Walt Disney World in Florida is all about magic, and there’s nothing more magical than watching scenes and characters from your favorite movies come to life. One of the best ways to experience that magic is through character dining throughout the parks and resorts.
This article will explain what character dining is and why you might want to consider it. Then, we’ll review 15 of the best spots for character dining at Disney World. That way, you know exactly where to make your reservations!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Disney decided to alter character dining experiences due to health concerns in some locations and has removed them entirely in others.
As the pandemic continues to keep things in flux everywhere, including Disney World, we strongly recommend that you check the websites or call Disney dining to find out what to expect from the character dining experience of your choice.
- What is Disney Character Dining?
- Best Character Dining at Magic Kingdom
- Best Character Dining at EPCOT
- Best Character Dining at Hollywood Studios
- Best Character Dining at Animal Kingdom
- Best Character Dining in the Resorts
- How to Make Character Dining Reservations
- Beyond Character Dining: Dinner Shows
- Include Your Favorite Characters in Your Family Meal
What is Disney Character Dining?
Before we jump into describing the 15 best spots for character dining at Walt Disney World, let’s first get a good understanding of what character dining actually entails. Simply put, character dining is a meal during which costumed Disney characters visit and interact with diners.
You can expect your character dining experience to start like any other. You and your family will be seated together at a table, and your server will be a regular cast member (not a Disney character). Depending on which restaurant you choose, you’ll order off of a menu or enjoy a buffet or family-style meal.
While you enjoy your food, an array of Disney characters will come to your table to spend time with you. They’ll sign autographs, take pictures, and sometimes talk to you (depending on the character). Their level of interaction will also rely on the comfort level of your party.
The characters you see depend on which restaurant and meal you choose. For example, you’ll meet princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in EPCOT, Mickey, Minnie, and the other classic characters at Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort, and Winnie the Pooh and his friends at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom.
You don’t have to line up or compete with other diners for time with the characters. Disney cast members are well-trained, and these meal experiences are well-planned so that each character has time with every group. Periodically throughout the meal, they may also assemble in a common area and put on a brief, simple show or song to welcome you.
Is Character Dining Worth It?
In most cases, yes! We love character dining, and most families love it, too. If you have kids who love princesses or have their hearts set on meeting Donald Duck, character dining is a wonderful way to make sure that it happens.
In addition, character dining isn’t much more expensive than regular table-service meals in Walt Disney World. There is no additional fee for interaction with the characters, either.
Best Character Dining at Magic Kingdom
There are a few places in the Magic Kingdom where you can get off your feet, enjoy a terrific meal, and meet some of your favorite characters, as well. There are character dining experiences in the Magic Kingdom that you can’t get anywhere else.
Keep in mind that you’ll need valid park admission and a park reservation, in addition to your dining reservation, to eat at any of these restaurants.
Be Our Guest Restaurant is located in Fantasyland. As you walk through this section of the park, you’ll see Beast’s castle rising on the horizon, and that’s where you’ll be eating.
Even though this is the first character dining experience on our list, it isn’t a traditional character dining restaurant. You can meet the Beast in his study during dinner service only. There are three distinct rooms to dine in the restaurant: the Grand Ballroom, the West Wing, or the Castle Gallery.
Be Our Guest offers a prix fixe three-course meal where diners get to choose an appetizer, entree, and dessert. They have options for adults and children. It is considered one of Disney’s high-end restaurants, with adult plates costing over $60 per person. It is also one of the few places in the park where adults can buy alcoholic beverages.
Have you ever wanted to step foot inside the iconic Cinderella Castle, the centerpiece of the Magic Kingdom? If so, then dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table is the best way to do it.
As you might expect, you’ll meet Cinderella and some of her fellow princesses at this character dining experience. You’ll meet Ariel, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Snow White, and Belle, in addition to Cinderella.
You can enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at this restaurant. All three meals are prix fixe, and breakfast is slightly less expensive than the others. Breakfast dishes include Shrimp and Grits and Royal Avocado Toast, while lunch and dinner menus feature Chickpea Panisse and Tenderloin of Beef.
