Character Dining is one of the most fun parts of a Disney vacation for many travelers. But with so many options, it can be hard to choose the one (or more!) that is right for your family.
If you’re planning a character meal, consider a couple of factors. If your children don’t eat much, a buffet meal may not be worth the cost. Menus for most restaurants can be found online so you can see what your children are most likely to eat. If you think your little one may be intimidated by real-life characters, you may want to avoid a character dining experience.
You may also want to decide ahead of time what meal would work best for your touring plans. A breakfast will allow you to go straight on into the park and not interrupt your day; a lunch or dinner would require planning around where you need to be for your reservation but could put you into a good position for the parades or fireworks shows.
One of the most important things to consider is what characters your children want to see. Here is a brief overview and what characters are available:
- If your children love the classic characters (Mickey, Minnie, and the gang), you have a few options. Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort offers breakfast and dinner buffet with Mickey. Minnie, Donald, and Pluto can be found at the Cape May breakfast buffets. Donald hosts a safari meal at the Tusker House in Animal Kingdom. For a more unique evening experience, you can find Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Chip & Dale at Mickey’s Backyard Barbecue at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.
- If your little one likes Winnie the Pooh, you may want to consider a buffet style breakfast, lunch or dinner at the Crystal Palace with Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger. Tigger and Pooh also join Alice and the Mad Hatter and Mary Poppins at the 1900 Park Fare breakfast at the Grand Floridian.
- Favorite Disney Junior characters like Jake, Handy Manny, Oso, and June from Little Einsteins can be seen at the Play & Dine breakfast or lunch at Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios. Minnie and Friends are at the same location for dinner for her special “Seasonal Dining” meals.
- Lilo & Stitch make an appearance at the family-style breakfast at ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort.
- Little Princesses have a couple of options for meeting the Disney Princesses. Cinderella and Prince Charming are available at the dinner at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian. A rotating variety of princesses, including Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Ariel, and Mary Poppins are available during breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Akershus at the Norway Pavilion in Epcot. For the ultimate princess meal, you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table inside the castle. Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother, and other princesses visit with guests. But be warned: Royal Table reservations book up fast, and take 2 table service credits on the Disney Dining Plan.
Once you have chosen your character meal(s) make your reservations in plenty of time as they can book up fast! You can make your reservations 180 days in advance of your visit.
Rachel is a Virginia native who now lives in Louisiana. She is married with two children, ages 5 and 3. After dreaming and wishing for several years, her family had their very first Disney vacations this year and are now addicted to researching and planning—whether for themselves or for others. They now plan to visit the parks at least once a year.