There’s no doubt about it, characters are a big part of a visit to Walt Disney World. The adults love to see their favorites as much as the children do, sometimes even more. For young children especially meeting the characters can be intimidating, Mickey as a cartoon on TV is much different than the life sized character just waiting to give the youngster a hug.
Meeting the characters in the parks means waiting in long lines for a quick autograph and a picture. Character dining is a way to get up close to the characters in a more relaxed atmosphere. Shy children will have a chance to see that the large figures are friendly and the adults will be able to be a kid again.
Character dining is expensive but the meals are filling (most are all you can eat) and the experience is rewarding for your entire group. Characters at the meals do change from time to time so you might want to check the day of the meal to see who is supposed to be there before you make promises to your little ones.
If you are interested in a particular character dining experience make your reservations as soon as you can. Some are filled within minutes, six months in advance.The meals at the theme parks tend to fill up faster than those at some of the resorts, although anything with Cinderella goes quickly. If you are going to Disney and haven’t made a reservation you might want to head directly to the reservations page at http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/reservations/dining/, there might be a suitable opening.
To score a reservation for the most popular ones, you may need to call call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) exactly 180 days in advance and make sure you know the exact buttons to press to get through quickly. As with any dining reservation, if you need to cancel please call so that the spot can be opened up for someone else. Some meals require a credit card to hold your spot and if you don’t cancel the reservation in advance you will still be charged a fee.
1900 Park Fare
Located inside Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, 1900 Park Fare has three different character dining experiences which will be mentioned in more detail later. Breakfast, dinner and afternoon tea are all served here. The restaurant is off of the main lobby in the Grand Floridian.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Located in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot, this is a wonderful place for princess dining and the reservations are much easier to obtain than those for Cinderella’s Royal Table. The princesses that appear vary but might include Ariel, Aurora, Belle and Jasmine. Cinderella also will sometimes make an appearance (but don’t count on it if you have someone in your party who must meet Cinderella). The princesses will make their way across the room and pose for pictures and autographs. Since face characters do talk this is a chance for a lot of quality interaction.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served all you can eat family style. Although the food is labeled as Norwegian there are plenty of familiar options for the picky eaters. Breakfast includes eggs, breakfast meats, potatoes, an assortment of breads, fresh fruit, juice, coffee, tea and milk. The beginning of the lunch and dinner buffets are referred to as a “Taste of Norway”. Deli meats, cheeses and other selections are served. Entrees include Traditional Kjøttkake, Mushroom-stuffed Pasta and Oven-roasted Chicken Breast. You are likely to find something for every taste in your party. The meal ends with the Royal Chef’s Dessert Plate, featuring Rice Cream, Flaky Puff Pastry and Chocolate Mousse. Regular non-alcoholic drinks are included in the price of the meal, specialty drinks and alcoholic beverages cost extra.
The price for a meal at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is usually $36-$59.99, depending on which meal you’re having, the time of year and day of the week. It counts as one table service credit per person on the Disney Dining Plan. The price does not include gratuities. An imaging package, giving your family a picture with a princess upon arrival, is included in the price.
Cape May Café
Cape May Café is located off of the main lobby at Disney’s Beach Club, which is one of the Epcot resorts. The characters that normally appear are Minnie, Donald and Goofy, all dressed up in their beachwear. Although all three are fairly easy to get pictures with elsewhere you will not find them dressed like this. Note that while dinner is served at the restaurant only breakfast is a character meal.
Breakfast is served buffet style and is all you can eat. American cuisine is offered. Start off with oatmeal (toppings are available), grits or cold cereal. The yogurt bar features low fat yogurt and a variety of toppings. Eggs, breakfast meats, french toast and of course Mickey waffles are among the hot options. There is also a large variety of pastries and fresh fruit to help fill you up. Breakfast beverages are included with the meal.
The price for breakfast at Cape May Café is usually $15-$39.99, depending on the time of year and day of the week. It counts as one table service credit per person on the Disney Dining Plan. The price does not include gratuities.
