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Disney Dining Character Dining 101

Character Dining 101

On most vacations the thought of a rodent in the dining room would be revolting. At Walt Disney World, however, vacationers take great pains to wake up in the wee morning hours 6 months prior to their trip to attempt to secure a spot to dine with a mouse and his fictional friends. Isn’t it amazing what Disney magic does to us?

Character dining at Walt Disney World takes place in the parks and resorts with 10 restaurants currently offering a character experience. Each of these meals has a different theme and different characters appear (the specific characters are not guaranteed at each meal, but are generally as listed below).

Many of these meals offer a family photo taken before you are seated. These photo packages are offered to you once you are seated and are an additional cost at all locations except Cinderella’s Royal Table and Akershus. If you have the Memory Maker photo package these photo packages are already paid for—you may need to let the photographer know so they can scan your Magic Band. With Memory Maker you will receive digital images at Chef Mickey’s, Tusker House breakfast, ‘Ohana breakfast, and 1900 Park Fare—all guests receive the printed packages at Akershus and Cinderella’s Royal Table. You may opt to skip the photo altogether if you prefer.

Reservations at these locations are really a must, and starting at the 180 day mark is your best bet of getting the meal time you prefer.

Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet at Chef Mickey’s

• Location: The Contemporary Resort, Grand Canyon Concourse

• Meals Served: Breakfast & Dinner

• Service Type: Buffet

• Characters: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy & Pluto (the Fab 5 all in one place, dressed in their chef costumes)

• Food: American

• Dining Plan: 1 Table Service Credit

• This is a must-do dining experience for most guests. With the monorail gliding by overhead, this buffet meal is charged with energy and fun—there are even parades and napkin twirling during the meal. The location is convenient to the Magic Kingdom, and with all of the Fab 5 characters together this will knock out most of your character meets with one meal! The food itself is general American buffet for both breakfast and dinner—the cheese blintzes and Mickey waffles get a lot of attention at breakfast, and the carved meats at dinner.

Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare

• Location: The Grand Floridian Resort, off the lobby

• Meals Served: Breakfast

• Service Type: Buffet

• Characters: Mary Poppins, Alice, The Mad Hatter, Pooh & Tigger (it’s a British Theme)

• Food: American

• Dining Plan: 1 Table Service Credit

• The Supercalifragilistic Breakfast is a fun meal—even the name is fun to say. With 3 “face” characters (meaning they are able to talk) there is a lot of interaction, and the Mad Hatter is hilarious. The fresh buffet offers an omelet station and a carving station along with their famous Strawberry Soup (a cold, sweet delicious treat).

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Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare

• Location: The Grand Floridian Resort, off the lobby

• Meals Served: Dinner

• Service Type: Buffet

• Characters: Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, Drizella and the Fairy Godmother

• Food: American

• Dining Plan: 1 Table Service Credit

• Great character interaction is the key to this meal. Anastasia and Drizella are constantly trying to find a man, and their bickering is completely in character with the movie—as is Lady Tremaine. Cinderella is always a big draw here and this is a great alternative if you are unable to get a table in the Castle. The Grand Floridian is very easy to visit from the Magic Kingdom—just a monorail or boat ride away. This dinner buffet features entrees including prime rib and salmon.

‘Ohana Best Friends Breakfast Featuring Lilo & Stitch

• Location: The Polynesian Resort, Great Ceremonial House second floor

• Meals Served: Breakfast

• Service Type: Family-style – large platters of food that you serve yourself and pass around the table.

• Characters: Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto (dressed in Hawaiian attire)

• Food: American with a hint of Polynesian flavor

• Dining Plan: 1 Table Service Credit

• This is one of the only places left to meet Lilo & Stitch, and they are appropriate for the Polynesian/Hawaiian theme. They are joined by Mickey and Pluto to add more appeal. This meal is nice because it is served at your table—no worries about buffet lines and missing characters. Typical American breakfast is accented with Hawaiian breads, Island-style potatoes, POG (Passion Fruit, Orange & Guava) Juice and Hawaiian pork sausage.

