Character dining has been making a big return around the Disney Parks as of late, even if the experiences look a little (OK, a LOT) different!
While Disney World has seen quite a few locations bring back modified character dining, now select Disneyland restaurants are finally re-introducing it as well! We’ve already seen what Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast looks like at Storytellers Cafe, but now we’re checking out character dining at another neighboring Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel restaurant!
If you’re looking for swanky food at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, Napa Rose is where you’ll find it. Right now though, you’ll also find the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures character dining experience as well! And, we’re taking you with us to see what it’s like!
It’s worth noting this experience is NOT new. It started a few years back, but is now returning. The menu is largely the same, but the experience has changed a bit due to health restrictions. We’ll go over the changes below. Spoiler alert though: It’s still PRICEY.
Napa Rose is located off the main lobby of the resort. Follow signs and head outside to the back of the lobby to find the entrance.
When guests enter Napa Rose, they are surrounded by decorations inspired by California with a warm color scheme, woodwork, and more. The front area of the restaurant is currently being used as a lounge, where guests are able to wait before greeting the princesses (!!!) and being brought to their tables.
The standard table and chair arrangements are still in the main dining room…
…with gorgeous details to go along with the “rose” theme.
Napa Rose features a lovely open kitchen, giving guests a great opportunity to see the chefs hard at work.
But before we get into what we’ll be eating, let’s see who we’ll be MEETING!
Some of the character dining we’ve seen has allowed guests to interact with their favorite friends from a distance while they’re dining. However, Napa Rose was using a more personalized version of modified character interactions, where a few parties are brought into a separate area at a time to talk to the princesses!
A line reminds guests not to get too close to the character performers as a health and safety regulation. But, it still felt like we were able to have more of a one-on-one conversation with the princesses this way!
Guests are able to meet two princesses before they are seated in Napa Rose, as well as two more on their way out of the restaurant.
During our visit, we were able to see Jasmine, Aurora, Belle, and Ariel (and each of them was a joy!).
It’s important to note that this system could change, depending on what is best with the number of guests visiting for the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure. While we saw two princesses at the beginning and two princesses at the end, that may change to better accommodate guest “flow.” Previously, before the closures, princesses met you at your table, at the entrance, AND outside and you saw a lot more in total. It might have been our timing, but we left seeing 4.
At the end of our meal we were given an autograph card to take home.
…with autographs from the princesses you met along with a few others!
So here’s where it gets weird. The original experience (pre-closure) included a LOT more than we received in the swag department. Children would receive a Disney autograph book and pen as well as a card with access to their Photopass photos from the experience. This seemed to have been lost.
Before the closures, young princesses would get a drawstring bag with the Princess Breakfast Adventures logo complete with a Swarovski crystal crown necklace (OK, justifying that heft cost is getting a biiiiit easier so far). Young princes would get a foam shield and sword (the same kinds found in many gift shops for a prettier penny than you’d imagine foam would cost!). Here was a display of the gifts:
But here’s the thing: we had no kids with us, so we were given JUST a drawstring bag and definitely lacking any other goodies. Well, since we visited during World Princess Week, we were given a button to commemorate the occasion too. So there’s that?
Adults used to be given a set of princess-themed chocolates as a takeaway (TBH, we might still pick the necklace). We didn’t realize until we left we just got the baggie only, but definitely felt like a big component of the hefty price tag was missing in our experience. 🙁 If you’re going with kids though, it appears the necklace and shield/sword are still on the table. (We say, sitting here shield and necklace-less!) We called the restaurant to follow up and see if the breakfast still included the chocolates for adults too and the Cast Member at the restaurant was unsure. She said a good deal of the Cast in the restaurant is new and still getting their bearings. It was likely an oversight a Cast Member would have been happy to fix for us had we brought it to their attention.
The Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure is a signature dining experience where each guest will receive 3 courses as part of their meal! Breakfast is served Thursday through Monday from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM at $125 per person (even kids) with tax and gratuity not included.