The Crystal Palace is a unique character dining opportunity because you get to meet Winnie the Pooh and all his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood, including Piglet, Rigger, and Eeyore.
The Crystal Palace is located at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., near the entrance to Adventureland. Disney decorated it to look like a Victorian greenhouse, so it’s full of natural light and greenery.
The Crystal Palace serves a buffet of lunch and dinner, which primarily consists of traditional American foods. There’s salads, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, beef brisket, and more. Save room for assorted desserts, too.
Best Character Dining at EPCOT
EPCOT is often seen as a more adult park than the other three, but there are still a few character dining restaurants, including one of Walt Disney World’s princess dining opportunities.
Even though the World Showcase doesn’t typically open until 11 a.m, you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Akershus with an array of princesses. At this character dining experience, you’ll meet Snow White, Ariel, Aurora, Belle, and Cinderella.
Meals here are also prix fixe. Lunch and dinner start with a taste of Norway since the restaurant is in the Norway Pavilion. The main course also has Scandinavian-inspired dishes, such as Kyllingbryst, a grilled chicken breast, and Flyt-Stuffed Pasta.
The kids’ menu features macaroni and cheese, Norwegian meatballs, and more. There is also a selection of delectable desserts. There’s a selection of alcoholic beverages not available elsewhere in the park for adults.
Located in the Land Pavilion, the Garden Grill makes healthy dining fun, and one of the ways they do that is by incorporating character dining. During your lunch or dinner, you’ll meet Chip, Dale, Mickey Mouse, and Pluto. The restaurant is also tiny, which means you’ll likely get to meet them more than once.
The menu at the Garden Grill is constantly changing depending on what is fresh and in season. With the Chip ‘N’ Dale Harvest Feast, guests can enjoy as much as they want to eat. It sometimes includes dishes like Grilled Beef with Chimichurri, Herb and Leek Stuffing, and Berry Short Cake for dessert.
Meeting the characters isn’t the only fun part of dining. The restaurant slowly rotates, giving you spectacular views of the greenhouses of the Living with the Land attraction.
Best Character Dining at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios only has one character dining opportunity, but it’s one of the most sought-after reservations in Walt Disney World for families with young children.
Even though it’s the only character dining at the park, the experience at Hollywood and Vine is even more unique. It features some favorite Disney Junior characters, including Sofia, Jake, Roadster Goofy, and Doc McStuffins at breakfast, and Minnie Mouse and many of her friends for lunch and dinner.
At breakfast, enjoy dishes like caramel monkey bread, a plant-based frittata, and four-egg omelets. Enjoy Spice-Rubbed Pork Loin, Macaroni and Cheese with Shrimp, and Seared Fresh Salmon with Grain Mustard-Buerre Blanc for lunch and dinner. Save room for the sumptuous desserts like Spiced Cherry Cake and Chocolate S’Mores Pie.
Best Character Dining at Animal Kingdom
There are so many creatures to encounter at Animal Kingdom that the character dining at Tusker House is simply icing on the cake!
Tusker House Restaurant is located in the Africa section of the Animal Kingdom, and the menu features some fantastic African-inspired dishes. These include Cape Malay Green Curry Shrimp, Moroccan-Spiced Beef, Spit-Roasted Herb Chicken, and Berber-Marinated Pork. The desserts are also very fun, animal-inspired mini desserts.
The restaurant’s interior is also beautiful and colorful, decorated to look like a lively Harambe Marketplace.
At Tusker House, you’ll get to meet Donald Duck dressed in his finest safari gear, along with Goofy, Daisy Duck, and of course Mickey Mouse.
Best Character Dining in the Resorts
Several wonderful restaurants throughout Disney’s hotels and resort properties offer character meet-and-greets. You do not need to stay at these resorts in order to dine there, but be aware that Disney does not provide resort-to-resort transportation.
