Are you in the middle of Disney World Planning? With limited time and money you are probably wanting to get find the best of the best for our trip. Here are the 5 best character meals at Disney World.
You have so many choices of where to eat while on vacation at Disney World. Whether you are on the disney dining plan or not, chances are you are hoping to take in a character meal.
These character meals are not only a great way to see lots of characters quickly, but are a delicious and memorable addition to your disney family vacation.
After eating at all these character meals various times, here are the Top 5 Character Meals. I hope this saves you time and money and you prioritize what to do on your vacation.
Best Disney World Character Dining
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
If you have a little Princess, this is the character meal for you. Instead of waiting in line to see all the different princesses come have a delicious meal in this stunning Norwegian Banquet Hall and see all your child’s favorites at one time!
To save on time you can get a reservation for 1 hour BEFORE the park opens (you get in to the park before it is open to the public) so that you will be done just in time for the attractions to open! The other great thing about this meal is it is the only meal with various princesses that is only one credit! We opted for the American breakfast to save time, but they have Norwegian food for lunch & dinner.
For breakfast we were served a platter of warm food (eggs, sausage, etc.) that they offered to refill for us. Then there was a cold buffet with baked goods, cheeses, fruit, and yogurt. When you are called to eat you will go meet & take a picture with Belle (the only time you will see her). Later, when you are eating you will be brought a picture package – unlike packages at other restaurants this is INCLUDED in your meal! Make sure your kids have their autographs ready because the princesses (typically Belle, Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White, and Ariel) will be by to visit one after another. At some point during your meal they do a ‘dance’ where they parade through the tables. Your kids can join in on the procession – my kids thought it was great fun!
Chef Mickey’s is a character meal in the Contemporary Resort, just a quick, free trip on the Monorail away. The monorail goes right in the middle of this hotel so the inside of the hotel is a HUGE open space. It is cool and leaves a WOW feeling. The downside is that the restaurant, also in the open aired lobby, is pretty noisy.
This buffet is extensive with many salads, entrees, and hand carved meats. But I believe their strength is the huge assortment of desserts along with an ice cream machine with lots of fun candy toppings.
But the highlight of this character meal are the characters themselves. You will get to meet Donald, Minnie, Goofy, Mickey, and Pluto! Each of them is dressed in their chef costumes – so cute! The characters will do a parade around the restaurant with kids once every hour.
Donald’s Dining Safari at Tusker House
This is, hands down, the BEST buffet breakfast at Disney in my humble opinion!! You can get as much as you can eat of Mickey Waffles, fruit, Krispie Crème donuts, pastries, eggs, breakfast meats, crepes, hashbrowns, yogurts, cold meats, and so so much more. Plus the juice they serve is amazing!
NOTE: This is also a character lunch too.
Tusker House itself is GORGEOUS!! Its decor is inspired by African.
Plus what would the Animal Kingdom be without getting pictures with Mickey & the gang in their safari clothes. You can see Donald, Mickey, Goofy, and Daisy. Like many other character meals, part way through your meal they will parade around the dining room with the kids – the kids get to play an African musical instrument while parading.
We enjoy this breakfast, character interaction, beautiful restaurant, and location close to one of the main attractions the Safari so much that we have eaten here every time we’ve visited Animal Kingdom!
The Crystal Palace
This Magic Kingdom based character meal is a favorite of mine, and not just because ever since I was little I’ve been a big Pooh fan! The Crystal Palace is right at the end of Main street, in front of the castle and is inside what looks like a Crystal Palace. The restaurant is beautiful and full of natural light.
The all you care to eat buffet is delicious. This may be one of the best buffets at Disney World. You’ll find lots of choices: hand carved meats, salads, entrees, corn spoon bread, frozen yogurt machine, 20+ desserts, and drinks brought complimentary to your table.
It is the least expensive sit-down meals at Disney World. Which surprised me with how good the food was plus it IS A CHARACTER MEAL! You will most likely see Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet. They rotate around the restaurant throughout your hour long meal. At some point the characters will do a parade and the kids can walk around with the characters – my kids always liked that!
The other really cool trick is that it opens for breakfast 1 hour before the park does. So you can get in early (with your reservation number) and actually stop briefly in front of the castle and get a picture of your family with NO ONE else in the park – cool huh!!) Plus you won’t ‘waste’ any park time as you will be done eating just in time for the park to open!
The Garden Grill
This character meal is often time overlooked, but that is lucky for everyone else who has already discovered this gem! We discovered this restaurant by accident trying to use up an extra meal credit. It only took one visit for this to become one of our favorites! The restaurant is located inside The Land Pavilion in Epcot.
The restaurant rotates while you eat! The restaurant rotates very, very slowly. You will make one complete revolution by the time you eat dinner. On the back side you will get a peak at Living with The Land ride.
