In a recent post, I debated whether a character meal is worth the splurge and concluded that when taking a trip to the World, dining with famous Disney figures should be included on the agenda. Once the decision is made to reserve one of these meals, the question becomes, “What restaurant do I choose?”
Our family has dined at quite a few Disney restaurants while visiting the World during the free dining periods over the last several years. Favorites quickly emerged. Our top two recommendations to guests who have never experienced a meal with characters are Chef Mickey’s and the Crystal Palace.
Chef Mickey’s takes a top spot for several reasons. Located within the Contemporary Resort, Chef Mickey’s is a short monorail ride from the Magic Kingdom. Guests can quickly and easily transport back and forth from the restaurant to Disney World’s original park, adding a monorail ride to the excitement of the day. Furthermore, this ride will drop guests off inside of this deluxe resort.
Some of Disney’s oldest and most famous characters make appearances at Chef Mickey’s. When checking in, the party is escorted to a statue of Mickey adorned in his chef attire for a group photo, which they have an option of purchasing for the relatively pricey amount of approximately $30. Once seated, guests will receive personal visits from Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Chip, and Dale. At times, our family has even been surprised by a visit from Goofy.
During the course of the meal, all characters unite for a parade throughout the restaurant. Diners are encouraged to take their cloth napkins and wave them in the air to the rhythm of the music. The festive atmosphere is sure to bring a smile to even the most solemn face, if such exists in Disney World.
Several options are available for dining at Chef Mickey’s. A breakfast buffet, including fresh fruit, yummy pastries, renowned Mickey Mouse waffles, and a plethora of favorite morning foods, is our preference. At around $27 for adults and $14 for children (ages 3-9), it is a less expensive choice compared to dinner. Moreover, we make reservations late in the morning and consider this meal an early lunch.
A dinner buffet is also served at Chef Mickey’s for a slightly higher cost of approximately $34 for adults and $17 for kids. This buffet includes soup, salad, a selection of meats, a variety of side dishes, and a scrumptious sundae and dessert bar.
Another favorite character meal to consider is the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom. Beloved Disney friends from the Hundred Acre Wood set the atmosphere in this beautiful dining establishment. Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore make appearances at each table and also lead children in a delightful parade during the meal.
- Meeting Pooh at the Crystal Palace
Also a buffet restaurant, the Crystal Palace serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The breakfast buffet is one of the least expensive character meals on Disney property. At around $23 per adult and $13 per child, this deal lures all fans of the Hundred Acre Wood. Lunch is another tempting offer at just a dollar or two more per person for a variety of salads, meats, vegetables, and desserts.
The cost steeply rises for dinner at the Crystal Palace. Adults eat for $37; children, for $18. I can attest to the tastiness of an evening meal with Pooh and friends. Our favorite buffet items include prime rib, boiled shrimp, chicken and mushroom pasta, and garlic mashed potatoes.
Crystal Palace exceeds expectations with a children’s buffet called “Pooh’s Corner”. Even the pickiest eaters will be satisfied with macaroni and cheese, pizza, and chicken fingers on this kids’ buffet. Before leaving, guests may complete their dining with a trip or two to the dessert bar.
Character meals abound all across Disney World, but Chef Mickey’s and Crystal Palace are two of the best and must be placed on the top of guests’ lists when making dining plans for their magical vacation.