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A visit to the Disneyland Resort means balancing your schedule with rides, meals, shows and character meet and greets. Why not multitask and knock out several character interactions while you enjoy a meal? If you want to meet a gang of Disney characters without waiting in line for each one or seeking them out in the parks — some are always on the move! — then character dining allows you to fuel up while letting the characters come to you.
There are five restaurants that offer character meals at the Disneyland Resort, one in each Disneyland Resort hotel and one at Disneyland Park. All of them offer character breakfasts, plus Storyteller’s Café has a daily brunch, Disney’s PCH Grill has brunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (beginning March 29, 2019) and Goofy’s Kitchen offers a character dinner. The fifth character dining location opens March 30, 2019, bringing a princess option back into the mix (Lily is currently gathering her tiaras and princess dresses in preparation)!
One of the most popular restaurants for Disneyland character dining, Ariel's Grotto at Disney California Adventure, closed and — along with the upstairs Cove Bar — was converted into the super cool Lamplight Lounge! It has great food, but it is no longer a character dining location. Are you ready for some royally good news? You can once again enjoy a meal with the princesses with the new Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at Napa Rose in the Grand Californian hotel. Plus, you've still got some tasty Disneyland character dining options inside Disneyland Park and the hotels. So how do you choose the right experience for you? We’ve hopped about Disneyland Resort to get the scoop on each of them (the things we do in the name of research!) and share our best tips so you get the most from your Disneyland character dining.
Here Is How Each of the Disneyland Character Dining Options Stack Up!
The Plaza Inn is located right in the heart of Disneyland on Main Street U.S.A. You can dine inside or outside in Victorian style. What we love about this character breakfast is that the character selection is the most diverse of the Disneyland character meals, and you’ll find the most characters at one meal — usually about eight (while some others have only four in comparison). You’ll meet Minnie Mouse and perhaps other characters such as Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Fairy Godmother, Captain Hook, Chip, Dale, Rafiki and special guests who hop on by since they are in the park. You could encounter a rare treat like Piglet, Pinocchio, Max or some other surprise. They offer a breakfast buffet with traditional breakfast items like cereal, scrambled eggs, French toast, omelets, sausage and those froglet-favorite Mickey waffles. They have an omelet station. If you have an allergy and are struggling with the buffet, you can talk to the chef, who may be able to whip up a special dish for you. The only downside is that you do need to pay for park admission to access this Disneyland character meal. Adult buffet meals are $34 and children are $19 plus tax and gratuity. Breakfast opens when the park opens and is open during Magic Morning and Extra Magic Hour. There is a separate park entrance open for character dining.
2. Donald Duck's Seaside Breakfast and Brunch at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel
The surf is always good at the Paradise Pier Hotel! Check in for California-themed character breakfast or brunch, and get quackin' with Donald Duck. Take photos and share a moment with him at his surf shack. While you enjoy your food at the buffet, Daisy and Stitch will come by your table. One of the most unique parts of this Disneyland character dining meal is that a couple of times per hour, Donald's pals join him to dance and invite all the kids to dance with them. This makes a great breakfast for tadpoles who like to get up and shake the wiggles out. Plus, they will get to share a lot of one-on-one time with the characters. This character dining option does offer the smallest selection of Disney characters, but is also pretty sweet and more relaxing than some of the bigger ones.
At breakfast, you’ll find Minnie pancakes, Mickey waffles and grilled peanut butter and banana with chocolate–stuffed French toast at the children’s buffet. Most of the buffet food served at PCH Grill is very similar to the food served at the other hotel breakfast buffets — scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, smoked salmon, egg white frittata, omelet station, parfait yogurt, fruits and pastries. There are only four characters to meet at this character meal, but Stitch is definitely not someone you get to hang out with in the parks so you might enjoy stepping into alien territory to meet him.
At brunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you’ll still see some popular breakfast items (we’re thinking about you, Mickey waffles), along with lunch specials like pasta, pizza, rotating seasonal offerings and dessert. Be sure to save some room for beignets, bread pudding and mini pastries!
Breakfast runs from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. Monday through Thursday and until 11:25 a.m. Friday through Sunday. Breakfast is $39 for adults and $23 for kids plus tax and gratuity. Brunch is served from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday only, and costs $42 for adults and $23 for kids.
3. Breakfast and Dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel
Step into Goofy’s Kitchen to be greeted by your host, Goofy, for some hugs, fun and photos! After being shown to your table, grab a plate and hit the buffet. At breakfast, which offers some brunch selections, as well, you’ll find some traditional scrambled eggs, eggs Benedict, pastries, bacon, sausages, Mickey pancakes, yogurt, fruits and Mickey waffles, as well as salad, egg white veggie frittatas, made-to-order omelets, smoked salmon, sautéed veggies, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and pizza. Pizza? Not just pizza, but also silly pizza such as peanut butter pizza or apple pie or s’mores pizza. It is Goofy’s kitchen, so expect some, well, goofiness. There is a smorgasbord of dessert, from cookies, cakes and even a soft-serve frozen yogurt sundae bar, which means supervising your little ones as they make their meal choices. Otherwise they may come back to the table with dessert for breakfast. It happens. Adults can treat themselves to cocktails for an additional fee. Mimosa, Bloody Mary or bellini, anyone?
