If meeting characters in Disney World is a priority for your family, we highly recommend you consider booking at least one character dining experience. The main benefit of character dining is pretty significant: you don’t have to wait in long lines to meet multiple characters.
And if you want to meet the Big Cheese, Mickey Mouse, you have a few great options both in the parks and at the resorts. He even has a different outfit in each of these restaurants, so he’ll always have a unique look no matter which restaurant you pick! Let’s run through them all of them from best to worst and see which restaurants are better than others!
Now, there are a few things that differentiate character meals from one another:
- Amount of face time with characters
- Food quality
- Buffet: All you can eat, but you also have to juggle your kiddos through the buffet line AND rush back so you don’t miss characters at your table
- Family Style: All you can eat, but NO buffet juggling or rushing back to your table for characters, BUT limited menu so might not be best for picky eaters or special diets
- A la Carte: Not all you can eat, so usually a worse value from a food quantity perspective, but NO buffet juggling or rushing back to your table for characters
This is the basis of our grading scale for our rankings, but as always, we here at DFB have the goal of giving you the full story on each restaurant so you can make the best decisions for your family.
So without further ado, here are our rankings of Mickey Mouse character meals from best to…don’t bother! 😉
Garden Grill – Epcot
At the top of our list is Garden Grill Restaurant in Epcot! This has always been a favorite of ours for MANY reasons! This unique rotating restaurant (that’s right, the restaurant SPINS, though veeeery slowly!) is located on the second (entrance level) floor of the Land Pavilion (that’s the one where Soarin’ is).
You’ll have a chance to meet Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and Mickey is dressed in a cute little farmer’s outfit! As the restaurant rotates, you get some unique views of the Living With the Land attraction down below!
Compared to other restaurants on this list, Garden Grill is perhaps the smallest and most laid back option. Due to its smaller size, the characters can usually take multiple trips around the restaurant during your meal, which means YOU GET MORE MICKEY! Seeing as you’re paying big bucks for a character meal to spend time with the Big Cheese, the more character interaction you get, the better the value.
This perk is truly invaluable, and you will probably get way more time with the characters here than you will in most other character meet-and-greet scenarios.
The food is served family-style, meaning you don’t have to worry about juggling your kiddos while you stand in a buffet line to get your meal. And you don’t have to worry about rushing back to your table before the characters get there!
It’s also all-you-care-to-eat, so you still benefit from being served a TON of food. The food itself is delicious, and much of it comes from the greenhouses in The Land Pavilion.
For breakfast, you’ll be served an overflowing skillet of eggs, bacon, sausage, Mickey pancakes, and more (along with a plate of delish sticky buns!).
And lunch and dinner feature a hearty skillet of a variety of meats, mac and cheese, fries, and veggies with a berry shortcake for dessert. So, you’re getting super fresh food, brought to your table, and you can eat as much as you want? Sign us up!
This location also happens to be a great value compared to other character meals. Breakfast is priced at $42 per adult and $27 per child, while lunch and dinner costs $55 per adult and $36 per child.
In short, we cannot recommend Garden Grill enough. You can often get last-minute reservations here too, which is always a shock to us because it’s such a gem. A lot of character dining exists JUST so your kids can meet the characters, but this is not the case with Garden Grill. You can meet Mickey (usually multiple times), eat a ton of excellent food, and enjoy a quieter break from the hustle and bustle of Epcot all in one place!
PROS: Small restaurant means you can likely meet characters more than once. Family style food means you’re not managing a buffet with kiddos. Food is delicious. Food is all you can eat.
CONS: Family style food and set menu means picky eaters or those with special diets may not have choices they enjoy. Have to pay for a park ticket to dine here.
‘Ohana – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Coming in Second Place is breakfast at ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort! There are many draws to this fan-favorite restaurant. For starters, the location couldn’t better.
The Polynesian is located along the monorail loop, just minutes from Magic Kingdom. This makes ‘Ohana an excellent breakfast option to fill the family up before hitting the parks! Note that the characters are ONLY out during breakfast here!
In addition to meeting Mickey in his cute Hawaiian shirt, you can also meet Pluto, Lilo, and Stitch! Currently, this is the ONLY place on property where you can meet Lilo, so if you have Lilo & Stitch fans in your household, ‘Ohana is a must-do!
Like Garden Grill, the food is served family-style, which again is a HUGE PLUS if you have young kiddos. The food comes to you, but it’s still all-you-care-to-eat. WIN-WIN. As far as pricing goes, this character breakfast will run you $42 per adult and $27 per child, the same as Garden Grill’s breakfast.
