Disney World character dining can be an incredibly unique chance to partake in a family meal with your favorite princesses and characters. When it comes to dining with the characters at Disney, there are tons of choices, each with their own perks and drawbacks.
Whether you’re looking for the best Disney character dining or the cheapest character dining in Disney World, this guide will help you sort through the plentiful information on dining with the characters at Disney World to ensure you can make the best decision for your family!
Given the huge size of the Disney resort, there are quite a few choices both inside of the 4 main theme parks and among the Disney resorts. So what’s the best Disney character dining experience?
That depends on what you value most. To start, lets take a look at all of the options you have to choose from in the parks and across Disney property which feature character dining. Each option contains a summary, link to the menu, and pros and cons of each choice to help you make an informed decision.
Disney World Character Dining at Magic Kingdom:
Cinderella’s Royal Table
Summary: This unique dining experience inside Cinderella Castle grants you the opportunity to meet Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine, Snow White, and Rapunzel. All meals come with multiple options from which to choose for appetizer, entrée, and “finale.” The restaurant is open for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. For this meal, you pay in advance to secure your reservation.
Pros: There are multiple princesses you can meet, you have the opportunity to have your picture made with Cinderella, kids are granted a trinket (magical star, wand or plastic sword) to remember their experience, and it is Cinderella Castle dining!
Cons: The experience is very popular, so getting Cinderella’s Royal Table reservations can be difficult. Also, given the luxury of meeting so many princesses, this experience is the most expensive character dining option in Disney World, and food quality might not measure up to the price.
Lastly, the experience can take up a large chunk of time out of your day, as guests tend to wait a long time to be seated and may have to wait to ensure interactions with all their favorite princesses.
*Full experience has been altered from COVID but is slowly returning. Currently Cinderella only comes into the room.
The Crystal Palace
Summary: Meet Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore as you partake in a buffet-style meal. The highlight for many young guests is the periodic parade around the restaurant, in which kids can join in with Winnie and friends in a lap around the dining area. The restaurant is open for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
Pros: Eeyore and Piglet are rare characters – so one of the only places you are able to meet them is at Crystal Palace! If you want to meet all the Winnie the Pooh characters, a stop at Crystal Palace is a must! It should be noted, however, that Pooh and Tigger can be found in other spots around Disney.
Cons: Though not as slow as Cinderella Castle dining, the experience can still take a large chunk of time. Keep this in mind if you only have one day in the park and are trying to experience everything!
*Full experience has been altered from COVID but is slowly returning.
Be Our Guest
Summary: Though Disney doesn’t count it as a character meal, many still consider this to be the one of the best dining experiences. The atmosphere as you enter Beast’s Castle is incredible, and you will either sit in the iconic ballroom or west wing of the castle.
Beast (Beauty and the Beast) often makes appearances at dinner only, but it is not guaranteed that he will be able to interact with all guests. The restaurant is open for Breakfast*, Lunch, and Dinner, though Beast is usually only out at dinner.
Pros: The atmosphere, theming, and attention to detail are excellent. Fun fact – the cherub faces on the ballroom ceiling are Imagineers’ kids! The food is also better here than most traditional character dining experiences.
Cons: Though not as slow as Cinderella’s Royal Table, the experience can still be time consuming. Keep this in mind if you only have one day in the park and are trying to experience everything!
*Breakfast currently not open but may recover as COVID slows.
Disney World Character Dining at EPCOT
Summary: Dine with Chip and Dale, along with Mickey and Pluto, in this rotating restaurant that offers unique views of the Living with the Land ride. Featuring fresh food grown in the Land, this experience is a great option in Epcot. The restaurant is open for Lunch, and Dinner, and food is served in a “family feast” style from pre-set all-you-can-eat options.
Pros: The uniqueness of the entire restaurant rotating and peeks into the Living with the Land ride make the experience truly one of a kind. The food is great quality compared to most character dining options. You can often interact with the characters multiple times during a meal because the restaurant is smaller than some!
Cons: Picky eaters may have a harder time with Garden Grill offerings like roasted chicken, vegetables, and beef with chimichurri compared to more traditional and “safe” buffet dining options like chicken nuggets.
