This Was Supposed to be About Big River

July 17th, 2013 by in Walt Disney World Locations, Walt Disney World Trip Articles

If you recall, I was a bit uneasy about heading over to Big River Grille and Brewing Works for dinner on Wednesday instead of dining in Hollywood Studios (ugh…) or somewhere that took reservations. Not all of it was Big River’s fault however.

IMG_7716Right as we left Hollywood Studios, we heard thunder as we were walking to the Friendship dock. After stopping for a moment, we saw everyone leaving the dock because they shut down the Friendships. Wonderful.

Heading over to the bus stops, a sign for the Epcot area resorts wasn’t even up yet, but a cast member at the information booth told us (rather grumpily) which stop would pick up for the Epcot resorts. We walked over and stood at that stop.

And stood.

And stood.

About 30 minutes later, a bus for the Epcot resorts finally arrived. Then began the long trip to the Boardwalk. We had to stop at the Dolphin, Swan, Yacht Club and Beach Club first. On the bus, I looked up Big River’s phone number and called them inquiring how long their wait was. The only response I received is that they don’t give out their wait time over the phone because it changes so often. However, that piece of information would have saved a lot of trouble (as you’ll see).

IMG_7719We finally get to the Boardwalk and head down to Big River. When asked what the wait is, the hostess says about an hour and a half.

An hour and a half. Are you kidding me?

Then another person heard it was for nine people and chimed in that it might be closer to two hours.

A two hour wait for Big River. Sorry, I have kids who need to eat instead of sit around for two hours.

Then the journey around the Boardwalk began.

Kouzzina said we might be able to be seated around 9:00 PM.

We didn’t even ask at the ESPN Club because there was a huge line out the door just to get to the hostess stand. It turns out there was a Stanley Cup game on (I don’t really follow hockey closely).

So now what?

I thought maybe walking over to Beach Club would be a good idea.

I was wrong again.

Beaches and Cream was another hour-plus wait. Cape May was 35 minutes, but by this point my daughter was breaking down because she was hungry.

We ended up back at the Boardwalk and ate at the Boardwalk Café. The sandwiches weren’t bad, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for. We sat at tables on the edge of the Boardwalk and got about halfway through eating when it started raining.

This was just not our night.

I’ve heard/read many times about the death of spontaneity at Walt Disney World and on this night we felt it first-hand. The whole ordeal started because Big River doesn’t take reservations. I can’t comment on the food or how the beer was because I wasn’t able to eat at Big River. We never made it back after that night at the Boardwalk. All Big River had to do was ask how many and give me an estimate for that time with the disclaimer that it was subject to change. My guess is it would have already been at least an hour and we would have moved on and possibly even gone to Beach Club first.

In this age of making reservations 180 days in advance, dining plans, the upcoming FastPass+, and all the other tricks Disney World has, reservations for table service meals are a must. That being said, I just can’t recommend throwing the dice on getting a table at Big River because it certainly bit us and we didn’t have a great evening.

Also, I’ve just put up photos from our first evening in the Magic Kingdom on my personal site, so be sure to jump over there and check them out!

  • Rich Anderson

    Unfortunately, and I hate to say it, you didn’t miss anything. After years of staying in the Boardwalk Villas, I have been to Big River Grill several times. They have great beer. I’ve ordered burgers on most visits, and always end up disappointed. A “grill” should be able to make a decent hamburger. Seems like they use the same, bland hamburger patties they use in all the parks. We usually get beer and appetizers now when there’s no other options. Beaches and Cream and ESPN are usually worth the wait.


  • James

    Scott, I feel your pain. This has happened to Estelle and I, too. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten BRG’s food, but I can certainly attest to the fine quality of their brews. Next time you get a chance, mosey over to the bar, get the beer sampler, and order an appetizer. Don’t bother futzing around with this stupid table-service system, which is more antiquated than Dino-Land USA.


  • Keith

    I wonder why you didn’t just walk from the Studios?…you would have been at the Boardwalk in 15 min. Nevertheless, you probably should have stayed and eaten at Brown Derby (you can usually get in there without reservations and it is fantastic) or tried Il Mulino, The Fountain, or even Kimonos….all better than Big River and ESPN.


    • Scott Post author

      I mentioned that we could walk but was overruled. It wasn’t raining much yet.

      With all the money spent on other dining locations during the week that we wanted to try, we weren’t interested in Brown Derby. Once at the Boardwalk it was a bit of a scramble with the incoming rain and trying to find a place with the kids very hungry. A lot of wasted time, but that’s just the way it is. Boardwalk Bakery’s sandwiches are decent though and about in line with other counter service meals.


  • Susan

    I’ve eaten at Big River Grille twice recently. Both times I just walked up and was seated immediately.At dinner too. I ordered the hamburger both times and thought it was very good. To each their own, I guess. 🙂


    • Scott Post author

      Well, I can’t say whether or not I liked the food or beer because i never got to try it. This visit was in June and the Stanley Cup may have had something to do with it. I don’t know for sure whether it affected the crowd.


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