Looking for some fun and food with Mickey and his gang while on vacation at Walt Disney World? Check out our top 5 character dining meals!
One of the great things about Disney is that you won’t run out of options when it comes to dining. But that in and of itself can be somewhat tricky – with literally hundreds of dining options, knowing where to spend your time (and hard-earned dollars!) so you can make the most out of your Disney vacation can be a pretty daunting experience. But don’t worry, because over the next few weeks, we will be giving you the top (read: drool-worthy) dining destinations at Disney. And with our first installment, we have put together a list of the top five character dining meals you won’t want to miss at Walt Disney World!
What is character dining, you ask? It’s a meal and a character meet-and-greet rolled into one. Imagine sampling dishes from Disney’s talented chefs while also taking pictures with Mickey Mouse or getting autographs from Cinderella. For many guests, it is a special treat that truly adds a touch of magic to a Disney vacation. And while Disney provides some amazing character dining options – both within the parks and at the resorts – we had to dig down deep to narrow down our list to five restaurants.
Here’s who made the top of our list:
Chef Mickey’s. There is nothing more representative of Walt Disney World than the Fab Five – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, and Goofy – and you have a chance to meet all of them at Chef Mickey’s. Located at the Contemporary Resort, Chef Mickey’s offers traditional American cuisine.
For breakfast, you will find goodies like Mickey waffles, ham and cheese or Italian frittata, hickory-smoked bacon, carved ham, kielbasa sausages, cheese blintzes with fruit toppings, donuts and danishes. For brunch, try the peel-n-eat shrimp, corned beef hash, mango-barbeque pork ribs, baked salmon, and seasonal salad in addition to the breakfast offerings. For dinner, you can have lemon-pepper chicken, beef-port short ribs, eggplant parmesan, farmhouse polenta, carving station selections, and many more. Did I mention that you also have a view of the monorail whizzing above you while you dine? It truly is a cool sight to behold!
Cinderella’s Royal Table. Located at the heart of the iconic Cinderella Castle, Cinderella’s Royal Table is one I always make sure to book if we are having a special celebration. A meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table is definitely on the pricey side (and requires two table service credits per person if using the Disney Dining Plan) but the experience is just one of a kind. As you step into the castle, you first meet Cinderella as she welcomes you into her home. Everything looks like what you think a castle should be – complete with suits of armor, a beautiful staircase, and even a themed elevator! Your family’s name will be announced and you will ascend to the second level to where you will actually have your meal.
When you get to the second level, take a moment to see the painstaking detail the Disney imagineers included in creating this space. Gaze above to the massive arches and royal flags and look sideways to see the stained glass windows bringing light into the room. And, finally, listen to when each of the princesses are announced so you can personally interact with each of them. Although the list of princesses appearing for the meet-and-greets is not guaranteed, we have seen Princess Snow White, Princess Aurora, Princess Jasmine, Princess Rapunzel, and Princess Ariel make the rounds.
The food options are also top notch, with choices like beef tenderloin and egg, baked quiche, or shrimp and grits for breakfast. For lunch and dinner, you can have summer vegetable couscous, pork two ways, chef’s fish of the day, pan-seared all-natural chicken, grilled beef salad, and beef & shrimp. And for dessert, don’t miss The Clock Strikes Twelve, a decadent dark chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis that is so good, it actually gives me hunger pangs as I’m writing about it.
Just like many of the restaurants on this list, reservations for Cinderella’s Royal Table book quickly, so it is a good idea to get your reservation 180 days prior to your check in date. If you are not able to find a reservation, here’s a good alternative: try booking Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot. You meet many of the same princesses while sampling Norwegian-inspired cuisine.
Tusker House Restaurant. With all the excitement at Animal Kingdom this summer, it’s hard not to include this character dining gem from our list. Located in Africa at the Animal Kingdom, you can join Safari Donald Duck and the rest of his friends for a fun and festive character dining experience. Donald is typically joined by Mickey Mouse, Daisy Duck, and Goofy – all in their safari attire.
There are two things that make this particular character dining experience stand out for me: the atmosphere and the food. There is something so very relaxed and laid-back about Tusker House, and that shows with the Cast Members and the characters. I often get a lot of candid shots from this location because the interaction with the characters are just so much fun! Now for the African-inspired eats – well, I’m not sure what else to say other than IT. IS. SO. GOOD. For breakfast, you can choose from spit-roasted bone-in ham, spiced corned beef, Mickey waffles, scrambled eggs, ham and cheese frittata, beef boboti, basmati rice, sweet plaintains, and so much more. For lunch and dinner, there’s peri-peri salmon, mojo pork, spit-roasted chicken, toasted couscous salad, macaroni & cheese, deli meats, sauteed green beens, mashed potatoes, basmati rice, and more.
The Crystal Palace. Even though my kids have outgrown watching Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet on Disney Jr., we still dine at The Crystal Palace once every trip. There are a few reasons: interacting with Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood gang never gets old (I still giggle when I see Tigger and awww at the sight of Eeyore) , the food is delicious, and it is conveniently located off of Main Street at the heart of Magic Kingdom.
Food-wise, you’re sure to find something you can enjoy to your heart’s content. For breakfast, there is a scrambled egg and omelet station, pancakes and waffles, breakfast meats and potatoes, pastries and fruit. For lunch and dinner, The Crystal Palace services seasonal fish, peel-n-eat shrimp, soup, roasted carved meats, salads, baked chicken, and a variety of desserts. And here’s an additional tip: if you want a photo opportunity of a nearly empty park, try snagging a reservation at The Crystal Palace before the park opens.
1900 Park Fare. Located a short monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom is 1900 Park Fare, a character dining location at the beautiful Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. For breakfast, there is the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast, where you can meet Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, The Mad Hatter, Tigger & Winnie the Pooh (characters subject to change) while you enjoy the Grand Floridian’s famous strawberry soup, eggs and omelets made to order, Mickey waffles, carved ham, fruits, smoked salmon lox, cheese blintzes, classic Eggs Benedict, and more.
For dinner, guests can take part in Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner, where they have a chance to meet Cinderella, Prince Charming – and my favorites, Lady Tremaine, Drizella and Anastasia. If you have not had a chance to interact with Lady Tremaine and her two daughters at the Magic Kingdom, you should give serious consideration to 1900 Park Fare. They are a total hoot – they stay in character but still find ways to hilariously engage with the adults and children in the room. Once, I had Lady Tremaine duet with my five-year old daughter, and it hands-down became a highlight of our trip.
Dinner choices are also pretty fantastic – the strawberry soup makes a repeat appearance (for good reason!), in addition to grilled verlaso salmon, key lime-ginger grilled chicken, Mongolian beef stir fry, peel-n-eat shrimp, mojo roast pork loin, carving station, macaroni & cheese, and so much more.
With that, I will turn it over to you. What other character dining experience should we add to this list? If you are thinking about planning a vacation to Disney to experience character dining and everything else Disney has to offer, contact me today at (920) 526-0809 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get a FREE quote!