Character dining is one of the most fun ways to dine in Disney World. Eating alongside your favorite characters? The best!
Although character dining looks a bit different right now (although that could be changing SOON), it can still be fun to catch some characters while eating delicious food. Chef Mickey’s is a major dining staple in Disney World as one of the most popular character dining destinations. Still, there are other character dining locations that tend to be forgotten or overlooked — like Garden Grill in EPCOT. So if you find yourself unable to get a Chef Mickey’s reservation or wanting to try something new…Garden Grill is worth a try!
Breaking Down the Restaurants
Chef Mickey’s is a character dining experience (modified for now) in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. It’s one of the hardest Disney World restaurant reservations to secure, and the menu is all-you-can-eat for breakfast and dinner.
The Contemporary Resort location makes this spot easy to get to from Magic Kingdom or via the Monorail, and the Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald) visit diners (from a distance). Chef Mickey’s is a great place to get a classic Disney World character breakfast from a convenient location before making your way to Magic Kingdom.
Garden Grill Restaurant
Garden Grill, the only rotating restaurant in Disney World, is another character dining experience located in EPCOT in the Living with the Land pavilion. Currently only serving lunch and dinner, guests can visit with Mickey, Chip, Dale, and Pluto while they dine.
Garden Grill is one of the few places you can find Mickey in EPCOT, and the menu is all-you-can-eat with fresh ingredients grown a stone’s throw away IN the Land. And as the restaurant rotates, you can also spot scenes from inside the attraction!
Chef Mickey’s is located in Disney’s Contemporary Resort right in the middle of all the excitement of the hotel. With views of Bay Lake and Mary Blair’s 90-foot mural, there’s a lot to see.
With brightly colored decor and lots of great lighting, it’s a warm space, though you can see some of the ongoing Contemporary construction when we visited.
This restaurant is family-friendly and as we’ve said, it’s VERY popular. Reservations often book out far in advance and can be very difficult to get.
Seating varies from combo booths and chairs to tables and chairs, and it’s a pretty sizable space. As a large space, in the center of a tall resort with lots of hard surfaces, this restaurant can get loud. Whether it’s families just talking or the cheers when the Fab 5 come out, this will not be a relaxing, leisurely meal, but a high-energy dining experience!
And of course, there are appearances by each of the Fab 5! With the modified character dining they don’t necessarily greet you at your table or interact as much, but you are able to wave to them and take some distanced pictures.
We love watching the monorail swoop in and out of the Contemporary resort while we dine and say howdy to our favorite Disney friends. That monorail definitely provides a unique experience and being within walking distance to Magic Kingdom is a great perk, as well!
Meanwhile, at Garden Grill Restaurant, it’s a much smaller restaurant. And since it’s less popular, there’s not as much need for quick table turnover as with Chef Mickey’s, so you can enjoy a more leisurely meal.
There’s also much more character interaction at Garden Grill, as you usually see characters multiple times and they’re more likely to interact with you because the restaurant is so much smaller.
Seating consists of a layout of tables in a circle, with an inner circle of tables and chairs and an outer circle of half-circle booths.
As Disney World’s only rotating restaurant, it actually rotates to feature different scenes from Living With the Land. Because of its layout and that central kitchen that the seating area rotates around, this restaurant provides a quieter atmosphere and a more intimate greeting setting for those distanced interactions with our Disney friends.
Dinner AND a ride? Sign us up! Combined with easier-to-get reservations and an in-park location, Garden Grill is far too easily overlooked.
Both restaurants are all-you-can-eat family-style right now with somewhat similar prices. These platters are brought to the tables and guests are welcomed to request seconds (or thirds, or fourths) of their favorite dishes!
Traditionally, Chef Mickey’s has been a buffet-style restaurant, but since the reopening, it has converted over to an all-you-care-to-enjoy family-style meal. Breakfast at Chef Mickey’s costs $42 per adult and $27 per child, and dinner costs $55 per adult and $36 per child. Breakfast includes a range of fruit, breads, and traditional breakfast dishes including the always iconic Mickey Waffles.
There are also some standouts dishes at Chef Mickey’s breakfast, like the “Loaded” Potato Cheese Casserole.
For dinner, you’ll find lots of options to choose from, ranging from salads and bread and Roasted Garlic Gratin Potatoes…
…to Baby Carrots, Prime Rib, and the Traditional Roasted Breast of Turkey. There are also plant-based options available.
The Traditional Roasted Turkey comes with turkey, summer succotash, and gravy, and in the past, we also ordered the Prime Rib with Mushroom Ragout and Roasted Onions.
Chef Mickey’s has some classic homestyle meals for both breakfast and dinner, so it’s an easy option for picky eaters and definitely family-friendly.
Garden Grill costs $55 per adult and $36 per child for lunch and dinner. The menu is a lot smaller than Chef Mickey’s but has a good amount of fresh dishes with homegrown veggies from the Land garden.
The Harvest-inspired Garden Salad and Grilled Beef with Chimichurri are standout dishes here, especially with the locally-sourced veggies. The food gives us home-cooked Thanksgiving vibes, and the veggies are FRESH. In fact, the salad can even change slightly depending on what’s currently fresh.
Both restaurants, while somewhat spendy, have some delicious dishes to enjoy while visiting with Disney characters. If you’re looking for a reservation that’s not as difficult to grab, try Garden Grill!
Both of these dining options offer approachable, homestyle all-you-care-to-enjoy meals and are even the same price point for dinner. Chef Mickey’s offers breakfast, is close to Magic Kingdom, and provides that grand view of the monorail sweeping in and out of the Contemporary Resort. Garden Grill provides a lunch option, is actually inside EPCOT, and provides a one-of-a-kind view inside an iconic attraction on its rotating floor. Chef Mickey’s has a high-energy, excitable atmosphere, while Garden Grill provides a calmer and cozier environment.
Both restaurants give you the opportunity to greet the Big Cheese, himself, but on any given day, it’s easier to get a reservation for Garden Grill over Chef Mickey’s. So if you’re looking for an easier reservation AND delicious, fresh food, Garden Grill might be worth trying. Keep reading DFB for more Disney World news!
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Which restaurant do you prefer? Tell us in the comments!