Beach Club Breakfast at Cape May Café

• Location: The Beach Club Resort, off the lobby

• Meals Served: Breakfast

• Service Type: Buffet

• Characters: Minnie, Goofy, Donald (sporting their beach clothing)

• Food: American

• Dining Plan: 1 Table Service Credit

• Breakfast at Cape May is one of the easier character meal reservations to get because it is a bit lesser known—this also means it is a little bit quieter. The location is extremely convenient to Epcot—just a few minutes’ walk from the International Gateway entrance into the World Showcase portion of the park. It is a great choice for anyone staying in the Epcot Resort area. The buffet is your general Disney breakfast with Mickey Waffles, breakfast pizza, etc.

A Buffet With Character at Crystal Palace

• Location: Magic Kingdom, Main Street USA

• Meals Served: Breakfast , Lunch & Dinner

• Service Type: Buffet

• Characters: Pooh, Tigger, Piglet & Eeyore

• Food: American

• Dining Plan: 1 Table Service Credit

• Crystal Palace is a beautiful setting—bright & airy with a view of the Castle. This is the only place to meet Piglet and Eeyore on a regular basis (be sure to point out the bacon on your breakfast plate to Piglet ☺ ). The food here is normally very fresh as it is extremely popular and turnover is rapid. At breakfast there is a fantastic puffed French toast on the kid’s buffet that is delicious (but sure to put you in a diabetic coma by the time you hit Adventureland). Another Crystal Palace exclusive is the breakfast lasagna. The lunch and dinner buffets feature pasta, carved meats and seasonal fish and vegetables. Many guests covet the earliest reservations here to get them in the park before other guests for those great photos of an empty Main Street. If this is your goal you must be online or on the phone at the earliest date you can book your reservation (180 days unless you are staying on site).

Fairytale Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table

• Location: Magic Kingdom, Inside Cinderella Castle

• Meals Served: Breakfast , Lunch, Dinner

• Service Type: Plated meal selected from a menu

• Characters: Cinderella & the Fairy Godmother. Other Princesses vary but may include Jasmine, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Belle.

• Food: American

• Dining Plan: 2 Table Service Credits (Gratuity included)

• Cinderella’s Royal Table is THE character meal. Occupying prime real estate inside the Castle, this is the one to get—every little girl’s dream of dining with the Princesses. The price tag on this experience speaks to its popularity—it is the most expensive out of pocket, the only one that requires 2 Table Service Credits on the Disney Dining Plan, and full payment is required when you book the reservation. The good news is that gratuity is included in both the out of pocket and dining credit payments. And, you do get some extras here. Your photo package (taken with Cinderella before you are seated) is included in the price (four 4”x6” prints, one 6”x8” print, one 6”x8” print of Cinderella Castle and a Cinderella themed photo holder). Children ages 3-9 also receive a princess wand for girls or a prince’s sword for boys. There are several food items here that stand out, especially at breakfast, the stuffed French toast and roasted potatoes. If you want to eat here you need to be up and at it very early on the very first day you can make reservations (180 days from the day you want to dine if you are staying offsite; onsite guests may call at 180 days before their check in date and inquire about reservations for up to 10 days after that date). And the Castle isn’t just for little Princesses—you can contact the Castle’s Fairy Godmother to help you with proposal packages.

Chip ‘N’ Dales Harvest Feast at the Garden Grill

• Location: The Land Pavilion in Epcot’s Future World

• Meals Served: Dinner

• Service Type: Family-style – large platters of food that you serve yourself and pass around the table.

• Characters: Chip, Dale, Mickey and Pluto (dressed in their farmer outfits)

• Food: American

• Dining Plan: 1 Table Service Credit

• The Garden Grill has an appeal beyond the characters—the restaurant rotates slowly overlooking the Living with the Land attraction. The best seats are on the bottom tier, but you can see the ride scenery from any of the tables. The Family Style service is nice here so that you don’t have to worry about missing characters as you visit the buffet. The traditional food served here includes grilled steak, roast turkey, vegetables (some grown in the greenhouses in the Land), and sustainable fish.

Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

• Location: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase

• Meals Served: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

• Service Type: Breakfast—Family Style & Buffet; Lunch & Dinner—Plated choice of entrée and traditional Norwegian koldtbord (Scandinavian seafood, prepared salads, fruits, imported cheese & sliced deli meat)

• Characters: Princesses! The schedule varies, but you may meet: Jasmine, Snow White, Ariel, Belle, Mulan, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Mary Poppins.

