Disney World has some phenomenal dining options which can be booked through the My Disney Experience App. We’ve been fortunate enough to try MOST of all the character meals at Disney World, and I would love to share with you a few of our favorites, along with some of their pros and cons! Note that this is not an extensive list of restaurants, but merely a select few of our character favorites.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Epcot)
Pro: Perfect for the Princess loving little girl. You will meet princesses like: Ariel, Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White, and Belle and the breakfast is very tasty.
Cons: The food is Norwegian, so lunches and dinners can be a little crazy for picky eaters.
Tip: Go for early breakfast at 8am (you’ll get into the park before it opens), then get to the Frozen ever after ride before the crowds! There is a breakfast buffet with cold foods (think fruits, bagels, muffins, cheeses), then they bring a hot breakfast platter (eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, etc.) to the table for sharing.
Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)
Pros: There is really no more magical dining experience than eating in Cinderella’s castle at Disney on your vacation. The service is really wonderful and they do an excellent job of delivering ALL the princesses to your table (like Jasmine, Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White, Ariel, and sometimes others).
Cons: Very pricey! You will pay between around 100 bucks for ONE adult and ONE child… for breakfast.
Tip: Book this WAY ahead of time. It’s ideal to get a breakfast reservation, as the breakfast is very good. If you are looking for a reservation in the next 3-4 months, you won’t get one. You can try walking in and getting a reservation during the less busy times. Let your child dress up like a princess if you can!
Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom)
Pro: Convenient, fun, and you can usually get a fairly last minute reservation if you are looking for a character experience at Magic Kingdom. This is one of the less expensive character experiences (around $45 for adult and child), though this is still pricey- remember you are paying for the experience.
Cons: Most kids aren’t as into the Winnie the Pooh characters as they are Mickey/Minnie, princesses, or Disney Jr characters.
Tip: If you can’t get a reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table, this is probably the next best character meal IN the magic kingdom. The service is wonderful and they really make each child feel special.
Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom)
Pros: The coolest thing about this restaurant is meeting the Beast. It is the only place at Disney World where you can (besides seeing him in a parade or show).
Cons: This restaurant has gotten more popular since the new Beauty and the Beast was released. The ambiance is nice, but the food is underwhelming. If you’re going to go, we’ve found the breakfast and lunch to be easier and much better than dinner. But..
Tip: If you want the character experience, you have to go for dinner. There are no characters at this restaurant for breakfast/lunch. You can usually “walk up” to this restaurant and get a reservation if you don’t mind waiting up to an hour or so. If you do decide to wait, you have to stay in the area (you can’t wonder off to the rides).
Garden Grill (Epcot)
Pros: Garden Grill is conveniently located in Future World. If you are going to ride Soarin’ (which you absolutely should) or Living with the Land, you will be right there at the Garden Grill. The restaurant rotates through “Living with the Land” as you eat which makes for a fun experience. You are also visited by popular Disney characters including: Mickey, Pluto, and Chip and Dale.
Cons: The food is served “family style” and the lunch/dinner is a bit heavy for Disney. They serve things like pot roast, potatoes, vegetables, salads, stuffing, etc. There is not much variety.
Tips: You can usually get a reservation here if you are looking a few days out. If you really want to meet Mickey over dining, this might be the easiest place to do it.
Hollywood and Vine (Hollywood Studios)
Pro: This is the only place to dine with Disney Junior characters; thus, it may be perfect if you have young kids that are into: Jake, Sofia, Handy Manny, and Doc McStuffins (for now- I’ve heard the characters will be changing in September). The food is also good for little ones, as there is a buffet with tons of options.
Con: Can be noisy and a bit overwhelming for very young ones (under 2). I think the ideal child age is 2-5 for this experience.
Tip: If you want to see Disney characters like Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy in their Christmas attire, go during Disney’s Christmas season.
Tusker House (Animal Kingdom)
Pro: It’s not difficult to get a reservation here if you are booking at least 1-2 weeks out. You can meet Disney characters in their Safari gear- Micky, Donald, Minnie (sometimes), Goofy, Daisy. They also have lots of kid friendly food options- mac and cheese, apple sauce, fruit, corn, corndogs, chicken, etc. which are served on “kid-friendly” buffet tables- low to the ground and easy access for kids. At some point during your meal after you meet all of the characters, they will come back through your room and do a little parade with the kids.
Con: Tusker House is the only character meal IN the Animal Kingdom. However, its fairly pricey for what it is- a buffet with things like salad, chicken, salmon, veggies, desserts. Again, we find this a bit heavy for a park meal when you’re on the go.
Tip: If you’re not into the buffet, ask for a menu you can order off of.
1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridan Resort)
Pro: You can meet some fun characters including: Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremain (step mother), Anastasia and Drisella (step sisters). Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh (depending on if you go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner). We wanted to meet Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremain, Anastasia, and Drisella so we went for dinner! There are a variety of options for food (buffet style), so you can find something that suits everyone.
Con: You can wait a while even if you have reservations.
Tip: Even if you aren’t staying at the Grand Floridian, you should absolutely walk through it while you’re visiting Disney. It is a beautiful, magical experience and you can often hear some amazing live music that echoes through resort. We’ve taken grandma (and great grandma) here (as the parks can be overwhelming) and they just enjoy the atmosphere and music while sitting in the atrium.
Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary Resort)
Pro: Super fun atmosphere in the Contemporary Resort with a lot of buffet options. This is our favorite place to dine with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald.
Con: Reservations can be hard to get as this is one of the most popular character dining experiences (after Cinderella’s Royal Table)
Tip: We love Chef Mickey’s! If you’re driving to Disney, go to Chef Mickey’s for breakfast and park at the Contemporary (you can if you have reservations to Chef Mickey), then just hop on the monorail to get to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot.
*Other character restaurants and dining: Garden Grove, Ohana, Cape May Cafe, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, Perfectly Princess Tea Party, and Wonderland Tea Party (just for kids aged 4-10). We haven’t tried the Perfectly Princess Tea Party (waiting to go when our daughter is 5), but all of these experiences are fun. My favorites are mentioned above!
Note: We have not yet tried Trattoria al forno, though we plan to soon! This is a newer restaurant at Disney’s BoardWalk and features Rapunzel/Flynn Ryder and Ariel/Eric. Will update once we have a chance to go! But we’ve heard good reviews!