Character Meals. It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all kinda world. You might think you’ll enjoy dinner at Chef Mickey’s with just your significant other.
After all, you’re kids at heart! But are you really thinking through the reality of it — complete with twirling napkins, blaring music, and loads and loads (and loads!) of kiddos everywhere?
Today, I thought we could break down some of the groups of guests who might want to take special care in deciding which character meal is best for them. Because when it comes to dining with your favorite Disney characters, no one should be left out!
Character Dining With Toddlers
What makes for great character interaction when you’re entertaining a toddler? I have one clearcut favorite: the Best Friends Breakfast, which you’ll find at ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
There are a number of reasons for this. First, you get to see Mickey in a Hawaiian Shirt! So cute.
But in addition to the cool characters (you’ll also find Pluto as well as Lilo and Stitch), I love the set up here. In my opinion, buffets can be a logistical nightmare when you’re dealing with a toddler. I mean, sure, the endless variety is bound to yield something they’ll eat. But trips back and forth to get food while minding a child who would like to climb the curtains isn’t my idea of a fun vacation. Add in character interaction and trying to get those great photos and — well. Just forget it.
But if you have a small army along for the visit, all of whom are willing to take a turn occupying Junior while you eat, then you may want to check out Play n’ Dine.
This lively character buffet takes place at Hollywood and Vine Restaurant inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The character roster includes Disney Junior favorites like Jake the Neverland Pirate, Doc McStuffins, and Sofia the First.
And watching your kiddos’ eyes light up when they see their favorites larger than life is certainly a big part of the fun. Besides, who can resist a Chocolate Fountain?
For sure not me!
Character Dining With the School-Aged Set
If you are parents to children who have already attained school age, you’re probably looking for something a little different. For older children, I think it’s fun to enjoy interaction with the Fab Five characters is in a themed setting.
But the other cool thing at Tusker House is the food. While there are plenty of traditional American dishes, you’ll also find some more exotic fare, like Samosas and Bobotie. In addition, the rotisserie meats are delicious. It’s a great balance if your older child prefers food that’s a cut above traditional kid offerings.
If you and your family have done every character experience — twice — and are looking for something new, check out Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While breakfast and lunch are given over to the Disney Junior crew at Hollywood and Vine, Minnie holds court at dinner, and the theme of the brand new character meal changes seasonally. (Check out our review of Minnie’s Holiday Dine here.)
Chances are that the gang will always be celebrating something new, even if you just visited recently!
Character Dining Solo or as a Couple
Don’t shy away from character dining if you’re going solo or as part of a couple. There are plenty of spots that will fit the bill for you nicely.
If you’re dining at a table for one, consider Garden Grill in Epcot’s Futureworld.
We love this spot, which now serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for a few reasons. First, there’s lots to see in terms of characters and setting, because the restaurant actually rotates! And as it does, you’ll be treated to different view of Living With The Land, the boat attraction that shares the same building with Garden Grill, Sunshine Seasons, Soarin’, and Circle of Life. (Now that’s what I call mulitasking!)
But also, because of the circular shape of the restaurant, tables are offered, well, a bit more privacy. You aren’t likely to overhear your next door neighbor’s conversation, or be caught in a picture of the mommy at the next table.
As a couple, Garden Grill may also appeal for some of the same reasons. But if you’re looking for something slightly more romantic, then you may want to book your advance dining reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
We’ve actually seen quite a few proposals happening here!
Character Dining With Large Groups
When dining with a large group, a buffet is almost always your best bet. To begin, they offer a lot of variety. Whether you have a family full of food lovers, or your crew is picky, everyone is sure to find something they like. In addition, because of the come-and-go, self-serve style, you aren’t waiting forever while everyone decides what they’d like to order, and for food to arrive.
My favorite spot for a large group is Crystal Palace anytime of the day.
It’s a great rendezvous point for everyone to gather. And if you make your advance dining reservation for early morning, you may even enjoy a little time with Main Street USA nearly all to yourself, which is something that’s pretty special.
If a resort setting makes better sense for your crowd, you have plenty of options. Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is, of course, a very popular choice. As a result, getting a table at this spot can be challenging. Cape May Cafe is a solid alternative, and one of my favorites.
Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club offers a breakfast-only character meal. Appropriate to the resort’s themeing, you’ll enjoy Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast, where you’ll find Minnie and friends decked out in their seashore togs!
We’ve enjoyed the food here as well. While the spread tends to be fairly traditional, there are always a few surprises, like a Frittata that changes daily.
So rest assured — regardless of your particular situation, there’s a character meal that’s just right for you. Everyone can enjoy them. It just takes a little forethought and planning to make this fun rite of passage the perfect experience for you!
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And now, it’s time to hear from you! What’s your favorite character meal at Disney World, and why? Share with us in comments below!