Speaking of food, the breakfast food at ‘Ohana is great! There aren’t too many surprises on the menu, and most of what you are served is traditional breakfast food your entire family should be able to enjoy. There are some unique specialty items though that we ADORE, like their yummy breakfast bread. It’s also the only place on property where you can get Stitch waffles!
‘Ohana is a solid option if you’re looking for a great character dining experience. Just keep in mind that this is a popular restaurant and reservations often go quick!
So if you know you want to dine here, be ready to book your Advance Dining Reservation once your 180-day window opens up! If there are no tables available, there’s another great character breakfast option where you can meet Mickey, and it’s coming up next!
PROS: Small restaurant means you can likely meet characters more than once. Family style food means you’re not managing a buffet with kiddos. Food is all you can eat. Food is delicious. Don’t have to pay for a park ticket to dine here.
CONS: Family style food and set menu means picky eaters or those with special diets may not have choices they enjoy. Character meal is breakfast only.
Topolino’s Terrace – Disney’s Riviera Resort
The newest character dining option is next on our list! Topolino’s Terrace: Flavors of the Riviera is a rooftop restaurant in the new Disney’s Riviera Resort.
The restaurant has gorgeous, sweeping views of Disney World! Their character breakfast, otherwise known as Breakfast à la Art, includes Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy in their finest Renaissance-inspired attire! Here, you’ll find Mickey has a cute and colorful painter’s smock!
Like ‘Ohana, the characters only come out for breakfast here!
If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, it’s also worth mentioning that breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace is worth only 1 dining credit, while dinner costs 2 credits. So, if you want to experience this new restaurant BUT want to budget your meal credits, go for breakfast!
Standout breakfast menu items here include the Quiche Gruyere, Croissant au Jambon, and Sour Cream Waffles with a DELICIOUS orange-maple syrup. While you order off of a set menu and this is NOT all-you-can-eat, Topolino’s Terrace is a prix-fixe price at $42 per adult entree, and $27 per child entree, on par with the other options on this list so far.
This is definitely going to be a more ‘fine dining’ experience, ESPECIALLY for character meals, so keep that in mind if you’re considering giving Topolino’s Terrace a try. And once you’re done, hop on the Disney Skyliner and head to Epcot or Hollywood Studios fueled up for your day!
PROS: Food is delicious. More refined atmosphere than a buffet meal. Don’t have to pay for a park ticket to dine here. A la carte menu means there are more options for picky eaters than family style meals, but fewer than buffet meals.
CONS: Character meal is breakfast only. Just as expensive as other character meals, but NOT all you can eat.
Tusker House – Animal Kingdom
Tusker House is our first traditional character buffet on this list. Located in Africa in Animal Kingdom, this character dining experience includes Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy! They are ALL decked out in super cute safari outfits, making for great photo opportunities to commemorate your time in Animal Kingdom.
When it comes to the food, Tusker House is a solid option. It has a “best of both worlds” approach where you’ll find a lot of typical American food for your pickier eaters, but they also have a lot of interesting African-inspired dishes for your more adventurous eaters!
For breakfast, expect to find everything from Simba & Nala waffles to Beef Bobotie (it’s kind of like an African shepherd’s pie!). Like the other character options on this list so far, breakfast will cost $42 per adult and $27 per child.
For lunch and dinner, you’ll find your carving station and your salad station, but you’ll also find an assortment of hummus, curries, and tabouli. This is a good option if your party is a mixture of wild and tame eaters (don’t worry, they still have plenty of chicken nuggs and mac and cheese!). Lunch and dinner cost $55 per adult and $36 per child.
Overall, this is a good option if you’re looking for unique food offerings you won’t find anywhere else in Disney World, while still appealing to those picky eaters! Plus having a chance to cool off while in Animal Kingdom is great!
PROS: Food is plentiful and interesting while still including some standards for pickier eaters. All you can eat.
CONS: Large restaurant means characters may only come to see you once. Buffet means managing kiddos while also potentially rushing back to your table so you don’t miss character encounters. Have to pay for a park ticket to dine here.
Hollywood and Vine – Hollywood Studios
Next on our list is Hollywood and Vine! This character restaurant in Hollywood Studios does a bit of a switch-up during the day. For breakfast, you can meet an assortment of Disney Junior characters, but for lunch and dinner, however, it transforms into Minnie’s Seasonal Dining. SO, if you want to meet Mickey and not Vampirina, make sure you’re booking the right meal!
