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“We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad. You must be…or you wouldn’t have come here.” That sentiment applies to Disney fans in general, but especially Alice in Wonderland fans, who are a particularly ardent group.
Despite the passion, there isn’t a lot in the parks. There’s Mad Tea Party plus characters at both Walt Disney World and Hong Kong Disneyland. In addition to that, there are two very different walk-through mazes at Disneyland Paris and Shanghai Disneyland. Only Disneyland’s Fantasyland is home to an Alice in Wonderland dark ride, a charming and underrated attraction most recently modernized for that park’s 60th Anniversary.
Alice in Wonderland having some presence at every Disney castle park in the world is actually not bad when compared to other animated films that have been snubbed in the parks entirely, like Tangled, Jungle Book, or Aristocats. However, it’s a sharp contrast to popular franchises like Toy Story, Winnie the Pooh, or Finding Nemo…
Arguably, the best theme park representation of Alice in Wonderland comes via Tokyo Disneyland’s Fantasyland, which is where you’ll find Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. This area was almost home to something more, which we’ll discuss in the restaurant’s history!
Let’s take a look through the looking glass inside this curiouser and curiouser restaurant…
Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall is one of the most popular counter service restaurants at Tokyo Disneyland. Guests typically line up before it opens, and there’s regularly a lengthy line outside during the noon lunch rush.
Upon entering the restaurant, guests are greeted by Cast Members while passing through the giant doorknob into the hedge maze hallway.
It’s not really much of a maze, but patterns and colors are a somewhat disorienting assault on the eyes–in the best way possible.
There’s a checkered floor, row of Playing Card guards, and other characters drawing the eye in all directions as the queue funnels visitors towards the buffeteria, as if falling down, down, down deeper into the rabbit hole.
The buffeteria serving area is at the back of Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall, with the queue area leading to it dividing the seating area in half.
The queen’s favorite color and her card suit is readily apparent throughout the kitchen.
It helps that Cast Members warmly greet guests by flashing the Queen of Hearts gang sign.
Cast Members are great throughout Tokyo Disneyland, but we’ve had some great experiences here over the years. It’s especially fun to “rope drop” the restaurant and be among the first parties to enter for a special royal greeting.
The kitchen at Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall is eclectic and fanciful. There are giant racks of oversized pots and pans suspended overhead, banners, and artwork from the movie. Of course, there are models of each item on the menu for ordering ease.
There are also huge ovens in the walls and banks of storage units for food to be passed from the back prep kitchen to the on-stage show serving and staging area. There’s a lot to see and savor in here, which makes the long line you’ll typically encounter all the more bearable.
After choosing the left or right side (they’re both mirror images of one another in terms of what’s served), guests grab a tray and proceed with making their way down the buffeteria line.
Upon finishing selections and paying, Cast Members pick up guests’ trays and are seated in the Dining Hall. This is a nice touch that’s also efficient–small parties are seated at smaller tables, etc. (Typically, you cannot enter the seating area without food from the restaurant.)
At this point, let’s turn to the food before wandering around the seating area.
While this isn’t a restaurant review in the traditional sense (we have a separate Queen of Heart’s Banquet Hall Review that covers almost all of the menu), there are several unique dishes here with cute presentations that are worth showcasing.
This is the Heart-Shaped Meat Patty with Tomato-Brown Sauce. It’s a lot like Salisbury Steak.
As you can see, both of the two dishes above feature a heart motif.
Above is an ordinary salad that features an extraordinary Tokyo Disney dining mainstays: Mickey Mouse shaped egg yolk.
This is one of two “how did they do that?!” foods served at Tokyo Disneyland. (That’s a rhetorical question–we definitely do not want the answers.) Regardless, it mights for a healthy side that’s also good for the ‘gram.
The flank steak above is my go-to order at Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall, but the above photo is featured not for that relatively mundane menu item, but because of the tray. That big, beautiful themed tray.
Almost every restaurant at Tokyo Disneyland has serving trays unique to the location. While Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge had to discontinue “themed” sporks because of theft after a few days, these have been around there for decades. (Rather than stealing one, you can purchase small play-sets featuring these trays and other toy food items from Tokyo Disney Resort.)
While the appetizers and entrees are fun and tasty, it’s the desserts that reign supreme at Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall.
For the sake of very important research, we’ve tried every single one. However, there’s one to which we keep returning…
That’s the Unbirthday Cake, which costs around $12 and supposedly feeds 3-4 people.
It’s around triple the size of a normal dessert at Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall and a little over double the price. We usually share this, but could also eat one by ourselves. (Not that we’ve tried or anything.)
The appearance of the Unbirthday Cake changes seasonally, based upon the holiday season or anniversary event.
If Disney historians ever someday desire a comprehensive catalog of Unbirthday Cake designs, we can help, as we have dozens of photos beyond the few featured here. Often, we do Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall in the evening exclusively for this cake, leaving the restaurant if/when we hear fireworks bursting overhead (the courtyard outside is a good viewing spot).
The Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall seating area is themed to a castle hall and garden courtyard.
The beautiful stained glass “window” above is actually a clever solution to a real window, which would not be possible since Haunted Mansion is right behind this wall.
We personally prefer the castle hall side, as it’s a bit more subdued and less chaotic than the garden hall.
The design is also more restrained and grounded here, which is not necessarily good or bad–it has more depth, but it’s not as fun and imaginative.
The garden side features a veritable hedge maze of tables and booths, with huge flowers overhead acting as the interior lights.
Even though it’s not as ornately-themed as the restaurants at Tokyo DisneySea, Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall is a really fun setting that feels imbued with the spirit and whimsy of Alice in Wonderland.
Here’s a brief video tour of the seating area to give you some context of the layout.
In order to see Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall this empty, you’ll want to line up at least 15 minutes before the restaurant opens for the day.
Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall isn’t a 1983 opening day original in Fantasyland. To the contrary, this area was home to the Alpine Haus ice cream bar for the first 25 years of Tokyo Disneyland’s existence.
It wasn’t until the mid-1990s, when Oriental Land Company began getting more serious about deviating from its copy & paste Walt Disney World and Disneyland clone approach, that Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall came into being.
Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall’s genesis was essentially a perfect confluence of circumstances. Following the success of Grandma Sara’s (the restaurant inside Splash Mountain) in the Critter Country expansion, OLC wanted more character-driven restaurant enhancements.
This coincided with the need for something more substantial in Fantasyland than snack shops, waning popularity of Four Corners Food Faire (Small World Restaurant), and the idea to relocate Alice’s Tea Party to free up space for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt.
This shuffling would create the opportunity for a compact Alice in Wonderland mini-area between Haunted Mansion and it’s a small world. The emphasis there most definitely belongs on mini.
The totally of it would become the teacups, restrooms, vending machines, and Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall.
After getting the green light, Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall was built in approximately 18 months, debuting on November 13, 1998. It came amidst a development boom for the resort, with Tokyo DisneySea breaking ground the previous month and Pooh’s Hunny Hunt coming shortly thereafter.
Although Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall was not nearly as ambitious as either of those projects, it was a strategically important addition that has become a fan-favorite restaurant. It was also a significantly more efficient use of space than what was there previously. (A recurring theme of Tokyo Disneyland redevelopment projects.)
Roughly 15 years after Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall debuted, Oriental Land Company announced another long-term resort plan. This would further shake up Fantasyland, expanding Tokyo Disneyland’s most popular land into Toontown and Tomorrowland.
You might assume you’re familiar with this because the Beauty and the Beast area and mega E-Ticket attraction just opened. However, look a little closer at the above concept art. On the far left, the rolling green hills are Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. Next to that is something new…
In addition to the Belle’s Village and Beast’s Castle, which have been built in modified form, there were originally plans to relocate ‘it’s a small world’ to the Tomorrowland edge of Fantasyland. With that, an Alice in Wonderland expansion would’ve occurred in the location of it’s a small world, adjacent to Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall.
While official details were never released as to what the Alice in Wonderland attraction would entail, it would’ve utilized the absolutely massive ‘it’s a small world’ show building. Rumors swirled that the attraction would be tech-heavy, impressionistic trackless dark ride. (Not sounding all that dissimilar from the adjacent Pooh’s Hunny Hunt.) Sadly, we will never know and we’ll just have to drown our sorrows in sweet, sweet Unbirthday Cake!
Ultimately, it’s tough to lament what could’ve been when what has and will happen instead is arguably better. And even without a larger Alice in Wonderland themed-area, Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall stands tall on its own as one of many reasons to visit Tokyo Disney Resort. Sure, there are a number of great attractions that only exist at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea, liked the new Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, or Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage, which we’ve called Imagineering’s best modern dark ride.
There are also many food-centric reasons to make the trip, as silly as that might sound. The impossibly kawaii snacks. The many unique popcorn flavors. The 3-course, $30 meal at Disney’s nicest restaurant in the world. The counter service restaurants lavishly-themed to Splash Mountain and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The ocean liner docked in New York City that houses a bar inspired by U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt. Seriously, the list goes on and on, and includes this Alice in Wonderland eatery, which, cool as it is, wouldn’t crack our top 10 restaurants at Tokyo Disney Resort. The lineup is that stacked.
Planning a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort? For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea Trip Planning Guide! For more specifics, our TDR Hotel Rankings & Reviews page covers accommodations. Our Restaurant Reviews detail where to dine & snack. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money post. Our What to Pack for Disney post takes a unique look at clever items to take. Venturing elsewhere in Japan? Consult our Ultimate Guide to Kyoto, Japan and City Guide to Tokyo, Japan.
What do you think of Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall? Have you dined here? If so, how does it rank for you in terms of Tokyo Disney Resort restaurants? If not, does this Alice in Wonderland eatery make you want to visit Tokyo Disneyland? Any other thoughts about the design or details? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
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