Artist Point Restaurant at The Wilderness Lodge HotelAdmittedly, we went into our first Artist Point experience more out of convenience than desire. It was Day 6 of our Disney adventure and we had just moved from our Epcot hotel, The Dolphin, to our Magic Kingdom hotel, The Wilderness Lodge, and frankly, we were exhausted. Artist Point had the advantage of being the more adult (a.k.a., sedate) of the two restaurants at the hotel (not counting the quickee place with cafeteria trays). Did I mention it was Day 6 of nonstop motion, powered mostly by our own two feet, and we were exhausted? We’d made a reservation upon arrival knowing we were done traveling for the day.

The room is something to behold, even if you don’t eat there. High ceilings, exposed beams, tree-trunk buttresses and striking angles highlight the structure of this Craftsman-style experience, while larger-than life murals authentic to the American spirit of exploration, white and light wood tones, and Art Deco details nuance the experience like no other Disney hotel restaurant. The atmosphere is open and spacious in its feel, and easy to see the potential for a romantic dining experience.

Unfortunately, we didn’t quite have that experience. Not this time, anyway. But we started out optimistic upon being seated at a window-side table for two with a view of the rustic landscape that stretches past the pool and out to the lake. We looked into each others’ eyes and smiled. Then Amy announced, “If I don’t get water in the next three minutes, I’m going to die,” and broke the spell.

When our waiter, Javier, arrived, it was clear his agenda was wine: by the glass or by the bottle, he expected our enthusiasm to live up. But Amy—unromantically—cut to the chase: “Actually, could we please start with a couple of waters and we’ll take it from there?” She didn’t want to be so abrupt, but after the two drinks they’d had on their balcony before dinner, Amy was suddenly and extremely dehydrated and that’s all she could think about: Water, water, water… bring me water! Javier was clearly nonplused, and disappeared. That’s when we realized that we were perfectly obscured by a pillar, making it easy to be forgotten about, ignored, and otherwise invisible to any moving object capable of providing that much-needed water. Amy was, at least in her mind, dying, and seeing what seemed like countless glasses of icy water with lemon slices floating by on little round trays was more than she could bear. “I see the water station,” she muttered, not even looking at her now irritated companion. “Would it be unthinkable to just get it myself?”

“Yes,” Mark was instantly emphatic.

“My grandfather did that at a diner once, when he saw his food just sitting on the counter getting cold.”

“That doesn’t make it right,” Mark’s moral code proclaimed.

“Fine,” Amy huffed, tapping her fingers impatiently on the table while trying to psychically focus her brainwaves at a passing busboy in the hopes he’d stop on his way to the kitchen. No luck, and Javier seemed to have many reasons to be on the opposite side of the restaurant. “This pillar is not helping the cause,” she observed hopelessly. Water, water, water…!

Eventually Javier returned with water, his body barely able to fit between the table and the pillar as he begrudgingly placed the elixirs of life before us. “Are you ready to order?” he asked, getting out pad and pencil.

Amy wanted to kick him. All the other waiters looked happy and friendly and we were stuck with a pillar and a grump. “We haven’t had a chance to look at the menu yet,” Amy tried to sound friendly, “do you have any recommendations?”

“The mushroom soup,” he offered flatly. “That’s the most popular, with three types of mushrooms, a little bit of chive oil, it’s very good.”

We thanked him for the advice and asked him to give us a few minutes, fearful we’d never see him again.

In the end, we went with Javier’s advice and ordered the mushroom soup, which was, in fact, outstanding, and we abashedly agreed we were glad we each had our own instead of splitting two appetizers. For the entree, Amy had a buffalo strip steak, which she’d never before had and absolutely loved, while Mark, with his tenderloin was envious of Amy’s buffalo.

While not the most positive of Disney dining experiences, we did take responsibility for the fact that we weren’t exactly at our best and agreed we shouldn’t hold one experience against what is considered to be among Disney’s finer restaurants. We’d try it again under better circumstances, and when we did, it easily became one of our favorites. Just not on this trip.