While Disney World certainly is the pinnacle of theme park visits, many guests consider the ultimate experience available at the Disney World Resort not to be any ride or attraction. Instead, they look to Disney dining and the character meal as the best value and most fun experience that is offered anywhere on property. It’s hard to argue with that when you think about it. The character meal combines exceptional dining experiences with the ultimate in character meet and greets – where the characters come to you! Here are 8 character meals we just can’t get enough of.
6. Cinderella’s Royal Table
While the negatives of Cinderella’s Royal Table are well known in that it is pricey and it can be difficult to get a reservation here – particularly for larger parties – it is nonetheless one of the best character dining experiences to be had in the entire Disney World Resort. The castle setting is amazing with the gothic arches around the room and heraldic flags hanging from the ceiling, the photo session with Cinderella prior to your meal is included in the price, and the food is outstanding. Whether you go for the pork tenderloin, the braised short rib, the vegetarian option of seasonal gnocchi, or any of the other tasty entrees, you won’t be disappointed. The ambiance here is fairly calm and the service is exemplary. Add to that the wonderful assortment of Disney princesses that visit your table like Ariel, Aurora, Snow White, and Jasmine, along with the Fairy Godmother and you easily understand why those reservations can be hard to come by! Check out “7 Things You’ll Love About Cinderella’s Royal Table.”
5. Chef Mickey’s
With apologies to Cape May Café, which offers a slightly quieter breakfast buffet that is wonderful in its own right, the lively environment and full complement of classic Disney characters makes Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort the place to be! Here you’ll find Disney’s Fab Five visiting the tables: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. While the ambiance can be fairly loud, the food is excellent with a nice assortment of American cuisine and the service here is outstanding. Is there anyone who doesn’t love the Mickey head waffles with syrup soaking into every available golden pocket? Plus, the monorail comes zipping through the building every 5 minutes or so. That makes for a very unique dining experience!
4. Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace inside the Magic Kingdom has great appeal to young children and adults alike, and it’s not hard to see why. The buffet has great variety to satisfy every taste and the price makes it one of the better values for character meals. The servers have a reputation for giving wonderful, attentive service. And the Winnie the Pooh characters have very broad appeal across multiple generations. While the Disney Channel characters that can be found at Hollywood and Vine inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios might be well known to the preschool set, many adults have no idea who Doc McStuffins or Handy Manny are. But Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore will delight diners of all ages. And where other character meals can have spotty character interaction, the Crystal Palace seems to have it all figured out. The time it takes for the characters to reach you is reasonable, yet they are spaced out just enough to ensure a lot of quality time with each one. And you need some breathing room between characters. After all, meeting Tigger face to face is thrilling – for toddlers and grown-ups alike – so it’s understandable if you need a moment to settle down again! Check out “10 Things You’ll Love About Dining At Disney World’s Crystal Palace Restaurant.”
3. Garden Grill
The Garden Grill, located inside The Land in EPCOT’s Future World, is unique for a number of reasons. On the negative side, the restaurant is only open for dinner. But after that it’s nothing but pluses! First, the entire restaurant rotates over the course of your meal, providing scenery changes throughout your time there. The food ranks right up there with the best to be found in a character dining experience, and some of the vegetables are grown right there in Living with the Land’s greenhouses! (And it was here where my child said words never before heard in my house: “These vegetables are delicious! Can I have more?”) The food is served family style and they are happy to bring you as much as you want. The character interaction here is also top-notch. Chip and Dale are featured, along with Pluto and Mickey in his farmer overalls. They spent a lot of time at our table with our kids, and came back several times! This was one of the best character meals for character attention.
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Disney travel deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius! Discover More >
2. 1900 Park Fare
With a full change of characters from the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast to Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner – with a Wonderland Tea Party in between for good measure – there certainly is a lot of variety in your meet and greet opportunities at 1900 Park Fare! Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, The Mad Hatter, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger are on hand to make sure your day starts with a festive breakfast buffet. A nice variety of food ensures that you’ll have lots of delicious choices to make. The setting is bright and beautiful and Big Bertha, a turn-of-the-century organ, plays music while you dine! Later, when your day winds down, return for dinner with Cinderella, Prince Charming, Fairy Godmother, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella. Not only is this really the only opportunity to dine with Disney villains, the interaction that Lady Tremaine and the stepsisters have with the guests – particularly the boys and men – make this one of the more fun character experiences!
With a name like ‘Ohana, you just know that the meals must be served family-style! The atmosphere at ‘Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast is fun and festive, the food includes many island-inspired dishes, and Lilo and Stitch are on hand to make sure that no one gets left behind and no food gets forgotten! With Mickey and Pluto rounding out the characters and a parade around the restaurant likely to occur at any moment, ‘Ohana is a favorite of children. And that’s before they even try the delicious POG juice and Hawaiian welcome bread! While it can be a bit noisy, your surroundings whisk you away to the islands, the views of the Seven Seas Lagoon are gorgeous, and the character interaction is sometimes better here than you can find at other character meals.
While the characters are “subject to change” as Disney puts it, there really is no such thing as a bad character meal offered at Disney. But the dining experiences listed above really seem to stand out above the others for one reason or another.
Did we get it just right, with your favorite on the list above? Or are you stunned by our omissions? Are you an Akershus devotee? Do you swear by Cape May Café? Let us know which character meal is a must-do for you on your Disney vacation!
BONUS TIP: To find out more about Disney World’s character meals consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best price for your vacation, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!