One of the activities we enjoy at Disney World is character dining. Away from the hustle and bustle of the parks these dining experiences are a chance to relax and create magic memories. They are a great way to meet the most popular character’s without queuing or fast passes. An activity the whole family can enjoy together. There are a number of different options available throughout Walt Disney World, we rank our top 5.
#5 Chef Mickey’s
The location of Chef Mickey’s, at the Contemporary Resort, and the character list, the big 4 (Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Pluto) are the big draw here. The self-service all you can eat buffet is fairly safe and isn’t the best dining on property but It’s good enough. Chef Mickey’s continues to draw in the crowds and is still a hard reservation to secure. The atmosphere is noisy, bustling and fun. Great for all ages but youngsters in particular. You also can’t argue with being able to walk to the Magic Kingdom after breakfast ready for a day in the park. I would recommend this for younger children or Disney World newbies.
Akershus is part of the Norwegian pavilion at World Showcase in Epcot. I have ignored the most coveted Character dining experience in Disney World, Cinderella’s Royal Table in favour of Akershus. Of course CRT is a special experience but it’s also pretty expensive and can be hard to get a reservation. As an alternative Akershus ticks all the boxes.
There’s a strong cast of Princess’s to meet here. There’s also an actual smorgasbord of delicious food all housed in a beautifully themed restaurant. It is a Royal Banquet Hall after all. Diners can meet Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Princess Aurora and Ariel. Food is a little more adventurous with emphasis on Scandinavian style dishes, the food is served buffet style. There’s plenty of choice for less adventurous eaters too. The location in Epcot’s World Showcase also makes the time spent here great value. The ability to meet key characters, over a meal break, while still being in the middle of a theme park is a big advantage.
#3 Chip n Dale’s Harvest Feast
At Garden Grill Restaurant, Chip n Dale’s Harvest Feast will appeal to adults as well as more junior Disney fans. One of the most fun character meetings, the naughty chipmunks are unpredictable and up for a bit of mischief, this meal will be memorable in many ways. The naughty chipmunks are accompanied by Mickey Mouse and Pluto.
The food is good here, especially the breakfast, featuring American favourites with a broad appeal. Food is served family style so you don’t have to worry about missing the characters whilst you’re at the buffet. Garden Grill can be found within the Living with the Land pavilion at Epcot. The restaurant actually rotates as you dine. Diners enjoy views of the rainforest, farmhouse, thunderstorm and prairie exhibits as they eat.
#2 Ohana Best Friends Breakfast
Ohana only has character’s at breakfast, but it had to make my list as it is one of our all time favourites. Billed as a ‘Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo and Stitch’ you can also meet Mickey, Minnie and Pluto. Again food is served family style in a bottomless skillet. These feature scrambled eggs, island-style fried potatoes, Hawaiian pork sausage, Hawaiian style ham topped with pineapple compote and a variety of fresh fruits. All this is accompanied by the famous POG juice (Pineapple, Orange and Guava) and Pineapple Bread.
Recently the character interaction was changed to meeting Stitch outside Ohana with all the other characters visiting the table whilst you dine. Worth remembering is that they no longer provide a Memory Maker photographer at all the breakfast dining locations
#1 Tusker House
Our new favourite is Tusker House. Here they serve all day with breakfast slowly evolving into lunch around 11am. If you time it just right you can try the breakfast and lunch selections. However, the food is so good here and the offer so varied you’ll be spoiled for choice whatever time of day you visit. At Tusker House you can meet Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Minnie and Daisy all decked out in safari gear. Goofy is dressed like a French Foreign Legionnaire, he’s so cute! The atmosphere is relaxed and sociable and the service is always super good.
The menu at Tusker House is a bit more challenging as it has a clearly African style. The food here is delicious. As you may know we are adventurous eaters so we tried everything but if you do have someone with you that likes things a bit plainer they also have Mickey waffles, bacon and muffins.
When we were last there we had to take our own photos as there was no Memory Maker photographer with the characters. It’s fairly dark in Tusker House and my son sat with his back to the window. This meant the pictures I took were not great quality. With the dark interior and light streaming in from the windows behind my camera did a very poor job. My tip is to take a few photo’s when you arrive to get the lighting worked out and then ask the characters to pose with you at the table where you can get the best shot.
Character meet and greets are a Disney must do. If you are on a tight schedule and have some characters you really want to meet then booking the right dining venue and experience is a great way to achieve this. It can really save you time. We queued at Epcot for 20 minutes to meet Snow White. At Akershus we could have met 5 characters in 1 hour, all whilst sitting in air-conditioning during a meal break. In addition you can use a Disney Dining Plan table service credit for a character dining experience (CRT is 2 credits).
And don’t think that these dining experiences are just for kids. We’ve seen lots of tables of all adults also enjoying the character interactions. If you’ve never done one before or if its your first trip to Walt Disney World I would really recommend trying a character meal.
Pixiesuesi’s Top Tips
- Book a breakfast venue inside a theme park before opening time. That way you get to enter the park before everyone else and take some great photo’s on your way to the restaurant. After breakfast you’ll be first to the attractions when the park does open.
- Take some practice pictures in the restaurant before the characters arrive, then you are guaranteed to get the best photos when each one visits your table.
- Don’t panic, if you have to go to the buffet when the characters are close to your table. Tell your server or the character’s minder and they will get them to double back later. They want you to have a great time and totally understand if your 5-year-old has to visit the bathroom just as Mickey is about to arrive table-side. As long as you let them know, they will make sure you don’t miss out.
- If you don’t bag a reservation for Chef Mickey’s or Cinderella’s Royal Table don’t worry there are plenty of other options to choose from. Check out My Disney Experience where the full list of character dining options is available.