to be visited by Goofy and Donald. Unlike at some of the busy character meals at Walt Disney World, the two were in no hurry to leave our table and even stopped by again on their way to other tables. Toward the end of our meal, kids were called to the replica ship at the entrance to the restaurant to take the pirate oath with Pirate Goofy. Afterward, he handed out a treasure map to the young swashbucklers.

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The pirate dinner is served family style, which means all the food is brought to your table and then you can request refills on any or all items until you are full. The menu includes: cornbread, rolls, oak-grilled chicken, brisket, BBQ pulled pork, roasted potatoes, macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, baked beans, coleslaw, cupcakes and non-alcoholic beverages. My husband and I found the meal to be like a typical summer barbecue -- we each liked some items more than others. It was entirely acceptable, but nothing we would rave about. Perhaps, then, the value was in the experience, which both of our children, ages 9 and 11, thoroughly enjoyed.

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The price of the all-you-care-to-eat pirate character meal is $26.99 for adults and $12.99 for children ages 3 to 9. When compared to a similar experience at Walt Disney World, that is a bargain.

Florida’s Treasure Coast gets its name, in large part, from the bounty of gold and silver that was lost offshore from the 1715 Treasure Fleet that was bound from the New World to Spain. How fitting that Disney’s Vero Beach Resort offers a unique treasure, too, for those who want a quick getaway from Orlando but not the magic of Walt Disney World.



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Comments (3)

Kerry F:

That sounds really fun! Do you know if the Disney Hilton Head Beach Resort does anything like that? We have vacationed there for many years, and that would be a nice activity for when we are there. Thanks!

David:

This is a very helpful article. I knew Vero Beach existed but knew nothing about it till now. Going on a turtle walk would be very interesting too. Thanks!

Jflorence:

We visit this resort every few years and revisit the pirate dinner every time. I have to say that I was disappointed.
The server was overwhelmed, which was unexpected since the menu is pre-set. She could not remember, what drinks needed to be refilled. Folks, that's all she had to remember! That's truly minor.
My biggest issue is that the menu is very protein and starch heavy. With the emphasis on health these days, especially for our youth, I was shocked that there was not a vegetable served. The menu included: over cooked or undercooked chicken (w/ bone), chewy brisket (cold & fatty), pulled pork (delicious), roasted potatoes (good/starch), baked beans (starch), Mac & cheese (starch), cole slaw (I guess that's the vegetable). We waited a long time for food that was suboptimal. Before dessert arrived, we were accidentally served a dessert some one else ordered: a trough of ice cream/ banana split with brownies & cookies, which was much appreciated by my kids, despite it was melted We did have all you can eat cupcakes..topped with......whipped cream. What? Where's the buttercream icing? The Mickey sprinkles or chocolate mickeys?
Dearest Disney, I get the theme meal idea, but you are missing the mark with today's youth & family. The demographic that is staying at your resorts, are somewhat health conscious, but knows a good dessert. We spend a good chunk of change to see you routinely, and deserve better than this. The little kids are excited by characters and the older kids are accepting of them. This night, the characters were the best part. The food was blah. The service was subpar. The entire meal we wished we could have cornbread. Guess what, it was on the menu, but we only got rolls.
I hate to complain without a suggestion for improvement, so here goes: starter salad, boneless chicken or just chicken legs, beef tender enough for a child to chew (not choke) , keep the pork., sautéed veggies ( onions/carrots/ green beans) & potatoes, corn, cornbread & rolls. Have an option for dessert: ice cream sundae or cupcake w/ real icing. We don't need all you can eat dessert, just give us something good.
Serve it all at the temp it should be! If you don't want to throw in some veggies, at least give us a lime wedge, so we don't get scurvy.
Thanks for reading.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 3, 2014 5:15 AM.

The previous post in this blog was What you need to know about taking food into Walt Disney World.

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