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Good Eats at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ

Friday, May 27, 2011

Phew!  We’ve made it!  What a winter that was.  This spring hasn’t been much easier either.  Its finally Memorial Day weekend and the official start of the summer barbeque season.  Let’s get ourselves into the spirit by looking at a Disney event very relevant to the grilling season. 

For guests who’ve visited Walt Disney World countless times you’ve probably found yourself saying “I’m going to do that one of these days.”  I know I’ve said it plenty of times.  It’s an experience or activity you want to try, but for some reason you never seem to slip it into your schedule during a visit to the most magical place on earth.  I recently put my foot down and decided our family was going to visit Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.  I’ve been saying for years “we need to try it” and during a recent visit we made it a point to see what it was all about.  I was very curious to experience it because I’ve been reading and hearing mixed reviews from other guests who have tried it in the past.  Some guests thoroughly enjoyed it while others found it awful.  The reviews were so mixed it actually sparked my curiosity to try it in the first place.  After 3 years of procrastinating we finally made it over to the Ft. Wilderness Campground where the barbeque is located. 

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is everything you’d expect a traditional cookout to be except on a much grander scale and with a few twists.  The venue is a large outdoor, but covered pavilion located towards the back of the Ft. Wilderness Resort & Campground.  The best method of transportation to the pavilion would be to take the resort boat launch from the Magic Kingdom directly to Ft. Wilderness.  When you disembark from the boat follow the signs to the pavilion.  It’s a short walk from the boat dock.  If you take a motor coach or drive your car to the front of Ft. Wilderness you will have to transfer vehicles and take internal bus transportation to the back of the resort.  The boat ride from the Magic Kingdom to Ft. Wilderness is a much more relaxing way to get to the barbeque. 

Once you’ve arrived at the venue you will check-in with a Cast Member.  It is highly recommended you make an ADR for this event.  One thing you should know is the reservation requires a credit card confirmation.  Payment is in full at the time of the reservation.  If you don’t cancel your reservation 48 hours in advance or don’t show up you may not receive any kind of refund for the event. 

After you check-in you have a couple of options before you are allowed into the pavilion and begin eating.  There are plenty of kids activities to keep your little ones occupied including, sidewalk chalk, horse shoe games, hop scotch, and sand boxes.  Characters are also out and you can take a picture with them.  A line for the characters form as guests check-in for the barbeque.  For our particular barbeque Chip & Dale and Goofy were out taking pictures and signing autographs for guests.  One nice Disney touch was Cast Members were walking around with glasses of lemonade and water for guests who were thirsty before the event.  It was warm outside and the drinks were much appreciated. 

At 6:30PM the pavilion opened up and Cast Members brought each party to a picnic style table based on the number of guests in your party.  The pavilion is huge and some seats towards the back corner can be rather far away from the main stage where most of the entertainment takes place.  Once you are seated you are immediately allowed to go up to the dinner buffet and help yourself to some vittles.  The menu consists of a BBQ chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, BBQ pork ribs, macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, mixed green salad, rolls and corn bread.  The menu is very similar to what you would find inside the Hoop De Doo Musical Revue just down the dusty old trail.  We felt the food was very good.  It was fresh, hot and in abundance.  We never saw empty pans.  There were several lines available so waiting for food was never a problem.  The food stays out for most of the event.  It was nice to go back up later to grab something small if you were still hungry. 

Beverages are located towards the back of the pavilion near the food.  Your choice of beverages includes lemonade, tea, water, and unlimited beer (Bud Light) and wine.  One of the best aspects of Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is the bins loaded with Mickey ice cream bars and other frozen novelties.  They are also located in the back and are all you care to eat.  If you love Disney’s frozen novelties you’ll grin ear to ear seeing these bins full of your frozen favorites. 

As you begin to dine a country and western band plays music for everyone to enjoy.  Guests are welcomed to continue eating, relaxing, or dancing on the very large dance floor.  After 30 minutes have past the characters appear and begin dancing with the children on the dance floor.  The lineup of characters include Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Chip & Dale.  Once the characters arrived the dance floor did get very chaotic and crowded.  It eventually became orderly, but it took a few minutes for the children to realize the characters would eventually dance with everyone.  Later on, the characters would leave the dance floor and take pictures with families in other parts of the pavilion in a more orderly setting. 

As the evening progresses more entertainment comes onto the dance floor.  This includes country and western line dancers who are dressed appropriately for the event.  They dance to the music of the band playing behind them. 

Afterwards, a professional rope trick artist comes onto the dance floor and entertains guests for about 30 minutes.  He spins his rope into several formations and uses it in several different ways.  It’s a nice touch and fits the event very well. 

Once the entertainment is complete the band continues playing country and western favorites for another 45 minutes.  The characters are still dancing with guests on the dance floor.  For our particular barbeque several guests left before the event was over.  It gave us a terrific opportunity to spend some one on one time with the characters.  If you attend this dinner show consider staying until the end so you have a good chance at spending some quality time with the characters. 

As the barbeque ended I couldn’t help but take another Mickey ice cream bar with me as we left the pavilion.  The ice cream bins were still open and stocked with frozen novelties.  It would have been a shame to walk by them and wave goodbye. 

Here are some fast facts about Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.

>  The barbeque takes place each Thursday and Saturday evenings starting at 6:30PM and ends at 8:30PM.  It will last the full 2 hours. 

>  Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is a seasonal event taking place March – December.

>  Arrive at the Backyard BBQ pavilion about 30 minutes early so you can get pictures with the characters and lineup for a good seat. 

>  The cost of the barbeque is $44.99 + tax for adults and $26.99 + tax for children ages 3 - 9.  The gratuity is included. 

>  Seating is at long picnic tables.  You will probably be sitting next to guests who you don’t know very well. 

>  The number of guests attending the barbeque can vary.  Our particular barbeque had approximately 250 guests in attendance. 

Our family felt Mickey’s Backyard BBQ was worth the visit, but probably won’t be returning for some time.  This is one of those experiences where if you’ve done it once you really don’t need to go back and do it again.  There’s no draw to go back other than the quality time with your family and the characters.  The entertainment was good, but not worth a repeat visit unless its radically changed in the future. 

If you’ve never tried Mickey’s Backyard BBQ you should go.  Don’t put it off anymore.  Like anything at Walt Disney World you should give it a try at least once and see for yourself if you like it.  We’ve been putting off the Backyard BBQ for years.  Sometimes, in order to keep Walt Disney World a fresh place to visit you have to try new experiences.  Don’t put off that one Disney World experience you’ve been procrastinating for years any longer.  You may be pleasantly surprised and wonder why you put it off for so long. 

Up Next:  We visit a myriad of Disney resort hotels looking for the top 5 quick eats on property.  

From all of us at Studioscentral.com we’d like to wish everyone a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend, and a special thank you to all of the men and women who serve or have served our country in the military for keeping us safe everyday. 

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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