As Walt Disney World’s most popular theme park with the highest attendance in the world, there’s not much at Magic Kingdom that can be called a “hidden gem” or “secret place.” This is doubly true in Fantasyland, which is surely the busiest section of the park.
To that end, an “underrated” or “sleeping” restaurant might be more appropriate, but still not entirely accurate given that tens of thousands of guests pass here daily and hundreds, if not thousands, dine here for convenience. Still, Magic Kingdom has a sadly weak lineup of counter service restaurants…so we have to relish the small wins where we can.
For this review, we’re talking about Friar’s Nook Quick Service Window in Fantasyland, which is located behind Cinderella’s Castle right next to Winnie the Pooh’s Many Adventures, previously inhabited by a J. Thaddeus Toad Esq. This not-so-secret spot is only part of the equation, as the food here is combined with a real hidden gem to make for a memorable meal. Let us take you to a wild ride across the Magic Kingdom, past and present…
Since the Friar’s Nook is simply a walk-in window and therefore there isn’t much to it in terms of thematic design or atmosphere, we’ll start with the story instead. Despite its simple appearance, the background here is actually fascinating, with many unique restaurants occupying this space since Magic Kingdom opened in 1971.
On opening day, the restaurant was known as Lancer’s Inn and served pizza. It was replaced by Gurgi’s Munchies and Crunchies, with a menu of chicken, cheeses and hot dogs.
It was one of the few important references to The black cauldron in parks; he is named after Gurgi, who is a creature of sorts, a gopher wood troll. Gurgi was hosted by Glen Keane and John Lasseter, and loved apples. Gurgi’s Munchies and Crunchies did not sell apples (it might have served apple juice).
For the 99% of you who haven’t seen The black cauldron, don’t feel bad. This animated film was described by its own production manager as when Walt Disney Animation Studios hit “bottom bottom” before the Disney Renaissance.
Interestingly, it was not the most important reference to The black cauldron. Tokyo Disneyland “wins” this dubious accolade for the walk-in attraction, Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour. If all this is about The black cauldron tempts you to watch this movie…don’t. Check Awakened Sleeping Beauty (now on Disney+) or Defunctland Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour video instead. Both are much more interesting than the film itself.
Despite the failure of this animated film, the place (miraculously?) has retained its link with The black cauldron until February 13, 1993. (If you feel this section of history is merely an excuse to mention The black cauldron and those documentaries… you’re right.)
After poor Gurgi munched on his last snack, the walk-in window became Lumiere’s Kitchen, named after the popular character from The beauty and the Beast. Much more logical, but also less interesting. It operated seasonally throughout the 1990s before reopening as the Village Fry Shoppe on May 1, 2006 as part of Disney’s corporate alliance with McDonald’s – one of Magic’s two McDonald’s locations Kingdom.
This global partnership has been going in a fascinating way, but I’ve already dedicated my “off-topic raving quota” to The black cauldronso we’ll have to save this topic for another day and another unrelated post.
Anyway, the Friar’s Nook replaced the Village Fry Shoppe on March 26, 2009. Since we’ve been visiting Walt Disney World as adults, the Friar’s Nook has gone through many inventive menus and items. Some excellent, others… not so excellent. It really doesn’t make sense to recap everything, but the common thread in just about all of these is the emphasis on macaroni, cheese, bacon, and potatoes.
Friar’s Nook’s current menu continues to play those hits, but with a new focus on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary…
The main menu item at Friar’s Nook for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary is Burger The Wild Toad Brat served with lettuce, tomato, pickle and American cheese, topped with olive skewer eyes served with tater bites.
From my point of view, this wins the prize for the best culinary concoction of the most magical celebration in the world. He has a certain underrated stupidity, and I mean it in the best possible way. Whoever came up with this Mr. Toad burger deserves a raise — and Disney should do more weird, wacky, and fun stuff like this.
As for the taste of the Wild Toad Brat Burger, it is quite good. There’s a pronounced kid’s flavor to the burger, and it’s juicier and tastier than an average patty at Cosmic Ray’s or other counter service restaurants.
That said, the patty isn’t juicy or flavorful enough to “carry” like a regular countertop burger. There’s a reason Walt Disney World often features burgers with lots of novelty toppings – it’s to mask the dry, disappointing flavor of the normal burger. It doesn’t quite have that problem, but could use a little more seasoning or pork to make it work.
