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    Walt Disney World Character Dining

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Character Meals at Walt Disney World

There are hundreds of options for dining at Disney World, some are fantastic and some are…less so. One type of dining that is completely unique, and a favorite of many tourists, is character dining.

Because of the incredible popularity of character dining, reservations can be hard to come by if you wait until a couple of months before your vacation to book your choices. What’s more, if you want to book a character meal, you must provide Disney with a credit card number. Your card will be charged $10 per person if you no-show or cancel your reservation less than 24 hours in advance; you may, however, reschedule with no penalty.

At very popular character meals like the breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table, you’re required to make a for-real reservation and guarantee it with a for-real deposit.

What is Character Dining

If you are unfamiliar with the idea, it’s a pretty straightforward concept. While you eat your meal, a few select Disney characters go table to table for hugs, high fives, photos, autographs, and general merriment. They stop by one at a time and continue to circulate the room for the entirety of your meal, although they only spend a minute or two at each table.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Character Dining

There are several definite advantages to taking the time for a character meal. If you or your children are intent on meeting the characters and you were planning on a sit down meal (or Table Service in Disney-speak), you can maximize your time by killing these two proverbial birds with one stone (we at TouringPlans do not condone bird stoning).

Some of the specific character meals (listed below) are also in fantastic settings and a few have rarely seen characters as well. The real advantage however, is the joy of seeing a child meeting their favorite character and the joy of an adult who didn’t have to wait in a long line to meet them.

There are a couple of distinct disadvantages to the character meals though too. For one, they are not cheap. All of the character meals are fixed-price: either buffets or family-style and the adult prices range from 30 to $58. While there are more expensive meals at Disney World, character dining is not the way to go if you are on a strict budget. Another disadvantage is the time commitment involved in character meals. If you have a lot to see, taking an hour or 90 minutes out of your day for a meal may not be ideal.

One thing you should be aware of is that the overall food quality is not of the quality that you would expect for the price. There are a few that serve food that is quite good, but most are subpar. What you are paying for is the access to the characters more than the food. Once you accept that, the price will make a lot more sense to you.

The Character Meals of Walt Disney World

Below you will find lots of information about character dining at Disney World including the location, food, characters present, and our opinions of the experience.

In-Park Character Dining

Each of Walt Disney World’s four theme parks has at least one character dining location. These in-park options are not necessarily better in terms of quality (although some are), but they have a sizeable advantage in park touring efficiency.

One obvious advantage is that you do not have to leave the park for your meal. Just the commuting time from inside a park to a Disney resort, even a nearby one, can eat up 30 minutes or more of your day. Another bonus to in-park character dining is that any restaurant serving breakfast offers reservations up to 1 hour before park opening. Getting to the restaurant an hour before the masses allows you to not only walk through a wonderfully quiet theme park, but also finish your meal and still be able to make it to the attractions for those important early hours.

Magic Kingdom

Cinderella’s Royal Table

Location: Inside Cinderella Castle

Characters:

  • Cinderella greets guests in the lobby prior to seating
  • Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Snow White
  • Ariel (The Little Mermaid)
  • Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

Please note that characters may change based on availability.

Meals Available:

Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner

For pricing, please refer to our dining and menu page

Atmosphere

There are actually two stages you will encounter upon walking into the restaurant. The first is a greeting room in which you’ll find Cinderella herself (and this is the only time you see her). The good news is that the greeting room is wonderfully decorated with shields and exposed beams to look very much like a castle’s great room. The bad news is that it’s hard to envision yourself in a storybook castle because of all the other people crammed in there waiting to meet and get a picture with Cinderella.

Stage two is acceptance…oh, we mean the dining room (acceptance comes after you see your credit card bill). The dining room is one level above the greeting room and to get there you go up a wonderful spiral staircase which opens into a vaulted, regal dining area. The restaurant itself is fairly small with stained-glass windows overlooking Fantasyland, and the overall impression definitely gives you the feeling of eating in a castle (well, at least a fake castle).

