Then when I was in I think it was fourth grade (I really wish we could find those photo albums!) my teacher mentioned that there was an actual sit-down restaurant upstairs in the castle. This was the also oddly named King Stefan’s Banquet Hall. I say that this name was odd because King Stefan was Sleeping Beauty’s father. Cinderella’s father didn’t have a name, and besides that, he wasn’t the king and wouldn’t have belonged in a castle. As the 21st Century approached, the suits at Disney apparently decided that a woman could be the host of her own damn banquet hall and the name was changed to Cinderella’s Royal Table.
My teacher told me that we had to have reservations some number of months ahead of time, so one of my parents (likely my mom) got on the phone and made them. And it was wonderful. I was kind of an unusual child. Most “kiddie foods” like hot dogs did little for me, unless they were very good, and I was a teenager by the time the chicken nugget became a common thing (discovering that one of my friends loved McNuggets may well have damaged our relationship permanently). I did like fried chicken, but it had to be an identifiable part.
I loved King Stefan’s Table, but it was expensive, so it was a one-time thing. Fortunately, EPCOT was on the horizon by then, and that would change my eating-at-Disney habits for good. But that’s a story for 1982 and not for Before 1977.
I do have one last Magic Kingdom eating experience to share. It fits in with the theme of “food at the Magic Kingdom,” but doesn’t fit in chronologically. When my now-ex and I went to Walt Disney World in 1992, we bought a cookbook called Cooking with Mickey, Volume II. This book had a recipe called “Freedom Fighter Chicken.” My first thought was that sounded more like a superhero from a funny animal comic than an entree, but it’s really good. It has chicken and vegetables in a sauce made from white wine and white wine Worcestershire sauce. Freedom Fighter Chicken comes from the Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom, which neither my folks nor I had ever noticed was there during our 1970s visits, but I’m pretty sure it must have been, and it probably served real food at the time. In 2003, my folks, my now-ex, my son, and I all went to the Liberty Tree Tavern for dinner. Freedom Fighter Chicken is apparently a lunch menu item, because dinner is a family-style Thanksgiving dinner, which, as one would expect, was a little steep, but very good thus worth the money.