Ariel's Grotto

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What it is:

An ocean-themed restaurant in California Adventure Park that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Ariel sits at the front of the restaurant to greet people and take a picture. You can snap your own photos or take a professional one for about $30.

Once you're seated, four Disney princesses will come and greet you at your table. They are very friendly and personable and really know how to make children feel special. This is Disneyland!

Ariel's GrottoYou must make reservations a day or so in advance: Call (714) 781-DINE, or (714) 781-3463.

What you pay:

For lunch or dinner, adults cost about $37, kids about $20. Breakfast for adults is about $33, kids $18. Tax and tip are included. Children 2 and under free.

What you get:

You pay one price for food. The adult menu for lunch or dinner includes:

  1. An appetizer of an antipasti "tower" for the table to share: Salami, marinated mozzarella, string cheese, Roma tomatoes, gherkins, olives, red peppers, watermelon, and veggies with pesto and ranch dips, as well as some jello with sliced fruit inside.

  2. A basic green salad with vinaigrette.

  3. A bread basket with a refillable assortment of rolls.

  4. A main course. You can choose among:
    • Pasta with Italian Sausage
    • Herb-crusted Chicken Breast with mashed potoatoes and veggies
    • Tri-tip with mashed potatoes and veggies
    • Grilled redfish with chutney, rice pilaf and veggies
    • Spinach and ricotta agnolotti (stuffed pasta)
    • Cioppino (seafood stew)

  5. Dessert: A big platter of assorted desserts to share, including lava cake, chocolate-chip strips, cheesecake tarts with raspberries, s'more chocolate bites and a white chocolate conch shell of berries.

    Kids can choose among macaroni and cheese, turkey meatball "lollipops", chicken skewers, or tri-tip over mashed potatoes.

For breakfast you get an assortment of various cheeses, meats, spreads, bagels, croissants, pastries, scrambled eggs, and potatoes all brought to your table.

What to think of the food:

Reviews of the food are mixed. Up until recently, most people would agree that the primary reason to go to Ariel's Grotto was to let your kids dine with the princesses. Food was not bad but not a reason to go.

However, a few months ago the menu changed (as did the prices) and a buzz has started that the food has vastly improved. I haven't been there myself (I can't get my sons to go) so I can't speak from personal experience.

In a nutshell, based on what I've heard lately, I'd give Ariels' Grotto a try. But I would only go if someone in my party was really into princesses. Even though they only come by the table for a couple minutes, the personal interaction with the princesses, without waiting in a line, is worth something. Food would still be my second reason to go.

Here's where to meet more Disney princesses.

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