Ariel’s Grotto At Disney’s California Adventure Review

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Ariel Photo op

Ariel’s Grotto is a character dining location at Disney’s California Adventure.  You can meet Ariel and many of the other Princesses.

At Disneyland Resort there aren’t too many options for Character Dining. Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel, Storyteller Café at The Grand Californian and Ariel’s Grotto at Disney’s California Adventure.

Ariel’s Grotto is great because it’s located inside Disney California Adventure in the Paradise Pier land.  You can plan your day accordingly to make it fit, and if you don’t feel like being at Disney’s California Adventure that day with a park hopper pass it’s really easy for you to go back and forth. It’s also a Princess centric meal so you get to meet Ariel, Tiana, Snow White, Belle, and Rapunzel.

Ariels Grotto: How it works.

After you check in at Ariel’s Grotto they call your name and you join a que that goes down stairs to meet Ariel. If you can’t make it down stairs, no worries, there is an elevator available.

After the Ariel meet and greet you are taken to your table and drink orders are placed. You get a few minutes to look over the menu, hear the special, or talk about any dietary needs you may have. Then the Princesses start making their rotations.


It all moves pretty quickly. One princess every ten minutes or so. This is a 90 minute time slot, including the time you spent in line waiting to meet Ariel which is about 10 minutes. Half way through your meal a photopass photographer will show you the pictures that your family took with Ariel. We really didn’t feel pressured into buying any.

Is the Food Any Good at Ariel’s Grotto?

           Honestly, I think it would be a bit of a stretch to call the food good at Ariel’s Grotto. It’s by no means horrible but there are much better places to eat on Disneyland Resort property.

There’s no bread service with this meal so you get to start off with soup or a salad. Hubs and I both got the soup which was a crab chowder. I was pleasantly surprised with the chowder, it was super good. The only down side was I got giant piece of shell with mine but Adolfo didn’t have any issues with his.

For our entrees I got the tri-tip and Adolfo got the seafood pasta. The tri-tip was a complete let down. With my first plate the meat was super dried out and cold. Adolfo waved down a wonderful cast member who brought me a new plate and apologized. Apparently I had gotten a plate that had been under a heat lamp since the last rotation. Adolfo’s pasta was pretty okay, which is the best we can say about it. The shrimp tasted fresh and the red sauce was the same generic red sauce used all over Disneyland Resort.

The dessert was okay but nothing to write home about. It was pretty generic with three miniature desserts.

Character Interaction At Ariel’s Grotto

           The princesses were AWESOME!! They each get a royal introduction and music from their respective movies when they come out.  Kaitlyn was only eight months old when we did this. And let’s be honest here, as parents we did this for ourselves, more than we did it for her. She has loved Ariel since she was four months old, and at ten months she still does. I did this so I could have the pictures of her with her favorite princess. Ariel was great, she didn’t push herself on Kaitlyn and tried to get her to smile. Kaitlyn looked at her in awe for all of three seconds. Then she realized there was a stranger touching her and that went kaput.

When Belle and Snow White saw that Kaitlyn was nervous they didn’t push themselves on her. They asked her name and would try talking to her as much as Kaitlyn would allow. By far Rapunzel was by far the best of all the princesses. She was able to get Kaitlyn to smile at her and kept on talking to her for several minutes. The pictures seriously melt my heart every time I look at them.

Rapunzel
Rapunzel is the best!

Ugh, how to say this….speaking ill of a Disney princess is next to blasphemy but Tiana was having a bad day to say the least. She was last in the rotation and had to make sure that everything was running on time so she could meet everyone. At every table she was saying “ Okay princes and princesses we need to take a picture now, let’s go princes” she would say it over and over until the kids were standing with her. She sounded down right annoyed. I LOVE Tiana, she’s normally super friendly and playful but not even close this time. When she saw that Kaitlyn was a little unsure she didn’t even talk to her, she just kneeled down to take a picture and then bounced. I’m sure she was having an off day but it did bother me just a bit.

Even though the interactions were really good the whole process is super rushed. Each princess can only spend a few minutes with you. This place is packed and the princesses are trying to make sure each child has adequate time with them.

Would We Do Ariel’s Grotto Again?

           Yup. For myself? No I don’t feel the need to do it ever again. For Kaitlyn? Absolutely. In a few years when she says Momma I want to eat with the princesses (specifically Ariel), I’m going to say okay and take her. It’s an awesome experience for the kids. The character interaction was that good even though the princesses had to rush, they try really hard to make sure the kids are having a great time. Here’s hoping the food gets better with time.       

Special Note

           If you are using max pass you get a digital copy of your picture with Ariel. Just ask the photopass cast member. 

Have you dined at Ariel’s Grotto? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

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