Dine with an Imagineer – January 2011

For my 30th birthday, I was lucky enough to talk my husband into experiencing something at Walt Disney World that I had been dreaming of – Dining with an Imagineer.

First, a little bit about me. I have an engineering degree. I am also married to an engineer. And although I’m not an active engineer, my brain still VERY much works that way!! And I’ve always been obsessed with all things Disney. My husband – not so much. He was converted on our first trip together as parents. I mentioned this dining experience to him after that trip and he decided it was a must-do!

Dine with an Imagineer is a dining experience held on select days at the Hollywood Brown Derby (for lunch) and at the Flying Fish Café (for dinner). It is limited to 10 people and you must call ahead for reservations. It’s a fairly expensive meal – our lunch was about $75 per person with tax and tip. BUT you get a wonderful 4 course meal, a special souvenir and conversation with an Imagineer.

After checking in, and getting our AWESOME souvenir nametags, we were able to see the “opening” of the Brown Derby. Since it was marathon weekend, the “celebrities” that day was a trio that had run the 5K, the half marathon and the marathon (one lady had done ALL three!)

Our FABULOUS nametags!

The women were given boas and the man put on a top hat and the manager escorted them out of the restaurant to the end of the “red carpet.” A Brown Derby Cast Member (dressed as a paparazzi photographer) followed them and photographed them the whole way. They were then escorted to the entrance to the dining room, which was roped off. The manager made a big announcement to the waiting area, introducing them, telling us of all of their marathon accomplishments and that THEY were the celebrities of the day, opening the restaurant for business. It was a very neat experience and not one I’m sure most people know about!

Once all of our party had arrived, it was time to tour the restaurant. Many of the photos on the wall inside the restaurant are of the original Brown Derby in Hollywood. Our waitress gave us a lot of information on the restaurant and just how similar it is to the original.

We were then led to the Bamboo Room, where our meal would take place. Each place setting had a souvenir menu.

The food was wonderful. I could have made a meal on the soup and the Cobb salad alone. I had to force myself to stop eating it! I ordered the Grouper and it was just okay but my husband’s beef was very good. The noodle bowl was huge and smelled wonderful (it was ordered by the man across from me!). I think if we went again, I would definitely try the noodle bowl.

The highlight was definitely talking with Jason. He had us go around and talk a bit about ourselves and what we liked best about Disney. Then he kind of used our answers as launching pads to talk more about the parks, the attractions, everything!

Jason has been with Disney since 1993 in a variety of positions. He seemed to know about EVERYTHING we asked him. While we were there, one of the monorail cars was wrapped to look like a vehicle for Tron (although we never actually saw it!). Apparently it caused a big uproar. While were dining, he even received an email about it, passed me his Blackberry and had me read it aloud! He also hinted at some of the changes that have since been announced (like the closing of Snow White’s Scary Adventures) and told us as much as he could about the rest of the Fantasyland expansion (and hinted at other things!). It’s been exciting for me to watch it all develop after talking with him about the process and just how quickly ideas and plans can change in Imagineering.

My husband ordered the grapefruit cake and I ordered the crème brulee for dessert. But since I was wearing my Birthday Pin, they also brought me a slice of triple chocolate cake with a candle in it! The entire group sang to me (and one other girl celebrating her birthday as well). The crème brulee was wonderful. It was very light and creamy. The triple chocolate cake was heavenly. (I think I retract my earlier statement – I could make a meal with the soup, the Cobb salad and the chocolate cake!)

At the end of our meal, we also received another booklet that looked like a menu. But when you opened it, it was a mini-biography of Jason AND a group photo. (Mine was a special one!)











You also receive a souvenir plate that the Imagineer personalizes for you. But when we went, they had just switched to a new style of plate and they weren’t available yet. The waitress took our addresses and sure enough, a few weeks later, these arrived!

Overall, Dining with an Imagineer, was an amazingly incredible experience and one that I definitely would want to do again. My husband said that he wouldn’t want do it again because everything about our experience was so perfect. The 3 hours FLEW by and the conversations we had were definitely worth the money.

If you (or someone else in your traveling party) are a Disney fanatic and love learning about the behind the scenes of Disney World, I would definitely recommend it. The Disney website recommends this experience for ages 10 and up but I would not take my children until they are at least teenagers (13 or 14).

Thank you to Jason for an AMAZING experience (and a great birthday present to boot!)

For more information about this experience contact Amy at Amy@travelwiththemagic.com or fill out the contact form below and I will get back to you!