Character Dining: Is It Worth It?

This answer could not be simpler! It’s a resounding YES! And here’s all the reasons why!

Cheesing with Donald at Tusker House!

Character Dining is one of my very favorite experiences at Walt Disney World and I’ve been enjoying them for as long as I’ve been visiting! My very first character breakfast was on the Empress Lilly (now Paddlefish in Disney Springs) with Mickey and the gang back in 1984. It was that experience that started my love affair with character dining. It’s one of the highlights I most look forward to each time I visit Walt Disney World.

Original Empress Lilly Character Breakfast Reservation Ticket!

I will always recommend making at least one character dining reservation for your Disney vacation. Here are some of my favorite reasons, benefits and tips for dining with the characters!

  1. CHARACTER INTERACTIONS: The character interactions are unmatched! Because you are in a relaxed setting enjoying a meal, the characters take their time and spend time at your table with your family. It doesn’t feel rushed, like it sometimes does when taking photos in the park setting with them. In many cases, you also get to hang out with rare characters that you would not normally see in the parks, let alone get pictures with them. Be Our Guest, for example, (while not noted as a “character dining option” specifically) does give you the ability to visit and take pictures with Beast in his castle during dinner hours. The Evil Queen is part of Storybook Dining at Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge. This is absolutely amazing because it is extremely rare, if ever, that you can interact and get a picture with The Evil Queen!!
  2. YOU DON’T HAVE TO STAND IN LINE: It’s the perfect way to meet the characters, take pictures and get autographs all while eating a great meal versus spending part of your day in line in the parks for a similar experience.
  3. UNIQUE PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES: Depending on the theme of the restaurant you are dining at, the characters will be dressed to match! This makes for unique photo opportunities! And if you take a few pictures and aren’t happy with them, you can wait for the characters to come around to your table again for a second chance! You don’t have that same opportunity taking pictures with the characters in the parks.
  4. VISITING HOTELS ON PROPERTY: There are so many character dining options offered at Walt Disney World hotels. I absolutely love this option because this allows you to also explore one of the many fabulous hotels on property that you may otherwise not visit. There are currently over 25 hotels on property. The options are endless, and in my opinion, the hotels on property are just as much an attraction as anything you will find in the parks. They are filled with character (no pun intended), whimsical decor, beautiful grounds and incredible photo opportunities (with and without characters!). So having the ability to dine with characters at any one of them is a plus in my book!

Let’s explore the different character dining options currently at Walt Disney World (both in the parks and at hotels)!

MAGIC KINGDOM

Cinderella’s Royal Table – Fairytale dining in Cinderella Castle, with Cinderella and friends – Breakfast 8:00-10:20AM, Lunch 12:00-3:00PM, and Dinner 4:00PM to closing (varies depending on park closing)

The Crystal Palace – A buffet with Winnie the Pooh and friends (Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore); Breakfast 8:00-10:30AM, Lunch 11:30AM-3:00PM, and Dinner from 4:00PM to closing (varies depending on park closing)

One of the most fun!! What more can I say about The Crystal Palace other than it’s Pooh and the gang! You’ll visit with Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and little Piglet! How sweet! The characters are so lovable and it’s so much fun to meet and spend time with them. I’ve only dined at The Crystal Palace for breakfast and love it. I would (and do!) go back again and again. It is buffet style with plenty of variety from eggs, cereal, pancakes and of course Mickey waffles! There is also an omelet bar with all of the fixings, my absolute favorite! Several times during the meal, kids gather with the characters, music starts to play and they parade around the restaurant. It can be a bit loud and sometimes seem chaotic, especially when the parade music is playing and the children are marching around with the characters, but the environment is fun and lighthearted. You can’t beat the food, the characters and the location (the restaurant is near the Castle hub)! I highly recommend The Crystal Palace!

The Wonderful Thing About Tigger!!

EPCOT

The Garden Grill Restaurant – Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast in The Land, with Mickey and friends (Chip, Dale and Pluto); Breakfast 8:00-10:30AM, Lunch 11:30AM-3:00PM and Dinner from 4:30PM-closing (varies depending on park closing)

This is by far one of my very favorite character dining options on property. The food is delicious no matter what time of day you go – although I am partial to the breakfast! It’s family-style, so there is no shortage of food. Make sure you go hungry and prepare to eat! You will visit with Farmer Mickey, Chip, Dale and Pluto. Each character spends plenty of time taking pictures, giving hugs and kisses, and having fun at each table. This is one I will always recommend!

Farmer Mickey at Garden Grill!

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – Princess Storybook Dining in the Norway pavilion, with Belle, Snow White, Aurora, Ariel; Breakfast 8:30-10:10AM, Lunch 11:40AM-2:50PM, Dinner 4:20-8:40PM

NOTE: You will NOT see Anna and Elsa at the restaurant. If you want to see them, they have a separate meet and greet area in the Norway Pavilion.

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Hollywood & Vine – Playhouse Junior Play ‘n Dine featuring popular Disney Junior Stars; Breakfast 8:00-11:20AM, Lunch from 11:40AM-2:25PM

Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine featuring Minnie Mouse and the gang dressed in the season’s best looks. Dinner 4:00PM to closing (closing varies with park closing)

ANIMAL KINGDOM

Tusker House Restaurant – Donald’s Safari Breakfast and Lunch in Harambe, buffet with Donald Duck and friends. Breakfast 8:00-10:30AM, Lunch 11:00AM-3:30PM, Dinner 3:30-8:30PM

This is another fan favorite! I admit I was a bit skeptical because of the menu (I am not a big Indian spices girl), but there is so much variety at the buffet offered during this dining experience, I don’t know why I spent time worrying! The food is absolutely delicious and the character interactions are so much fun!! You’ll visit with Safari Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy. Safari Goofy gathers all the children several times throughout the meal and parades around the restaurant while singing Jambo! It’s controlled chaos at it’s finest, and it’s so fun to watch. Go to Tusker House! It’s awesome, you’ll love it! I can’t wait to go back!

Me and my girl, Daisy at Tusker House!

RESORT HOTELS

Storybook Dining at Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort with Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy and The Evil Queen! Dinner from 4:00-9:00PM.

Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort with Mickey Mouse and friends. Breakfast and Dinner buffet daily. Breakfast 7:00-11:30AM; Brunch 11:30AM-2:30PM; Dinner from 5:00-9:30PM.

Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort with Minnie and friends for a Beach Bash Breakfast. Daily from 7:30-11:00AM.

The Bon Voyage Breakfast – A character dining experience at Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk, with appearances by adventurous royal couples from beloved Disney films. The celebration features popular characters from favorite Disney stories like “Tangled” or “The Little Mermaid”. Breakfast from 7:30AM-12:05PM.

1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, with Mary Poppins and friends; breakfast from 8:00-11:50AM; Dinner from 4:00-9:00PM.

Wonderland Tea Party at 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, “tea party” for children with Alice and the Mad Hatter from 1:30-2:30PM, Monday-Friday. Includes lunch.

Disney’s Perfectly Princess Tea at Garden View Tea Room at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 10:30AM-Noon on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, dinner buffet with Cinderella and Prince Charming from 4:30-8:20PM daily.

Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo and Stitch at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, family-style breakfast with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto, 7:00-11:00AM.

Visit the Walt Disney World website to book your character dining meal. Remember, your dining reservation window opens 180 days (6 months) prior to the start of your vacation. Many of these listed dining options book up fast, so you’ll want to be ready to make your reservation! Click here for more information on dining reservations at Walt Disney World!

Tip: If you initially miss out on snagging your desired dining reservation, keep checking back! Guests cancel all the time and a time slot may open up!

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