Walt Disney World character dining is one of our favorite things to do when visiting the theme parks. We find it saves us time and stress planning our touring plans in the parks and our kids love it! You have to eat anyway, right? In this episode we discussed our tips and tricks for the character dining experience along with restaurants we recommend and try to avoid. Plus, how to fit character dining into your plans and a can’t miss tip for getting pictures with your kids (or yourself!).
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Why try Walt Disney World character dining?
We think character dining at Walt Disney World is one of the best ways to spend your time. Obviously, this assumes you want to meet some characters, but most families with young children do! We love character dining because it kills two birds with one stone – eating and meeting characters.
Character meet and greets can often be long waits in the theme parks. When you go to a character dining experience, the characters generally come to you which makes life easier. Waiting is also much better when you’re eating instead of standing in the hot sun.
We’ve also found that meeting with characters in a dining situation provides some genuinely fun interactions. You can get some more “natural” pictures around a table, and if you’re lucky sometimes they’ll even sit down with you!
Best times to do character meals
We generally like to head to the parks early and then use a character meal for brunch of lunch. If you eat a light breakfast then eat a big meal for your character brunch or lunch, you should be able to sustain yourself for most of the rest of the day.
Another option we recommend is eating a character meal for dinner at one of the resorts, preferably yours. That makes touring efficient and usually is the best use of your precious time at Disney World.
Three character dining meals to try
Here at Disney Deciphered, we obviously have our favorite character meals. Here are three character dining experiences we recommend.
Tusker House (Animal Kingdom)
Tusker House tops our list of character dining experiences because of a combination of food and character interaction. You get a chance to see Mickey Mouse and pals wearing their “explorer” (safari?) outfits – a great find in and of itself.
But the food is a real winner here, we found even our pickier children managed to find something they enjoyed. Combine that with its great location and relatively low lines (and relatively easy to score reservations) and you have a real winner.
Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom)
Unlike Tusker House, you can expect Crystal Palace to be filled to the brim at almost all times. With good reason! Again, the restaurant shines due to a combination of characters and good food. The food is fairly standard American fare, but the all you care to eat buffet has a quality we really appreciated.
It doesn’t hurt that you get to meet the cast of characters from Hundred Acre Wood, either. Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore wander around delighting you and your kids. Sweeter than honey.
Cape May Cafe Breakfast (Disney’s Beach Club Resort)
Third on our list of character meals to check out is the Cape May Cafe breakfast at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Note characters only come out for breakfast. Not only do you get to see Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy in their best sailing outfits, you also get to avoid the big crowds generally associated with character meals.
The food is solid and this is a great breakfast to pair with a short day at Hollywood Studios or Epcot.
Three character meals to avoid
Our recommended character meals have good characters and good food in common. And the reality is, if you want to see certain characters, a character meal is a good way to do it. So an argument can be made that all character meals are worth trying if the characters are worth it to you.
However, we’ll advise you avoid these three character meals. The common thread is the food doesn’t impress us at any of these locations.
Akershus (Norway Pavilion, Epcot)
Akershus is a popular character meal because you get to meet four princesses. Still, we don’t love the food there so we wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to eat there. When Frozen lines were still crazy, it was good to get in for an early breakfast and beat the line, but you don’t even need to do that anymore. Of course, if you’re dying to see princesses and don’t want to do any of the other meals, this is a great way to save time waiting. But we definitely don’t love it.
Hollywood and Vine (Hollywood Studios)
You’ll never have to wait a long time to see Doc McStuffins and the Disney Jr. crew outside the Disney Jr. Live! stage in Hollywood Studios. That makes Hollywood and Vine one of our least favorite character meals on Disney property. The food is universally panned at this restaurant, so you really need the characters to make up for it. Since you have such easy access to the Disney Jr. characters, save some money and just visit them in the park.
‘Ohana (Polynesian Resort)
Our last character meal to avoid is probably the most controversial. ‘Ohana breakfast is a hot ticket and people love meeting Stitch. Still, the food is unimpressive (though it’s much better at dinner!). We say unless you’re dying to meet Stitch, save your calories for elsewhere. We pretty much love every dining option at the Polynesian resort, except for ‘Ohana breakfast!
Leslie and Joe take deeper look into character dining – why we love it and what are our favorite character dining experiences. Plus, our best tips for how to make the most out of your character dining experiences, how to including them in your touring plans, and the restaurants we recommend you avoid.
If you like what you hear, please share the podcast with others you think might enjoy it. Also, we’d appreciate if you subscribed on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn, PlayerFM, or Google Play (please leave a positive review if you’re enjoying the show), liked our Facebook page, or followed us on Twitter!
You can also e-mail us at disneydeciphered AT gmail DOT com. Connect with Leslie @TripswithTykes on social media and Joe @asthejoeflies.
1:26 – Why do character dining at Walt Disney World?
4:29 – Best practices for including character dining in your touring plans
8:23 – 3 character dining experiences we love
13:26 – 3 character dining experiences we would avoid
18:39 – Disney Do’s and Don’ts