When we sat down, we were given a cloth napkin (shaped like a rose in our cup!) with utensils…
…and a pastry basket with lemon curd spread ahead of our meal. The three pastries included in our basket were a Cinnamon Twist, a Cranberry Scone, and a Strawberry-flavored Muffin. All three were definitely on the sweet side and tasted more like desserts than something to start off your breakfast with (but hey, you’re here to truly soak in a luxurious dining experience…so start off with dessert!). Our favorite of the three was the Cinnamon Twist, but all three pastries were so different in flavor, it would really depend on what flavor you like most!
Adults have a choice of 1 sparkling wine included with their meal (guests can also request their sparkling wine come with orange juice if they want something similar to a mimosa). Coffee and other non-alcoholic drinks are included with your meal.
Of course, we had to go for some sparkling wine with orange juice to pair with our breakfast, which was light and refreshing to start the day. The coffee we ordered was the typical brew you’d find in the Disney Parks, but it definitely woke us up so we were even MORE ready to conquer our visit to Disneyland. Keep in mind that this was NOT the Still Royal After Midnight Mimosa that is available for purchase on the menu (but that one sounds pretty good too!).
The first course included the Appetizer Tower with a Banana Brulee wrapped in a Nutella Crepe, Open-Face Ham Sandwich, Lobster Roll, Coconut Chia Pudding, and fresh Beignets. The tower comes with enough servings of each item for the number of guests at the table, and all of the above items are included with your first course! This did come on an actual tower brought to the table, but our reporter was so excited to start eating that she forgot to snap a picture! 🙂 On the top of the tower you’ll find the Banana Brulee; the second ‘level’ included the Open-Face Ham Sandwich, and the bottom ‘level’ had the Lobster Roll, Coconut Chia Pudding, and Beignets!
While the presentation itself was LOVELY, each of the items that were a part of the Appetizer Tower was unique and there was a WIDE variety of textures and flavors to start our breakfast. But, if we had to pick our favorites, we had to go with the sweeter side with the incredible Banana Brulee and Beignets. The Brulee was very tasty and had a nice balance of flavor and texture (though it’s really just a thick slice of banana with caramelized sugar on top wrapped in a Nutella covered strip of crepe!), and the Beignets were very fresh (we were told that they were prepared by Princess Tiana herself)!
Don’t get us wrong, the other items were tasty, too! The Chia Pudding is a great option if you’re looking for something on the light side, and the open-faced Ham Sandwich is a crowd-pleaser that kids should enjoy! The Lobster Rolls were big for an appetizer portion, but we felt like there was WAY more bread than there was filling. We also wish it came served warm, but those of you who prefer cold Lobster Rolls will enjoy this dish!
The second course was served buffet-style, where you could pick and choose what you’d like. The options included Chicken and Mickey Waffles, which were your standard mini-Mickey Waffles with one piece of fried chicken as an accompaniment, along with warm syrup! The waffles were fresh and warm, but they were your standard Mickey Waffles you would find anywhere else on property. The fried chicken was a nice touch and was cooked perfectly.
We also tried their “Perfect Scrambled Eggs,” which truly were near-perfect! These scrambled eggs were super flavorful and weren’t over-cooked which is often a concern when eating buffet scrambled eggs! These were definitely an item we would return to the buffet to get multiple servings!
If you’re looking for a unique protein option, there’s the Braised Beef Short Rib. These were also quite tasty and tender, and offered guests a very savory meat option if you’re looking for a truly hearty breakfast! This was a more unique option that we wish the buffet line had more of, considering the price you’re paying!
Other breakfast proteins included Breakfast Meats like Sausage that were presented with cut-up chunks of apple. We enjoyed the Sausage but weren’t blown away; after all, you can find Sausage right next door at Storytellers Cafe breakfast for a lower price point or at practically any spot that serves hot breakfast!
There was also plenty of crispy Bacon, which, like the sausage, reminded us of your standard buffet-line bacon you’d find over at Storytellers Cafe for a fraction of the price. Still, it was crispy and flavorful — exactly what you would expect from Bacon.
Now we aren’t sure how many of you would consider Mac and Cheese to be a breakfast food, but Napa Rose would prove you wrong! The buffet had Mac and Cheese both with and without panko bread crumbs on top, depending on how you preferred it to be served (we can imagine some kiddos may prefer their mac and cheese sans bread crumbs!). The Mac and Cheese was tasty! It wasn’t life-changing Mac and Cheese, but we aren’t gonna say no to melted cheese, no matter what time of day it is. We wish it came in a larger portion (but, of course, it’s a buffet, so you can always hop up and grab another cup!). The little serving cups were cute though.