That said, if you want a normal no-frills burger, this is your best option in Magic Kingdom. It beats what is currently being served at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.
Continuing with the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary menu, Friar’s Nook serves Mr. Toad Dome Cake for dessert. This decadent dish features peanut cake, chocolate peanut butter mousse and a salted caramel center.
Disney makes a lot of mousse desserts like this now, to the point that we’ve had enough. Despite the oversaturation, we love this one. The variety of textures and flavors is really there, far from the one-note dessert that is generally the case with these mousses.
My only complaint is that the Mr. Toad Dome cake is $8. As good as it is, it’s impossible for me to ignore this price and enthusiastically recommend an $8 mousse from a restaurant with counter service. If you’re not concerned about the cost, go for it, but know that there are better ways to spend $8 on food in Magic Kingdom.
Finally, we have the Creamy Bacon and Cheese Macaroni.
These aren’t a recent addition for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary – they’ve been a mainstay on the Friar’s Nook menu for the past few years. I’ve ordered these as a budget meal in Magic Kingdom before, as they’re quite filling.
It’s a bowl of macaroni and cheese topped with tater tots, plus a heap of bacon and dollops of sour cream topped with scallions on top of it all. It’s a heavy, creamy and delicious blend of ingredients. It’s also absolutely a “what you see is what you get” type of offering.
If this multitude of rich indulgences doesn’t sound appealing to you, it won’t. However, if you’re looking for a healthy dose of carbs, cheese and bacon, you’re in luck this will satisfy you. There are no surprises here, for better or for worse. (It’s the kind of starter that gets very different reviews from Sarah than from me, even when tasting the exact same dish.)
The third act of this crazy ride towards The black cauldron and Mr. Toad’s kitchen shows where to eat these dishes. For that, we head to Pinocchio Village Haus.
Enter through the arch closest to Friar’s Nook and turn right at the fountain outside. There you should see a staircase that (With a bit of luck) is not roped…
Head up the stairs and relax on an outdoor balcony that’s usually devoid of other guests. Both times I ate here in the summer of 2022 I was the only one here. However, to achieve this, you have to climb discreetly, because a person climbing the steps sometimes results in various people who follow.
Long-time readers may be familiar with this balcony, as we’ve recommended eating here many times in the past. However, we removed it from our routes and other posts during the phased reopening as it was frequently closed all day. We noticed that it is now generally open for lunch and closes later in the day. (Unfortunately, we haven’t yet managed to watch the Disney Enchantment fireworks from here, but you might be luckier.)
If you prefer to dine indoors, take the same staircase to the outdoor balcony, then open the door and head inside Pinocchio Village Haus. I prefer to eat my meal with a view of Cinderella’s Castle, so I don’t, but I always pop my head in to check out the crowd situation, and it’s usually non-existent.
We mention these seemingly unrelated seating areas in a Friar’s Nook review because the seating situation there leaves a lot to be desired. Tables right next to the restaurant are limited and usually all occupied. even if you do manage to secure a seat, the quarters are cramped and that doesn’t make for a very pleasant dining experience. On the other hand, if you take a short walk to Pinocchio Village Haus, you can have a peaceful meal with a great view.
In the end, we hope you enjoyed the wild ride as you review Mr. Toad’s food, a secluded seating area above Pinocchio Village Haus, and a weird story about The black cauldron appearing at Disney theme parks. Although it’s an eclectic mix of topics, it should have provided some useful tips and tricks for eating in Magic Kingdom.
Moreover, totally useless information about The black cauldron which you can use to impress your friends…assuming your friends are among the 1,839 people on earth who are part of The black cauldron fan community.
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Learn more about the hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews page. To find out where to eat, read our Walt Disney World restaurant reviews. To save money on tickets or figure out which type to buy, read our tips for saving money on Walt Disney World tickets. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips article takes a unique look at smart on-the-go items. To know what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride guides will help you. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Travel Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Are you one of the 1,839 fans of The black cauldron? Glad to see him finally get the respect he deserves on this blog? Have you tried the Mr. Toad food at Friar’s Nook? Sitting in the secluded seating area of the Pinocchio Village Haus overlooking Cinderella’s Castle and Fantasyland? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback, even when you disagree with us, is both interesting for us and helpful for other readers, so share your thoughts below in the comments!