During my first visit to Walt Disney World in 1994, my wife did most of the planning. See, it was my first trip, after all (even though I had dreamed of going for almost 20 years), and she had been many times. One of the reservations she made was for Chef Mickey’s at the Disney Village Marketplace.
Yes, you read that correctly: Chef’ Mickey’s was originally located at the Disney Village Marketplace. Of course, Disney’s Village Marketplace is now called Disney’s Marketplace and is part of the Downtown Disney complex.
I still have my souvenir cup from the early evening dinner. I remember, distinctly, that I had Goofy’s Grog.
A little history is in order. The area that we know now as the Disney Marketplace started life in 1975 as the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village. Shortly afterward, it was renamed the Walt Disney World Village and then the Disney Village Marketplace in the late 1980’s.
I was looking through my copy of Walt Disney World: The First Decade and it talked about a restaurant called the Village Restaurant.
I went back to my 1989 Birnbaum’s Official Guide to see what they said about the dining experience. At that time, the restaurant in question was called the Village Restaurant:
This unassuming dining room is one of the most pleasant restaurants in Walt Disney World–and there’s no waiting since reservations are accepted. There are fine views of Buena Vista Lagoon, and the sunshine that streams through the windows keeps a whole garden’s worth of house plants robust and green all year.
–p. 196, Steve Birnbaum Brings You the Very Best of Walt Disney World, 1989.
I pulled out my Walt Disney World: 20 Magical Years book and flipped to the very small section on the Disney Village Marketplace. It has a picture of two families placidly enjoying a meal while Mickey presides over the affair. You gotta love early Disney PR. So, sometime between 1989 and 1991, the Village Restaurant became Chef Mickey’s. I remember it being less of an event and more of a meal. They promised every dining party that Mickey would make his way around every 45 minutes. When we did ‘Ohana in 2006, it reminded me a lot of that 1994 Chef Mickey’s dinner–except for the character parade. The Chef Mickey’s of 1994 was really much more relaxed!
Chef Mickey’s moved to the Contemporary Resort in 1995. The former site of Chef Mickey’s at the Disney Marketplace site was replaced by the Rainforest Cafe shortly after that.
10 thoughts on “Daily Figment 161: Chef Mickey’s”
Ahhh, yes I remember when Chef Mickey’s was here…first trip after getting hitched in the early 90’s this was our first dining experience at WDW. Now with kids, we still hit the NEW Chef Mickey’s most trips but the old one was a little more mellow…
It must have been on my first trip as a kid to WDW that we ate there – and it had to have been either ’93 or ’94. There doesn’t seem to be much out there on this version of Chef Mickey’s, thanks for bring back the memories!
I have a pinback button I got at “Chef Mickey’s Village Restaurant” way back when. I don’t remember how I got it because I don’t think I bought it. I am looking into it and am planning a post about it at my blog at http://wdwbuttonsandmore.blogspot.com/
I think you determined this was the restaurant my family ate at in 1985.
Ahhh…the original Chef Mickey’s! I had one of the best meals of my life there! Lemon Shrimp…oh it was so good to younger 17 year old me! It was 1990, but I remember the meal well. On his way over to our table, Mickey tripped over someone’s foot and actually fell down! It looked as if Chef Mickey had maybe been hitting the cooking cheri in the kitchen!
I always thought the original Chef Mickey’s was where the Wolfgang Puck Express now sits!?! I’ve been living a lie all these years!
I’ve been tinkering with my own Disney blog over at The Blog Wore Tennis Shoes. I’d love to have you check it out!
Not because of the “Chef Mickey’s” reference, but because of a Disney Village reference older than that.
Back in the early 80s, the character dining in that area wasn’t in Chef Mickey’s in the Village, but actually in the Empress Lilly itself, and that was where I had my last WDW breakfast in early 1984 for more than 20 years (I didn’t get back to the resort until 2007, and as you’ve shown, a LOT has changed…).
George, hopefully as a librarian, you’ll understand why I feel the need to gently point this out… but the restaurant is ‘Ohana, not O’hana. It’s Polynesian, not Irish. 😉
Carla (a Disney geek who sometimes masquerades as a college professor)
I think I was a little too apostrophe happy after all of the Chef Mickey’s.
Thanks! I kept thinking that our breakfast was on a boat when we went in August 1984. I guess my memories were right and it was really on the Empress Lily
Yep. I particularly remember when it was at the DTD location as we took our daughter there for her birthday and Chef Mickey came out with a cake…very special