Food

Breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table is slightly more interesting than most because it is not a buffet and the presentation attempts to be a little fancy (with mixed results). The downside is that there are only a few different choices. In addition to the standard bacon, eggs, and sausage plate, you also have the options of either French toast or granola. Like most breakfasts in the parks nothing is fantastic, but it is not offensive either (we're really selling it, right?).

The lunch and dinner prices include and appetizer, entree, and dessert. The lunch menu includes entrees such as Gnocchi with Roasted Vegetables and a Beef Tenderloin Salad while the dinner menu features Gnocchi with Roasted Vegetables and Beef Tenderloin. The desserts are also basically the same which makes us wonder a bit at the $13 price bump for dinner. The food is good and well-presented, but the price is still mostly for the princesses and the atmosphere rather than the meal itself.

Miscellaneous Bits of Goodness

The princesses are all introduced as they enter the dining room as if they are contestants on a dating show. There is also a periodic wishing ceremony where a disembodied voice asks kids to wave their wands or swords (which are provided as souvenirs) and the ceiling sparkles. Both of these events are hokey, but the kids love 'em.

The Crystal Palace

Location: The Crystal Palace Restaurant, where Main Street, U.S.A. meets Adventureland.

Characters:

  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Tigger
  • Eeyore
  • Piglet

Meals Available:

Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner

For pricing, please refer to our dining and menu page

Atmosphere

The Crystal Palace is a beautiful building made seemingly entirely of window. It really is a remarkably nice space, full of light and tastefully decorated. It is also quite loud, which is a common theme of character dining.

There isn't really a theme, although the restaurant does incorporate into Main Street very well. It almost seems to be a throwback to days when women in hats would attend brunch accompanied by men with top hats, canes, and a monocle (although we might be confusingly adding Mr. Peanut in there somewhere).

One of the best things about eating at the Crystal Palace is the location. Since it is right near the hub of the Magic Kingdom, it can be added into a day of touring remarkably easy. You can walk out the door and head right for your favorite attraction without having to worry about added transportation time.

Food

The menu is different for each meal, but all are served via buffet. As with most Disney World breakfast buffets, Crystal Palace's is stocked mostly with breakfast staples like bacon, eggs, sausage, and Mickey waffles. Probably the best thing on the buffet here is Pooh's Puffed French Toast, which is technically on the kids table, but we still help ourselves to a few (too many) servings.

The lunch and dinner menus change more frequently, but the lunch menu often includes things such as Mediterranean saute chicken and flank steak. On the dinner buffet, you will often find prime rib, slow-roasted pork, and peel-and-eat shrimp.

Miscellaneous Bits of Goodness

Crystal Palace is just about the only place to meet Piglet or Eeyore.

Epcot

Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Location: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway Pavilion in World Showcase.

Characters:

  • Belle (Beauty and the Beast) greets guests in the lobby prior to seating
  • Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Snow White
  • Ariel (The Little Mermaid)
  • Jasmine (Aladdin)

Please note that characters may change based on availability.

Meals Available:

Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner

For pricing, please refer to our dining and menu page

Atmosphere

The inside of the dining hall is very nicely appointed. It is spacious, but the whitewashed brick walls, wooden ceiling, and exposed beams make it look royal and ancient. The main dining area is further enhanced with a vaulted roof, royal flags, and “stone” arches. If you can peel your eyes from the camera’s viewfinder it is quite a nice room.

All is not perfect, in fact there are two atmospheric downsides. The first is that large vaulted ceiling in the dining area, which elevates the noise level. Of course the noise level already starts out pretty high since you’re dealing with a lot of young children (and wives chastising their husband for noticing Jasmine a little too closely).

The second problem we've found is the waiting area, or more specifically, the complete lack of one. The wait for Akershus can be a little longer than most meals because of the picture that you take prior to being seated. Instead of taking you to an open table right away, you are led to a line where you wait for a picture with Belle. Since the check-in kiosk is right at the entrance to the restaurant, there is nowhere to wait while you await your “royal invitation.” What results is a conference of mini-princesses baking in the sun in the middle of a replica Norwegian courtyard (which is not as funny as the mental image of that scene suggests).

