As you can see from our chart Disney offers a wide range of dining options with characters. We think this is a great way to meet your favourite Disney friends while eating without wasting time standing in line waiting for an autograph (as you can do in a number of spots in the parks). There is nothing worse than standing in line only to be told that the character you are waiting on is going on break.
In contrast, when you eat at a character meal there are staff there to make sure each character makes it to your table for photos and autographs. We have found the characters more than willing to take multiple pictures with each member of the family. We’ve also enjoyed the characters coming to our table more than once and even teasing each other in front of us. Of course every meal we’ve ever had at Disney has had excellent service from Cast Members.
We’ve eaten at many of the character dining meals over the years and have complied our “Top 10” list:
- Bon Voyage Breakfastwas such a delicious breakfast with a relaxed pace that it tops our list. This breakfast happens at the Trattoria El Forno restaurant on the Boardwalk (next to the Boardwalk hotel). It is an Italian restaurant for lunch and dinner and offers an Italian themed a la carte breakfast with Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Arielle & Prince Eric. It is not offered every day and it is very popular so book your reservations as soon as you can (180 days before your travel day if you are staying on property.) Characters visited our table in between courses of fruit, fresh pastries and a hearty entree. The “Shipwreck al Forno” (a calzone with scrambled eggs, soppressata, bacon, sausage cheese and Sunday gravy) and the “Tangled Eggs” (tomato & basil scrambled eggs, fresh mozzarella, Sunday gravy and roasted potatoes) were both excellent! Don’t be scared by the Sunday gravy, it is simply an Italian style red sauce that goes perfectly with the dishes.
Favourite songs from Tangled and The Little Mermaid played while kids paraded after the characters waving their napkins. Our server did a great job of explaining when the characters would arrive and what the kids should do for the parade. She brought our dishes to the table at just the right time, meaning we could relax and enjoy our meal. At this meal we thought we had a longer and better experience with the characters. We noticed one Arielle fan that even had Arielle hold her dolls for a photo (super sweet).
Overall, we found this breakfast, quieter and with the character visits to the table more spaced out. Since we didn’t have to go up to a buffet we were able to capture better photos and didn’t have to worry about missing a character. However, we are pretty sure you can let a cast member know you have missed someone at any meal and that character will return to your table. At this breakfast a cast member came to ask us if we had seen everyone.
- Garden Grill in Epcot is our second favourite choice for an enjoyable character meal. Here you can enjoy the novelty of a revolving restaurant while meeting Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale. The meal is served family style, which means that they bring a few big platters of food for everyone to share. We enjoyed this as it meant we didn’t even need to worry about menus or making a choice. The platters of food included something for everyone starting with buns & yummy maple butter, cobb and potato salads, then sausage, beef, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and green beans. A kids’ platter had macaroni & cheese and French fries. The delicious dessert of strawberries & cream hit the spot. Not only was the food great, but we had lots of time with each character. They posed for lots of pictures but then came around again to tease each other and the kids. Our favourite video of the trip has interruptions from Pluto and Chip.
- Ohana’s Breakfast at the Polynesian Resort beats out other great options for the third spot on our list, largely because we can’t get enough of the atmosphere and theme of this resort. We always feel like we are in paradise as we enter the front doors. Plus this is another family style meal served right to the table, making for a more enjoyable experience. Once again, Mickey, Lilo and Goofy do an excellent job of ensuring they have visited each table. We loved the pineapple bread at the beginning and thought the breakfast platter was more than complete with ham, sausage, waffles, biscuits, eggs and potatoes. Be sure to have the POG juice – pineapple, orange and guava which is included with the dining plan. While Stitch no longer visits tables, he welcomes you outside the restaurant and poses for photos while you wait to enter (yes you will have to wait a few minutes even though you have a reservation at most restaurants). Our kids were really excited to meet Stitch so they were distracted by the wait to eat and we thought this process was seamless. During the meal there is a great parade with maracas for the kids.
- Belle’s Castlein Magic Kingdom offers three meals each day but only dinner is actually a character meal. This is one of the most popular character dining options and requires very early booking. A walk up researvation can be secured for the very lucky but shouldn’t be counted on. The meal provides a nice respite right in the park. We enjoyed entering Magic Kingdom before it opened because of our early breakfast reservation – this meant we saw rope drop from the other side and took great photos of the castle with no one else around.
