One of our favorite things to do at Disney is eat.
And it’s not so much the food, as it is the dining experience.
And most of those experiences revolve around meeting characters.
Character dining is an easy way to kill two birds with one stone. You get a chance to share a meal with your family while meeting characters without having to stand in line.
I always suggest to first-timers to do at least one character meal during your trip, just so you are guaranteed to meet characters.
I haven’t yet experienced all of the character meals around Disney, but I’ve done a few.
These are some of my favorites.
5. Cinderella’s Royal Table
What’s better than having a meal with a princess? Doing so in Cinderella’s castle! Cinderella’s Royal Table (one of the hardest reservations to get at Disney) combines dining with your favorite princesses with the experience of eating in the castle. Enjoy a beautiful view of Fantasyland as you wait for the princesses to make their way around the dining room. In addition to being hard to reserve, CRT is a two-credit meal on the dining plan and is one of those rare meals at Disney in which you have to pay in advance. For a cheaper alternative (without the view), I would suggest Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Restaurant in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion. I’ve never done Akershus, but have had several clients experience it and enjoy it immensely.
4. Chef Mickey’s
The Fab Five (Mickey, Goofy, Pluto, Donald and Minnie) are on hand for this one inside the historic Contemporary Hotel across from the Magic Kingdom. As is the case for character dining, this is a buffet-style meal. The food is pretty decent. I prefer the breakfast options, but dinner is not bad. The character interaction seems rushed, but if you time it right, you can get two rounds with each character because they cycle through so quickly. Biggest reason I don’t have it ranked higher is that it can be a very noisy experience, between the monorail rushing through the building and the acoustics in the restaurant. Other than that, it’s one of the best character experiences on property.
This is a breakfast-only option, so it’s another one that’s tough to get into, but if you can get one early enough in the morning, it can make for a wonderful meal with a view right before you take the monorail into Magic Kingdom. Mikey and Pluto join Lilo and Stitch for a Polynesian-themed breakfast. OK, so most of the food is actually just good old American eggs, bacon, waffles, etc., but the POG juice is worth getting. It’s a delicious mix of Passion Fruit, Orange and Guava juice. Don’t knock it until you try it, and then don’t blame me when you’re addicted to it. This is a different character meal in that they bring a platter of food to each table and you have to ask for seconds. I think the last time we went, we ate about a dozen waffles. OK, maybe not a dozen, but close. And did I mention the view yet? You get a beautiful view of Magic Kingdom. It’s extremely popular at dinner as well, but characters only appear at breakfast now.
2. Tusker House
My top two are pretty much interchangeable. But they’re definitely my favorites. Tusker House is the character meal that replaced Restaurantasaurus, which is now a quick-service location. It’s located in Africa, right next to the Kilimanjaro Safaris entrance and next to Festival of the Lion King. So, it’s perfectly located, in my opinion. Safari Donald hosts this event and you’ll take a picture with him before entering the buffet-style restaurant. Not sure how many times we’ve eaten there, but we have yet to have a bad meal, whether it’s breakfast or lunch. I think the coolest thing about Tusker House is the fact that the buffet features traditional items you find on an American buffet, but it also has some African dishes. So, if you’re an adventurous eater, this is a good place for you. The atmosphere is festive and the theming is incredible. It’s just an awesome, vibrant restaurant. I could eat there every trip and never get tired of it.
Sentimental reasons put this one over Tusker House, but as I said they’re interchangeable. This was the place my wife and I ate during our Honeymoon and had one of those magical experiences where the cast members went all out to make us feel special. Like Tusker House, every meal I’ve eaten here has been memorable, but I do admit I prefer breakfast (just don’t tell Piglet the bacon is good). I think the reason I like breakfast more is that I can make an early ADR before the park opens and I can time it to where I’m walking out of the restaurant right as the park opens. Can’t beat tackling Magic Kingdom on a full belly! My kids prefer lunch/dinner because as they say “the macaroni and cheese and sliced ham are the best on property.” The character interaction can be a little weird because the characters do zig-zag, just because of the way the dining room is laid out. But have some patience, Tigger didn’t skip you, he’s following a pattern and he’ll be over shortly.
So, what are your favorite character meals? Full disclosure, as I said earlier, I haven’t done all the character meals. I still want to do the Garden Grill and 1900 Park Fare.
Let me know which ones you prefer. Tell me about your experiences there. Why does that character meal stick out in your mind?
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Thanks again and and remember to always let your conscience be your guide.