Character dining at Walt Disney World can be a great idea for your vacation for a variety of reasons. I enjoy the efficiency of meeting the characters without waiting in a line while enjoying a meal (& many of the restaurants offer some tasty options on their buffets or all you care to eat family service). Sometimes you will even find a “rare” character that may be harder to find in the parks. But as you will see below, not all of the characters you find at Disney restaurants are they kind you think.
15. Mary Poppins
Enjoying breakfast at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian gives you the chance to meet Mary Poppins. And she is truly delightful to talk with! Come prepared with some questions for her or some things to talk about inspired by the movie or just being a nanny.
14. Streetmosphere Characters
“Streetmosphere” Characters are the people who populate a park to make it seem more like a real place in time with citizens living there. At Hollywood Studios you’ll encounter the citizens of Hollywood on Sunset Blvd and Hollywood Blvd, but sometimes you may also see them in the Brown Derby or the Brown Derby Lounge. At Magic Kingdom the Mayor, Fire Chief, Suffragette and others call Main Street USA home, and they may stop in to the Plaza Restaurant to see how their guests are doing. There is no guarantee that you will run into these characters at the restaurants as it is more of a “pixie dust” kind of moment without a published schedule.
13. Beach Bums
One of the things I love about various character meals are the different costumes you will see each character wearing. At Cape May Café breakfast at the Beach Club resort you’ll see Minnie, Donald & Goofy (characters may vary) wearing their beach gear. This makes for great photo opportunities.
12. Going on Safari
Much like the Beach Club meal, when you dine at Tusker House at Animal Kingdom the characters are dressed for the occasion with Mickey, Donald, Goofy & Daisy wearing their Safari gear. While you can find Mickey at the Animal Kingdom meet & greet in the same outfit, this is the only place to find the others in these clothes.
While Princesses seem to rule the kingdom at Walt Disney World it can be more difficult to find their Princes. Character dining is a great way to meet these knights in shining armor. At 1900 Park Fare’s dinner meal you can meet Prince Charming with Cinderella. And at the Bon Voyage Breakfast held at the Boardwalk’s Trattoria al Forno Prince Eric from the Little Mermaid and Flynn Rider from Tangled mingle with guests.
10. Lady Tremaine and the Stepsisters
Some of the more amusing character interaction experiences come from meeting Lady Tremaine and the Stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella from Cindrella. Dinner at 1900 Park Fare gives you the opportunity to skip the lines and meet them while you dine. Be sure you are prepared for the interaction with some questions or comments for Lady Tremaine and maybe a marriage proposal for one (or both) of the stepsisters.
Another fun outfit set is found at the Garden Grill in Epcot’s Land Pavilion. During the character meals there you meet Farmer Mickey along with Pluto, Chip & Dale. This is one of my favorite character meals because it is served family style—no worries about missing characters while you are in the buffet line. And the restaurant very slowly rotates overlooking my favorite Living with the Land attraction—bonus entertainment.
8. Disney Junior
For the preschool crowd the characters from Disney Junior are must-see. You can find meet and greets for a couple at Hollywood Studios, but we all know toddlers and preschoolers don’t like waiting in line. The Play N Dine experience at Hollywood & Vine (not offered at all meals, as of September 4, 2017 breakfast only features Disney Jr characters) gives little ones the chance to interact with their favorite stars, currently Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Jake (from Jake & the Neverland Pirates) and Handy Manny.
For many of my clients dining with the Princesses is the first priority—many tell me about this must do before even mentioning dates, resorts or parks. Disney knows they are a high priority and have added more meals so that eager fans can meet their favorite royalty. Specific princesses vary, but you can meet them at Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom; 1900 Park Fare dinner at the Grand Floridian Resort (Cinderella only), Akershus in Norway at Epcot, and Trattoria al Forno breakfast at the Boardwalk (Ariel & Rapunzel only).
6. Lilo & Stitch
While Stitch has had meet & greets in the Magic Kingdom (they seem to come & go), the only place that I’m currently aware of to meet Lilo is at the ‘Ohana breakfast at the Polynesian Village Resort. This is another family style service that is a great way to kick off your day at the Magic Kingdom, or to spend a break day since park admission is not required. In addition to Lilo & Stitch you get to meet Mickey & Pluto in their Hawaiian gear.
5. Holiday Characters
At Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios there are seasonal meals offered where you will find the characters dressed to match. At Christmas time you’ll find Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy (or some combination) in their holiday finery, or ready for Halloween in the fall, or beach gear in the summer. As of September 4, 2017 this meal is lunch and dinner.
4. YeHaa Bob
While not a traditional Disney character, I think anyone who has attended one of YeHaa Bob’s high energy shows will agree he is a character! The River Roost Lounge at Port Orleans Riverside resort is home to YeHaa Bob who performs an interactive musical show on select nights each week (check his calendar on his website to be sure you don’t miss him). Reservations are not available for the lounge, but tables and a full menu are, so if you want to dine and watch Bob from a great seat plan to come early. There is usually additional space on the sofas and around the bar, but most nights it gets to be standing room only. The attentive bar staff can serve anyone in the lounge should you like food or just a beverage. You really owe it to yourself to catch this family friendly show at least once.
3. Lady & the Tramp
While you won’t actually get to meet Lady & the Tramp (they’re out back enjoying their spaghetti) you can find evidence of them all around Tony’s Town Square restaurant in Magic Kingdom. Take a look around and ask your server if they are “in” that day.
2. Alice & the Mad Hatter
Some of the most amusing characters to interact with are Alice and the Mad Hatter. The Mad Hatter especially can get just about anyone interacting and laughing with his antics. Head over to 1900 Park Fare for breakfast at the Grand Floridian to meet these two—and it is a really good breakfast too!
You simply cannot come to Walt Disney World without meeting the head cheese himself. While Mickey greets his guests in all 4 theme parks, I love to find him at restaurants. Again, avoid the lines! Plus Mickey has all of these different & very cool outfits to wear! We’ve discussed some already: Hawaiian ‘Ohana breakfast, Safari at Tusker House, Chef at Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary, Farmer Mickey at the Garden Grill and Seasonal Mickey at Hollywood & Vine. So definitely meet Mickey in the park, but take some time to have a meal with him too!
Who are your favorite characters to find at Walt Disney World restaurants?