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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.


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Visiting the area around Gaston's Tavern feels like visiting an entire country at Epcot's World Showcase. Photo by Jeff Kober.

As you approach the village, you see a set of buildings, and in front you see a statue raised to commemorate Gaston himself.


LeFou gets no respect, even in statue form. Photo by Jeff Kober.


It's fitting the statue is in front of the restaurant, after all, it is all about Gaston as the plaque would suggest. Photo by Jeff Kober.

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.


Beast's castle appears far away through the artful use of forced perspective. Photo by Jeff Kober.

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." 


L'Equipement de Chasse is French for hunting equipment. Photo by Jeff Kober.

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.


The beer steins house lights that illuminate the sign at night. Photo by Jeff Kober.

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.


The size of Gaston's Tavern may prove not quite large enough. Photo by Jeff Kober

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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.


Cleverly, these "menu scrolls" are posted for all to see using bow and arrow targets. Photo by Jeff Kober.

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.


The foam on top of LeFou's Brew gives it the appearance of beer, but this drink is completely nonalcoholic. Photo by Jeff Kober.

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.

 


Look closely at the dart board to find humorous darts on the surrounding walls. Photo by Jeff Kober.

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.


No concern, these are ceramic heads, and no animal was truly harmed in the preparation of this tavern. Photo by Jeff Kober.

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.

 


He uses antlers in all of his decorating. Photo by Jeff Kober.

 


Gaston's portrait rests above the fireplace, which is always running, though in a virtual kind of way. Photo by Jeff Kober.

 

One corner of the room houses a massive antler chandelier held up by a barrel with a spigot attached.


Up above you'll see a coonskin hat. Perhaps Davy Crockett had been travelling across the world as a congressional statesman. Photo by Jeff Kober.


Beyond the massive chandelier is a small, but beautiful stained glass window honoring Gaston. You have to look up and around to really see it. Photo by Jeff Kober.

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.


Themed signs for the restrooms tell you where to go. Photo by Jeff Kober.


This archway separates the tavern space from the restrooms. Its clever design adds a little more depth to Belle's village. Photo by Jeff Kober.


The drinking fountain looks like something Maurice might have come up with. Photo by Jeff Kober.


The building that houses the restrooms has its own unique look and themed detail appropriate for a French provincial town. Photo by Jeff Kober.


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.



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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.