Our breakfast at Belle’s castle was enjoyable, particularly because of the beautiful castle setting. The Rose room actually has a rose that looses it’s petals, the Music box room has a life sized statue of Belle and the Beast that dance and the West room has a portrait that changes from Prince to Beast when the lighting strikes plus it appreas to be snowing outside. Despite these neat features we ranked this option fourth on our list because of the cafeteria feel. You order food at computers when you walk in, sit at rows of tables and then your food is served from carts. Drinks were available at central stations. No characters are present for breakfast or lunch, only for dinner. We suspect once we eat dinner with Belle and the Beast this character meal might move higher on our list. When eating on the dining plan this one credit quick service breakfast or lunch meal offers great value. Our breakfast for 3 adults and 2 children out of pocket was roughly $100, which was a bit pricey.
- 1900 Park Farein the Grand Floridian Resort is another popular character option that requires early booking. We came away somewhat disappointed from Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner despite the excellent character interaction. Because it was buffet style with average food and because the characters seemed to move so quickly it felt like we were in a marathon. We were worried about being at the buffett while the characters came to our table, especially when our little ones wanted to visit the buffett many times.
Cinderella and Prince Charming were indeed charming and danced together. The Step Mother and Step Sisters provided some rare and welcome edge to the event, teasing guests and providing great entertainment. There is no doubt this is a great place to eat when you are on the dining plan, especially because seeing the Grand Floridian resort is a must. However, our bill pushed $200 and that was hard to stomach.
Park Fare offers a Supercalifragilistic Breakfast with the Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderfland, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh and Tiger. It also has a Wonderland Tea Party in the afternoon with Disney Characters from Wonderland and an hour of games, stories and cupcakes.
6. Tusker House in Animal Kingdom offers exotic food choices and characters dressed for a safari. You enter the “house” into the main buffet room and then guests are seated in various rooms off that main room. This made the experience more intimate and not too loud. Many of the food choices were delicious with nann breads and dips, couscous, Mojo pork, Curry chicken and really great jalapeno corn bread. We missed out on the famous Zebra Dome dessert but the Turtle Brownies were a great second.
Character experiences are offered for all three meals. We enjoyed watching Goofy tease Donald and fall in love with Daisy.
7. Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom has Winnie the Pooh, Tiger and Piglet. When we ate here some years ago we certainly weren’t blown away by the food. It is a standard buffet but it didn’t wow us with outstanding food quality. The atmosphere and décor is nice. It certainly does feel like you are in a Victorian greenhouse, with the white chairs and many windows in the ceiling. Tiger, Pooh and Piglet are super cute but it wasn’t a meal we have repeated.
On the list for next time:
Our rankings will surely change when we finally make it to some of the other character meals on the list. Of the character meals we haven’t tried yet, the following is in order of
Cinderella’s Royal Table is right inside the castle. It is a small dining room so is another meal that requires very early booking. You can meet Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Rapunzel and Snow White. Many little girls go here after a trip to the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique. We certainly want to try this meal but the two dining credit charge has deterred us.
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ at Fort Wilderness Resort gets mixed reviews. Alcohol is included in the meal but it is two dining credits for outdoor eating. When were we at Trails End restaurant during a torrential rainstorm we were glad we hadn’t opted for the BBQ. It is an all you can eat BBQ buffet featuring live country music, live rope tricks and line dancing. Characters include Minnie, Mickey, Goofy, Chip and Dale. At $60+ per adult this is certainly a more expensive option.
Akershus Royal Banquet in Epcot (near the Frozen ride) is a great option because it lets you meet lots of princesses like at Cinderella’s Royal Table but only costs one dining credit. It does have Norwegian style food which isn’t enjoyed by everyone.
Cape May’s Breakfast at the Beach Club Resort Minnie and friends dress in beach clothes. This breakfast is said to have an underwhelming location, though the Beach Club is a beautiful resort.
Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Resort has a reputation for being a loud restaurant with standard buffet fair. Many say it is a must because it is the only place on park where you can see the “Fab Five”- Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy. We thought the atmosphere was too similar to a quick service cafeteria.
Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios in the morning you can meet your favourite Disney Junior characters like Sofia the First, Jake & the Neverland Pirates and Doc McStuffins. The food is a standard American buffet. For dinner Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Daisy appear and are dressed in seasonal attire.
*Remember that characters are subject to change at all meals and not all meals are offered every day. You also need a park ticket to eat at a meal inside a park.