Great Places to Celebrate your runDisney Race!

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is upon us! And it got us thinking… where would we most like to relax and celebrate after a runDisney race in Disney World? There are lots of things to consider when planning your post-race celebration. So, lace up, friends, and read on!

Chef Mickey’s

Located in the heart of the Contemporary Resort, Chef Mickey’s fun-filled buffet is also character meal featuring the Fab Five… which, of course, includes the Big Cheese himself, Mickey Mouse!

Chef Mickey's!

Chef Mickey’s

• A great buffet with an abundance of choices to fill most any post-race craving;

• If your race happens during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, this is the place where you can get your picture taken with a character that likely matches the one on your medal! (Minnie for 10K finishers, Donald for Half Marathon finishers, Mickey for full Marathon finishers, and Goofy for those just goofy enough to run both the half and the full!)

Chef Mickey

Chef Mickey

• There will be a fair bit of standing (for character pics) and walking (to and from the buffet)… something to keep in mind for tired legs;

• Chef Mickey’s is not open for lunch (when most runners will finish the full marathon), so you’ll need to wait for dinner or next morning’s breakfast to celebrate.

• Epcot’s Akershus in the Norway Pavilion: We’re thinking of all of you Princesses running the February races with [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Should I Book a Disney Character Meal?

Dining at Walt Disney World is very often an experience rather than just a meal. It’s become a rite of passage to dine with characters during a visit to Disney — and there’s stiff competition to secure Advance Dining Reservations at some of these table-service restaurants.

Mickey strikes a pose!

Meeting Cinderella, rubbing Pooh’s tummy, hugging Mickey Mouse, and posing with Chip and Dale are some of the memorable moments that can be discovered while dining at Character Meals.

Tigger Lounges and Signs an Autograph Book at the Plaza Inn

But is a character meal right for your group? On one hand, adults and kids alike enjoy meeting characters from Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood, Cinderella’s Castle, and more! Yet on the other, character meals can be costly — both in time and money!

We’ve been to countless meals in which Disney characters hobnob with guests, and now we can help you determine if a character meal fits well into your next Disney vacation!

Chef Mickey serves up fun and food at the Contemporary Resort!

In our The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013 e-Book, we have an informative section on character meals. Pick up your copy here for an extra $4 off using code 2013 for a limited time! Your vacation is an investment and we want you to have the best trip possible!

So let’s take a look at whether a character meal makes sense for YOUR family…

Should I book a character meal?

Let’s get right to some important dining considerations that we’ve included in the DFB Guide to help you plan your meals.

Meet the princesses at a character meal!

1. Do you have kids who may be afraid of characters?

Character meals can be a good place for children to get to know the Disney characters. However if one (or more) of your children are not fond of the characters then consider dining at a restaurant with a fun theme instead.

Not sure if your kiddo hates characters? Here’s how to find out without too much trauma: [Read more…]

Review: Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

It’s been a LONG time since we’ve talked about Tusker House, so let’s get down to business!

I consider this sprawling restaurant within Disney’s Animal Kingdom to be one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to Disney World character meals.

Yep — Tusker House is known for its bounty of African dishes, but it’s also a character dining destination. BUT — if you’re coming for the characters, be sure to book your ADR for breakfast and lunch. Mickey and friends don’t make an appearance for dinner.

We have a ton of yummy pictures to share with you, so let’s go!


Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite Disney parks due to its truly incredible themeing, and Tusker House takes this one step further.

Tusker House - Outside View

It’s one of the Disney restaurants that doesn’t just incorporate theme on the surface — I could spend hours exploring all of the specialty decor, finishes, and props Imagineers have added to this massive restaurant.

You’ll enter the restaurant through the village of Harambe in Animal Kingdom’s Africa, and Tusker House serves as Harambe’s “open air” market on the edge of the Harambe Wildlife Preserve. The podium for the restaurant was outside during our visit. Once you check in, you have the option to wait at a few outdoor tables that are leftover from the days when Tusker House was a counter-service restaurant.

Outdoor Waiting area

Also, next door is one of our favorite watering holes — the Dawa Bar. This is a great spot to [Read more…]

DFB Podcast Episode 10: Chef Mickey’s and Goofy’s Kitchen

Howdy, Disney food lovers!

Great news today for all you hungry commuters, walkers, runners, gym-goers, stair-monster-climbers, and other assorted podcast listeners!

Just wanted to drop a line to let you know that the 10th episode of our DFB Podcast is now posted and ready for downloading!

In this episode we cover the latest Disney Food News and have a “telekinetic” discussion about the ever-popular Goofy’s Kitchen buffet at Disneyland and Chef Mickey’s buffet at Walt Disney World.

We also answer a couple listener questions, and reveal the answer to our Episode 9 trivia question (and debut a new trivia question)!

Here’s the Podcast page for Episode 10. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSS or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think!

Review: Epcot’s Garden Grill Restaurant

Based on a previous guest review of this restaurant, I couldn’t wait to go try it out!

Now, to be fair, it’s not as though I’d never been to the Garden Grill Restaurant before… Well, that’s not entirely true. Before this visit, I hadn’t been to the current incarnation of the restaurant. In fact, back in the 80’s, I went to The Land Grille Room, which was what the restaurant was called before its renovation into the Garden Grill Restaurant. (Check out my friend Andy’s creation of a recipe from The Land Grille Room here!

Born as the Good Turn Restaurant and then morphed into The Land Grille Room, this restaurant has had many personalities (my memories include dark red booths and full-blown sculptures of Mickey Mouse made out of butter). Today, it’s a family-style character dinner featuring Chip, Dale, Mickey, and Pluto!

