It has been too long since I’ve taken a trip to Chef Mickey’s in Disney World’s Contemporary Resort!
We’ve shared with you our review of their breakfast buffet. But today, we’re heading there to see what’s new for dinner!
When many people think about a “Disney character dining experience”, they immediately think of Chef Mickey’s. This one has it all — the Fab Five, a sprawling buffet of family-friendly foods, regular raucous celebrations, and monorails whizzing by.
But in the past, the food has had a reputation for being a little lackluster. Time to see how things are looking these days… . We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started!
One of the coolest things about Chef Mickey’s is its location. You’ll find this well-known character meal at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
This place is a stone’s throw from the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, which makes it a great place to stop and eat before heading into the park, or after a long day of rides and attractions.
Once you enter the hotel’s main floor lobby, take the elevator to the fourth floor. Chef Mickey’s is located on the south end of the concourse, right below where the Disney World monorail enters the building. (You can also arrive at the Contemporary via said monorail, of course — in which case you’d take an escalator down to the 4th floor).
Head to the central desk to let the hostess know that your party has arrived. You can’t miss it — Mickey is smiling down with his fork and spoon, ready to greet you!
If your table isn’t quite ready, you can wait until your party is paged in this comfortable seating area. This spot features a view of Bay Lake and the resort’s pool patio — and offers plenty of room for running off excess energy.
Before you’re seated, your party will pose for a souvenir picture. These will be available for purchase during your meal.
The photo comes in a Chef Mickey-themed photo holder, and also includes a photo of Mickey and Friends on the adjacent page. While the Chef himself used to pose for pics out here, he’s now inside the restaurant cavorting with the rest of the fab five!
Seating at Chef Mickey’s is pretty standard. Tables and chairs have clean lines and a modern feel. The Mickey Mouse cutouts in the chairs remind you of where you are!
There are four distinct dining rooms/areas at Chef Mickey’s. Two of them are out on the main floor with views of the monorail, and two more are in their own rooms. I won’t say that any of them are “away from the hustle and bustle,” since Chef Mickey’s is pretty much ALL hustle and bustle! All of the dining rooms have a modern decor feel to them — kind of a “Pop Art Mickey” atmosphere.
In this particular dining area, floor-to-ceiling windows are brightened by modern Mickey character cutouts. Tables are placed a little closer together than I prefer, but it’s not too uncomfortable.
The condiments that you’ll need are all on the buffet, so there’s not much to the table set up. Still, this Mickey caddy is pretty rad.
One thing you need to understand about dining at Chef Mickey’s: it will be loud. Not only is the restaurant located in an area that features soaring ceilings, but periodically during your meal, the festive tune Celebrate with Mickey Mouse will play over the loudspeakers. Loudly. At that time, servers, characters, and your fellow guests will start twirling their napkins, dancing, and just celebrating in general.
There is no place to hide, so it’s best to join in!
One of my favorite things while I’m eating at Chef Mickey’s or the neighboring Contempo Cafe is to watch for the monorail to speed by.
It’s such a cool little reminder of where I am.
Mickey and Friends take center stage for your character experience at Chef Mickey’s. You won’t find any deviation from the Fab Five. As you dine, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto make their way around to each table, interacting with guests and posing for photos.
I love that the characters are, in fact, dressed like chefs! That’s one of the best reasons to come to Chef Mickey’s. You can add a swell pic of Mickey in his work togs to your scrapbook.
Minnie is her usual, sunny self, and adds an apron to her trademark red and white polka dot dress.
Donald looks like a chef from your favorite Italian restaurant! The apron-no-pants thing always makes me laugh.
But Goofy’s get-up might be the best of all. He’s wearing the same pants that I’ve spied on Disney culinary staff all over the resort!
Even Pluto gets into the fun with a chef’s hat and apron. Good boy, Pluto!!
Characters here normally make more than one round, and you have lots of opportunities to get those coveted autographs and photos. That remains the best reason for a character meal. The characters are at your disposal, and you don’t have to stand in multiple long lines in order to meet them.
It’s a great way to mark a few names off that autograph list in short order. And, as I said before, it’s always fun to see Mickey at different character meals, just to see the different outfits he wears!