The food is out of this world!! I was a little turned off at first because it is a set menu – what if I don’t like what they are serving. Have no fear there is LOTS of food & LOTS of choices! The food is grown right inside The Land Pavilion – you can see Epcot’s amazing gardens on Living with the Land Ride. You will get an amazing salad, several kinds of fresh bread, your choice of drink, platter with several different kinds of meats, several platters of veggies, and then we had an AMAZING peachberry cobbler. The food is served family style and they will bring you more of anything you want! The wait staff was amazingly helpful and friendly – they really went out of their way to take care of us!
As if the food, rotating, and staff wasn’t enough – this is a character meal! Because this is a smaller restaurant and not as crowded (for some strange reason) the characters spend more time at your table interacting with you & most likely you will see them twice!! PLUS you will get to see Mickey in his overalls – it was too cute. We saw Farmer Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale.
Other Character Meals to Consider
Be Our Guest
You are probably wondering why in the world this hugely popular restaurant that I’ve raved about in my Be Our Guest Review is not in my top 5.
I don’t really think of it as a traditional character dining. The food and atmosphere are exquisite (although just as good at lunch which is only a quick service credit), but the one and only character – The Beast does not meet and great at the tables. Instead you will get a chance to get a picture in the living room as you exit your meal.
So if you are itching to meet the Beast, this is the only way to do so anymore. But as far as a character meal it doesn’t stack up as the ones above.
1900 Park Fare
If your kids are big fans of the story of Cinderella then your family will enjoy this one-of-a-kind character dining at the Grand Floridian Hotel. Just pop on the Monorail to get here.
The dining room is smaller than most and is decorated with a hand carved carousel horse in the center. It is an all-you-can-eat buffet, but we thought the food was pretty bland compared to the other meals we had at Disney World. You will meet the Wicked Step Mother, Annastasia, Drizella, Prince Charming, and Cinderella.
To make the most out of this meal I highly suggest having costumes for your kids from the story of Cinderella. The prince (or Drizella in our case) may choose to dance with you at some point during the meal.
Minnie did indeed get to dance with the prince. But what made this evening magical & unforgettable was my son Goofy. I found him the cutest Prince Charming costume on Ebay beforehand. So the step mother and step sisters kept asking him if he had a big kingdom, a wife, etc. Then when it came time to dance Drizella came back from the other room to dance with Goofy! She danced in the most hysterical and ridiculous way (totally in character)! It was HILARIOUS!! The entire dining room was laughing and no one was watching the main event – Prince Charming & Cinderella. To top it off she gave him a big lipstick kiss on the forehead. It was the most memorable night EVER – I will never forget it! So don’t expect to be wowed with the food, but if your kids love Cinderella you might want to go!
Beach Club Breakfast Buffet
If you are looking for a yummy breakfast with characters off of the beaten path this just may be for you. You will need to take a bus to get to the Beach Club Resort.
The food was VERY good! They had all the traditional hot breakfast foods, pastries, yogurts, cereals, plus Eggs Benedict and a couple other surprises. We saw Goofy, Minnie, and Donald all in their beach attire – super cute!
The characters were relaxed and took their time with our kids. Donald even did a little dance with my son that he talked about ALL DAY! The characters even made it half way around again in the 40 minutes it took us to eat breakfast. Would I do it again? It was a great breakfast, great character interaction, easy/cheap taxi ride – SURE THING!
Cinderella’s Royal Table
I think everyone is curious about what the castle is like inside; I know I was. So with free dining we decided to do a super special, once-in-a-lifetime meal at the Castle (Note: It does require 2 dining credits) The castle itself does not disappoint: the winding staircase, huge stained glass windows, vaulted ceiling with kingdom flags, elegant place setting, blue goblets, and exquisitely presented food will delight you! The dining room itself is rather small (probably why it is so hard to get reservations here!).
When you are announced you will take a picture with Cinderella (the only time you will see her). Kids are given a wishing star and a magic wand for girls and a sword for boys. You will order form I believe 5 choices each of a 3 course meal that will delight the pallet and impress you visually too! As you are eating the princesses will be announced one by one: Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, and Belle (why she wasn’t in her evening dress for the castle surprises me!). I actually thought this was one of the weakest character interactions of our entire trip! I am sure it depends on who you get, but I much preferred the interaction at Akershus where it was cheaper!!!
So would we do it again? Probably not. The castle was amazing and super cool to say we’ve eaten there – once. The food was delicious. But with the poor character interactions and the expensive cost ($60/adult & $36/kid or 2 dining credits) I don’t think we’ll feel the need or urge to do it again.
Menus & Pricing: If you are like me you wanted to see what things actually cost to compare. Or check out the menu to make sure that there is something that sounds good. Here is a fantastic site – Allears.net – you can see see Menus, Pricing, and Reviews on all the Disney Restaurants (both counter service & sit-down).