It’s been a bit since I’ve shared a Magical Mondays post. If you missed the last post on why we love to go in the fall, check it out here.
It’s no doubt that there are tons of dining options at Disney World. From quick service to casual dining to fine dining, you will never be at a loss for something to refuel your family and get you back out to enjoying the parks.
Today, I’d like to share about our experiences with character dining on Disney property. Character dining options are available in all four parks, as well as several resorts. So, even if you aren’t going to a park on a certain day, you can still enjoy some of the resort character dining options.
When we were planning our 2015 trip, we thought long and hard about which dining options we were going to try. Our girls were 3, 11, 13 and 15 at the time, so we wanted to try to appeal to most of the group and involve them in the planning. We researched all of the options, looked at the food menus and pricing, and determined the best ones for us. Now, character dining IS expensive! You can find the prices online, or call Disney directly, but prices for adults range from $30-65 or so a person. Breakfast is always the cheapest option, but some of the characters may be different at different meals, so be sure to research that as well. Here are the ones we selected and how we felt about them.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot | Adult pricing ranges from $35-59.99 per person
We took four of our five girls to Disney with us in 2015, so princesses were important! The reason we chose to see Cinderella at Akershus, which is located in Norway in Epcot World Showcase, is that we could see a bunch of other princesses at the same time. This is a very pricey character dining, so we chose to go for the cheaper option at breakfast. The other benefit of going for breakfast is that you can oftentimes get a reservation for before park opening. This way, you get into the park before anyone else and can snap some great pictures without the crowd. 🙂 You can also finish up breakfast around the time the park opens if you are quick, so you can be in the park and ready to hit those busy rides and attractions before the park fills up!
When we went to Akershus, we got to see Belle upon entering. We were ushered to our table and invited to the buffet to fill up on various pastries, fruit and a “Norwegian Smorgasbord” that my girls wouldn’t touch. The lunch and dinner options at Akershus have a very Norwegian flare, so that was another reason we chose breakfast for our non-adventurous kids. Our server brought unlimited eggs, bacon, sausage and potatoes right to our table until our bellies were full. The food was fine, nothing to get excited about, but it was tasty and our kids ate plenty of food to give them energy for the morning at Epcot.
While we were dining, all of the princesses of the day came around to our table to mingle, take photos and give autographs. We saw Snow White, Cinderella, Princess Aurora, and Ariel. My oldest daughter loved meeting Cinderella, and our youngest loved when Ariel called her a “little guppy”. There was also a little parade every thirty minutes or so, where the princesses would grab the little ones and parade them around the restaurant. Kolbee was so excited to hold Ariel’s hands and her basket of flowers. We got a lot of pictures and the girls really enjoyed meeting all of the princesses in one place, saving us a TON of time waiting in lines for meet and greets.
Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios | Adult pricing ranges from $35-59.99 per person
Hollywood & Vine has two different options for character dining. Their breakfast and lunch includes characters from Disney Jr, while dinner includes seasonal parties with Minnie & friends. When we chose this lunch option for our day at Hollywood Studios, it was with our youngest in mind. She was very excited to meet Sofia the First (her favorite), Handy Manny, Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Doc McStuffins.
Lunch here includes a huge buffet full of great options for adults, as well as a kid friendly buffet with options like macaroni & cheese and chicken nuggets. My husband is all about food, so he was in heaven here with all of the options. We had a light breakfast in our room the morning we came here, so by the time lunch rolled around, we were all very hungry. We had plenty to eat, which meant we enjoyed the rest of the day with just a snack here or there from our stroller bag until we went back late to our resort for pizza.
During our meal, all of the characters visited our table for pictures and autographs. A couple of times while we were there, they played some music and had the kids get up and do a dance. We had a great time and would definitely return, especially to try the Minnie’s Seasonal Dining. Oh! I almost forgot to mention our favorite part: the ice cream sundae station and desserts!
The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom | Adult prices range from $23.99-59.99 per person
Our decision to dine here was pretty much solely on the fact that we got to get into Magic Kingdom early! I’m so, so glad we did. We made an early morning reservation, arrived to the park about 35 minutes before our reservation time and got to walk down Main Street with very few people around. The PhotoPass photographers were out taking pictures, which was so amazing. This is where we met our very favorite cast member. We headed straight to the castle for some photos and met a very sweet older gentleman. He took some awesome pictures of the girls in front of the castle, posing them and everything. We loved this experience so much and wish we could remember his name.
