Why wait in line when you can character dine? Here’s all you need to know about our favorite Disney character dining experiences.
A “Must-Do” for our family every trip to Walt Disney World is meeting Characters. Before the trip, we try to make a list of certain characters we want to make sure we track down for pictures and autographs. For our daughter, we’ve got to get Princesses and Fairies. For our son, Woody and Buzz, Lightning and Mater are high on the list. (although at only 2 years old this next trip, it will be interesting to see how he reacts.) Mom needs to give Pooh Bear a squeeze, and Dad’s favorite is Mickey Mouse.
These characters are pretty popular with just about everyone, so the lines at the Park “Meet n Greets” tend to be long. Fortunately, there is another way to see some of our favorite characters: By making a reservation for Character Dining.
Throughout the Walt Disney World Resort there are restaurants that offer the unique experience of sitting down to eat with your family and having some of your favorite characters come by to say hello, sign an autograph, and take a picture or two (or three, or four). There are many options and which you choose may depend on what meal you prefer to sitting down to instead of grabbing on the go, what characters are on your priority list, or simply what Theme Park you are going to that day. Here’s the breakdown of our favorite Walt Disney World “Eat n’ Greets”…
Why Character Dining?
One of the things we love about character meals is the more relaxed atmosphere and interaction we get when we know someone is not waiting in line behind us. We also love that in some restaurants, you get to see characters you might not see in the park Meet n Greets, or that you can see characters in different attire than you usually would. We love seeing our kids get to do special things like marching in parades around the restaurant, or dancing or swinging their napkins to music. It’s such a great time.
Between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we think character breakfasts are the way to go. We may throw in a lunch or dinner on occasion, but generally we stick to breakfast, and here’s why:
First, we just happen to enjoy eating a nice big breakfast to start our day. We can’t always do that at home, and it makes the times that we can sit down together extra special.
Secondly, we like to maximize our time in the parks, and since the restaurants usually start serving breakfast prior to the park opening, we can get in, eat, meet some characters, and still not have missed any park time.
*As an added bonus, you can often make reservations for breakfast at restaurants inside the Parks before they open. Your reservation (along with park admission) gets you into the park before most other people, and although none of the rides are open yet, there’s something extra magical about being in the park early and feeling like you’ve got the place all to yourself!
Our Favorite Character Meals
We’ve done nearly every character meal Disney has to offer, and some we just keep going back to. Here are our favorites…
- Donald’s Safari Breakfast at Tusker House (Disney’s Animal Kingdom): A great mix of classic breakfast fare and some regional tastes. Be sure to try the Mealie Pap and the Passion Fruit/Orange/Guava Juice!
- ‘Ohana Best Friends Breakfast (Polynesian Resort): Love this breakfast for the Potatoes, Pineapple Bread, and the Juice. Character interaction is great as well.
- Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian Resort): Unique characters make this meal a surprise favorite. You never know what to expect from those man-hungry wicked step-sisters and their mother.
- ‘Ohana Best Friends Breakfast (Polynesian Resort): Potatoes are good enough to almost make you forget there is bottomless bacon and sausage being brought to your table. I love the characters, and Stitch can be quite the trouble-maker, so make sure you keep an eye on him! This breakfast also gets my top spot over the next two because I love the family-style serving. No getting up to get food. No risk of missing a character stopping by.
- Play n Dine at Hollywood & Vine (Disney’s Hollywood Studios): The character interaction is the star of this one. Characters from four different Disney Junior shows come around to see you. At intervals, a cast member and the characters lead the kids in song and conga lines around the restaurant. At other character meals you might get one song/activity repeated hourly. Lots of fun if your kids are fans of Disney Junior like ours are!
- Donald’s Safari Breakfast at Tusker House (Disney’s Animal Kingdom): I love the theme of this one, with Donald, Daisy, Mickey and Goofy all in their safari gear. It really is a great way to start an Animal Kingdom day!
‘Ohana Character Dining is breakfast only. Tusker House and Hollywood & Vine offer Breakfast and Lunch Character meals. 1900 Park Fare character dining offers separate character experiences for breakfast, lunch (tea party) and dinner.
On our upcoming trip, we’ll be going back to ‘Ohana, Hollywood & Vine, as well as Cinderella’s Royal Table. We’re looking forward to dining inside Cinderella’s Castle once again… how much more magic can you ask for?
Did our favorites make your list? Let us know in the comments below!!
For more information on Walt Disney World restaurants, menus and dining reservations, please visit: