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Cooking Up the Magic: Empress Lilly Au Gratin Potatoes

Emily Amato

by , Public Relations Manager

Hiya, foodies! Can you believe “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” in honor of the 50th Anniversary at Walt Disney World Resort begins next week?! The 18 months of festivities will spotlight what’s made Walt Disney World so special for the past five decades, along with the magic of the future. Of course, Walt Disney World food, from the past and present, are key parts of the celebration. Starting next week, you’ll be able to cook up the magic from your own kitchen, with Delicious Disney: Recipes & Stories from the Most Magical Place on Earth by Pam Brandon, Marcy Carriker Smothers, and The Disney Chefs.

Cover of "Delicious Disney: Recipes & Stories from the Most Magical Place on Earth" by Pam Brandon, Marcy Carriker Smothers, and The Disney Chefs

Today we’re giving you a sneak peek at one recipe you can find in the cookbook: the Empress Lilly au Gratin Potatoes. The Empress Lilly Riverboat, moored on the shores of what is now Disney Springs, was named for Walt’s wife Lillian, affectionately known as Lilly. The Riverboat welcomed guests for the first time on May 1, 1977, and Lilly attended the location’s dedication with five of her and Walt’s grandchildren. The Empress Lilly included three restaurants and a jazz lounge, with the Empress Room being the most elegant dining experience at Walt Disney World at the time. The Empress Lilly closed on April 22, 1995, and is now home to Paddlefish at Disney Springs.

Enjoy some of this fine dining from your home with the signature Empress Lilly Au Gratin Potatoes from Delicious Disney. Yum!

Signature Empress Lilly Au Gratin Potatoes

Serves 4

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated onion, optional
  • 3 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake potatoes 50 to 60 minutes, or until soft enough to pierce with a fork. Refrigerate to cool, then peel and coarsely grate.
  2. Bring half and half almost to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, celery salt, and onion. Mix in grated potatoes.
  3. Reduce oven heat to 350°F. Spoon potatoes into buttered 1-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.

NoteAlways use caution when handling sharp objects. Please supervise children who are helping or nearby. This recipe has been converted from a larger quantity in the restaurant kitchens. The flavor profile may vary from the restaurant’s version. 

Click here for a print-at-home version of this recipe!

Delicious Disney: Recipes & Stories from the Most Magical Place on Earth will be available exclusively at and Walt Disney World beginning Sept. 28, 2021, just in time for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” And be sure to share any recipes you make at home on social with #DisneyWorld50.


  • I was wondering what happened to the book. I had it in my cart and it is no longer there.

  • I want this cookbook, but I can’t find it in the website

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