Food

Though the theme is Scandinavian, breakfast is all-American save for a handful of Norwegian tastes such as mackerel, herring, and gjetost (goat cheese). Lunch and dinner start at the koldtbord, where there's a wonderful array of cheeses, meats, and salads; entrees include roast turkey with stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce; pan-seared salmon; braised beef ribs; mushroom-stuffed pasta; and kjottkake. Picky kids will like the pasta with grilled chicken, cheese pizza, and meatballs with mashed potatoes. You can order more than one entree - just ask, and be prepared for some weird looks from the servers who assume you're a glutton. Service can sometimes be slow, but the cuisines is above average.

Miscellaneous Bits of Goodness

Princess Belle greets guests prior to seating for a photo, but does not circulate to the tables. Periodically there is a parade where the princesses invite all the children to participate. Be warned--and we speak from experience here--that they will not necessarily walk your child back to the room where your table is, so keep an eye on them.

Chip 'n Dale's Harvest Feast Dinner at The Garden Grill

Location: The Garden Grill Restaurant in the Land Pavilion.

Characters:

  • Chip
  • Dale
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Pluto

Meals Available:

Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner

For pricing, please refer to our dining and menu page

Atmosphere

With the popular Soarin' attraction nearby, The Garden Grill stays busy, even though the concept and the dining room are getting a little frayed around the edges. You step on a slowly revolving floor to make your way to tables that revolve above scenes from Living with the Land, the pavilion's ride-through attraction. If service is prompt, about the time you finish a meal you've revolved around once, past scenes of a desert, a rain forest, and a farm, along with a few mural-painted walls in between.

Food

We have been pleasantly surprised by the food at The Garden Grill. It isn't spectacular, but it is obviously fresh--some grown in The Land pavilion--and well seasoned. The food is all served family style, and refills are available. The items are simple, home-style dishes such as beef loin, turkey breast, and smashed potatoes.

Miscellaneous Bits of Goodness

One question that we've just had to ask during the meal was how the wait staff finds the tables. You see, while the tables are on the rotating floor, the kitchen is not. So every time a server comes out of the kitchen, the tables are in a slightly different spot (relative to the kitchen). The answer is basically “you get used to it,” which is much less interesting than the system of hidden codes and secret signals that we had devised in our heads.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney Junior Play 'n Dine at Hollywood & Vine

Location: Hollywood & Vine Restaurant near Echo Lake. Next door to the 50's Prime Time Cafe.

Characters:

  • Jake (Jake and the Neverland Pirates)
  • Sofia (Sofia the First)
  • Doc McStuffins
  • Handy Manny

Meals Available:

Breakfast; Lunch

For pricing, please refer to our dining and menu page

Atmosphere

The restaurant is a large Art Deco-style cafeteria with tile floors and lots of chrome and huge wall murals with vintage scenes of old Hollywood and other California landmarks. It is apparently meant to resemble a diner, but the theme falls well short. The room is way too big and open to look like a real diner, and there are many chain restaurants that go for the same look, which is a little more what Hollywood and Vine ended up looking like.

Food

Breakfast is pretty much the same as most other Walt Disney World buffet breakfasts: eggs, sausage, potatoes, Mickey waffles that have clearly been sitting under heat lamps. The food should not keep you away, but you should certainly not go there for the food, either.

The lunch buffet includes items that sound very interesting like the beer-braised boneless beef short ribs, the lobster and shrimp mac n' cheese, and the chipotle-orange BBQ chicken. Our experience, however, is that the execution is a little lacking.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Donald's Dining Safari at Tusker House

Location: The Tusker House Restaurant in Africa, just over the bridge from Discovery Island.

