One of the most popular styles of dining at any Disney venue is Character dining. It is as simple as it sounds – you get a dining experience where characters come to your table for pictures, autographs or both.
There are so many places at Walt Disney World that do character dining and they do them over different meal periods as well. I’ve found that sometime you get different character interactions depending on a) who you’re dining with and b) when you dine. Obviously, if you have kids with you, you’ll get the princesses fawning all over them – especially if they’re dressed up. And if you go later on in the meal time, it is likely to be quieter, so you’ll get more time – when we dined at the Garden Grill, we went at 1.30pm and saw the characters multiple times – Pluto even sat with us for a while because there weren’t many people dining and they had the time to.
Here’s a look at some of my favourites…
1900 PARK FARE
One of the quickest to book out is the “Supercalifragilistic Breakfast”. Here you can meet characters from Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins. I got too meet Tigger, Winnie the Pooh, Alice and Mary Poppins herself! I went towards the end of breakfast, so it was still pretty busy with hanger-arounds, but still a lot of fun!
This is the next hardest to get – unless you log on as soon as bookings open, you’re not likely to get a booking after 7.45am – so up to you! When I visited, I stayed at the Contemporary, and planned nothing for the rest of the morning, so when I could only get a 7am booking, it meant that I could go back to bed afterwards!
The one thing about Chef Mickey’s is that it is quite a small space for the amount of people they fit in, so it can get quick cramped and the minute it gets loud, it starts to echo. It wasn’t so bad for us at the very start, but I imagine once it hits peak time of 8-8.30, it would become unbearable.
The Crystal Palace is one of my favourite buffet restaurants, purely based on it’s location and when you can dine. I like to book an early breakfast here as it means that you get the chance to walk through an almost empty Magic Kingdom! You can meet the main Winnie the Pooh characters here.
Tusker House is a buffet restaurant located in the Animal Kingdom’s Africa region. It is set up to reflect and African Marketplace and does dinner as a character dining venue. The characters are dressed in their “Explorers” outfits and look super cute!
AKERSHUS ROYAL BANQUET HALL
Akershus is located in the Norwegian pavilion at World Showcase, Epcot. It’s popularity has greatly increased in recent times as people are wanting to dine there early to get into the line for Frozen Ever After as early as possible. So if you’re keen, you do need to book it in as early as possible! The characters that you meet are some of the core Princesses. Whilst waiting to be seated, you meet Belle, then the others come by your table over the course of breakfast. Akershus was the only place I had a less than stellar character experience. Maybe it was because they were busy and I was a single diner, but I got brushed off very quickly by all the characters, one photo and they’d move on, no interaction at all. But not every single meal can live up to the expectations of the previous one…
THE GARDEN GRILL
The Garden Grill is located in Future World at Epcot. It is a harvest-inspired meal where you don’t choose individual dishes, it all comes out on several courses for everyone to share. The thing that makes the Garden Grill unique is that it’s a revolving restaurant, so you get to see the inside of the ride Land of the Living. We dined later on in the meal period, so the characters had more time to spend with us (doesn’t Mickey’s farmer costume just look adorable!!), especially Pluto. In fact, he took great delight in taking plates from nearby tables and trying to balance them or in some cases, just sat down next to us as we ate haha
What’s your favourite Character Dining place? Have you had any funny character experiences like we did we Pluto?