• Food: Breakfast—American; Lunch & Dinner—Norwegian inspired

• Dining Plan: 1 Table Service Credit

• Akershus is another great alternative if you are unable to get a reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table, or are looking for a less expensive option—or if you can’t get enough of those Princesses. Picky eaters will prefer breakfast, but the Norwegian entrees served at lunch and dinner include some selections that are less ethnic like oven roasted chicken for adults and pizza on the kids menu. You may choose to be adventurous and sample some of the authentic cuisine on the koldtbord or one of the entrees like the Kjottkake (Norwegian meatballs served with Lingonberry sauce). As with Cinderella’s Royal Table, your photo package here is included in the price of the meal (four 4”x6” prints and one 6”x8” print of the Princesses in a Princess themed folder).

Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine at Hollywood & Vine

• Location: Hollywood & Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

• Meals Served: Breakfast, Lunch

• Service Type: Buffet

• Characters: Characters here tend to change when new shows become popular on Disney Junior. You may see Little Einsteins, Handy Manny, Special Agent Oso and possibly Jake from the Neverland Pirates

• Food: American

• Dining Plan: 1 Table Service Credit

• Popular with the preschool set, this meal features characters that you may only meet at this meal, and will definitely only see at the Studios. If you have children under 6 they are sure to enjoy eating with their favorite stars from Disney Junior. Hosts and music during the meal make it an interactive experience for little diners. The breakfast buffet features typical Disney breakfast fare like Mickey waffles, eggs, fruits and meats. At lunch there are lots of meats like short ribs and BBQ chicken, along with fish and vegetable dishes—check out the shrimp & lobster mac & cheese.

Donald’s Dining Safari at Tusker House Restaurant

• Location: Tusker House restaurant in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

• Meals Served: Breakfast, Lunch

• Service Type: Buffet

• Characters: Donald, Daisy, Goofy & Mickey (ready for an African trek in their safari clothes)

• Food: American and African

• Dining Plan: 1 Table Service Credit

• If you’re looking for a character meal that offers some unique menu choices this is the place for you. The fresh buffet features typical Disney breakfast foods along with African influences like Mealie Cornbread, Beef Bobotie and Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole. At lunch couscous, samosa and peri-peri marninated salmon among other ethnic dishes join American favorites like spit roasted chicken and sirloin. The airy and well themed atmosphere here adds to the experience as well.

Other Character Experiences

Although these are not traditional character meals, there are two other dining experiences where you will encounter characters

• Be Our Guest (Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom). At dinner only the Beast makes an appearance in his castle. He does not go from table to table, but walks through the dining rooms on his way to the library where he will meet guests for photos. Be Our Guest Dinner is very difficult to get—definitely plan early and start at the 180 day mark to get your reservation. Food here has a French flair.

• Mickey’s Backyard BBQ (Fort Wilderness Campground). This all-you-can-eat barbecue feast takes place seasonally in a covered open air location at Fort Wilderness. There is plenty of family friendly fun here with Country Western music, games and dancing. Mickey, Minnie & Friends are on hand for dancing, but they do not visit each table as they do at a traditional character meal. Food includes barbecue chicken, ribs, beans and more.

• Wonderland Tea Party (1900 Park Fare, Grand Floridian). This experience for children ages 4-12 lasts about 1 hour and offers cupcakes to decorate along with “tea” (apple juice) to drink. Alice and the Mad Hatter host this fun event that includes stories and games. This event is for children only, and space is limited. Reservations open 90 days in advance and must be made by calling 407-WDW-DINE. The schedule changes, but is usually weekdays beginning at 2pm.

 

 

 

 

 

About Sarah Chapman

I am a long time Disney fan since I was hooked on Walt Disney World with my first trip in 1987. Since that time I’ve tried experiencing everything I can in the parks, with a total of 30 visits and counting (I’m always planning my next trip) to Walt Disney World—not to mention Disney Cruise Line and even (shhh!) Universal Orlando and Sea World. I’ve turned my Disney obsession into a profession helping others plan their magical vacations as a Dream Vacation Maker at LBAC Travel. I am a work at home mom to three wonderful boys, and each one has been properly indoctrinated with all things Disney. Walt Disney World is definitely our “Laughing Place.” Look for me on Facebook at Facebook.com/SarahLBAC for updates, discount announcements, tips, tricks and planning advice for your next vacation. You can also find me on Instagram (sarahdreamvacationmaker) and Pinterest (sarahlbactravel).