Garden Grill


Perhaps the most impressive attribute boasted by Garden Grill is that it’s a rotating restaurant. That’s right — you go around in circles while you’re eating!

But don’t worry; this isn’t as though you’re having dinner on the Teacups. The restaurant rotates s-l-o-w-l-y during your meal, allowing views of the different scenes from the Living With the Land ride taking place below the restaurant.

There are two seating styles in the restaurant, and…listen up — it makes a BIG difference where you sit. I know I’m picky about seating, but in this case, I strongly suggest that you request a semi-circular booth on the lower level of the restaurant.


This isn’t just for comfort’s sake (though the cushioned booths ARE more comfortable than the hard chairs at the tables). The booths give you an unobstructed view of the scenes you’re passing by from the ride below, and the high backs also [Read more…]

Thanksgiving Meals at Fort Wilderness and Magic Kingdom’s Diamond Horseshoe

Fort Wilderness Restaurants

Howdy! Round up your crew for the annual Thanksgiving at the Fort! Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground will host countrified meals on Thursday November 24, 2011. And the Diamond Horseshoe will open its doors for table-service and counter-service meals on Turkey Day as well! Yee-haw!

Thanksgiving at the Fort

Mickey & Minnie (and some of their favorite friends) invite you to dine with them at the ranch. Look for Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, Pocahontas, Meeko, Country Bears, and Chip & Dale. (Characters are subject to change.) At this hoe-down you’ll hoot ‘n holler with the live entertainment including a country band and Trevor the Trick Roper.

This outdoor event rolls out an all-you-can eat buffet of comfort foods in an outdoor, covered pavilion where you’ll be seated family-style with other guests. After you wrangle up some good grub, kick up your heels and dance away those calories!

Fort Wilderness Pavilion (Home of Mickey’s Backyard BBQ)

Seating Times [Read more…]

News: Tusker House Announces New Character Lunch Starting December 4

Jambo! I just love when a new character meal is added to our Disney World dining options! Tusker House Restaurant in the Animal Kingdom’s Harambe area will begin offering character lunches on December 4th!

Donald and Daisy Duck are taking on extra hours as Donald’s Safari Breakfast will still be offered daily!

Donald Duck announces new lunch!

Donald’s Dining Safari Lunch will be hosted by Donald and Daisy Duck while guests sample delicious all-you-can-eat spit-roasted meats, unique salads, vegetarian options, hearty stews and [Read more…]

Disney Food For Families: 11 Tips for Better Disney Character Dining

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster has some great character meal tips for your fam!

Goofy Poses at Chef Mickey's

I spent a recent weekend reminiscing over old photos, many of which featured family trips to the Disney Parks. While flipping through the albums, one of my girls commented that the photos were, to put it mildly, character meal intensive. So we started counting, going back to my oldest daughter’s first trip to Walt Disney World in May of 1998.

I have photographic evidence of having been to character meals with my family at least 93 times since then. These meals took place at Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and most predominantly at Walt Disney World, including each of the character meals currently available there, plus the now defunct meals at the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Tree Tavern, Animal Kingdom’s Restaurantosaurus and what is now Fulton’s Crab House at Downtown Disney.

Our single highest visit count is at the Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace, with 17 separate visits.

Liberty Tree Tavern character meal. Gone but not forgotten.

After all that eating, and eating, and eating, aaaand eating, we’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way that may make your character meal experience even better than it otherwise might be:

1. Decide Why You’re There and Plan Accordingly
While the obvious answer to, “Why are you going to a character meal?” may be, “to eat.” In reality there are a number of reasons why you might find yourself communing with Mickey and a heaping plate of breakfast lasagna. These may include: [Read more…]

Guest Review: The Crystal Palace Restaurant

Welcome Guest Reviewer Katie Drake as she transports us to a by-gone era and the world of Winnie the Pooh!

Couldn’t snag a reservation with the princesses at the Castle? Why not try the Palace down the street?!

The Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace may not boast any Disney movie royalty, but it does have everyone’s favorite friends from the Hundred Acre Wood, available for meet and greets all day long.  Most guests take advantage of the scrumptious breakfast offerings, but the restaurant is one of the few at Walt Disney World that offers character meals three times a day, and lunch and dinner have several tasty offerings.


After walking down Main Street U.S.A., visitors are in a turn-of-the-century frame of mind, and taking a bit of refreshment in the conservatory sounds perfectly delightful. With it’s airy walls of windows and greenery throughout, the Crystal Palace feels like a Victorian greenhouse, but with plenty of AC cranking to keep the heat and humidity at bay.

Guests must wait outside on the veranda until their table is ready, the air stirred by [Read more…]

My Photo Shoot With Tigger

One thing I love about Disneyland character meals is that they always have such a variety of characters present! In WDW, you often have a set cast of characters who are all associated with one another in some way — the fab five, the 100 Acre Wood characters, princesses, etc… . But in Disneyland, many of the character meals are haphazard in a fantastic way! Captain Hook is hob-nobbing with the Fairy Godmother; Minnie’s hanging out with Rabbit; Baloo is leading a dance party with Aladdin — it’s so much fun!

Also, because Disneyland table-service restaurants aren’t quite as packed as Disney World’s (you can get a reservation for most of them a week ahead of time) you can often spend a good amount of time with the characters themselves!

For example, at a recent visit to the Minnie and Friends Breakfast at the Plaza Inn in Disneyland, Tigger and I had plenty of time to get to hang out and goof off!

Plaza Inn -- Disneyland

First, I got to watch him dance with a new friend…

Then he showed off [Read more…]