Character meals are such an important part of many people’s Disney vacations. For many, it’s a no fuss way to meet some of your favorite characters, all at once, with the added bonuses of a) not having to wait in line and b) getting to multi-task by eating too!
Character meals are for everyone! I know myself, as someone who doesn’t have kids, how awkward it can be sometimes dining without kids as characters come up to you. Especially when it’s two adults, sometimes I’ve noticed that the characters don’t always know how you’re going to react and if you want them to stop by.
Here’s my best advice when it comes to character meals: no matter if you’re with your whole family or it’s just you, be excited these characters are meeting with you. Ask them questions! Engage with them. Give them hugs! It will really help to enhance the experience. Granted it’s a little easier to do that when you’re meeting with a face character (one who can talk). But you can still have entertaining “conversations” when meeting with a fur character. (One who unfortunately cannot use words to talk.) I know I’ve had some unique experiences with both!
Of course, if you’re just there for a photo and an autograph, they will much oblige that too. (PS: don’t just take photos of your family posing with the character. Some of the best images I have are candid photos of my family interacting with characters! This goes for regular meet and greets too…just a tip!)
So, today, I thought I’d take a look at my top five best character meals at Walt Disney World!
Hollywood and Vine (Disney’s Hollywood Studios): This character meal, called Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine is on the list now because it features 4 fantastic characters that your little ones are gonna want to meet! Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins have recently been added to the line up, joining Handy Manny and Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. The characters have a great time meeting with guests, dancing, and singing songs. This meal is a buffet and it is only available during breakfast and lunch. The cost for the character meal ranges from $26.62 – $35.14, for adults, depending on when you’ll be dining. If you have a child who’s included in the pre-school set, this is the best way to meet all four of the characters they watch the most, all at once.
Tusker House (Disney’s Animal Kingdom): Tusker House, which is found in the Africa section of the park, is a unique little gem. First, it’s one of the few places that serves not only lunch and dinner, but breakfast. (I realized how few restaurants serve breakfast at DAK just a few weeks ago…more on that soon!) Though keep in mind, the characters are only available here for breakfast and lunch in a meal called Donald’s Dining Safari Breakfast and Lunch. The all you can eat buffet offers up some American favorites, but it also includes dashes of recipes that are inspired from African culture. Don’t worry, there’s nothing too scary on the menu! The cost for the character meal ranges from $28.75 – $35.14, for adults, depending on when you’ll be dining. Characters here can change, but typically they include Donald, Daisy, Mickey and Goofy. This meal is great because of the unique choices, as well as the fact that it’s typically not crazy busy either.
Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom): Looking for Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too? This is one of the few places to meet these fun characters in the parks and it’s the only character meal to feature the tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff. The buffet, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, also includes the opportunity to meet Piglet and Eeyore. The menu offers traditional American options and costs anywhere from $24.49 – $43.66 for adults, depending on when you’ll be dining. This one makes the list because, well I mean, how awesome is it to eat with Winnie the Pooh? Because it’s in the Magic Kingdom, it’s a bit of a tougher meal to schedule an Advanced Dining Reservation for, so make sure to make this one early. If you can get in, try to score an ADR here before the Magic Kingdom officially opens to guests. Booking a meal here early in the morning is a surefire way to get to experiencing the park with no crowds.
Akershus (Epcot): Looking for a Princess meal? Look no further than Akershus! Sure, you could eat in Cinderella Castle at Cinderella’s Royal Table, but the food and the price leave a bit to be desired. So my pick if you’re looking to dine with Disney’s most royal is Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at the Princess Storybook Dining meals. For breakfast, they serve more American fare as a buffet, while lunch and dinner are a bit more Norwegian and are ordered and served to the table. (Don’t worry! The choices aren’t scary!) The Princesses that appear include: Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Princess Aurora, Ariel, and Mary Poppins (who’s not a princess, but what the heck! And the characters are subject to change.) The price of this meal is a bit more than some of the others, but that’s because it includes a photo package of your party with one of the princesses. The package includes one keepsake 6×8 print in a souvenir folder and four 4×6 prints. The cost here ranges from $40.46 – $55.37 for adults, depending on when you’ll be dining. (Also, one other nice thing to note, this character meal only costs one table service credit meal on the Disney Dining Plan, while Cinderella’s Royal Table costs two.) This one makes the list because of the popularity of all the Princesses. It really packs a punch with the number of Princesses you can meet all at once!
Chef Mickey’s (Disney’s Contemporary Resort): Alas, we have made it to my favorite character meal. (Maybe I’m just sentimental…it is where I got engaged.) Chef Mickey’s is the character meal where you’ll be able to dine with the Fab 5! Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, and Goofy are all there to greet guests! Of course, the characters are subject to change. The food here is straight up American and served as a buffet. It’s a great location, since it’s right along the monorail loop and it’s a fun atmosphere! (Get ready to twirl your napkin!) The cost ranges from $33.01 – $46.85, for adults, depending on when you’ll be dining. This one makes the list because, I mean, hello…it’s Mickey! And the food’s pretty good too!
As you can see, Disney has some fantastic character meal options that fit all palates and give guests the opportunity to meet just about anyone they would want to meet. Which one would you want to dine in today?
In addition to being the Blog Admin here at The Mouse For Less, I am also the co-host of the awesome Be Our Guest WDW Trip Planning Podcast. Or you can find me at my blog, A Disney World After All. In addition, I post news for TouringPlans. Finally, I am the co-editor of the great Magically Speaking Newsletter! • You can find Rikki Niblett on Google+