With so many character dining experiences to chose from, it can be a tough to decide where to eat at Disney World. I’ve narrowed down them to my personal top five character dining experience at both the parks and resorts, focusing on overall experience and food. I also want to note that there are a lot of non character dining experiences that are fantastic.
#5: Cape May Cafe
Where’s it at? Beach Club
Why I love it? Cape May Cafe is one of my personal favorites because it’s a bit out of the way for most guests. Being at the Beach Club, it’s not in a park or at a monorail resort so it tends to get much less traffic. Typically, there are three characters here (most other breakfasts have more), but they are dressed in their beach outfits and you will most likely get to see each character more than once. The restaurant is rarely crowded and the food was pretty good.
Other helpful information: Character dining is only available for Cape May for BREAKFAST. Dinner is a clam bake. Cape May would be a great choice if you’re planning a day at Epcot or Hollywood Studios (walking or boat to both) or a resort/break day.
#4: 1900 Park Fare Breakfast
Where it’s at? Grand Floridian
Why I love it? My family ate here for the first time last year and we absolutely fell in love with it! (I want to note that the dinner is a different experience and is one of TWO character experiences that I have not done. I’ve heard great things about the dinner, but it hasn’t worked with our schedule yet.) The characters here are British (keeping with the theme of the resort) and generally include Mary Poppins, Alice, Mad Hatter, Pooh, and Tigger. I love that these aren’t the standard characters that are at most character dining. Some kids don’t get into these characters but mine absolutely do! As a former Disney entertainer I am extremely particular with character interactions and they are absolutely fabulous here! My 1.5 year old loved the Mad Hatter so much (and had no prior knowledge of him) that it was her pick for our upcoming trip. They take your picture at the entrance, which is fun, and the food is decent here.
Other helpful information: These characters are available for breakfast. Dinner is Cinderella, Prince Charming, Step Sisters, and Step Mother. I’ve heard it’s great, but have not personally dined here for dinner. This is a great restaurant prior to a day at the Magic Kingdom or for a resort day. We’ll be dining here on our next vacation for a free morning followed by our second evening at Epcot.
#3: Garden Grill
Where it’s at? Epcot
Why I love it? There are so many reasons why I absolutely love Garden Grill! Epcot is my favorite theme park so Garden Grill gives me yet another reason to love it. One thing that is unique about Garden Grill is the food. It’s completely family style and a good majority of the food is grown on site. All of the food was fabulous and they also brought kids family style options too, even though our kids were all under three at the time. This is a rotating restaurant and although it rotates SLOWLY, you have a chance to view part of Living with the Land from the restaurant. Let’s talk characters. Here you’ll meet Farmer Mickey, Pluto, and Chip n Dale…. MULTIPLE TIMES. In the time that it takes you to eat dinner, you’ll probably see each character at least twice. This goes along with my last reason I love it. It’s probably the smallest character dining location and one (if not the most) of the more quieter character dining locations. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not super quiet to the point of being uncomfortable to bring children to, but it’s not overstimulating.
Other helpful information: Garden Grill is located in the Land pavilion at Epcot and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s designed with two levels, and upper circle and lower circle. The lower level is all booths and offers the better views of Living with the Land. Make sure your little ones sit on the outside to have an easier time visiting with the characters.
#2: Tusker House
Where’s it at: Animal Kingdom
Why I love it? I visited Tusker House for the very first time on our last vacation. It just wasn’t on my radar before. What sets this restaurant apart from the others is THEMING. The restaurant is themed like an African outpost and all of the characters are dressed in their finest safari apparel. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner (we had breakfast) and all offer a nice mix of traditional foods with authentic African foods. There’s definitely something for everyone here!
Other Helpful Information: New for 2017!!! Rivers of Light has dining packages that include Tusker House. If you are using the Disney Dining Plan, you can add the Rivers of Light package at no extra cost (one dining credit) and it guarantees you premium seating for this brand new show. The Rivers of Light Package is available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Tusker House and also at Tiffins.
Where is it? Epcot
Why I love it? Whether you are on the dining plan or not, Akershus is the best value for a princess meal. I love that you get to meet several princesses without spending an arm and a leg (or two dining credits) like you do at Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom. Personally, I’m at the point where I stick to breakfast here. Breakfast is pretty much all American food, but the other meals include a little more Norwegian. There is a cold buffet with fruits, meats, and cheeses, but the bulk of the meal arrives family style. I absolutely love anything family style at Disney!
Other Helpful Information: Drinks are not included in the cost of your meal so we make sure to order water here. I love getting a pre park opening reservation and now that Frozen Ever After opens at 9am, it’s easy to get a place in line before the crowds grow.
Crystal Palace: Crystal Palace is located at Magic Kingdom. Characters featured at Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet. This is my favorite of my honorable mentions because we’ve had great experiences each time and love the location and food. It’s a great experience, but doesn’t make my top five because there’s nothing really unique about it. Previously we would do this as a pre park opening breakfast, but now with the new park opening procedures, I don’t know how worthwhile a pre park opening breakfast is.
Chef Mickey’s: A lot of people rave about Chef Mickey’s and rightfully so. It’s located in the Contemporary and features Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Minnie, and Donald. The food is decent too. It does not make my top five because it is a loud restaurant and can get quite overwhelming.