The many Character Dining Options at Walt Disney World

Over the years, my family has enjoyed several Character Dining experiences at Walt Disney World! Trying to decide which one is right for your family can be overwhelming, so I thought I would put together a quick recap on each one.  


Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo and Stitch at 'Ohana at Polynesian Resort
This breakfast is all-you-can-eat family style (not a buffet).  The sweet breads and Mickey waffles are always a hit with me. The kids can take part in a little parade if they wish. The restaurant is spacious and offers great views. The bonus is that you can take a quick ride on the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom afterwards! I love the Hawaiian lei each guests gets on arrival (free souvenir)!
Characters: Lilo and Stitch, Pluto and Mickey.


The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom 
Whereas many folks like to dine here before park opening, I do it differently.  I like to hit rope drop and get in a few "must do" rides BEFORE breakfast.  Here's my tip...make a reservation for a late breakfast.  Ideally 10:30 or later.  You not only get an array of breakfast dishes, but lunch dishes are slowly being put out, which means you may get both meals!  Also, the crowd seems to be lower at this time (as breakfast crowd leaving but lunch rush hasn't hit yet).  There is plenty of interaction with the characters.
Characters: Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet


Disney Jr Breakfast at Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios
At breakfast and lunch, the characters are from Disney Jr. (During certain seasons such as Christmas and Halloween, there is a seasonal Character Dinner buffet. Do your research!)  I haven't been here in years as the atmosphere is not as "fun" as some of the other options, but it is easy to get a reservation. It is also the only character dining option in Hollywood Studios.
Characters: Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Handy Manny, and Jake of the Neverland Pirates


Cape May Cafe Character Breakfast at the Beach Club
Ahh...love it here. Laid back. Great buffet options. Characters take their time with the kids; and their attire is simply adorable.  (Characters and costumes were update around 2009. The picture below is from 2008.  One thing to note is that Mickey Mouse no longer appears at this breakfast; neither do Chip and Dale!)  The buffet offers plenty for all (and in my opinion, is better than Chef Mickey's). I like to dine here mid-morning and then walk over to Epcot when the World Showcase opens at 11:00am.
Characters: Goofy, Minnie, and Donald 


Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort
The flagship of character dining. There is nothing more exciting the starting your day here with a visit by the Fab Five!  There is an abundant buffet of offerings. I do want to point out something; it's high energy and can get loud (music and parades are part of the fun) so please consider your kids personality before booking a reservation.  It may be overwhelming for some small kids (or even grandparents).  If you have kids who love the excitement, by all means, go for it!
Characters: Chef Mickey, Minnite, Chip, Dale and Chef Goofy


Donald's Safari Breakfast at Tusker House at Animal Kingdom
Great decor. Great atmosphere. Great food.  As I mentioned above (regarding Crystal Palace), I always try to get a late breakfast reservation. I like to see the animals early in the morning and then hit this buffet breakfast. This buffet serves both African and American dishes, which could be a pro or a con, depending on your family's tastes.  Characters visits are quick, but you are able to capture some nice photos.
Characters: Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Mickey


Garden Grill at Epcot
The restaurant slowly rotates above "Living With The Land" which offers a fun change of scenary. The atmosphere is nice and relaxed.  There's no need for you to get up from your seat--the food and characters come to you! And I just love the "farmer" style attire worn by the characters!
Characters: Mickey, Chip and Dale, and Pluto


Supercalifragilitlistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare
I think this may be my favorite.  The food options are more "brunch" than "breakfast" (ie Omelet Bar, Smoked Lox, Eggs Benedict). The atmosphere is laid back and the characters spend time with the guests. Make sure you try the bread pudding.
Characters: Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, and the Mad Hatter (sometimes Tigger)
There is also a dinner buffet at 1900 Park Fare: Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner. 



Here are my tips for anyone considering a Character Breakfast at Walt Disney World:
  • If you are on a budget, breakfast experiences are less expensive than lunch or dinner.
  • Plan in advance. Reservations are almost always needed.
  • If you have young kids, you may enjoy "family style" or "pre-plated" over "buffet". I think it's easier when everyone is sitting together and not taking off in shifts to get food. 
  • When my daughter was younger, she didn't care for the characters. She was afraid and would sometimes cry, so I would ask the character to quietly pose behind her so I could grab a "good picture".  (Yes sneaky, but I didn't want her crying in every picture.  Her fear eventually went away and she now loves all Disney characters.)
  • If you miss a character, let your server know. He or she can bring the character back over to you for a photo opp.
  • Take lots of pictures. Be creative. Silly poses are the best.  Ask your server to help take pictures so you can be included as well! I have also taken "selfies" with characters.   
  • If you can't get a reservation into Cinderella's Royal Table, try dinner at 1900 Park Fare.
  • Tell your server about any food allergies. A Chef will help you make correct choices. 
  • If you want more information on character dining or would like to view the complete menus, I recommend you head over to http://allears.net/din/chglance.htm.

There are three character dining experiences we have not yet tried at Walt Disney World. Hopefully I can get to those soon and give you updates.  
  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Princess breakfast) in Epcot at Norway. 
  • Cinderella's Royal Table in Magic Kingdom which includes include Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother -- and at times, may include Belle, Jasmine and Snow White. 
  • The (newer) Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno at Disney's Boardwalk Resort featuring Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Tangled and Prince Eric and Ariel from The Little Mermaid.