As we walked up to The Crystal Palace to check in, we were amazed at how beautiful it is. I loved the light, open building with all the glass and a great view of Cinderella Castle. While we weren’t super excited about the characters at The Crystal Palace, we did have a great time meeting them. Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore visited our table and interacted with the kids. Our favorite thing about The Crystal Palace was the food! There was such a variety of breakfast foods that everyone was able to find plenty of food. The kids said this was the best food they ate the whole time we were there. There was a large variety of breakfast meat, potatoes and pastries. I think we all fell in love with the Mickey waffles, and the omelette station was amazing. They also had things like cereal and fruit for those pickier little ones. I really enjoyed Pooh’s Breakfast Lasagna!
This was the cheapest character dining we did and had my favorite food! I would do this one again, especially if we could get an early morning reservation.
We had a reservation on our last day for an early morning breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, but by that day we were so exhausted that we chose to cancel our reservations and sleep in instead. We’ll have to try that one another time.
In 2016, we had a much smaller food budget, so we opted for just one character dining experience. We settled on 1900 Park Fare dinner on Halloween. This was a reservation that we scooped up last minute. While it is super important to begin making important dining reservations at 180 days before your trip, you can still try to switch things around even after you get to Florida. People change reservations all the time, so we were able to grab some amazing last minute reservations the day or two before and even the day of! And, just a side note, you can make dining reservations even if you don’t have your tickets or resort booked! All you need to do is go make a My Disney Experience account and then you can make your dining reservations 180 days early. It’s amazing! If you want to make some of the harder reservations like Be Our Guest, Akershus or Cinderella’s Royal Table, you should make those as early as possible!
1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa | Adult pricing from $23.99-59.99 per person
1900 Park Fare is a beautiful restaurant located in the stunning Grand Floridian! Even if you don’t eat here, you should check out this resort. It’s gorgeous, and the beach is also a great place to watch the fireworks.
1900 Park Fare has a few different character dining options. Supercalifragilistic Breakfast includes Mary Poppins, Mad Hatter, Tigger, Pooh and Alice. While these characters can alternate, those are the ones you will most likely see. The Wonderland Tea Party is a fun time of games and stories with Wonderland characters. Kids age 4-12 get “tea” and cupcakes as well as a craft and photo. This one sounds like something we may do in a few years when we go back with the two littles.
We went to 1900 Park Fare for Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner. After some friends of ours went here for dinner the night before and told us how much fun it was, we knew we had to try to get a reservation here. The food here was great, with a lot of nice options for adults, included steak and seafood. I enjoyed the butternut squash ravioli and mongolian beef stir fry. The kids were thrilled with typical kid foods, like ravioli, pizza, taco bar and mac & cheese. And, as always, we all enjoyed the great variety of fancy desserts.
While we were dining here, we got to meet Cinderella, Prince Charming, Fairy Godmother and those pesky step-sisters Anastasia and Drizella. Our friends got to meet Lady Tremaine instead of Fairy Godmother, so those characters must rotate. We were thrilled to see Cinderella and Prince Charming dance right next to our table. It was truly magical! The step-sisters had a lot of fun with our big girls, but Fairy Godmother was definitely Kolbee’s favorite. She was so sweet with her! I just love how Kolbee posed with her. It was here that we met another outstanding cast member. A gentleman clearing a nearby table and wearing a name tag that said “Doug”, noticed Kolbee and started playing with her and teasing her. It was the cutest thing ever! He played with her Daisy stuffed animal, hiding it and calling it Kolbee. Kolbee was teasing him right back and giggling. Later in the week, we ran into “Doug” at California Grill as we waited for an elevator. Kolbee recognized him right away and he was shocked that we remembered him! We started talking to him and found out that his name isn’t even Doug. Haha! He had forgotten his name tag that day, so he grabbed another name tag to wear. Hilarious! Turns out his name is Aziz (I’m sure I’m not spelling that right.) Kolbee kept mixing up his name after that and called him Disease! Haha, you know, a mix between Doug and Aziz!
All in all, we think that character dinings are absolutely worth visiting if it’s in your budget. I’ll be talking about how we budgeted for Disney in a later post.
Check out all of the Magical Mondays posts here for more Disney tips and tricks.