Sights and Sounds of Disney Parks: What’s it Like to ‘Be Our Guest?’
We asked Ted Robledo, Senior Concept Designer, Walt Disney Imagineering, to give us the exquisite details you’ll experience when you enter Beast’s Castle to experience Be Our Guest Restaurant. So much more than just a dining location, this amazing place at New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom Park echoes the way Belle herself must have felt when Lumière tipped his cap and proudly presented her dinner and so much more.
Like every Disney artist since Walt himself, Ted told the “story” of Be Our Guest Restaurant so vividly, his description took on a life of its own. We could imagine it all, as if it had come from a storybook. Let’s begin now…
Once upon a time, but not too long from now, in a fantastic new land within a magical kingdom, a glistening landscape unfolds before you, where elephants fly and mermaids sing. Your gaze is suddenly transfixed upon a mysterious castle in the distance.
Your instincts are correct — it is indeed Beast’s Castle on a snow-capped mountain peak. Could this really be the place where the tale took place? The story of a young beauty, a fearsome yet vulnerable creature and the love that drew them together? You decide to investigate.
As you move along the path leading to the castle, you somehow know that it must be the Beast’s family property — two ruins flank the original gateway that was likely set up by his ancestors. More and more hints of this become evident — gargoyles on lampposts and suggestions of royalty in the intricate ironwork and stone carvings — as you cross a bridge over the river below.
Tall ornate gates, adorned with the family crest, remind you of the moments in which both Maurice and Belle ventured onto the Beast’s property. Reaching the grand entrance, you sense some of the same foreboding they must have felt, or are you just startled by the horned “guardians” around this massive front door? Are these imposing sculptures some kind of animal, or a combination of several birds and beasts?
Above the double doors is a stunningly beautiful tile mosaic, telling the story of how the Prince came to be cursed to remain a beast unless he finds true love before the last petal falls from the magic rose. Now, standing in the foyer, ominous stonework Minotaurs, half-bull and half-man, hold up a giant archway — within which you perceive a sculpted relief suggesting the agony of the Prince’s transformation amid a motif of dragon tentacles and that all-important rose.
So, the castle itself is, in effect, telling the story to you, step by step. But that’s just the beginning. Through the foyer, you come to the grand hallway, flanked on either side by suits of armor. There’s something magical about them, but you’re not quite sure why…is that a parlor up ahead? Yes, it is a room of welcome, where a traveler might be brought in to seek shelter and enjoy the bounty of its pantry and kitchen. You admire the tapestries and spot a large chair that sits by a fireplace. Is this where Belle treated the wounds of the injured Beast?
There seem to be several places where you might savor the marvelous creations of the castle chefs — or are they cooked up by a hidden, enchanted living stove and kitchenware? Perhaps the most opulent is the Grand Ballroom. You cannot believe you’re actually here, in a setting inspired by that iconic movie scene in which Belle, dressed in a gorgeous golden gown, appears for her evening with the Beast. You’re now completely immersed in the world of the tale.
Magical surprises seem possible in every corner of the ballroom. Most dazzling are the glittering chandeliers, one of which looks as if it leapt off the movie screen. In the distance through the windows, the first snow is falling on the rolling countryside under a starry sky.
By now you’re not sure if the unforgettable music is playing in your head, your heart or throughout the castle, but you’ve now found yourself in the exquisite Rose Gallery. Woven in rose images, you admire paintings of the characters you love from the story, some sprawling as tall as eight feet.
The music you “felt” as well as heard was coming from a truly marvelous music box in the middle of the gallery. Crafted of exotic wood with meticulous detail in gold leaf, this immense handcrafted musical marvel was surely, you surmise, a wedding gift from the ingenious inventor Maurice. Roses wind their way throughout this entire room in all the architectural ornamentation.
Every story has a dramatic high point. You’ve decided to explore the West Wing. It is a moody, foreboding place, where draperies hang in tatters and the painting of the young prince has been slashed in anguish. But in the corner, the enchanted rose itself sits under a glass bell jar. What will happen as each petal falls? Will love triumph?
You are certain that you will find your happily ever after at Be Our Guest Restaurant, not only through the extraordinary experiences and magical surprises that you’ve encountered and enjoyed, but again through the castle’s own astonishing enchantment. For this castle is able to share with you one of the most wondrous powers of all — the gift of unmatchable storytelling.
Call 407-WDW-DINE (939-3463) up to 180 days in advance for table-service dinner reservations at Be Our Guest Restaurant. Lunch is quick-service and does not require reservations.
Sights and Sounds of Disney Parks: What’s it Like to ‘Be Our Guest?’ by Greg Ehrbar: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog
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