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Chip and Dale chipmunks

Disney Character Dining

Whether it’s a first trip or an annual tradition, when it comes to Walt Disney World, a character meal is almost always on the horizon.  Let’s face it – Disney Character Dining a fantastic way to enjoy a meal while having some face time with Mickey and the gang.  But which meal, and where?

character meal

One of the most popular Disney Character Dining choices is always breakfast or dinner at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary resort.  You get the big five (Mickey and Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto) dressed in chef whites while at the same time enjoying one of the legendary buffets, a highly entertaining floor show, AND it’s all just steps away from Magic Kingdom.  The downsides to this particular meal?  Longer than average wait times, whether you’ve got reservations or not – and this is one of the meals that fills up practically the moment it opens for reservations; also, it’s a very crowded, busy establishment and just not, well, magic in the way of atmosphere.  But a little bonus is that your family’s photo is taken upon entry and you have the option to buy the photos before you leave.

Contemporary resort

Another big hit for Disney Character Dining is Crystal Palace on Magic Kingdom’s Main Street USA, where Pooh and friends (Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet) play host to breakfast, lunch or dinner and what’s truly a fantastic buffet no matter which meal you choose.  The atmosphere is much more “magical” here than Chef Mickey due to the beautiful surroundings and table visits from the characters.  Price is about the same, and here’s a secret benefit: breakfast reservations can be booked even earlier than the park opens, so guests are allowed in to a practically empty Magic Kingdom and that makes for fantastic photo opps!

If you’ve got little princesses in the family, the reservation you’ll want to plan for is definitely Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic Kingdom.  It’s actually in the castle – huge selling point – and while it’s the priciest reservation of the bunch, the price does include a photo shoot with a princess (in addition to Cinderella, usually the Fairy Godmother, Bell, Snow White and Aurora are in attendance) and photo packages are delivered by the end of your meal.  While the menu choices are limited and not nearly on par with Crystal Palace or Chef Mickey, the atmosphere of the castle’s dining room more than makes up for it.  And the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a stone’s throw away – so if you’ve thought of planning a magical makeover, you might be able to schedule it for just prior or following your dining reservation.

Crystal Palace

Another princess meal is in the faraway land of EPCOT, specifically in the Norway Pavilion at Akershus where guests have their photos taken with a princess (no Cinderella here and the characters rotate, so you may or may not meet with Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, Snow White, Princess Aurora or Mulan).  While children have general dining options, the adult choices are more of the Norwegian fare…no cheeseburgers on this menu!

Other park options for Disney Character Dining include Disney’s Hollywood Studios Hollywood and Vine’s Play and Dine with Playhouse Disney friends (Special Agent Oso and Handy Manny are regulars, as well as Little Einsteins) for breakfast or lunch buffets (in an upscale, bustling restaurant atmosphere) and Animal Kingdom’s Tusker House eatery, where Donald Duck has his own Safari Breakfast buffet and a lunchtime meal, too.  Other characters at Tusker House vary, but we’ve soon Minnie, Pluto and of course Donald’s main squeeze, Daisy Duck.  Tusker House is also known to be relatively easy to get into, though reservations are still highly recommended.

For a more relaxed and truly underrated EPCOT character meal, there’s the Garden Grill’s Family Style dinner.  Farmer Mickey, Pluto and everyone’s favorite chipmunks (Chip and Dale) serve up some all-American favorites (all-you-care-to-eat) and the restaurant itself is really enjoyable for adults and children alike: it slowly rotates the view from your seats!  If you ask, servers will also tell you which ingredients in your meal originated in the Land’s awesome hydroponic gardens.  And the price can’t be beat here – it’s a hefty bit less than some of the more “popular” choices.

 Disney Chip and Dale chipmunks

Another underrated choice for Disney Character Dining? 1900 Park Fare’s Happily Ever After Dinner, with fabulously entertaining characters (Cinderella and her Prince Charming plus the Wicked Stepmother and the two Stepsisters) and outrageously delicious menu items that make this a not-to-be-overlooked option.  Guests also get to enjoy the Grand Floridian’s beautiful lobby on their way in, and since it’s right on the monorail, transportation is pretty simple.

More in the mood for a breakfast reservation?  Why not make it Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?  Join Mary Poppins, Alice and her buddy the Mad Hatter for an omelet bar and other morning delicacies at 1900 Park Fare.  Or there’s another breakfast option one monorail stop over at ‘Ohana, where Lilo and Stitch join Mickey and Pluto for an all-you-can-eat morning extravaganza.  Finally, Cape May Buffet at the Beach Club hosts Minnie, Goofy and Donald Duck each morning for breakfast.  Granted, all of these options may seem overwhelming to reach for newer travelers, but a little planning will show them to be relatively simple to find – just be sure to leave at least an hour’s time once leaving your own resort (if you’re not actually staying in one of them!).

Feeling overwhelmed yet?  It’s understandable.  And we haven’t even delved into Disney Dining Plan credits (yes, it’s true, some of the character meals take TWO credits!) or the 180-day reservations policy.    But remember, your own Fairy Godmother is just an email or phone call away!

Contact me today to learn more about Disney Character Dining and utilize all my free Disney vacation planning services!

Nicole Courson
Authorized Disney Travel Planner

“Making Magic One Vacation at a Time…”

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