On the fourth floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort you will find Chef Mickey’s. Breakfast and dinner are served, both buffet style. You can catch the monorail to the Magic Kingdom after your meal from the lobby of the resort. It’s a great place to find some of the traditional Mickey and friends characters, which differ slightly depending on the meal. Remember, the characters that appear may change, although due to the name of the restaurant you can be pretty sure that you will meet Mickey.
At breakfast Minnie, Pluto, Chip ‘n’ Dale usually join their pal Mickey, all dressed in chef’s outfits. The cuisine is billed as American and you will find that it is standard fare for a breakfast buffet. Hot and cold cereals are available as well as an assortment of pastries. Hot selections include eggs, potatoes, breakfast meats, Mickey waffles and Goofy’s Vegetable Lasagna. A fresh fruit and yogurt bar are also available. Breakfast beverages are included in the price.
At the dinner buffet Mickey is joined by Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald, each wearing chef’s outfits. Dinner starts with a soup and salad bar, a different soup is featured each day. There is also a carving board which also changes daily. Foods on the buffet also change often but you can expect to find American standards like BBQ chicken, baked salmon and pasta with vegetables. Sides include mashed potatoes, broccoli with cheese and rice and beans. If you have a child who is a picky eater there are selections such as chicken tenders and cheese pizza. Don’t forget to save room for something from the sundae and dessert bar! It includes favorites such as peach cobbler and fresh fruit. Non alcoholic, non-specialty drinks are included in the price, others will cost extra.
The price for breakfast at Chef Mickey’s is usually $15-$35.99, depending on the time of year and day of the week. Dinner is $36-$59.99. Either meal counts as one table service credit per person on the Disney Dining Plan. The price does not include gratuities.
The Crystal Palace
Located at the end of Main Street USA towards Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom, you will have a chance to join your friends from the 100 Acre Wood without ever leaving the park. American Cuisine is served in the buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner, allowing you more flexibility with your schedule. Meet Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet. Rabbit will sometimes make an appearance near Easter. At the Crystal Palace you’ll enjoy watching the chefs prepare the food live on stage. The kids will also like Pooh Corner, a separate buffet designed just for them.
The breakfast buffet has all the traditional offerings. You can find eggs, breakfast meats, pastries, pancakes, breakfast pizza and Mickey waffles, among other items. Beverages are included in the price. Buffet offerings can change but it will always include traditional American breakfast food.
The children’s lunch buffet has kid friendly items such as chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese. The adult buffet at lunchtime has soups, salads and pastas. You might also find cheese pizza, rotisserie chicken or salmon. There is a soft serve ice cream bar or you can have a piece of chocolate marble cheesecake or a chocolate chip cookie. Beverages are included.
Start off your dinner with shrimp cocktail from the buffet or a bowl of soup. Vegetable pasta, prime rib or roasted turkey might also be on the buffet. Kids can feast on chicken fingers or macaroni and cheese. Finish your meal with key lime pie or a double chocolate brownie, or make your own creation at the sundae bar.
The price for breakfast or lunch at the Crystal Palace is usually $15-$35.99, depending on the time of year and day of the week. Dinner is $36-$59.99. The meals count as one table service credit per person on the Disney Dining Plan. The price does not include gratuities.
Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare
This is one of several character meal options at 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian. Cinderella and Prince Charming host the event, other characters might include Lady Tremaine, Anastasia and Drizella. Not all characters are present during the meal, some are only in the lobby for photos. American cuisine is served in an all you can eat buffet. The children’s buffet might include chicken, peanut butter and jelly and pizza. The adult buffet has soups and salads to start and also might include pork loin, various pastas and Italian sausage. Apple cobbler, bread pudding and soft serve ice cream are some of the dessert options. Non-specialty and non-alcoholic drinks are included.
The price for Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner is usually $36-$59.99 depending on the time of year and day of the week. It counts as one table service credit per person on the Disney Dining Plan. The price does not include gratuities.
