That’s the question I ask myself before every trip to Disney. On our last trip we did seven character meals. We were on the Deluxe Dining Plan and wanted to feel like we were getting our money’s worth.
We started with the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare. This buffet breakfast featured Mary Poppins, Alice, the Mad Hatter, Pooh, and Tigger. The food was excellent. I still can’t stop thinking about the Lobster Eggs Benedict and everyone enjoyed the “create your own omelet” station! The characters were so much fun! There was a lot of character interaction at this meal, although we did wait a good 40 minutes for Alice. Krissy was dressed as Mary Poppins and that lead to a lot of attention from both Mary Poppins and the Mad Hatter, who was hilarious!!!
Next was Garden Grill in Epcot. Characters here were Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale. This meal was served family style. We all enjoyed the turkey and the flank steak. It was very cool eating a salad and knowing that the veggies were grown right there! The true highlight of this meal was the cobbler. I understand that the dessert changes seasonally, but I will continue to hope for the blueberry cobbler to be featured when I visit. There was again a lot of character interaction and each character visited the table twice!
Our next character meal was the Princess Storybook Breakfast at Akershus in Epcot. This is another family-style meal but also has a nice cold buffet to go along with the eggs, potatoes, bacon, and sausage. The food here is your standard breakfast fare, but for me the cold buffet makes this meal a must-do. I love the cheeses and the fresh fruit as well as the cinnamon rolls. At this meal we saw first had our photo with Belle in the lobby. At the table we saw Aurora, Ariel, Snow White, and Cinderella, but I understand that the princesses are subject to change. The character interaction here was spotty. Ariel took some time with us, but the other three made us feel as though they couldn’t get done with us fast enough. This is the typical interaction we’ve experienced at Akershus on prior trips, so it was not unexpected. I think it just stood out a little more on this trip because of the fantastic interaction we had at the prior two meals.
The following morning we had breakfast at Donald’s Safari Breakfast at Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom. This meal was another good buffet. It featured some more interesting food choices and really enjoyed the oatmeal and toppings and the banana bread pudding with vanilla sauce was excellent! This was another character meal that made me feel like we were at a drive-thru. They were at the table and gone pretty quickly. Most frustrating was the experience we had with an adult guest at the next table. The whole time Daisy was there, he was pulling on her tail feathers. Now, I’m sure he thought he was being cute, but she kept turning around and paying attention to him, his wife and their son. I wanted so badly to tell him to wait his turn and that it was our time with Daisy, but I kept my manners and just threw some dirty looks his way. I just thought it was so rude. I mean, seriously, Daisy is coming to your table next, give me a few uninterrupted seconds with Donald’s main squeeze. I really did feel like Daisy’s handler should have stepped in. The character breakfasts aren’t cheap and we booked this one specifically to see Donald and Daisy.
Our next character meal was Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom. It is another buffet and the characters include Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger.
I have to say, by this point I think I was “over” character meals. I had done scrapbook-style autograph pages for both kids, myself, and my two sisters. I was the “keeper of the pages” and so at each character meal, I had to hand the characters 5 autograph pages and then get the photo with the character and the kids. It honestly ended up being stressful! I was usually the last one finished eating because I was so busy getting pages organized with the correct color Sharpie marker and then getting them signed and getting the photo that I didn’t have much time to actually eat. This was especially true at the buffets, where I had to squeeze fixing my plate in there. It was easier at Garden Grill and Akershus, because those meals were served family style.
Back to Crystal Palace, the food here was very good and very fresh. The character interaction here was somewhere between 1900 Park Fare and Tusker House. They spent a bit of time at each table and then moved on. It was also here that we had one of the worst servers we’ve ever had at Disney. Once we told him we were finished, we waited twenty minutes for our checks! And then another 10 for him to bring back our KTTW! Bubby had asked for chocolate milk, which he never received. It didn’t bother me too much, because Bubby (the boy who hates fruits and veggies) was actually drinking orange juice, but it really upset my Dad. We’d asked for it and we never got it, even though we ordered it and then asked once during the meal. Add that to the fact that Daddy didn’t have enough coffee and creamer and the fact that the waiter was actually flirting with me (ummm, hello! Wife here, mother of two, there’s two skinnier, hotter, single girls sitting at the same table, go flirt with them) and it ended up being horrible service. We are not repeating this meal on our next trip.
Our next character meal was dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table. This character meal was different, since there is actually a menu to choose from. I had the pork chops, which were perfectly cooked and delicious. As far as characters go, we first got our photo in the lobby with Cinderella. I had been warned that Cinderella does not sign autographs here and so we had gotten her autograph at Akershus, but we did see her signing for most people there. Other than that, there was almost no character interaction at this meal. The Fairy Godmother and Suzy waved as they walked past the table and did not stop at all. Perla did stop long enough for a photo. I considered doing this meal again in September, since the Princesses are now there for dinner and I’ve heard that they do stop for photos and autographs, but honestly, I did not feel that this meal was worth 2 Table Service credits.
Our last character meal was the character lunch at Hollywood and Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is another buffet. At this one, the food was more memorable than the characters! I adored the spoon bread. There was just such a nice selection of foods…salads and pastas and carved meats. Plus, ice cream machines to make your own sundae. Characters here were Jo Jo, Goliath, and Leo and June from the Little Einsteins. I’ve heard that Goliath has been replaced with Handy Manny, which I think is a good thing, because Jo Jo’s Circus hasn’t been on for years! They ought to replace Jo Jo with Oso and make the meal more current.
If I ran Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I’d change this meal into either a Villains meal with some of the Villians from Fantasmic or do a Pixar meal and have characters from Toy Story, Up, the Incredibles, etc at the meal or ideally do a Phineas and Ferb meal with Phineas, Ferb, Candace, and Perry. We’re headed back here for breakfast (so my son can see Handy Manny) and for the characterless dinner (for the spoon bread) in September.
And so we did seven character meals in five days! Was it too many character meals??? Maybe it was. I know that the kids enjoy them and I love watching the kids with the characters. On our next trip, we have six character meals booked. We’re doing breakfast at 1900 Park Fare, Hollywood and Vine, Tusker House, Chef Mickey’s and Akershus. We’re doing dinner at Garden Grill. The plan is to eat and see what characters we can. We will not wait 40 minutes for any one character and we will ask for the check much sooner.
Some would say that six is still too many. For us, I think it will be okay. Only the kids will have autograph books on this trip and so that will eliminate part of the stress and two of the meals are served family-style. Plus we’re only taking a black Sharpie marker, that will be easier than deciding which of the twelve colors to use.
Wonder if I’ll give a different answer in two months time….