Adding Magical Experiences: Character Meals at Walt Disney World

Please note: That as of writing character meals are being offered in a limited capacity and are not running in a “normal” fashion. This post is created to help future visitors make informed planning decisions.

One of the best upgraded experiences you can have at Walt Disney World resorts are Character Meals, and no, they aren’t just for kids! Adults enjoy them too. Why would you want to have a character meal?

  1. Save time. Waiting in line for character meet and greets eats up valuable park time. With character dining, the characters come to you! They rotate around the room to each table while you dine. Talk about convenient!
  2. Certain characters can only be experienced via meals.
  3. Character meals are available outside the parks and even at select off property locations, making it a great activity on a non-park day.
  4. Character dining food is consistently good. Meals offered via character experiences are truly great, with some food only accessible via character meal. And who doesn’t like Mickey waffles?

I’m only going to highlight a few of my favorites here. For a great overview and the most up to date information about all Character Meals visit this comprehensive listing at the Disney Food Blog.

Breakfast

Breakfast has the most available options by far when it comes to character dining. We have done three breakfast options – ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort, the Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club, and Trattoria al Forno in the Boardwalk. Note that none of these places are inside the parks! That’s by design. Why waste precious morning park time eating, when you can get on most rides?

Each experience was entirely different and unique.

Ohana as the name suggests offers a Hawaiian experience with delicious exotic fruits. Characters you encounter include Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto. We chose this breakfast because we wanted an excuse to go to the Polynesian, and had heard of the fantastic food. This is a pricier restaurant and thus breakfast was a more reasonable option for us. Unfortunately, recent reports are that the service and especially food quality have slipped here. I hope they improve soon. The food here is served as much as you wish to your table.

The breakfast buffet available at the Cape May Cafe was much more classic in nature including the legendary Mickey waffles. Characters that join you there (complete with adorable beach gear) are the classic characters Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Daisy Duck and Donald Duck. We probably had the most character encounter time at this location with multiple visits by each one.

The Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno was just starting to be offered at our last visit, and the quality of service and food was spotty. The food offerings which were more brunch in nature, were interesting and different from the norm. It was a prix fixe meal with a few options.The reason we chose this meal is because the characters present are Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder and Ariel and Eric. Flynn was an especially fun encounter. I’m not sure we would go running back, but I would definitely give it another chance considering they have a few years of experience now under their belt.

I would be remiss without mentioning the two most popular character breakfast options Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort featuring Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Pluto, and Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom featuring Ariel, Belle, Princess Aurora, Jasmine, Snow White and of course Cinderella. Both offer more classic breakfast fare. I have not been to either but I hear Chef Mickey’s can be a bit loud.

Before the shutdown, Disney was beginning to offer some early morning breakfast package options that included early access to the parks or even a no wait access to certain rides. Depending on the price this could be a good value. If memory serves venues included Crystal Palace and Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom, Garden Grill and Akershus House in EPCOT, Tusker House in Animal Kingdom and Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios. Tusker House especially has historically been a sort of “hack” to access Animal Kingdom early before opening. Same for Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom. Something to watch for when character meals fully return.

Lunch

For lunch we’ve done two character meals Akershus House and Tusker House.

Akershus House in Norway Pavilion in EPCOT offers Norwegian food for lunch (they also have a breakfast buffet with more standard fare). Because of this, it’s less popular for lunch, but my adventurous eater didn’t mind one bit. Lots of seafood offerings. This location features what I call Princess Palooza including Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Princess Aurora, Ariel, Mary Poppins, and Jasmine. Eating in this unique location was a delight for my then four year old and she participated in a restaurant mini parade in her dress with the princesses. Really good memories. We chose a late lunch slot which worked for a great mid-day break in the air conditioning, and if memory serves lead right into a long toddler nap while we pushed her in the stroller around World Showcase. Win!

We’ve eaten at Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom twice, and I would eat there again. The first time we did, we were childless, but the food, along with priority Lion King seating, enticed us. We were not disappointed. It’s a buffet featuring amazing dishes from the African continent. The second time we went with our daughter and it was just as good as we remembered. That time we got River of Light show priority seating. Both times we were visited by Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Mickey Mouse, and Minnie Mouse in their safari gear.

The only other truly noteworthy lunch character experience is the Garden Grill in EPCOT featuring Chip and Dale, Mickey and Pluto. Chip and Dale I hear are especially a hoot. I also hear good things about the food which is served family style to your table. But the coolest thing about this location is that the restaurant itself rotates! You are on the move, slowly, and can enjoy different views of the Living with the Land attraction. It’s on my to do list for sure.

Dinner

We have never done character dinner for a few reasons namely cost, but also this leads into another prime park time, and thus not a great option. Much of what is offered for dinner is similar to what is offered for lunch, just more expensive. One notable exception is the Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare which is supposed to be amazing. Excellent buffet offering featuring Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine (the Wicked Stepmother), Anastasia and Drizella (Cinderella’s Stepsisters). The villain component is what is most appealing here and makes for a great experience. It’s on my bucket list.

Another unique character offering for dinner is Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Dopey, Grumpy and the Evil Queen also make an appearance.

As you can see, no matter what character or cuisine you like, there is something for everyone in character dining. I’d recommend at least one character dining experience each visit. Enjoy!

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