Cinderella’s Royal Table
For many people this is the ultimate character dining experience. What better way to feel like royalty than to dine inside Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom? It’s also the hardest reservation to get in all of Walt Disney World so make your reservation first thing in the morning 180 days before your trip, there’s a good chance that all the spots will be gone in a matter of minutes. Upon your arrival at the castle Cinderella herself will greet you in the lobby, where a group photo will be taken. The other princesses will mingle with you during your meal. The characters will vary but may include Belle, Snow White, Aurora and the Fairy Godmother.
Breakfast is an all you can eat buffet with American cuisine. Eggs, breakfast meats, fresh fruit and pastries are among the usual offerings. Most beverages are included in the price.
Lunch starts off with “specialties of the castle”, as ordered by Cinderella. Each diner will pick an entrée, which include things like short ribs, fried chicken and a vegetarian casserole. Dessert is also included with selections like chocolate mousse and almond cheesecake. Most beverages are included.
With dinner you choose an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert from the menu. Entrees might include stuffed chicken breast, seafood pasta and beef tenderloin. End the meal with the Chef’s Dessert Trio or raspberry sorbet.
The price for a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table is usually $36-$59.99, depending on the time of year and day of the week. It counts as TWO table service credits per person on the Disney Dining Plan. The price includes gratuities. The imaging package from your arrival is included in the price, and children ages 3-9 receive a gift.
The Garden Grill Restaurant
Dinner at the Garden Grill is part character dining, part educational experience. Food is served family style. Chip ‘n’ Dale are the hosts and they are often joined by Mickey and Pluto. The Garden Grill is located in the Land Pavilion at Epcot.
Some of the dinner selections include the “Living with the Land” Farmer’s Salad, Sustainable Fish of the Day, and All-Natural Turkey Breast. Fruit cobbler is served for dessert. The wine list (not included in the price) includes several organically grown options. Non-alcoholic, non-specialty drinks are included in the price.
The price for dinner at the Garden Grill is usually $36-$59.99, depending on the time of year and day of the week. The restaurant is also included in the Candlelight Processional package, allowing your party priority seating at the Christmas event. (Make sure that you include the option when you book your reservation.) It counts as one table service credit per person on the Disney Dining Plan. The price does not include gratuities.
Located in the Swan Resort near Epcot, Garden Grove offers character dining for dinner and also for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Characters here change often and may include Goofy, Pluto, Timon or Rafiki. The atmosphere at Garden Grove is something that most kids will love, there’s a giant tree in the middle of the room.
Dinner is served buffet style and features American cuisine. There are different themes, including Southern BBQ, Mediterranean Night and Seafood Sensation. A children’s buffet is also available. Beverages are not included in the price.
The price for dinner at Garden Grove usually $36-$59.99, depending on the time of year and day of the week. It in NOT included on the Disney Dining Plan. The price does not include gratuities.
Hollywood & Vine
Hollywood & Vine offers character dining at breakfast and lunch but not dinner. The restaurant is located on Hollywood Boulevard (Echo Lake on the park map) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you have fans of Playhouse Disney with you this is the place to eat. Characters may include June and Leo from Little Einsteins and also Handy Manny, Jake the Neverland Pirate and Special Agent Oslo. (Remember that characters might change, depending on what shows are currently popular.) Sing and dance along with the characters for a meal that your kids will remember for a long time.
Breakfast and lunch both serve American cuisine, buffet style. Breakfast includes the standard eggs, breakfast meats, Mickey waffles, fresh fruit and pastries. Most beverages are included. The lunch buffet includes deli and carved meats, pasta, seafood and seasonal vegetables. Non-alcoholic, non-specialty drinks are included. Dinner is also a buffet but there are no characters present.
The price for breakfast or lunch at Hollywood & Vine is usually $15-$35.99, depending on the time of year and day of the week. It counts as one table service credit per person on the Disney Dining Plan. The price does not include gratuities.
