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.
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.
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!
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.
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: Book a character meal for later in your trip, then let your child watch some characters in the park from a safe distance. If he’s intrigued, the character meal is a great place to get closer. If he’s terrified, cancel your meal.
DFB Guide Tip: Shy kids or those terrified of life-size mice can be seated away from the aisle. Parents should let the visiting character know that a friendly wave is more desirable than a furry hug.
2. Are you on a strict budget?
Guests on very tight budgets may want to wait until their next trip to invest in a character meal. After all, you can see the characters in the parks — albeit often with hefty lines. And there’s no doubt that you can likely spend less on a meal if you bring your food with you or dine at a counter-service restaurant.
DFB Guide Tip: Dining with characters is less expensive at breakfast. We like the breakfast buffet at Cape May Cafe for its low price and delicious menu.
3. What’s more important — the atmosphere or the food?
If you’re traveling with a group of foodies, a character meal (including those fancy digs in the Castle) may not offer the best eats available on property…even though they may be some of the most expensive. Many character meals are buffets, and while Disney offers decent eats at these, it probably won’t be gourmet-quality.
Be sure to consider this before spending your dough (or a precious table-service credit or two) on a character meal.
DFB Guide Tip: We especially like the menu at Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom. It’s a good spot to find more unique eats.
4. Is your group adults-only?
This is kind of a trick question for us. We always go to character meals even if we don’t have kids with us. And I think that’s what many folks would recommend.
Disney characters are fun for all ages, and you’ll find that many Disney characters enjoy interacting with adults as much as they do with children.
DFB Guide Tip: If you’re dining with a group of adults at a character meal, think of some fun or funny questions you can ask the characters when they come to your table. It’s always interesting to hear what they have to say if you ask them about some of their “family members” from their film!
Get More Insider Tips About Disney Character Meals!
We love helping you with Disney Dining plans and we answer numerous questions about character meals in The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013!
Do you always include a character meal in your Disney vacation? Share your thoughts on character meals in the comments below!