For your breakfast starch, we were given a basket of Breakfast Fries, which were tossed in BBQ seasoning and served with a Romesco sauce as well as ketchup. We wish there was something extra added to these fries that screamed “breakfast” just a little bit more; while these were tasty, they were just your garden-variety french fries and we couldn’t help but wonder if they realized last-minute guests would be looking for a starch option. That said, the Romesco sauce was unique to see (this is a typically not-spicy roasted tomato, red pepper, garlic, and almond puree).
And if you really wanted to keep your breakfast on the healthy side, there was a tray of Roasted Tomato and Asparagus to add to your plate. These paired really well with the Braised Beef Short Rib and were warm, savory, and cooked well. Something about tiny tomatoes still on the vine makes they seem EXTRA tasty, right? Just us? 😂
Our quasi breakfast-lunch buffet options continue with Sliders, which resembled cheeseburgers you would enjoy around 1PM more than a breakfast sandwich you would enjoy at 9AM! While these were tasty (another good option for kids), we couldn’t help but wonder why they were included in a breakfast buffet instead of something like an omelet station.
There was also an assortment of fruit. Aside from fruit skewers we found…
…and strawberries. Basically, all the major berry players were covered. Compared to the hot foods being offered, there was a lot of fruit to fill the buffet. Almost too much really, compared to the limited hot offerings.
Overall, we found that the majority of the items in the second course were your standard buffet fare with flavors that were a bit on the safe side in order to cater to families and kids. Although there were a few exceptions, you can find quite of few of these options at most breakfast spots around Disneyland.
Our favorite when all was said and done was still the Perfect Scrambled Eggs. The eggs were cooked and seasoned wonderfully, making them the perfect side dish to the Short Rib or even the Chicken and Mickey Waffles! And, let’s get real — you can’t have a breakfast in a Disney Park and skip the Mickey Waffles! 😉
However, for the price tag of the meal, we did expect Napa Rose to have bigger and bolder flavors for their entrées. A third of the buffet line incorporated fruits, which was a bit of a let-down considering how unique the first course had been.
Last, but certainly not least, dessert was our final course with a plated assortment of sweets inspired by the Disney Princesses! The spread included the Peanut Butter Mousse (Pocahontas), Firecracker Strawberry Sorbet (Mulan), Mango Macaron (Ariel), Raspberry Tart (Belle), and 2 Brownie Cake Pops (Belle & Aurora) — all sprinkled with fairy dust on top. We were given just one selection of each item, but if you have multiple guests at your table, you will receive enough selections per guest. The table next to us had a party of four and their dessert spread came with four of everything — so there’s no fighting over your favorite desserts.
Would it be a surprise to you if we said dessert was our FAVORITE course out of the three? (Probably not.) The desserts had a wide variety of flavors to go along with the Disney Princess theme. There was a Mango Macaron for Ariel, which was a little bit small for our taste but was a unique spin on the many Macarons you’ll find around Disneyland. The Mango was just the right amount of flavor and we didn’t find it to be overwhelming at all! If you aren’t a fan of Mango, however, you may be better off sharing this dessert with a friend.
We also had a richer and more savory option with the Peanut Butter Mousse for Pocahontas! This is DEFINITELY for the Peanut Butter fans out there because that was the predominant flavor we noticed. It wasn’t a one-note dessert, but it was awfully darn close. The chocolate layer on the bottom added a nice bit of texture, but the peanut butter flavor definitely overwhelmed the chocolate.
Other rich dessert options were the two Brownie Cake Pops for Belle and Aurora. These were both a fudgy brownie flavor and texture that were definitely more on the ‘heavy’ side for dessert. In contrast, the Raspberry Tart for Belle was a lovely bite-size dessert (look at it! That little raspberry is just as big as the tart!) that won’t leave you feeling guilty once you fire it down. (But that said, we could have eaten…oh, a dozen more? They tiny.)