1900 Park Fare–Grand Floridian
1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian, Walt Disney World’s flagship resort, has unique character experiences in the morning for breakfast and evening for dinner.
At breakfast, meet and greet the best of British characters, including Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger, while you enjoy a buffet with breakfast staples like pancakes, fresh fruit and loaves of bread, cheese blintz, and more.
If you’re dining for dinner, you’ll get to enjoy a princess experience with Cinderella and characters from the film, including Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, and the evil stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella. Dinner is also all-you-can-eat, with dishes such as Floridian Strawberry Soup, Lemon Cream Penne Pasta, and Honey-Sriracha Salmon.
Artist Point–Wilderness Lodge
Character dining at Artist Point is similar to 1900 Park Fare, as you get to encounter characters from one of your favorite films, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Meet Snow White, Grumpy, Dopey, and the Evil Queen during your dinner.
The setting fits the story, as the entire restaurant is decorated like an enchanted forest. For years, the kitchen has been known for its fantastic meat selections, such as Hunter’s Terrine, Magic Mirror’s Slow-Braised Pork Shank, and Brother’s Grimm Herb Chicken. The menu is prix fixe, and adults and children get three courses, including dessert.
Cape May Cafe–Yacht and Beach Club
Located at the Beach Club, this restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner as a buffet-style, all-you-care-to-enjoy meal. However, character dining is only available at breakfast.
You’ll be joined by Minnie Mouse as your hostess as you eat, and she’s dressed in her finest beachwear. You’ll also get to meet Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, and Goofy.
Breakfast has many unique dishes, including the Beach Bun, which is caramel pull-apart bread topped with cinnamon streusel, yogurt parfait with fruit, made-to-order omelets, and a hot breakfast platter.
While there aren’t characters, Cape May Cafe is well-loved for having a robust seafood menu at dinnertime.
Chef Mickey’s–The Contemporary
Chef Mickey’s is one of the oldest and most popular character dining restaurants in Walt Disney World. It’s open for breakfast and dinner only. At this character dining experience, you get to meet the most classic characters, including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto. They’re dressed as chefs, helping prepare your meal in the kitchen.
Both breakfast and dinner have prix fixe menus for adults and children. Breakfast has delicious takes on classics like Banana Bread French Toast, and dinner plates include Citrus-Poached Miniature Shrimp, Potato Gnocchi, and old-fashioned Prime Rib.
‘Ohana is the Hawaiian word for family, which means the family-style menu is abundantly appropriate at this restaurant, which is open only for breakfast and dinner. During your meal, you’ll meet none other than Lilo and Stitch.
At breakfast, enjoy dishes like ‘Ohana Breakfast Skillet (a plant-based option is also available), and at dinner, the menu features Hawaiian-inspired dishes. Guests love the Honey-Coriander Chicken Wings, Spicy Peel ‘n’ Eat Shrimp, and ‘Ohana Noodles.
‘Ohana is a highly sought-after restaurant, and it can be challenging to get a reservation. If you’re lucky enough to sit at the right time, you’ll also have a front-row seat for the Magic Kingdom fireworks.
Ravello–The Four Seasons
Although Disney doesn’t own the Four Seasons, they are licensed to offer a special character breakfast at one of their restaurants, Ravello. It is provided only on Saturday mornings, called the Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and Pals, and meet some favorite characters.
Ravello’s breakfast menu includes a Truffle Forager Omelette, Vegan Breakfast Sandwich, or an Acai Bowl. There’s also a griddle with traditional breakfast fare.
The Four Seasons is located on Disney property, so you won’t have to travel far if you choose this character breakfast. You can find it close to the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.
Topolino’s Terrace–Flavors of the Riviera–The Riviera
One of the newest restaurants at Walt Disney’s newest resort is Topolino’s Terrace–Flavors of the Riviera. Disney Imagineers designed the restaurant to not only feature spectacular views of the parks and Disney property but also to be like an artist’s haven, appealing to the eye in every way.
