Visiting Enchanted Tales With Belle, Be Our Guest Restaurant, and Belle's Village with Bon Jour Gifts and Gaston's Tavern is like visiting an entire country at Epcot's World Showcase. There's a whole set of experiences that complement each other, so it wouldn't be right if we didn't take a look at Gaston's Tavern and what's going on there.
As you approach the village, you see a set of buildings, and in front you see a statue raised to commemorate Gaston himself.
Just to the left and behind Gaston's Tavern Beast's castle is visible in the distance. You are reminded of Gaston's enmity and jealousy of his distant neighbor.
On the other side of the building is this sign, which suggests that in addition to having a tavern, Gaston sells hunting equipment... capable of killing any "beast."
The main sign for Gaston's Tavern makes clever use of beer steins as light fixtures, highlighting the extensive detail that went into the New Fantasyland area.
Even in dress rehearsals for this area, the interest in grabbing something to eat has led to lines that extend outside the restaurant. Indeed, while the facility looks large from the outside, it isn't nearly big enough to hold all those who are looking to find a seat. There are additional seats outside, but many people still wind up looking for a place to sit.
There are two big items unique to this location. The first is a roasted pork shank, a pork version of the almighty turkey leg. The second is Le Fou's brew, frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow and topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam.
LeFou's Brew is served in a souvenir stein (themed to Beast) or a goblet (themed to Belle). You can also get it in a standard cup for half the price. I was delighted to taste it as it brought me back to the Red's Apple Freeze I had enjoyed just a couple of week's prior when I was visiting Cars Land at Disney California Adventure.
During the several occasions I have visited, I haven't seen much interest in the pork shank, though I think it's a creative choice for Gaston's Tavern. Maybe we could see some egg dishes for breakfast--Gaston loves eggs. Meanwhile there is other snack fare on the menu, such as hummus and crackers and a chocolate croissant with powdered sugar. It's curious that they haven't learned from the funnel cakes not to do powdered sugar, which makes a huge mess on all the tables.
Idyllic countryside pictures like this one are found throughout and suggest the beauty of a French countryside. Imagineers have really separated this French experience from being in France at Epcot. Photo by Jeff Kober.
Gaston's Tavern has two indoor dining rooms. The one to the left offers a dart board whose results between Gaston and Le Fou clearly suggest that Gaston will win no matter what.
Animal heads are everywhere on the walls. Don't worry though, these are ceramic heads, and no animal was truly harmed in the preparation of this tavern. Evidence of a brawl is visible below one head being used as a hat stand, and elsewhere throughout the tavern.
The centerpiece of the other dining room is a big portrait of Gaston framed in more antlers. Antlers and heads are the dominant theme at Gaston's Tavern.
One corner of the room houses a massive antler chandelier held up by a barrel with a spigot attached.
After finishing your food and beverage, you'll probably find yourself in need of a restroom break; Head outside as the restrooms aren't too far away.
Most will miss this weathervane that sits on top of the restrooms, which features an elk. It is really the frosting on the cake when it comes to the theming and detail of this entire area. Photo by Jeff Kober.
There's really so much to like about Gaston's Tavern, that the misses are really minor. The menu will probably evolve, so that's not a big thing. Space is the biggest challenge it will face when the area officially opens. Even in previews there are often people waiting to be served, as well as others waiting to get a table. Other than adding another table or two, there is little to be done there.
I liken Gaston's Tavern to a visit to Boulangerie Patisserie in France at Epcot. By itself, it isn't a stand-alone experience. But as part of the entire experience in France, it would be disappointing if it wasn't there. Gaston's Tavern may not be the star of the New Fantasyland, but it is an important player, and all of it really adds up to a great experience for the guests.
(Send an email to Jeff Kober)
J. Jeff Kober, (@MousePlanetJeff) president of Performance Journeys and CEO of World Class Benchmarking, is also a thought leader on best-in-business practices at the Walt Disney Company. He brings those ideas to organizations via keynotes, seminars, and workshops to organizations around the world. He has authored "The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney" as well as a "Disney at Work" series of apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch, available via DisneyatWork.com. You can find out more about his newest book, "Lead With Your Customer: Transform Culture and Brand into World-Class Excellence" at LeadWithYourCustomer.com.