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…]

News! 2012 Candlelight Processional Lunch and Dinner Packages On Sale Now

It’s time!! The Candlelight Processional Dinner Packages are finally on sale!

This coveted ticket provides guests with a lunch or dinner meal at select Epcot restaurants and guaranteed seating to the popular Candlelight Processional holiday spectacular.

At the event, the Christmas story is told by a celebrity narrator while a 50-piece orchestra and choir accompany the re-telling. The event is held on select nights from November 23 – December 30, 2012, in the American Gardens Theatre at Disney World’s Epcot.

Package Details

The package includes your choice of an appetizer, entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage or 1 full buffet from the restaurant’s menu. Guests also have access to an special Illuminations Fireworks viewing area.

Prices [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Great Disney World Restaurants for Boys

Much fuss is made about the ballyhooed princess dining experiences at Disney World. So much fuss, that parents of young boys sometimes find themselves wondering, “What does Disney have that’s special for me?”

The down and dirty dino loving boy will be right at home at the T-Rex Cafe.

Well, never fear sports fans; I’m here to tell you that while, yes, the girly girls are pretty visible in the parks (it’s hard to miss the Florida sun glinting off a tiara), there are plenty of Disney dining experiences where the men in your family will feel right at home.

Let’s break it down …

Character Meals

There are 10 different character dining venues at Walt Disney World proper. Of these, only three and a half of them have princess themeing. The rest are totally gender-neutral.

Boys are certainly welcome at any of the princess meals, and many boys love them just as much as the other character meals (PLUS they’re given a neato plastic sword at the Royal Table); but honestly, they do skew more heavily toward girl interests.

All of the other character dining restaurants appeal equally to boys and girls. Your best options for boys in the character dining department are the following (characters are always subject to change): [Read more…]

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…]

You Know You’re Eating In Disney World When…

Let’s face it. There are a few foodie experiences at Walt Disney World and Disneyland that we don’t normally find at our hometown restaurants!

We thought it would be fun to put a few “You know you’re eating in Disney World when…” thoughts together, and we’d love to hear your additions!

Leave us a comment with your own “You know you’re eating in Disney World or Disneyland when…” experience! ;-)

You Know You’re Eating In Disney World When…

There are strangers eating in the back seat of your car.

Who's in the Back Seat?!?

You memorize the color of the soap in the bathroom while your kids willingly set the table.

Setting the table

You can’t wait to take a bite out of a mouse ear.

That's better!

You get bragging rights for eating dinner while watching fireworks.

Fireworks and castle from Narcoossees

You ask a yellow bear if [Read more…]

Candlelight Processional Dinner Packages On Sale Now!

The Candlelight Processional Dinner Package provides guests with a lunch or dinner meal at select Epcot restaurants and guaranteed seating to the popular Candlelight Processional holiday spectacular. Recently Disney’s added in a VIP viewing of IllumiNations, Reflections of Earth, to make this a really great deal!

At the event, the Christmas story is told by a celebrity narrator while a 50-piece orchestra and choir accompany the re-telling. The event is held on select nights from November 25 – December 30, 2011 in the American Gardens Theatre in Disney World’s Epcot.

Package Details

Does not include park admission. Includes your choice of an appetizer, entree, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage or 1 full buffet from the restaurant’s menu. Prices exclude tax and gratuity.

Disney Dining Plan
Standard and Deluxe Dining – 2 table service credits per person for any meal/restaurant
Premium and Platinum Dining – 1 table service credit per person for any meal/restaurant

Out-of-Pocket Costs
Lunch – Adult $32.99 Child $17.99
Dinner – Adult $50.99 Child $25.99

Nine Dragons
Lunch – Adult $38.99 Child $12.99
Dinner – Adult $49.99 Child $15.99

Restaurant Marrakesh
Lunch – Adult $38.99 Child $12.99
Dinner – Adult $49.99 Child $15.99

Rose and Crown
Lunch – Adult $38.99 Child $12.99
Dinner – Adult $49.99 Child $15.99

Via Napoli
Lunch – Adult $38.99 Child $12.99
Dinner – Adult $49.99 Child $15.99

San Angel Inn
Lunch – Adult $38.99 Child $12.99
Dinner – Adult $49.99 Child $15.99

Coral Reef
Lunch – Adult $51.99 Child $13.99
Dinner – Adult $64.99 Child $17.99

Teppan Edo
Lunch – Adult $51.99 Child $13.99
Dinner – Adult $64.99 Child $17.99

Tokyo Dining
Lunch – Adult $51.99 Child $13.99
Dinner – Adult $64.99 Child $17.99

Tutto Italia
Lunch – Adult $51.99 Child $13.99
Dinner – Adult $64.99 Child $17.99

Chefs de France
Lunch – Adult $51.99 Child $13.99
Dinner – Adult $64.99 Child $17.99

Garden Grill
Dinner – Adult $52.99 Child $26.99

Le Cellier
Lunch – Adult $53.99 Child $14.99

La Hacienda de San Angel
Lunch – Adult $64.99 Child $17.99


11/25 – 11/27: Mira Sorvino
11/28 – 12/01: Michael W. Smith
12/02 – 12/03: Whoopi Goldberg
12/04 – 12/06: TBA
12/07 – 12/09: Isabela Rossellini
12/10 – 12/12: Neil Patrick Harris
12/13- 12/14: TBA
12/16 – 12/18: TBA
12/19 – 12/21: Trace Adkins
12/22 – 12/24: Susan Lucci
12/25 – 12/27: Blair Underwood
12/28 – 12/30: Marlee Matlin with interpreter: Jack Jason

Instead of waiting in a loooonnng line (to get a leftover seat) for this memorable holiday tradition, book a package now. Call (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463!