At Minnie’s Seasonal Dining, you can meet Mickey, Minnie, and the rest of the Fab Five in specialty seasonal outfits, depending on the time of year you visit!
The seasonal parties throughout the year include Silver Screen Dine (during Awards Season, of course), Springtime Dine, Summertime Dine, Halloweentime Dine, and Holiday Dine! Outfits vary from their cozy Christmas best, to not-so-spooky costumes, to Hollywood Glam, and more! This character buffet is priced at $55 per adult and $36 per child.
The food at Hollywood and Vine is…just OK. It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s also probably not the best meal you’re ever going to eat. Keep in mind that at the end of the day it is STILL a buffet. Is it worth $55 per adult? That’s up to you!
While we would recommend this to anyone who likes buffets and is looking for a unique character dining experience, we think Hollywood and Vine just got beat out by the other fabulous restaurants on this list that offer great food AND great character experiences.
We do love how this restaurant switches up with the seasons, however, meaning you can visit multiple times throughout the year and have a totally unique experience each time with the characters in new outfits!
PROS: Plenty of food options for picky eaters. All you can eat. Fun “seasonal” experience with characters.
CONS: Large restaurant means characters may only come to see you once. Buffet means managing kiddos while also potentially rushing back to your table so you don’t miss character encounters. Have to pay for a park ticket to dine here. Food is largely mediocre.
Chef Mickey’s – Disney’s Contemporary Resort
And finally, we have Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Those of you who have followed us for a while may already know about our love/hate relationship with Chef Mickey’s. We DO want to point out some positives first.
Like ‘Ohana, this is a great location if you want to do a character meal on your Magic Kingdom day. Just a quick Monorail ride or WALK away from the park’s main entrance, it’s a good spot to grab breakfast before you head in or to take a break for lunch or dinner.
The one thing Chef Mickey’s has going for it OVER ‘Ohana is that you can meet characters at all three meals of the day, providing your family with more flexibility if you want to meet Mickey in a character dining setting near Magic Kingdom.
You meet Mickey along with the rest of the Fab Five, and they’re all in super cute chef outfits that you won’t see anywhere else on property.
And to be totally fair to Chef Mickey’s, the food HAS gotten better over the years. It’s a far cry from the best food on property, and it’s definitely not the best food on this list, but we’ve absolutely noticed an improvement. Our biggest bones to pick with Chef Mickey’s are still the fact that it’s big, it’s crowded, you pretty much ONLY get one shot with the characters, the atmosphere is blah, and it’s loud.
And this meal ain’t cheap: breakfast will run you $50 per adult and $33 per child, whereas lunch and dinner will cost $60 per adult and $39 per child. This means that Chef Mickey’s is the MOST EXPENSIVE option on this list!
Not only is it a large restaurant, but Disney made sure to fit as many tables as possible into this place! Due to the size of the restaurant and the number of tables, the characters don’t have a ton of time to spend at your table.
In order to make sure they make their rounds and say hello to every guest, that means less individual time at your table! This is a huge contrast to Garden Grill, where we’ve had Mickey stop at our table multiple times in one visit, and stick around for longer to play.
Like we mentioned before, the food is getting better every time we go, although there’s still plenty of room for improvement. You will definitely find no surprises here. Breakfast will have plentiful Mickey and Minnie waffles to choose from, and lunch and dinner will have your standard carving stations, chicken nuggets, and mac & cheese. We do recommend you check out the waffle bar and sundae bar — it’s the perfect “cherry on top” for your trip to Chef Mickey’s.
Overall, however, while this is definitely a classic Disney World restaurant that we ALL have those old family photos from, if your goal is to meet Mickey and you want to truly enjoy your time while you do so, we recommend you check out the other restaurants on this list first!
PROS: Plenty of food options for picky eaters. All you can eat. Close to Magic Kingdom. Don’t have to pay for a park ticket to dine here.
CONS: Most expensive option. Large restaurant means characters may only come to see you once. Buffet means managing kiddos while also potentially rushing back to your table so you don’t miss character encounters. Food is largely mediocre. Atmosphere is blah, frenetic, and very loud.
So there you have it! All the character meals starring the Mouse, himself! There are a few great character meals at Disney World we didn’t cover here, if you’re looking for your fill of princesses or other whimsical characters. But when we think of a solid character meal at Disney, more often than not, we want to meet “the leader of the club” so we hope we helped you evaluate all your options!
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What is YOUR favorite character meal in Disney World? Let us know in the comments!