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
Held at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is part character dining and part dinner show. There is a live band and line dancing. The characters, all dressed up in their cowboy gear, include Mickey, Minnie, Chip ‘n’ Dale and Goofy. Because it is held outdoors the event is held only on select nights in March through December. Tickets are required and can be purchased through the Walt Disney World reservations page, or call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) for more information.
Selections include hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken and cole slaw. Watermelon and novelty ice cream round out the meal. Iced tea and lemonade are included, as are beer and wine for those 21 and older.
The price for Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is usually $29.99-54.99, depending on the time of year and day of the week. It is a signature experience, which counts as TWO table service credits per person on the Disney Dining Plan. The price includes gratuities.
My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party
Select mornings at 10:30 a lunch styled after a traditional British tea is held at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort in the Garden View Tea Room. Girls are invited to dress like their favorite princess but it is not required. Although it is planned with little girls in mind boys are welcome to attend. Princess Aurora spends time with each party and “Rose Petal”, the hostess, tells stories and sings songs with the guests.
The meal is called a tea party, although juice instead of tea is served to the children. The food includes finger sandwiches, fresh grapes and princess cake for two. Each girl will receive a doll that is outfitted like Princess Aurora, a tiara, a bracelet, a scrapbook and a “best friends” certificate. The boys will receive a Duffy Bear and a Pirate Mickey cap.
The cost for the My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party is $250 for one adult and one child. Each additional adult is $85 and each additional child is $165. Prices are subject to change. Reservations are strongly recommended. Adults are not allowed to attend without a child. It in NOT included on the Disney Dining Plan. The price includes gratuities.
Enjoy breakfast on the second floor at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Lilo and Stitch are joined by Mickey and Pluto. Food is served family style at the tables. It is typical breakfast fare, eggs. potatoes, breakfast breads and drinks. Catch the monorail to the Magic Kingdom after you have enjoyed your time with the characters and be happy in the knowledge that you have avoided the long line to meet Mickey in the park.
The price for breakfast at ‘Ohana is usually $15-$35.99, depending on the time of year and day of the week. It counts as one table service credit per person on the Disney Dining Plan. The price does not include gratuities.
Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare
Here is another character option at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. American cuisine is served at an all you can eat buffet. The characters that you might meet include Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter.
The buffet includes breakfast breads and pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, cold cereals, eggs, breakfast meats, Mickey waffles and other standard breakfast foods. Traditional breakfast drinks are included in the price.
The price for the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare is usually $15-$35.99, depending on the time of year and day of the week. It counts as one table service credit per person on the Disney Dining Plan. The price does not include gratuities.
Tusker House Restaurant
Tusker House Restaurant is located in Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It is open for all three meals but there are characters available only at breakfast and lunch. Donald is the host and could be joined by Daisy, Mickey and Goofy, ready for a safari. It is an American style buffet.
The breakfast buffet includes a yogurt station that also has assorted jams, jellies and cream cheeses. You can also get hot or cold cereals. Eggs, potatoes, breakfast meats and warm cinnamon rolls are also usually available. There are fresh pastries and fruit. The lunch buffet includes roasted meats, salads, stews, vegetarian choices and desserts. Non-alcoholic, non-specialty beverages are also included.
The price for Donald’s Safari Breakfast or Lunch at Tusker House Restaurant is usually $15-$35.99, depending on the time of year and day of the week. It counts as one table service credit per person on the Disney Dining Plan. The price does not include gratuities.
Wonderland Tea Party at 1900 Park Fare
Another character option at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, the Wonderland Tea Party is more of a snack than a meal. Children ages 4-12 will enjoy tea (really juice) and fingerpaint cupcakes with Alice and the Mad Hatter. Since the number of children is limited there is quite a bit of interaction with the characters. Parents are allowed to stay but they can leave their children for the duration if they want to. It is held on weekday afternoons and lasts for one hour.
The price for the Wonderland Tea Party is usually $36-$59.99, depending on the time of year and day of the week. It is NOT included on the Disney Dining Plan. You must call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) to make your reservation, you cannot book online.