One of the requests I get when planning Walt Disney World vacations is that they would like to book the character dining experience. They are usually taken aback when I ask which one? While not all of the character dining experiences have returned after COVID, you still have options when it comes to dining with your favorite princesses, mice, and more.
Not all character experiences are equal, some restaurants have great interaction where the characters spend meaningful time that you wouldn’t get in the parks with a line behind you, while others rush through service. Some have fantastic food and are worth visiting even if characters didn’t add to the experience while others slop some mostly edible food on a buffet and charge you an arm and a leg because Mickey is there.
How do you know the difference?
In today’s post, I am laying out all of your options, providing all of the details, AND sharing the pros and cons of each experience.
Enjoy a lively, all-you-care-to-eat buffet with Disney Friends in a bright, happy space. As the monorail whizzes by, Disney Characters mingle with Guests for photos and autographs and periodically lead diners in song and dance.
Open: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner
Characters: Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, Goofy
The Details: Buffet $35-60 for adults, $27 for children
Popular Menu Items: Breakfast features such favorites as Mickey waffles, buttermilk biscuits, fresh fruit and hickory-smoked bacon—while brunch offers everything from classic scrambles to our chef’s selection of seasonal vegetables. Dinner showcases buttered chicken, a seafood paella, glazed salmon, carving station selections and kids’ favorites such as macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.
My Favorite Dish: The sundae bar!!!
Good For: Families with young children
Pros: Easy to get to from the Magic Kingdom, Nostalgic for many
Cons: Extremely popular, extremely loud
Dine with Cinderella inside her Castle during this one-of-a-kind Fairytale Dining experience. Dine in a storybook setting surrounded by soaring stone archways, majestic medieval flags and spectacular stained-glass windows overlooking Fantasyland. During your time inside the castle, visit with classic Disney Princesses.
Open: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
The Details: Pre-Fixed Menu Adult Price $62-75 2 Table Service credits on the DDP
Popular Menu Items: Steak and eggs, baked quiche and pastries for breakfast. Later enjoy A main course with choices for adults ranging from roasted chicken breast and seared pork rib chop to chef’s fish of the day.
My Favorite Dish: Stuffed french toast
Good for: Princesses
Pros: Ultimate Princess experience eating in Cinderella’s Castle
Cons: Extremely expensive, rushed character interactions, not impressed with food, books up at the 180 day mark
Visit Chip ‘n’ Dale and their Disney pals as you dig into family-style dining and revolve around vibrant views from Living with the Land.Open: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Characters: Mickey, Chip, Dale, Pluto
The Details: Family Style
Adult Price: $42-55 1 Table Service credit on the DDPPopular
Menu Items: The menu here is all-you-care-to-eat. The rotating menu for lunch and dinner can include grilled steak, roast turkey, and sustainable fish of the day (at dinner only). Salad features items grown right in the Land Pavilion
My Favorite Dish: the cinnamon bread
Good For: Guests with allergies and dietary restrictions, families with small children
Pros: Inside the park, a ton of character interaction, good food
Cons: There is much better dining options within EPCOT
Meet Disney Junior Characters during a memorable breakfast buffet—or Minnie and friends at seasonal dining parties.
Characters: Disney Junior Play and Dine Breakfast: typically Vampirina, Fancy Nancy, Doc McStuffins, and Roadster Goofy, Minnie’s Seasonal Dine Lunch & Dinner
The Details: Buffet Price Adult Price $42-55 1 Table Service credit on the DDPPopular
Menu Items: Salads, soups, create-your-own pasta, fish of the day, carved and grilled meats, fresh fruits and breads, menu changes often
My Favorite Dish: sundae bar
Good for: Disney Junior fans
Pros: Only place to meet Disney Junior characters
Cons: Food is the worst of any character meal, atmosphere is also lacking
Experience Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White—a delicious, fanciful dinner with visits from Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy and even The Queen!
Open: DinnerCharacters: Evil Queen, Snow White, Grumpy, Dopey
Details: Pre Fixed Menu Adult price $60, 1 Table Service CreditPopular Menu Items: Roasted chicken, beef stew, prime rib
My Favorite Dish: Slow-braised pork shank
Good For: Adults, the Whole Family
Pros: This is my favorite character meal by far, the atmosphere takes you to an enchanted forest, the specialty cocktails are creative and delicious, it is easily the best food at any character meal, one of the best values of a dining plan credit
Cons: Reservations are difficult to get, Characters may not be as popular with little ones, expensive if you are paying out of pocket, must take a boat from the Magic Kingdom (could be a pro if you are looking for quiet relaxation time)
Start your morning with breakfast at this beautiful rooftop restaurant offering an exclusive storybook dining experience. The prix fixed menu offers delicious choices to please everyone in the family.
Characters: Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy
Details: Pre Fixed Menu Adult Price $45 1 Table Service Credit
Popular Menu Items: Breakfast begins with fresh pastries—delicious Danish, croissants, blueberry scones, or Epi bread—a rustic pull-apart baguette shaped like a wheat stalk. Your choice of entrées follows: Quiche Gruyère with house-made pancetta, Sour Cream Waffle, Wood-fired Butchers Steak, Smoked Salmon, Spiced Sausage Hash, Two Eggs Any Style, plant-based “Egg” Omelet and more.This is a brand new restaurant that opened in December 2019. Due to park closures I wasn’t able to try it in April as planned but have a reservation for my October trip.
Join Safari Donald Duck and friends at this colorful Harambe marketplace eatery for a wild Character Dining experience regardless of time of day—from breakfast and lunch to the family-style dinner buffet—all brimming with African flavor.
Open: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Characters: Can vary but a combination of: Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Daisy, Minnie
Details: Buffet Adult Price: $42-55 1 Table Service credit on the DDP
Popular Menu Items: Carved sirloin, rotisserie pork and chicken, chicken curry, seafood stew, spiced tofu
My Favorite Dish: Bobotie and Watermelon Salad
Good for: The Whole Family
Pros: The best table service option in Animal Kingdom, great food, best meal with Mickey & Friends,
Cons: May not appeal to picky eaters
While many know characters’ meals because they started as just available for breakfast doing Lunch or Dinner is a much better use of time. The parks are least crowded in the morning so you want to take advantage of that time to walk onto attractions. One reason people prefer breakfast is that it is a little more cost effective if you are paying out of pocket. If that is the case then try to snag a pre-park opening or the last reservation right before lunch to optimize your park time. On the dining plan (when available) character buffets are a great value for a dining credit.
Another thing to note is you’ll want to plan about 90 minutes (plus travel time) for your meal. That gives you time to check-in, be seated, and then time to eat and see all the characters without racing to make it before the end of a Genie+ Return Time.
I understand how you’re feeling, I know all too well how easy it can be at the beginning to start researching online, just to find yourself 3 hours down the line more confused than when you started. But don’t panic! I can help you plan your dream Disney vacation without any of the stress of hassle – starting with the ‘A Disney Trip without Overwhelm, 5 Easy Steps’ Guide. These 5 steps will help keep you focused on organizing the best trip ever, while giving you peace of mind that everything will be done, and nothing will be left out.
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