Our family of four lives in Tallahassee and travels to Orlando (4 hours Southeast) several times a year. Some of our best Disney memories were during character meals. Our youngest clapped and waved for the first time while we were dining at Hollywood & Vine. When our princess obsessed daughter met Cinderella, it was so adorable that I cried. If you are visiting Disney World, we recommend at least one-character meal during your stay. To help you figure out which to eat at here is what I think is the best Disney World Character meals for kids.
Our Top Choices for Character Meals:
- ‘Ohana – One of our favorite place for breakfast is Ohana, located in the Polynesian Resort. My husband and I love that they bring the food to us and we don’t have to go through a buffet line. This might not sound like a big deal, but it’s definitely nice when you have small children. They have a delicious pork and bacon spread, Hawaiian pineapple bread, scrambled eggs, fruit, and potatoes. Our kids loved seeing Lilo & Stitch, Mickey, and Pluto in Hawaiian shirts. You also get to explore the gorgeous Polynesian Resort.
- Tusker House – Our family’s favorite place for lunch is Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom. It is great to take a break from the heat in the middle of the day to enjoy a buffet of authentic African food, delicious chicken tikka masala, and wonderful deserts. For characters, they have Goofy, Daisy, Mickey, Donald, and Pluto who visit each table and then have a musical parade with the young guests. The characters walk through the dining area during breakfast and lunch. Some of the buffet lines at the other restaurants can be pretty long but that wasn’t the case during any of our four visits to Tusker.
- Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno – The Bon Voyage breakfast at Disney’s Boardwalk is an amazing character dining experience. The menu has various options that are unique to the typical Disney dining. Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Ariel, and Eric spend time with each table and engage guests in conversation based on their animated films. The pastries shaped like a sun are brought to you on Rapunzel’s cast iron skillet. You order from a menu and avoid buffet lines. This experience is a must for any Little Mermaid or Tangled fans!
Other Notable Character Meals
- 1900 Park Fare – If we just based the review on character experience, 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian would be a top choice. When visiting, you are guests of Cinderella, Prince Charming, and her step sisters and mother. We’ve had mixed service the few times we visited, but the characters were fantastic. Be prepared to handle a few snide remarks from the jealous step-sisters and their wicked mother (after all, they are in character)! For breakfast, they have also had Tigger, Alice, the Mad Hatter, and Mary Poppins. The food is buffet style and good, but definitely wouldn’t be worth the price on its own. As previously noted, the service also tends to be sub par by Disney standards. During our breakfast visit, we weren’t seated until an hour after our reservation time.
- Chef Mickey’s – Our family also enjoyed Chef Mickey’s, which is located in the Contemporary Resort. It’s one of the more well-known character dining experiences so it may be difficult to get a reservation. They do a special birthday song and dance if you are celebrating. We went for my daughter’s second birthday and her dancing with Pluto is one of my favorite Disney memories. The food is buffet-style and delicious. That said, we tend to prefer Tusker House which also has the classic characters. It is easier to get a reservation for Tusker and it’s often more convenient to have breakfast or lunch in the Animal Kingdom if you’re already in the park.
- Hollywood & Vine – As mentioned at the top of the article, Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios is also a good choice if you have fans of Disney Junior. It’s buffet-style, and it’s usually pretty easy to snag a reservation compared with other character dining experiences. They have a dance party with the characters and the service has been excellent every time we visited. The characters change with the current Disney Junior shows, so just check to see if they have the characters your little ones are excited about before dining.
Disney World Character Dining We Do Not Recommend
My older daughter enjoyed seeing the princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and at Cinderella’s Royal Table, but my husband and I were not impressed with the food at either venue (especially considering the price of the meals). For a princess experience, we recommend either getting a fast pass for a character meet and greet, making a reservation at 1900 Park Fare for dinner, or dining at Trattoria al Forno for the Bon Voyage character breakfast.
Bonus Disney Dining Tips:
- Avoid dining experiences outside a park on a day you’ve purchased park tickets. Traveling wastes too much of your limited time and it makes scheduling fast passes an even bigger chore. Instead, find a sit-down lunch inside the park for a break from the heat or plan your character meals on a day when you don’t plan to visit a park, like the morning before you travel home.
- You can book a character meal up to 180 days in advance. Also, you do not have to have your tickets or a hotel before making your reservation. Cancellations 24 hours in advance without charge.
- If you do not get your preferred restaurant or time, keep checking for opening on the Disney App or call Disney Guest Services. People frequently cancel or change their reservations, and Disney’s Guest Services are exceptionally accommodating.
- If you have infants or toddlers, table service is usually much more relaxing than a buffet. Buffet lines can be long and it can be difficult to enjoy yourselves when the adults have to take turns getting food for the kids and themselves. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it is something to consider.
- Provide at least an hour to travel to your reservation if you are leaving the park to dine at a resort.
Bonus Bonus! Inside the Magical Moments of Character Dining
To hear more from Erica and her family’s travels, be sure to follow them over on Hiho Travelo! They provide usable advice on places to travel that are kid friendly and tips to make the most stress-free experience possible.