Character dining is only offered at breakfast. During the meal, your family will get to encounter Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Daisy Duck. They’ll be dressed like they just left an artist’s studio, complete with berets!
The breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace offers a prix fixe menu with high-end dishes for adults, including Quiche Gruyere, Wild Mushroom Scramble, and Wood-Fired Butcher’s Steak. They also offer classic breakfast cocktails.
Trattoria al Forno–The Boardwalk
This Italian restaurant at the Boardwalk offers a special Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast with two of our favorite Disney couples, Ariel and Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Rapunzel.
The breakfast menu goes way beyond your traditional hotel morning meal. Whether you’re craving something sweet or savory, you’ll have a hard time choosing between dishes like Tiramisu-Style French Toast, Oak-Grilled Steak and Eggs, and Florentine Frittata. For kids, choose something like the Fruit and Waffle Plate or go with a classic, Mickey Waffles.
How to Make Character Dining Reservations
As you can probably imagine, character dining is very popular with visitors. If you don’t have reservations, your chances of snagging a table are pretty slim. You also have to know what you’re doing when it comes to making reservations.
Disney dining reservations open precisely 60 days in advance. They open at 5:45 a.m. eastern time. If you have your heart set on a particular restaurant or day, we strongly recommend setting your alarm and being ready by 5:44.
Navigate your browser to Disney’s dining reservations website. First, select the date and an approximate desired time for your visit, as well as the number of people in your group. Then, on the Filter By menu, select Dining Experience. On the drop-down menu, under Service Type, select “Character Dining.”
Your results will automatically filter according to availability. Disney shows you restaurants with availability first and then lists those without any tables open. If the restaurant you want most isn’t available, try changing the time of your visit by at least a few hours. If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to try another day.
Once you’re ready to make your reservation, you’ll need to sign in to your account if you haven’t already. If you’re linking accounts on the My Disney Experience app, select everyone in your party on the next page, so the reservation appears on their itineraries, as well.
Finally, to secure your reservation, you’ll need to provide a credit card number. Don’t worry; it doesn’t cost money to make reservations, but Disney may charge a cancellation fee if you no-show or cancel outside of the allotted window. It’s their way of preventing guests from making many dining reservations they don’t intend to keep.
When it’s time to dine, have your confirmation number handy and proceed to the hostess stand at your restaurant of choice, prepared to have a good time, enjoy delicious food, and revel in great company!
Beyond Character Dining: Dinner Shows
There is another way to encounter cast members in costume during your meals, and that’s dinner shows. Some of them feature recognizable Disney characters, and some are more unique experiences.
One of our favorites is the Spirit of Aloha dinner show, which features some of the entertainment of a traditional Hawaiian luau. It’s at the Polynesian Village Resort. Nearby, at Fort Wilderness is the Hoo-Dee-Doo Musical Review, a country-western-style meal that’s another Walt Disney World classic.
Even if they don’t have a show or character dining, there are tons of family-friendly dining opportunities throughout Walt Disney World. Many of them have unique entertainment as well, such as the Coral Reef Restaurant in EPCOT, where you’ll be surrounded by aquariums and fish.
Another fun restaurant in EPCOT is the Biergarten in the Germany Pavilion in the World Showcase. During your family-style buffet meal, you can enjoy live music from an authentic Bavarian band. There’s a dance floor where you can transport yourself straight to an Oktoberfest celebration.
Finally, Disney offers several dessert dining packages where you get to enjoy an incredibly sumptuous array of tempting desserts while getting premium seating for the fireworks. They offer this seasonally at the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. It’s pricey, but for some people, it’s worth not having to worry about getting a spot for the fireworks.
Include Your Favorite Characters in Your Family Meal
There is so much magic to experience and discover at Walt Disney World throughout your entire vacation. One of those experiences is meeting your favorite characters, whether those are princesses, Mickey’s classic pals, or other movie and TV stars.
There is perhaps no better way to feel at home with the characters than to share your meal with them! Use this list to select the right restaurant and character dining experience for you, and enjoy your time with family!
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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