Top Ten Disney Character Dining Experiences
There is no right or wrong age to enjoy a meal with the characters. If you have shy little ones, scheduling a character dining experience is a good way to introduce them to the larger than life figures. Others enjoy a chance for some one on one time with Mickey or another favorite. While character dining tends to be a bit on the expensive side, there is plenty of food. You will leave full. Most character meals are either buffets or served family style.
We’re expanding the Disney boundaries a bit and including a couple of selections from Disneyland on this list. There are also many great experiences that have been left out. Please don’t be upset if your favorite is not included. All character dining experiences are unique and will hold a special place in your heart.
Remember that characters can change. Just because someone isn’t listed here does not mean that the character will not be at your meal. The opposite is also true, some characters listed might not be at your seating. It is strongly recommended that you make a reservation as soon as you know your plans. Sometimes it is best to call, that way the reservations agent can help you to get a table. For Walt Disney World call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463). The Disneyland number for dining reservations is 714-781-DINE (714-781-3463). To make an online dining reservation for Walt Disney World visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/reservations/dining/. Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance. Some require a deposit which you will lose if you miss your reservation and did not cancel far enough in advance. You will receive an email reminder so that you will not forget.
10) Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Norway Pavilion, Epcot
This is the backup that many people have if they cannot get a seat at Cinderella’s Royal Table, but it is a great experience on its own. You’ll still have a chance to dine in a castle, the atmosphere is an experience in and of itself. Snow White should be there. She could be joined by Cinderella, Mary Poppins, Aurora, Belle, and Ariel. Food is served family style. While the restaurant is Norwegian, there are choices for people who have no idea what Kjøttkake is. (It’s a meatball dish.) A keepsake photo is included in the price.
9) Hollywood & Vine
Echo Lake, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
This could be a real treat for your preschoolers. Breakfast and lunch are both character meals with Disney Junior favorites. Dinner is served as well but there are no characters present. Characters may include June from Little Einsteins, Handy Manny, Special Agent Oso, and Jake the Neverland Pirate. Characters do change from time to time, based on what is currently popular on Disney Junior. American cuisine is served buffet style. There is a lot of interaction, kids can sing and dance along with their favorites. A good time will be had by your entire family.
8) Tusker House Restaurant
Africa, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Join Donald and friends on safari for breakfast or lunch. A buffet is served, featuring American favorites and also dishes with an African flair. Mickey, Daisy, and Goofy might join the party as well. They’ll be dressed in safari gear. If you plan to have breakfast with Donald make your reservation as early as possible. You’ll have a chance to walk through the park before it opens to the public. Dinner is also served but it is not a character meal. Some Disney fans claim that Tusker house has the best food of any Walt Disney World buffet. The Jungle Juice is a must try. The atmosphere is incredible as well. You and your party are sure to have a great time.
7) Ariel’s Grotto
Paradise Pier, Disney California Adventure
If you’d like to reserve a character meal for your day at Disney California Adventure this is the place to do it. Breakfast and lunch are character meals. Ariel, Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty make appearances during “Ariel’s Disney Princess Celebration” which is held “under the sea”. Dinner is not a character meal. Choose an entrée from the menu, salads and desserts are served family style. Entrées include pasta, chicken, and vegetarian selections. Head upstairs to the Cove Bar for appetizers and a cocktail if you’re of age. Enjoy a great view of Paradise Bay while you sip your drink. It’s a nice way to get a break from the craziness of the park.
6) Cape May Café
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Epcot can be exhausting, so fill up before you hit the park at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Breakfast is the only meal at Cape May Café that is served with characters. Minnie, Goofy, and Donald are all ready for a day on the beach! A typical breakfast buffet is served. Crayons are on the tables so that the kids can draw on the paper tablecloths. After your meal you can walk or take a boat to either Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
5) Plaza Inn
Main Street U.S.A., Disneyland Park
What better way to start your day at Disneyland Park than at “Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park”? Minnie is joined by classic characters such as Pluto, Goofy, Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Chip ‘n’ Dale. Omelets are cooked to order, the rest of the food is served on the buffet. Lunch and dinner are served but they are not character meals. The Victorian-style building has been there since the park opened in 1955, although it was originally called the Red Wagon Inn. It was one of Walt Disney’s personal favorites.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort
Disney fans are passionate about ‘Ohana! Once you have eaten there you will see why. Breakfast is the only character meal. It is served family style. Lilo and Stitch will stop by. Other characters seem to change from time to time. Mickey, Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale have all been known to make an appearance. The atmosphere has a Hawaiian feel and the food is incredible. If you are not sure which character meal to book for breakfast this could be the perfect fit. Once you’re finished, the Magic Kingdom is a short monorail ride away. If dining with the characters isn’t all that important to you make a reservation at ‘Ohana for dinner. The bread pudding alone is worth the price of the meal.
3) The Crystal Palace
Main Street, U.S.A., Magic Kingdom
The atmosphere alone at the Crystal Palace could take your breath away. It is not your typical theme park restaurant! Character meals are served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. American favorites are served on the buffet. Winnie the Pooh and others from the 100 Acre Wood will make the rounds. Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet usually join the party. Rabbit will often make an appearance as well near Easter. Outside of the Crystal Palace you can get some great shots of Cinderella Castle without a lot of people in the way. Reserve an early breakfast so that you can see what Main Street, U.S.A. looks like before the park opens.
2) Chef Mickey’s
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Another fan favorite, Chef Mickey’s is a great place to meet some of the classic characters. Breakfast and dinner are served, both are a buffet. This is another great place to have a nice breakfast and then take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. You can also reserve a time for dinner and take a much needed break away from Walt Disney World’s most popular park. The classic characters that may appear are Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald, dressed in their chef’s outfits. American cuisine is served. There’s a sundae bar so that you can finish your dinner with your own creation.
1) Cinderella’s Royal Table
Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom
When most people think of Walt Disney World, they immediately picture Cinderella Castle. Disney allows guests a chance to dine like royalty inside. This is one of the hardest reservations to book, try 180 days in advance or as soon as you know your plans. If you can’t make a reservation try again 48 hours before your desired time in case there was a cancellation. The food is an “all-you-care-to-enjoy banquet” featuring American favorites. There are gifts for the children and you will receive a picture package with Cinderella as well. Cinderella will be joined by several princesses. Those included could be Aurora, Belle, Snow White, and Ariel. If you are looking for an unforgettable way to propose while on your Disney vacation email [email protected] and ask about the proposal package at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Disney will help you to create a magical moment that neither of you will ever forget.