Characters:

  • Donald Duck greets guests outside prior to seating
  • Daisy Duck
  • Goofy
  • Mickey Mouse

Meals Available:

Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner

For pricing, please refer to our dining and menu page

Atmosphere

As with everything in the Africa and Asia sections of Animal Kingdom, the building that houses the restaurant is exquisitely themed. You walk up to a worn building that is in need of some touch up work, and heading inside leads you into an African marketplace setting with multiple dining rooms branched off of the main buffet area. Inside the dining rooms are maps of Africa with information about crop-growing regions and exports.

Our only two complaints about the atmosphere are not unique to the Tusker House. For one, the waiting area for checking in is outdoors, and you may be aware of this, but Florida can be hot. We don’t particularly like being really hot and sweaty while waiting for a meal. The Tusker House waiting area is covered and has chairs, so that puts it a step above some others.

Our second complaint is the noise, which is almost always a problem at character meals. For some reason cramming large amounts of children into an echo-heavy space and introducing popular characters makes sound levels higher. I guess it is just a phenomenon that science has yet to explain.

Food

Overall, we really like the food at Tusker House compared to other character meals, although the breakfast fare leans more toward the standards (as does everyplace on Disney property). For breakfast there are a few interesting items such as frittatas (both veggie and ham and cheese), spiced corned beef hash, beef quiches, and carved honey-glazed ham.

The lunch menu could not be more different from the other character buffets with hummus, a few kinds of couscous, spiced tofu, curried chicken, carved meats, and lots of veggies and other sides. The food is not for everyone, but we really appreciate any effort on Disney property to put out something unique and at least semi-authentic. Any meal where we don’t have to waste energy choking down chicken nuggets and fries makes us happy tourists.

Tusker House also has a very good reputation with vegetarians, vegans, the lactose intolerant, and sufferers of Celiac’s disease.

Miscellaneous Bits of Goodness

Donald Duck only appears outside the building for a photo opportunity prior to seating. The other characters are dressed in safari gear, which involves lots of khaki.

Disney Resort Character Dining

Many of the Deluxe Disney Resorts feature character meals. Although travel time from your location to the venue may increase compared to the ease of in-park dining, some of these meals are excellent. Of course, if you happen to be staying at one of these resorts, the convenience is unbeatable.

You will not find any character dining opportunities at Moderate, Value, or DVC only properties (such as Old Key West). In fact, not even all of the Deluxe Resorts have a character meal, such as Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge, or the Boardwalk Inn. To help separate the resorts that do, we've split them up by location.

Magic Kingdom Area Resorts

Chef Mickey's

Location: Disney's Contemporary Resort, on the concourse level.

Characters:

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse
  • Donald Duck
  • Goofy
  • Pluto

Meals Available:

Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner

For pricing, please refer to our dining and menu page

Atmosphere

Chef Mickey’s is very loud, and we don’t mean noisy restaurant loud. It’s as if one hundred children just saw Mickey Mouse and screamed inside a cavernous, echo-prone space...oh wait, that’s exactly what it is.

Overall, the restaurant space is nice, but nothing special. There are quite a few seating areas spaced around a large buffet area and if you get lucky you may be in a smaller, more out-of-the-way room. Otherwise you will be passed by many, many people on their way to the buffet (or bathroom, or about to tackle Goofy).

Food

The food is not the reason to come to Chef Mickey's--if you are not interested in meeting the characters you should go elsewhere. All meals are buffets, with breakfast being the standard meats, eggs, and waffles. The dinner menu sounds good with carved meats, pasta selections, and Parmesan-mashed potatoes, but the freshness and quality are both below average.

Miscellaneous Bits of Goodness

This is a great place to meet the top characters without having to wait in multiple lines.

Best Friends Breakfast at 'Ohana

Location: Disney's Polynesian Resort, on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House.

Characters:

  • Lilo
  • Stitch
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Pluto

Meals Available:

Breakfast

For pricing, please refer to our dining and menu page

Atmosphere

With exposed beam ceilings, carved pillars, a gorgeous open pit cooking area (that is not used for breakfast), and views including all of the Polynesian Resort's lush tropical foliage and Seven Seas Lagoon, the space is very pleasant without being over the top. The dining room is open and noisy, yet comfortable and pretty.