Summary: As another Disney Princess dining experience, this banquet buffet-style restaurant in the Norway pavilion allows you to meet Aurora, Snow White, Belle, Cinderella, and Ariel. As both a pro and a con, picky eaters may find a bit of trouble with a buffet menu that tries to encompass some aspects of Norwegian cuisine with things like Kjøttkake (Norwegian meatballs) and various cheeses as opposed to the basic kind-friendly choices, while more adventurous palettes may appreciate the more exciting offerings.
Pros: In a park with less obvious kid-friendly entertainment, dining with princesses can be an easy way to please the kids. With it’s solid mix of princesses and slightly lower cost than other options like Cinderella’s Royal Table, though it is not the best buffet in Disney World, it is definitely the best Disney Princess breakfast buffet. Breakfast options are also a bit more of traditional American food, so kids might prefer it.
Cons: The experience can take up a chunk of time and is located towards the back of a large Epcot park. Food options, particularly for lunch and dinner, may be a bit exotic for picky eaters.
Disney World Character Dining at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood and Vine
Summary: Depending on the time of day, you can meet Disney Junior Favorites like Vampirina and Doc McStuffins (breakfast) or Minnie and friends (dinner). Minnie and her friends (often Daisy) may be in special outfits depending on the time of the year! The restaurant is open for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner and is usually buffet-style.
Pros: Hollywood and Vine is the only Disney character dining experience in the park.
Cons: Plenty of characters can be seen elsewhere in the park, and the food tends to be slightly lower quality than other options.
Disney World Character Dining at Animal Kingdom
Summary: Tusker House character dining is commonly viewed as the top pick for Disney character dining. Featuring Donald Duck and other fab-5 favorites in special safari outfits, the buffet experience in Africa is open for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner and includes a great mix of recognizable and slightly exotic food.
Pros: Food quality here tends to be higher than other character dining experiences and includes a mix of typical and slightly more special food options. Characters in unique outfits makes meetings more special. Given Animal Kingdom as a park has less experiences, time spent dining isn’t as much of a detriment to schedules as it can be in other parks.
Disney World Character Dining at Resort Hotels:
Character dining experiences at a resort may be somewhat out of the way during a busy park day, but they often offer a great chance to meet less-common characters. I highly recommend filling an arrival day, departure day, or relaxation day in the middle of the vacation with a nice character dining experience while you take some time to visit and take in the beauty of various Disney resorts.
Magic Kingdom Area
Artist Point Storybook Dinner (Wilderness Lodge)
Pros: A prix fixe menu features higher-than-average quality food, but less total options. The experience gives you the chance to meet Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy, and the very rare character The Evil Queen, all in a beautiful resort restaurant.
Cons: Picky eating kids may have a tough time with a menu lacking more basic favorites.
Chef Mickey’s Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (Contemporary)
Pros: A truly iconic spot to eat amid the Contemporary resort, the monorail will travel above your heads as you meet with the Fab-5, including Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto.
Cons: Buffet food quality is slightly lower than other experiences and lacks more interesting options.
‘Ohana Best Friends Breakfast (Polynesian)
Pros: Eat in a unique Polynesian atmosphere featuring less commonly meetable characters Lilo and Stitch, in addition to Mickey (in a unique outfit!) and Pluto.
Cons: Buffetfood quality is slightly lower than other experiences and wait times can sometimes be long.
1900 Park Fare Breakfast or Dinner (Grand Floridian)
Pros: Great quality meal in the midst of many rare characters, some of which cannot be met in the parks. For breakfast, this may include Mary Poppins, Alice, the Mad Hatter, Tigger, and Winnie the Pooh. For dinner this may include, Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella (the evil stepsisters), though Lady Tremaine is not always present.
Food options are from pre-set all-you-can-eat menus with a variety of more “fancy” and basic options, such as Mongolian beef and pizza.
Trattoria al Forno Breakfast
Pros: Great quality food while getting to meet Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel, and Flynn Rider. Having these couples together adds to the character dining experience and allows for unique interactions.
Cons: It can be difficult to get to the Boardwalk area in the morning.
Cape May Café Beach Bash Breakfast (Beach Club)
Pros: Meet Minnie and her friends (which can vary).
Cons: Nothing particularly special or unique regarding food, characters, or atmosphere.
Topolino’s Terrace Character Breakfast (Riviera Resort, along the Skyliner route)
Pros: At the top of the Riviera resort, Disney’s newest character dining experience offers guests amazing views and excellent quality food while meeting with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald, and Daisy Duck.
Cons: None, aside from any difficulty getting to the resort in the morning.