Now that we’ve given you an idea of what to expect from the characters, let’s take a closer look at the other draw at Chef Mickey’s — the buffet!
Normally, the restaurant serves breakfast and dinner only, but during the busiest seasons, they may offer lunch service as well. Be sure to ask about what meals are available when you make your advance dining reservation. That brings up another point: Chef Mickey’s is a hot ticket at Disney, so if you’re looking to book it, be sure to call 180 days out.
The day we visited, the specific dishes for breakfast and lunch were posted. I love this! You know exactly what the buffet includes and you can plan accordingly.
We were here for dinner, and here’s the selection of dishes that were planned for the evening. You can also see pricing for the date that we dined.
Here’s a look at the day’s breakfast spread, too. You can also see the pricing for the morning meal, which is still your better deal if you’re looking to save a little money.
Now, time to take a tour of that buffet!
Salads, Soups, and Appetizers
Start your meal with a selection of breads. Everything here looked freshly made, and appeared to have been made in-house. It was pretty impressive!
There was also some delicious CORNBREAD. YUM! And a “butter blend” is available to top your bread selections.
The Creamy Chicken Corn Chowder was a hit! I added a bit of cheddar cheese from the salad bar for an extra touch of color and flavor. (I’m so crafty, eh? That was my big thing on this trip — combining stuff on the buffets to make new items!)
The culinary staff really shows off its talents with some beautiful garnish work. We spied this swan carved into a honeydew melon near the salad bar. Fancy schmancy!
The salad fixings were pretty standard, so it wasn’t too hard to figure things out. If you have special dietary needs, however, be sure to let your server know so that you can avoid anything you don’t want to — our can’t — eat.
Crunchy chow mein noodles and sunflower seeds are available to give your salad a little extra texture.
There were three dressings to choose from. Lots of creamy goin’ on here.
There were also a handful of other cold options. These included Peel-and-Eat Shrimp (something that’s almost always on the dinner buffet here), Coleslaw, Potato Salad, Pasta Salad, a Caprese Salad with Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella, and some Marinated Olives. There is also Parmesan Cheese and Cocktail Sauce.
Everything looked fresh and made from scratch. Even though the options weren’t exotic, they all seemed to be prepared well, and these are options that would appeal to almost everyone.
Chef Mickey’s always features roasted meats on its carving station for dinner. The evening that we visited, they had both Cranberry Glazed Ham and Spice Rubbed Sirloin of Beef. Both selections looked fantastic! But looking at that sirloin, that’s when inspiration struck…
Soon, I was well on my way to creating another AJ original — a Mini French Dip! The rare meat was delicious on the tender roll, and when I dipped it into the jus — heaven!
But my fav-or-ite thing on the buffet that night was the Baked Parmesan and Panko Crusted Chicken.
Amazing flavor on the outside, and juicy and tender within. And baked! I think it would probably rate an honorable mention on my “Best Disney Fried Chicken” list! It was that good. If you go to Chef Mickey’s, you must try it.
For the pasta lover, there were three different options to choose from: Spaghetti and Meatballs, Orecchiette Carbonara, and Cheese Ravioli. The Orecchiette was especially delish!
The Roasted Pork with Rice and Red Beans was almost like an Asian-Cajun fusion dish — pretty fun!
And the Mussels were gorgeous. They were prepared in a fresh scampi broth.
The fish selection for our meal was Salmon. It was prepared with a topped chutney chili sauce.
Presented on a bed of tomatoes, wilted spinach, and orzo, the fish was a tasty and healthy option.
The fare for little ones is not particularly daring, but I’m pretty sure that the kiddos in your party will find something they like here.
Chicken is presented in two kid-friendly forms. They can choose nuggets, or baked chicken for a healthier alternative.
One of the “funnest” dishes at Chef Mickey’s is the Macaroni and Cheese. Mickey-shaped macaroni and plastic cheese! It’s like mac and cheese perfection! And you know I had some of this on my plate, right?!
When all else fails to woo and tempt your tyke, there is always Pizza! They’ve given it a slightly healthier twist by making the crust multigrain.
