Thrifty Thursday: Saving with Character Meals

Garden Grill (Disney Parks Blog)Believe it or not, character dining at Disney World is a smart way to save. 

Think about it: on vacation, time is money. Every second you wait in line to meet with Cinderella is another second you’re not riding Dumbo or watching your son dance along with the Main Street Philharmonic. Those are valuable seconds! 

A character meal saves many of those seconds by bringing the characters right to you as you participate in another time-sucking vacation necessity: eating. Yea, you’ll pay more for this than for a traditional dining experience, but you’re saving tons of time and killing two birds with one super fun, super fuzzy stone! 

So now you’re totally on board, right? Totally ready to jump on the character dining bandwagon and pony up to the buffet while costumed cast members make their way around the room? Excellent!! Here are three examples that won’t break the bank: 

Breakfast at Tusker House, Animal Kingdom
Tusker House is one of the best character dining deals in all of Walt Disney World! Book an early reservation to get a private, quiet walk through Animal Kingdom before the Park opens to other guests. Bonus points: all of the characters are wearing their cutest safari outfits! 

Lunch at Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom
This surprised me, but Crystal Palace really is one of the more inexpensive character dining spots for lunch. Plus it’s a buffet which makes it a great value. This is one I’ve been privileged to enjoy, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that the food is awesome. And you just can’t beat and big old hug from Winnie the Pooh.  

Dinner at Garden Grill, Epcot 
If you’re the type that gets motion sick, this may not be the meal for you: the Garden Grill slowly rotates throughout the course of the evening! I’ve never been able to score an ADR for this popular spot, but I have heard that the food–a combination of Thanksgiving-style fare and super fresh veggies from The Land–is delish. It’s a great spot for meeting slightly more obscure characters, like Chip and Dale, and Mickey wears a positively adorable “farm chic” outfit that makes me break out into a grin every time I see it.  

Of course, these are just a few options as there are a number of other great character meals!  You could easily eat with the characters without breaking the bank, plus by knocking out some big character interactions during meal time, you’ll have even more time for that extra ride on Big Thunder Mountain! Everybody wins! 

Find out how the FREE services of a Disney World travel agent can make planning your Disney vacation simple and stress-free!

Melissa Sue works in higher education communications in upstate New York, where she lives with her cavapoo George (as in King George). Melissa began visiting Disney World when she was six and today owns a piece of the magic at Bay Lake Tower. She blogs at Mouse on the Mind and tweets @msorrellsgalley

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