Overall perks and drawbacks for Character Dining
- Dining at Disney with characters offers guests a unique opportunity to meet their favorite friends while also enjoying a meal together.
- If meeting characters is a must-do part of your vacation, it can be an excellent option for interacting with multiple must-see characters while avoiding waits in long lines to see them.
- Less common characters, or less common matchings of characters, can be encountered during character dining experiences.
- Though you may be able to meet characters and eat at the same time, it can still take up extra time that you would have liked to use somewhere else in the park, riding rides or seeing shows. Many of the characters can be met in other settings, though they usually have lines.
- Food quality of character dining is often far lower than other options (and often less special or unique in terms of both food options and restaurant atmosphere).
- Characters may be less able to interact with your group in a special way if their restaurants are busy.
Pro Tips to Make the Most of Your Character Dining Experience!
- Breakfast reservations in the parks scheduled early will allow you to enter the park before the park even opens, allowing you to enjoy a walk through a pristine, non-busy park to start your day. Once you’re done, the park is still sparsely occupied in the morning and allows you to make the most of your time!
- Have a plan for meeting with each character! Ask Cinderella how Prince Charming is doing or ask Ariel about the treasures she has found. Having small exchanges that help you or your kids get a little bit more out of an interaction can create unique and special moments.
- Keep in mind that the characters have a seating pattern that they follow when meeting with you – it’s best to be patient and wait for them to show up to greet you. Don’t spend your entire meal focused on watching the characters meet other guests and worrying when they’ll get to you. Simply wait for them and enjoy your meal!
- Have your signature/autograph books ready for the characters when they come around to make sure you don’t miss out! Almost all Disney characters can give you their autograph and can sign almost anything, so get creative!
- Reserve your Walt Disney World character dining experiences as soon as you become eligible. Currently this is 60 days ahead of time regardless if you are an onsite or offsite guest. Be sure to check to see what reservations are available (and what times work best with your plan!) as soon as you are able.
- Check back often if you don’t see availability for what you want – guests tend to change their bookings often, so times may open up.
Best of the Best: Where is the Best Character Dining at Disney World?
With so many choices, what’s the best choice? That all depends on what your group is specifically looking for. To start, always choose a character dining experience in which you are excited to meet those specific characters.
If you love Winnie the Pooh, go to Crystal Palace! If you want princesses, choose something like Akershus, Cinderella’s Royal Table, or Trattoria al Forno. If you have no preference on who to meet and just want the best experience, I recommend these best-of-the-best picks:
- Tusker House (Animal Kingdom). With highlights including Safari Bread, Mickey and Simba Waffles, and Durban Chicken and Egg Curry with Jasmine Rice, Moroccan Spiced Beef, Berber Marinated Pork, Spit Roasted Herb Chicken, and Cape Malay Green Curry Shrimp, Tusker House brings you the best of food quality, opportunities to meet classic characters, and doesn’t take away from the time you need to do everything in Animal Kingdom in a day. If you’re looking for the best in-park character dining, this is it.
- 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian Resort). Though at a resort, the mix of unique characters and quality food make this experience truly magical. The Mad Hatter and the evil stepsisters in particular are truly some of the most interesting characters to interact with in all of Disney.
- Cinderella’s Royal Table. Though this experience tends to be overrated, the fact that you are able to meet most of the iconic princesses while dining inside Cinderella Castle make this a must-do for many families, even if it might break the bank.
Final Thoughts on Disney World Character Dining:
Dining at Disney World with characters, whether it be princess breakfasts or dinner with Mickey and friends, can be an amazing way to meet multiple characters and create lasting memories. However, food quality at these locations tends to be far lower than the rest of the resort, and character dining experiences can take up a little bit of extra time you may have wanted to spend riding your favorite rides. This tradeoff is what all guests should keep in mind when planning their character dining experiences.
Alternative Character Dining Meet and Greets
Some hotels in Orlando are Disney Good Neighbor hotels with extra perks and others like the Four Seasons are on Disney property but have their own identity.
Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World
Experience Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy & His Pals character breakfast, offered at Ravello every Thursday and Saturday morning. The breakfast buffet features a wonderful assortment of traditional breakfast favourites, including omelettes, fresh fruit, Belgian waffles and more. Expect to see Goofy, Mickey and Minnie. Price is around $48 for adults and $28 for kids. You can book direct with the hotel and don’t need park tickets to enter.