Thanks to Heidi M. at White Glove Destinations for the heads up

Disney Food for Families: Counter Service Dining with the Adventurous Child

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster has a very adventurous eater in her family — her daughter, Josie! Here are some great suggestions for kids who want something a bit different than the standard kids’ meal fare!

I’ve written before about my finicky, fearful daughter Louisa who never met a chicken nugget she didn’t like.

As it turns out, her twin sister Josie has a completely opposite dining profile. Josie will try anything, loves exploring new foods, and craves variety to spice up her meals. An endless stream of pizza bores her. If you have an adventurous eater in your life, you’ll want to find options beyond the ubiquitous pizza, pasta, hot dogs, and nuggets.

Josie enjoying the meat of a giant bird

In recent years, Disney has done a somewhat better job of providing a range of healthy and innovative foods on their childrens’ menus. Here I’m going to focus on some of the out-of-the-pizza-box Walt Disney World children’s counter service meal and snack options for those looking to avoid the kid food basics while on the go.

Counter Service Dining with an Adventerous Child at Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom

Columbia Harbor House and Cosmic Ray’s offer mixed greens with chicken for [Read more…]

News: Refillable Mugs, Extended Dining, and Via Napoli Pizza-by-the-Slice

Hey Disney die-hards and foodie fans! Here is some news for your nourishment.

New Refillable Mugs
New refillable mugs for the 2011 “Let the Memories Begin” promotion are on sale now for $13.99 at your WDW resort.

2011 Refillable Mug

Lids (and handles) are now in blue, black, yellow and pink. Yes, pink! I know a few moms that will be grabbing up the “princessy” mugs! ;-)

Make sure each member of the family gets a different lid color. That way Mom doesn’t have to sip Dad’s coffee and Dad won’t be taking unintentional gulps of Mom’s diet soda. Note that not all the resorts appear to have the black lids. Let me know which mug types you spot during your WDW resort stay!

Extended Dining Options
It’s almost Spring Break time! WDW is extending dining times at Boma, Cape May Cafe, Chef Mickey’s, Garden Grill, Le Cellier Steakhouse, ‘Ohana and [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Coping With Fears

Kids can be caught off guard by some of the themed elements at Disney restaurants. Erin Foster’s next Disney Food for Families column describes what restaurants might pose a problem and how to cope.

Wooly Mammoth

When my daughter Louisa was four years old, she was already a veteran of several Disney trips. These trips included at least a dozen character meals, dinner at the raucous Whispering Canyon Cafe, and even the foot-stomping Hoop Dee Doo Revue.

She handled all these experiences with kiddie aplomb, so it never occurred to me that we would ever have any problems at Disney restaurants. I was shocked when we got to the Animal Kingdom’s Rainforest Cafe and mid-appetizer, Louisa had a full-on, quivering-lip meltdown.

As it turns out, we had been seated directly next to the life-sized, chest-thumping, screeching, audio-animatronic gorilla. In her preschooler mind’s eye, that gorilla was inches away and effectively alive. She was terrified. My husband ended up getting his meal and hers packed to go; they left the rest of the family and went back to finish eating in the hotel room.

I later learned that, of course, she had company in experiencing sensory overload at the Rainforest Cafe and that there are several other WDW restaurants that have the potential to unsettle [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: September 26, 2010

Coming to you LIVE from Walt Disney World, here’s this week’s Disney Food Post Round-Up!


First, two reminders for this week:

  1. The Epcot Food and Wine Festival is beginning on October 1st (that’s Friday!). Here’s our quick-click guide that includes menus, photos (even pics of the food you can get THIS YEAR!), and more:
    2010 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Guide and Map
    International Marketplace Booths & Menus
    Free & Low-Cost Attractions and Demos
    Special and Signature Attractions
    Eat to the Beat! Concerts
  2. The WDW Foodie Fest is happening one week from today! On Sunday, October 3rd, we’ll hold our first ever Disney Food Blog meet-up! Come find us at Ariel’s in the Beach Club Resort between 11am-2pm. Scavenger Hunt through the Food and Wine Festival starts at 11! Read more and register at the WDW Foodie Fest Website!

This Week’s News

MNSSHP Wicked Witch Cupcake

A few news items this week, coupled with some great new stuff I’ve found at WDW:


And now, on to the round-up:

Tim Rogerson, the Disney artist extraordinaire (whom we interviewed HERE!), has a cool new time-lapse video of his 2010 Epcot Food and Wine Festival signature artwork!

2719 Hyperion takes us to the original Captain Cook’s Hideaway.

Frugal Dinks brings us their review of Epcot’s La Hacienda de San Angel Restaurant.

The Disney Chick makes sunflower seed bread from Epcot’s Garden Grill!

Main St Gazette dines at Rose and Crown!

Eating Around the World goes to Biergarten!

Zannaland has a pic of the new Duffy the Bear rice krispie treat!

Disney Parks Blog has an awesome video from Disneyland detailing how they made their Haunted Gingerbread House for this year’s Haunted Mansion overlay!