Minnie also serves up some kid-friendly Veggies.
You’ll find additional vegetables a little further down the line with the “grown up” food.
Sides and Sauces
When it comes to toppings, Chef Mickey’s knows how to do things! This photo represents all that is right and good with this buffet. Everything that you could possibly want to go with the roast beef is located right here: Sauteed Onions and Mushrooms, Blue Cheese Cream Sauce, Creamy Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, Au Jus, and Brown Gravy.
Um…Blue Cheese Cream Sauce? Yes!
For dunking and dipping, there are also Mustard, Ketchup, and Barbecue Sauce available.
There are plenty of good, freshly cooked Vegetables here to complement the selection on the kids’ buffet.
Scalloped Potatoes and Wild Rice are other favorite sides.
AND — ta-da! — they have a huge VAT OF PLASTIC CHEESE!!!! When Plastic Cheese is a buffet item, you know I’m a happy AJ. (Yes, I took a phone picture and made it my wallpaper.)
FYI — the plastic cheese goes with the Steamed Broccoli. Or whatever.
I just had to show you the creamy scalloped potatoes up close. These were another huge hit for me at the buffet!
They were amazing with my mini French dip!
And now, we reach the sweet ending to our meal.
Even though the menu plays up the Sundae Bar as the first dessert option, I found a lot of good variety — and temptation — while checking out the selections here.
I was feeling pretty inventive that night, so when inspiration struck yet again, I went with it. It all began when I saw the Caramel Bread Pudding and considered the soft serve machine.
The result was this indulgent Caramel Bread Pudding Sundae (copyright AJ). Adding ice cream to that beautiful bread pudding just seemed like the right thing to do.
Don’t overlook the humble Brownies as a sundae base, though. I think there’s real potential there. Don’t they look yum?
There’s a No Sugar Added Brownie available as well.
And the yang to brownie’s ying — Rice Krispie Treats. (Ooh! Rice Krispie Treat Sundae! Next time. )
Speaking of Ice Cream…here it is! Complete with a handy, built-in cone dispenser. Or choose a dish and make a sundae with fixings like Caramel and Chocolate Sauce and Candy Pieces.`
Individual desserts are beautiful here too. I couldn’t resist the Key Lime Tart, which was the perfect, tangy-sweet combination.
And I loved these Mickey Mouse Domes! They immediately reminded me of a cross between Zebra Domes from Boma and the Oreo Bon Bons that you used to find at Cape May Cafe! (You can still find them at Beach Club Marketplace.)
These dark chocolate mousse domes are made on an Oreo base and are finished with little chocolate ears. Serious cuteness. It’s the little touches like this that make a big impression and add just one more layer of delight to the meal.
The individual Cheesecakes were creamy and dense, and were the perfect size.
Two different kinds of cake – Carrot and Strawberry — rounded out the dessert offerings.
While the presentation wasn’t up to par with the other desserts, they tasted delicious and fresh, and the garnish on the carrot cake was a beautiful and unique touch.
A meal at Chef Mickey’s is a Disney rite of passage. I could go on all day about the food at Tusker House, or the ambiance at Cinderella’s Royal Table, or the interesting characters at 1900 Park Fare. But, come on. Chef Mickey’s is an institution. It’s the perfect marriage of Mickey and food. The idea that he’s behind all the dishes here is just super fun. (It also explains all of that cheese!) Plus, when you first arrive at Disney World, Chef Mickey’s is the perfect way to plunge yourself into the loud, magical atmosphere you’re about to experience during your trip!
But the pleasant surprise is that the food is good! Sure, it’s not the most interesting meal that you’ll have at Disney World. But everything on the buffet the night I visited, from the salads to the carving board, and even the vegetables and desserts, looked fresh and well-prepared. It’s comfort food and All-American food. And it’s done well.
I’ll reiterate, though: if you go to Chef Mickey’s, expect noise. There is no such thing as an intimate dining experience here. But with the right frame of mind, and a little advance napkin twirling practice, I’d say the chances of having a good experience here are pretty high.
Is Chef Mickey’s a must do for you? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts!