Tips from the DFB Guide: Disney Character Meal Pros and Cons

We are back with some of our very best kept Disney Dining Secrets. And we want to share them with you!

2017 DFB Guide to WDW Dining Cover March 6 Planning what you’re going to eat and drink at Walt Disney World is no small undertaking. To begin, there are tons of choices. But what if you could make your meal a real multitasker? Say, you could enjoy some terrific eats, and get that shiny new autograph book filled with the names of all of your Disney favorites? Yep, we’re talking Character Meals.

You may think that the character meal experience isn’t for you. But we invite you to take a closer look at these special meals and see for yourself if a Character meal could be right for you.

And if you like what you see here, be sure to check out the brand new, just released 2017 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, Second Edition, where we talk character meals and LOTS more! And for a limited time, you can get it for 20% off with code SAVE2017 at checkout! Here we go!

Are Character Meals One-Size-Fits-All? Why Should I Book One?

You may think that if you’re an adult, single, or have older kids, there’s really no reason to engage in that Disney Rite of Passage, the Character Meal. But we think there’s a place for everyone at the character table, and here’s why.

Eating a big breakfast will fill you up -- and cost less than dining big later in the day!

Safari Mickey

It’s Cool In There, People. I’m not talking, like, rad. I mean literally, it’s cool. Like, air-conditioned. And in our opinion, waiting for characters with the a/c cranked up while noshing on delicious food WAY beats standing out in the hot sun any day.

Princess Ariel

Princess Ariel + A/C is the clear choice! (At Akershus)

And the FOOD. Did we mention the food? While some spots aren’t necessarily awesome, others offer cult favorites that we’d gladly pay for, with or without characters. That Cinnamon Bun Bake from Garden Grill? Always a yes.

Cinnamon Bun Bake at Garden Grill

Cinnamon Bun Bake at Garden Grill

There’s Something for Everyone. The other cool thing is that you have a bevy of service choices to fit everyone’s preference. If you love to indulge in a breakfast buffet, then check out Chef Mickey’s, Crystal Palace, Hollywood and Vine’s Play n’ Dine, or Tusker House.

Chocolate Chip Mickey Waffles -- Up Close

Chocolate Chip Mickey Waffles — Up Close

Prefer a plated breakfast? Cinderella’s Royal Table or the brand new Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno might be just the thing.

Pastry assortment

Rapunzel Serves Up Pastries in a Frying Pan at the Bon Voyage Breakfast

But personally, I love the all-you-care-to-enjoy family service at ‘Ohana and Garden Grill.

Family Breakfast Platter at 'Ohana

Family Breakfast Platter at ‘Ohana

The characters come to you — and so do the eats! But then, the Characters. Who do you want to see? Mickey and Minnie? There are breakfasts for that! What about Pooh and the Gang? No problem. How about a few Princesses? No worries — they’re all there!

And there’s more to it than just eating and hanging out with characters. Having the characters come to you means that you’ll get some great pictures without having to wait in multiple lines. And anything that results in less line waiting is a WIN in my book.

You Can't Run or Hide. May as Well Join In! :)

You Can’t Run or Hide. May as Well Join In! :)

And if you do have littles, they’re sure to enjoy fun extra games and activities, like the Coconut Races at ‘Ohana, Napkin Twirling at Chef Mickey’s, and the Parade at Akershus.

What are the Cons to Booking A Character Meal?

While we would pretty much always recommend booking at least one character meal on your Disney trip, there are a few reasons why they might not be the best fit for your family.

They’re Pricey! Yep, those characters will cost you. While there are some character meals that aren’t over the top on cost, many of the lunch and dinner options will cost you more than other comparable meals. (Though, if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, most character meals are still one credit and end up being a great deal on the DDP.)

Tigger Meets a New Friend at Crystal Palace

Tigger Meets a New Friend at Crystal Palace

If you’re looking to save on character meal costs, go for breakfast over lunch or dinner; and choose the meals that don’t feature Mickey Mouse or the Princesses.

Buffets are gross. Yep, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: buffets can really get icky (so many people all touching the same food!), and a LOT of character meals are buffets. So while there are many character meals that offer amazing eats, some of the buffet meals don’t have a lot to recommend them.

Buffet overview

Buffet Time

Figure out whether your kid is terrified of characters. A big ‘ol con to character meals is when said characters terrify the daylights out of your kid(s). Some kiddos just can’t handle giant, furry mice and tigers and bears and chipmunks. It’s cool; I get it. And remember, just because your kid was chill with the characters last year doesn’t mean that some weird irrational fear hasn’t kicked in this year.

So have your kid watch some videos online of character meals before you go and see if they think they’ll be OK with the whole giant mouse thing before you plunk down a ton of dough just for junior to freak out over and over again all through breakfast. If we’re going through an “I’m so scared of everything” phase, it might make sense to wait until next time.

Stitch can be particularly scary to kiddos

Stitch can be particularly scary to kiddos

Hope that helps! And if you’re looking for even more information about Disney Character Meals? Be sure to check out Disney Character Meal page for all of the information.

And take a look at our recent video below for our picks for Disney World’s Best and Worst character meals!

Thanks for reading and watching!

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Tips from the Disney Food Blog - Disney Character Meal Pros and Cons

Don’t Miss Out on Any Disney Fun!

The 2017 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, Second Edition, is now available!

2017 DFB Guide to WDW Dining Cover March 6 With more than 650 pages, the 2017 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, Second Edition is full of tips and planning tools developed by Disney World experts over 20+ years of visits. We’ve done the research for you, so you’ll know just which spots will uniquely suit your family’s needs! With sample dining itineraries, plus our “Disney Dining at a Glance” section, featuring “Where Can I Find?” options, you’ll have everything you need to plan your best vacation yet. Click here to get your copy of the 2017 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, Second Edition E-book — and use code SAVE2017 for a 20% discount for a limited time!

Use code SAVE2017 at check-out for a 20% off the cover price!

Are you pro or con character meals? Let us know in the comments below!


  1. Marie says

    I have gone to WDW twice, both times as a solo traveller and loved the character meal at Akershus. All the princesses were lovely and the puddings were gorgeous. The CMs and characters were fine with me being alone, but I did have a particularly nosey table of adults next to me who questioned me as to why I was alone!

  2. nursejackie says

    We used to do 3 or 4 character breakfasts per trip but last year we only did 2 (in 16 day trip). Mainly due to the age of our child, I’ll be sad when the day comes he feels he’s outgrown them, we certainly haven’t!

  3. Tammi says

    We are going for my daughter’s 10th birthday in a few weeks and I told her that we had 7 character meals scheduled. She said, “Can you schedule more?” This will be her 10th trip to WDW and she still loves character meals. I think for both of us the biggest draws are air conditioning and no lines!

  4. Justin says

    ‘Ohana breakfast has to be one of the most overrated experiences. It’s cheap, mass-produced food. Denny’s has better quality and service (most of the time).

  5. Kimberly H. says

    I think another “pro” is that some of them are in really great locations. We do dinner at Garden Grill almost every trip because I love the restaurant and my husband loves the food. The characters are really great at reading you to see how much attention you want. When we travel with my parents we get a late dinner seating at Crystal Palace and ask for a window seat as my Dad loves to gaze at the castle.

  6. Heather says

    We LOVE the Character meals! We have done Chef Mickey’s, Crystal Palace and O’hana for Breakfast. Truly a treat with good eats. We were not disappointed! In fact, the big meal is the reason we love the dining plan. Less trouble to deal with knowing it is all paid for!

  7. Aiden says

    Don’t forget about 1900 Park Fare for breakfast! Strawberry soup and British characters. Can’t really beat that. It is a buffet, but I haven’t gotten the ick factor from it.

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