As you may know, ‘Ohana means ‘family’ and the restaurant sticks to that theme with lots of large tables and servers that refer to everyone as “cousin.” Although we are sometimes thrown off by the cousin references, thinking it to be some weird slang, it is friendly. During the meal the staff does attempt to raise the noise level by having a parade of children shaking maracas and marching around to “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride.”

Food

Breakfast is the only character meal at ‘Ohana and breakfast food throughout Disney World is remarkably similar, if of decent quality. Eggs, bacon, sausage, and Mickey waffles dominate most early morning menus and ‘Ohana is sadly no different in that respect, although the manner of service is different.

Rather than a buffet, which is used by most character meals, ‘Ohana is served ‘Ohana-style (family-style…get it?). A large skillet is brought to the table containing the eggs, bacon, sausage, and fried potatoes. Mickey waffles are brought separately by the servers and we have detected a definite attempt to limit the number of waffles consumed. While we do not doubt for a second that a crazy request of 40 waffles would be granted, the server only brings out a small bowl of waffles and pointedly asks “would you like one or two” in an effort to imply that those are the only choices. This tactic is not necessarily a negative, just an interesting difference.

Two fictional bonus points are added are the food quality and the rolls. We find the quality of the eggs and sausage especially to be better than other breakfasts. This may be simply that they are not sitting in warming trays for an undisclosed amount of time, but it is still noticeable. The rolls are sweet, cinnamon-like concoctions that are given to you as soon as you are seated. They are warm and delicious, albeit sticky.

Miscellaneous Bits of Goodness

Mickey is decked out in a festive Hawaiian shirt and all four characters wear leis. Guests are also given faux-flower leis upon check-in at the restaurant to fit in with the overall resort theme.

1900 Park Fare

Location: Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, in the main building.

Supercalafragilistic Breakfast Characters:

  • Mary Poppins
  • Alice (Alice in Wonderland)
  • The Mad Hatter
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Tigger

Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner Characters:

  • Cinderella
  • Prince Charming
  • Lady Tremaine (step-mother from Cinderella)
  • Anastasia and Drizella (step-sisters from Cinderella)

Meals Available:

Breakfast; Dinner

For pricing, please refer to our dining and menu page

Atmosphere

The dining area of 1900 Park Fare is very classy and clean, but ultimately boring and uninteresting. The restaurant is lightly carousel themed, with a few antique looking carousel horses and a band organ as the primary decorations. These items are incredibly nice, but they are few and go unnoticed far too easily. Other than the band organ and the linen-set tables, the rest of the room is filled with beige and warm pastels. Nothing really draws the eye, and the whole room lacks focus.

Food

The food is above average for a character meal. It is served in a large buffet and contains many items not found on other Disney buffets. The breakfast menu features items such as Smoked Salmon Lox and Hickory-smoked ham along with staples like the Mickey Waffle.

The dinner line starts with 8 different salads and three different soups, then moves on to entrees such as sushi, strip loin, paella, coq au vin, and a create your own pasta station. Sides range from fruit to rice to beef stew, and the dessert table has several individually sized creations, as well as a big bowl of gummy bears (takes lots of willpower to walk by that, let us tell you).

Miscellaneous Bits of Goodness

Cinderella and Prince Charming may be the reason many people come, but the stepsisters often steal the show--which is precisely their goal. They will argue, yell, and sometimes resort to mild violence with each other, but they are always very funny.

Epcot Area Resorts

Cape May Cafe

Location: Disney's Beach Club Resort, just off of the lobby.

