Although I’ve eaten at Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Hotel for breakfast and dinner, neither my husband nor daughter have had the experience. Most Disney meals tend to be last-minute impulses for us, and Chef Mickey’s is often a difficult one to secure at the last minute. So when I heard that they were going to start brunch, and I was able to get a reservation for the first day, I was delighted to give it a try.
The official name is Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Brunch Buffet, and the price is the same as breakfast at $37.99 for adults and $19.99 for children ages 3 to 9 (plus taxes and gratuity), with Tables in Wonderland discounts available. This price includes your choice of a non-alcoholic beverage.
How does the menu stack up? Well, here are the breakfast menu and the brunch menu side by side.
Overall, on a quick walk of the buffet, it was obvious that they were still working out some of the logistics about switching breakfast to brunch. Oatmeal was replaced by chicken and rice soup, but the toppings for the oatmeal were still out next to the soup pot. Some items on the buffet were not labeled (or labeled as “quinoa salad” without any idea what was in it aside from quinoa), which I am certain makes more work for the chefs behind each station to explain exactly what some dishes are.
At a quick glance, my first thought was that you better like salted meats, mayonnaise, eggs, or cheese if you’re going to eat at this meal. To me, having bacon, kielbasa, corned beef hash, and carved ham all side by side was too much of a good thing. Having broccoli salad, waldorf salad, and Caesar salad all swimming in creamy dressing seemed redundant. Offering a ham and cheese frittata next to an Italian sausage frittata which was not far from scrambled eggs and hard boiled eggs means a lot of eggs. For cheese, you had cheddar, mozzarella, cheesy potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and cheese blintzes. There were a few other offerings, such as a red quinoa salad, an etouffee that was moderately spicy, a tofu scramble with spinach (which was a bit bland), mango BBQ pork ribs, and a baked salmon with mango chutney, but there were no poultry offerings other than chicken nuggets on the kid’s buffet (or the soup) and no beef (aside from the corned beef hash). There also weren’t many options for vegetables outside of the prepared salads: broccoli with cheese sauce on the side was pretty much all you would find.
That said, if you like desserts, you could make a meal out of them. The real trick is to figure out what desserts are what. Having labels on the desserts would be incredibly useful. As I don’t eat mango, I had to avoid a few interesting-looking desserts because they weren’t labeled. While I could have asked, I do realize that most guests won’t ask. A few labels on the trays would have solved that problem.
Overall, there are a few dishes that always get mentioned as favorites, and those do make an appearance at brunch. The cheesy potatoes, Oreo bon bons, and Mickey waffles are all on the buffet, and are must-try dishes in my view. My daughter also loved the macaroni and cheese, which had Mickey-shaped pasta instead of regular macaroni.
Off the record, one cast member mentioned that a typical breakfast seating at Chef Mickey’s feeds around 1300 people, and that adding brunch will bring the daytime total to 2000. Even though this was the first day of service, crowds were steady from the time we arrived until we left, with each table being turned over as quickly as possible. I would like to give a shout-out here to the serving staff who did a fantastic job of being attentive throughout the meal.
Kudos also goes to the character attendants who made sure that every table got to see every character, even if it meant tracking them down for a quick appearance if you had stepped away when the characters arrived. While we did get to see everyone (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto in their chef or cooking attire), we had been spoiled last month with the playfulness we saw at the Jedi Mickey dinner.
For any character meal, you are either paying for the food or for the experience. Neither of these were bad at Chef Mickey’s, but neither was exceptional. The food is something to snack on while you’re waiting for a stream of characters to pop by one at a time for a hug, a quick picture, and an autograph. (And yes, I do understand they need to get back to the Magic Kingdom and changed for the 3:00 parade.)
When I was posting my experience in real-time on Twitter, I did get asked if I would do it again. For most people, if you meet the characters at this meet and greet, it will save you time in the parks waiting at character meet and greet lines. In that respect, this is a great value. For those of us with nostalgia of the early days of the Magic Kingdom, eating at the Contemporary with the monorail traveling by has its own awe-inspiring magic. If you already have reservations for breakfast, I would not recommend changing them for brunch. There is nothing to be gained from the brunch seating in terms of food. Because fewer people may be willing to interrupt their day to go to the Contemporary for brunch, this may become a viable alternative if you want to have the Chef Mickey’s experience but can’t get in for breakfast or dinner.
So, would I do it again? It wouldn’t be my first choice, no. I prefer the character interaction and food at Ravello for breakfast or at Garden Grill for dinner. I also prefer the buffet at The Wave for breakfast more than the food offerings at Chef Mickey’s. That said, Chef Mickey’s is a tradition for many people, and offering additional seating times, whether they call it breakfast or brunch, will help some people make a dream come true. Also, menus can change over time, so if the brunch continues in the future, perhaps they will find a better balance of foods in the future. As long as they don’t get rid of Mickey waffles, Oreo bon bons, and cheesy potatoes, I’ll always find something to eat at Chef Mickey’s.