The standout dessert that got everyone talking, however, was the Firecracker Strawberry Sorbet for Mulan! The ‘firecracker’ comes from the fact that there are Pop Rocks sitting on top of the sorbet! If Pop Rocks freak you out, you can just scoop them out and enjoy the refreshing, ice-cold Strawberry Sorbet underneath. It all sits beneath a small serving of Strawberry Cotton Candy. Weird, but really eye-catching and fun (and tasty!).
At least everyone dining in your party could find at least one dessert they loved. But, honestly, we recommend trying all of them since they’re all unique and tasted great!
So, would we recommend this character dining experience? Here are our thoughts!
Nosh or Not
You should dine at Napa Rose if…
- You LOVE seeing the Disney Princesses! Napa Rose had a unique spin on modified character dining compared to the other restaurants we have visited recently. Plus, this is the only princess meal ’round these parts.
- You’re a big fan of multiple course meals. Instead of purchasing separate appetizers, entrées, and desserts, all of them are included in the price tag of the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure.
- You have kids! The menu had enough options that even your picky eaters would find something to enjoy (in fact, it seemed mostly catered to simple eaters). Plus, the opportunity to see their favorite princesses only adds to the themed dining experience!
You should NOT dine at Napa Rose if…
- You’re looking for unique menu items! The Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure might be one of the few spots to have character dining in Disneyland right now, but the menu is definitely more on the simple side with only a few standout flavors.
- You want to head to the parks quickly! Since Napa Rose is offering a three-course breakfast, that means that it will take some time to experience the full spread (not to mention visiting the Disney Princesses)! So, if you’re wanting to have a quick meal before heading into the parks for the day, you might want to opt for a bite at the Jolly Holiday Bakery in Disneyland or Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe in Disney California Adventure.
- You are dining on a budget! Despite having three courses, the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure had a HEFTY price tag. If you’re looking for a buffet-style character meal on the less expensive side, you might want to visit the neighboring Storytellers Cafe.
When it comes down to the food itself offered during the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure, the price tag of $125 per person wasn’t really justified. Here’s the thing: first course? Really nice. Third course? Really nice. Second course? Hmmm… . We would have loved a few elevated breakfast options during the second course since the simple options didn’t seem worth the cost. A slider and mac and cheese for breakfast is fun, but when we’re shelling out more than the cost of a ticket to Disneyland per person for the experience, we expect a LOT better. And, Storytellers Cafe offers quite a few of the same things right next door for nearly a third of the cost. This was a lovely breakfast that cost about twice what it should.
That said, it’s obvious we didn’t quite get all the components we paid for with this meal, which is unfortunate. We got a drawstring bag. When the experience debuted in 2019, children got an autograph book, pen, photo sessions with the princesses, and all their Photopass pictures PLUS a crystal necklace or sword and shield. The latter two are all that remain. Did we mention we just got a drawstring bag. 😂 Plus, we had fewer princess encounters than were happening prior to the closure. THIS portion of the experience — the takeaways and princess encounters — were the big selling point of the meal and were definitely being catered to children. Those have been cut almost in half for the same price.
BUT, there were other factors about the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure that may make the meal worth it for you! The service was stellar, where our server and food runners were incredibly attentive. Each of the items were described in detail, and they also answered any questions that guests may have. We spent over two hours at the restaurant, making it an actual dining experience, rather than a meal. And, for the amount we paid, that was definitely a plus! The character interactions themselves were the closest we’ve felt to a “normal” meet-and-greet recently, even without the physical contact or autographs. We got more individual time talking to the princesses, which was the best part of our visit! Even though the breakfast was targeted at kids, we still felt that adults could easily enjoy it and not feel out of place too.
While it may be on the pricey side, we would recommend the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure to anyone looking for a full dining experience in Disneyland. Still, you might want to reconsider visiting Napa Rose for the character dining breakfast if you are on a budget, want to get an early start in the theme park, or you’re dining in a large group. Keep in mind that Napa Rose is a signature restaurant in Disneyland, so that means you’ll pay a higher price tag for the experience you’re having. To break your brain a bit putting this into perspective: to sit at the Chef’s Counter at Napa Rose (when available), arguably the best meal you can have in the location, it would cost you about $100 for 6 courses made just for you. We know it’s apples to oranges and all but…we’d pick the Chef’s Counter.
And if you decide to go — be sure to make sure you got all the takeaways intended for you (you DID pay for them!). 🙂