Characters:

  • Minnie Mouse
  • Donald Duck
  • Goofy

Meals Available:

Breakfast

For pricing, please refer to our dining and menu page

Atmosphere

The location of Cape May Café at the Beach Club Resort can cause a slight transportation issue when you schedule an early character meal. If you do not have a rental car your choices for arrival at the Beach Club (assuming you are not staying at the Yacht Club, Swan, Dolphin, or Boardwalk, which you can walk from) are: 1) bus/monorail to Epcot and walk all the way through Future World and out the International Gateway, 2) bus to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and boat/walk to Beach Club, 3) bus to another park or Disney Springs and then bus to Beach Club, or 4) take a taxi. You have undoubtedly noticed that none of these is ideal, especially with children (unless your children say “Yea! We’re getting up at 6am for an 8:25 breakfast!”).

The actual restaurant is bright, airy, and beachy with sand castles and lots of pastel colors. Most of it is open and centered around the buffet, although there is a smaller side room that had a low ceiling (which helps increase the noise level).

Food

Cape May’s breakfast cuisine is good although not mind blowing. There are eggs, bacon, sausage, Mickey waffles, French toast, assorted pastries, cereals…if this was $10,000 Pyramid you would have already yelled out “breakfast buffet in Disney World!”

Miscellaneous Bits of Goodness

The turquoise, green, and gold costumes worn by the characters at Cape May are bright and cheery, but still quite possibly our least favorite character costuming.

Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno

Location: Disney's Boardwalk, in the Trattoria al Forno restaurant on the Boardwalk.

Characters:

  • Rapunzel
  • Eugene "Flynn" Rider
  • Ariel
  • Prince Eric

Meals Available:

Breakfast

For pricing, please refer to our dining and menu page

Atmosphere

Like the Cape May Café above, the location may not be ideal for an early breakfast reservation. If you do not have a rental car your choices for arrival at the Boardwalk (assuming you are not staying at the Beach Club, Yacht Club, Swan, or Dolphin, which you can walk from) are: 1) bus/monorail to Epcot and walk all the way through Future World and out the International Gateway, 2) bus to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and boat/walk to Boardwalk, 3) bus to another park or Disney Springs and then bus to Boardwalk, or 4) take a taxi. You have undoubtedly noticed that none of these is ideal, especially with children (unless your children say “Yea! We’re getting up at 6am for an 8:25 breakfast!”).

The actual restaurant is classy with an open kitchen in the center. The vaguely Italian theme of the restaurant is not changed in any way for the character meal.

Food

The Bon Voyage menu is one of the better meals you will get with characters. The attentive staff starts you out with a basket of pastries and then gives you a choice of meals featuring eggs, pancakes, french toast, and the like. An effort is made with the food and the presentation here that does not appear in the buffet meals.

Miscellaneous Bits of Goodness

One of the only places where you can meet some of the princes, the characters here are exceptional. Prince Eric can sometimes be a little dry (he's a landlubber after all), but the other three are full of life and energy. Flynn will help teach the boys the "smolder" while Rapunzel and Ariel are likely to drag willing kids and adults into a dance at any moment.

Garden Grove

Location: The Swan Resort.

Breakfast Characters (only appear on Saturday and Sunday):

  • Chip
  • Dale
  • Pluto
  • Goofy

Characters may change based on availability

Dinner Characters:

  • Pluto
  • Goofy

Characters may change based on availability

Meals Available:

Breakfast; Dinner

For pricing, please refer to our dining and menu page

Atmosphere

The spacious dining room has a 25-foot faux oak tree as its centerpiece, and sunlight streams in from the restaurant's tall windows. At night, the lights are dimmed, the oak tree is full of lanterns and twinkling lights, and street lamps create the pleasant ambiance of a nighttime garden.

Food

Breakfast is a la carte with selections including 3 egg omelets, biscuits and gravy, and fruit-topped Belgian waffles. Characters appear at breakfast on Saturday and Sunday only.

Lunch and dinner buffets feature prime rib, cedar plank salmon, with never-ending soups and "toss it or chop it" salads. Desserts supplied by pastry chef Laurent Branlard. Characters appear nightly during dinner.

The seafood buffet features a raw bar, jumbo scallops, fried-seafood basket, paella, and salmon.

Miscellaneous Bits of Goodness

Characters appear nightly at dinner, but only at breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays.

Last updated on October 16, 2017

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