I am mostly writing this review in the hope that you won’t mess up as I did. I booked category 1 seating for Mickey’s Backyard BBQ not knowing what you were actually entitled to. When I booked only category 1 was available so I didn’t realise that there were two types of seating and booking tiers. Now we are home and I can see what we missed out on I may well be writing this review with a happier tone. That’s part of the problem when you rush to book something and book some time in advance. You forget! Please don’t forget.
How Much? – Category Seating for Mickeys Backyard BBQ
Category 1 is only a little bit more money than category 2. A Category 1 booking is currently $72 for anyone aged 10 and over and it’s $47 for a child aged 3-9. Category 2 is $62 for people aged 10 and over and $37 for those aged 3-9.
With category 1 you get early access to the pavilion, priority seating so you are sat at the end of a bench/table rather than the middle or end. Plus a pre show character meet and greet and early access to all food. With this in mind, as it’s all the things we should have had but missed out on, I will be reviewing why I wish I’d realised all of this when we booked. You really do need to read the fine print. They only have 1-2 shows a week.
Where is Mickey’s Backyard BBQ?
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is in the Pavilion at Fort Wilderness resort and Campground. It is just a short walk from the boat launch. If you are visiting from the Magic Kingdom you can take the courtesy boat over to Fort Wilderness. For those staying at The Contemporary and Wilderness lodge, there is a smaller courtesy boat. If you are visiting from another hotel your best bet is to get a courtesy bus to Magic Kingdom and then take the courtesy boat over. If you try and get there just using buses it could take forever as the bus stops at Fort Wilderness are a long way from the venue. It is just a short walk past the playground so if you are early it’s a great spot for the kids to run around.
If you are driving in you also have to park up near the bus stops at the main entrance and then get a courtesy bus down as it’s a looonnngggg way!
My Review of Mickeys Backyard BBQ – Mostly as a category 2 customer!
We arrived just before 5:30 pm. Most of the people had arrived and were being seated. We were handed a card and I wasn’t sure why this was. Everyone else headed off in one direction and we were shown in by a server as apparently I’d booked premium (category 1) seating. I honestly was just assuming that it would be a better view such as the pricing levels for the Hoop De Doo revue.
The place itself is massive and although it’s under cover it does have open sides. There is a stage, dancefloor and rows upon rows of very long picnic benches. You can fit a lot of people on these benches. The benches are packed in so tight it’s a struggle and a bit of a gauntlet when carrying drinks and food to get between them. We were shown to one with our name on and we were asked to sit opposite two other people that had priority seating. Honestly, we were uncomfortable with doing this. We wanted to sit opposite each other not someone we didn’t know. Everyone without premium seating was able to do this. The couple already sat there did not offer to move opposite each other. We wouldn’t have happily sat next to them had they done this.
We expressed that we weren’t happy with where they wanted us to sit so they found us an available bench that was right by the stage. It wasn’t the best view, however, we ended up liking our spot. Not just because we were sat opposite each other but because we ended up with a lot of the characters hanging out right by us, which you can see in my video below.
We then had to join the masses to get our dinner. Again had I realised what our category 1 seating meant we would have arrived an hour earlier and had the time for a meet and greet and to get our food before everyone else. There were around 4-5 rows of food each with the same selection. I have to admit that we didn’t enjoy the food much. The burgers tasted boiled not barbequed, the chicken was dry, the corn didn’t taste fresh and the bread also wasn’t great. I was so fed up I didn’t even take any photos. They also had ribs, hot dogs and salad.
The band introduced themselves and they performed a number. Then the Disney characters came out before we’d barely started eating which meant that our food went cold while Jamie and I joined them on the dancefloor. There was Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Chip and Dale. They all made the time to dance with the children and interact with them, especially Goofy!
With Hoop De Doo you were allowed the time to eat your food while the show was on pause so to speak. This was not the case here and everything felt rushed. I literally felt like I was a headless chicken. Getting drinks, fetching food, joining in with the entertainment, meeting the characters.
When the Disney characters left the dancefloor the entertainment was swapped for a man and a lasso. We weren’t particularly impressed. However, I did notice that as most of the kids were sat around watching by the edge of the dancefloor there was hardly anyone queueing to meet Mickey and Minnie. So we zoomed over to do that and luckily we didn’t have to wait long. Although with category 1 we should have enjoyed our own pre-show meet and greet!
We had some people trying to reserve spots to meet Mickey and Minnie in front of us. The staff spotted this and were fantastic. They soon sent them to the back of the queue.
The Disney characters went back on the dance floor a couple of times after this and again during their ‘pauses’ you were able to queue to meet the characters. The queue for Goofy, Chip and Dale was always so long. We did join it at one point only to get two from the front, after 15 minutes, and find the queue shut because they were going back on the dancefloor. I was so fed up we left the queue as I really didn’t want Jamie to also miss them on the dancefloor. We also wanted to grab an ice cream which was the option for dessert.
We later queued up again at the end to meet them. I totally recommend that you do this for all the characters if you go for category 2. They allow a lot of time at the end for the meet and greets and they make sure that no one is forgotten about. In hindsight, we didn’t need to queue earlier on for Goofy etc. Well actually we didn’t need to queue for any of them, I just didn’t know that! We also seemed to get a lot more time with them at the end. Goofy was hilarious sticking his nose on my GoPro and then fixing Jamie’s hair for him. It was one of our favourite meet and greets of the whole holiday and certainly left a smile on our slightly fed up faces.
Goofy really helped make up for any major disappointments that we felt. I have no doubt that I will kick myself forever for paying extra for things that we never had. I am sure it would have made it a better experience. But in the same breath what we experienced was what anyone on category 2 would experience and well that simply wasn’t worth it for the price. It all felt a bit like a cattle market and not the ultimate Minnie and Mickey experience that it could be. The dancefloor ended up packed to barely moving room during the later character dances.
I honestly think they try to have too many people in at one time and that’s a great shame as it spoils your experience. I’ve read a lot of reviews online and nearly everyone seems a bit disappointed with the food. It is eat all you can and it is drink all you can. The soda is from machines and wine, sangria and beer are handed to you at a makeshift bar.
If you know what to expect then I think you will be better prepared. It was a one of a kind experience! Not every kid gets to dance with their favourite Disney characters.
Mickeys Backyard BBQ Review | What to Expect
Why not watch my video for clips from the show and our meet and greets with the Disney characters? Also at Fort Wilderness, we were lucky to see the Hoop Dee Doo Revue – you can read all about our experience here – Hoop Dee Doo Revue – Review of the Best Disney Evening Entertainment. We also stayed on site – Disney World Fort Wilderness Cabins – Photos of Our Cabin | Review
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