At dinner, Goofy's Kitchen offers a carving station, pasta, salads, veggies, fruit, more of Goofy’s famous pizza (here’s your chance to try macaroni and cheese pizza), hot dogs, Goofyroni and cheese and a number of hot and cold selections.
Whether you start or end your day at Goofy’s Kitchen, while you dine you can expect to be visited by Goofy’s a-list friends such as Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Chip 'n' Dale. You’ll get about five to six character interactions at this Disneyland character meal. At breakfast, the price is $44 for adults and $26 for kids. Dinner runs $48 for an adult and $28 per child plus tax and gratuity.
4. Mickey's Tales of Adventure Breakfast and Brunch — Storytellers Café
Storytellers Café offers a relaxed buffet breakfast, followed by a daily brunch. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. until 11:25 a.m., and brunch food comes out from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The breakfast choices closely match the other Disneyland character meal buffets. Brunch includes a rotating menu of daily lunch specials. You can expect to meet Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Chip 'n' Dale at this character meal, although characters are subject to change, except for Mickey. Breakfast runs $44 for an adult and $26 per child. Brunch is $46 per adult and $26 per child, plus tax and gratuity.
5. Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures — Napa Rose (New! Opens March 30, 2019)
We are happy to see that they brought back a princess character dining option. It includes a three-course meal, a takeaway bag and themed activities. The princesses visit you at your table and you can share a fond farewell and get your Princess portrait taken together as you depart and live happily ever after. This breakfast runs Thursdays through Mondays from 8:00 a.m. through noon.
Here’s the plot twist: You may need a fairy godmother or the crown jewels to pay for this experience, which runs $125 per person, adult or child! Tax and gratuity are extra. This royal feast includes cold starters like sunrise citrus and vanilla bun with raspberry glaze, assorted fruit and egg custard. The hot offerings for children include mac and cheese, mini chicken and princess waffles and beef sliders. Hot offerings for adults include shepherd’s pie or slow-braised short ribs and pork belly with breakfast sausage and vegetables on the side. End your meal on a sweet note with chocolate princess cake pops, a white chocolate slipper with strawberry ganache, fruit tarts and more. While we have not tried this new option and expect it to be fabulous, it ranks last due to price, and may be out of budget for many families. Adding a tip brings the total of this breakfast to about $600 for a family of four, so just be aware of that going in and before suggesting this dining option to your princess-loving tadpoles. Perhaps eat a late breakfast and make this meal count as breakfast and lunch for the day if this is a ball you cannot miss. Ramen for dinner everyone!
While we have ranked our favorite character dining options based on our favorite characters in attendance and how well the organization of the meal worked for our family and budget, you might have a favorite for a different reason. Basically, what we have learned is that the food at all of the breakfast buffets is very similar. Goofy’s kitchen adds a silly spin on breakfast. There are small differences in the buffet menus, but what it comes down to is the characters. Choose the meal that offers you the most likelihood of meeting the characters you most want to spend time with or the dining experience most convenient to you (i.e., in your hotel or in the park you are planning to visit that day). Your small tadpole might do best with a smaller selection of characters where he or she can get up and hop around. Your older child might want to maximize the signatures they add to their autograph book. You really cannot go wrong with any of the character dining experiences, but here’s some advice to help you maximize your time.
Disneyland Character Dining Tips to Maximize the Fun!
Here are some tips for the best Disneyland character dining experience:
- Bring your camera, autograph book (or DIY character signature project like this one), and a pen or marker.
- Plan some fun poses for pictures with the characters.
- Think of some fun questions to ask the characters or things you might want to tell them.
- Make advance dining reservations.
- Note any allergies or dietary issues when reserving, checking in and with the waiter and/or chef.
- When you check in, let them know if you will be celebrating a birthday. They will bring out a cupcake with a candle (along with birthday buttons) for no extra charge.
- A 15% gratuity is added to buffet meals.
- Children under the age of three may share from an adult's plate at any of the restaurants at no charge.
- You do not need to be staying at an on-site hotel to dine at a character meal.
- Characters and prices are subject to change. You are likely to see the characters we mentioned, but you are only guaranteed to meet the one whose name is on the meal, such as Goofy at Goofy’s Kitchen. So don’t make any promises to your tadpoles. Let the character meet and greets be a surprise bonus to breakfast.
- Consider booking a character breakfast on a day you will not be rushed so you can enjoy it without feeling pressure to move on.
- Consider booking a late character breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner so that you can take advantage of morning time in the park before you eat.
- If you are entering the theme parks the same day of your character dining, you might consider purchasing MaxPass for the day, which allows you to receive unlimited PhotoPass downloads from the meal and photos taken in the parks that day, including other character meet and greets. MaxPass also allows you to make a FASTPASS reservation from your smartphone, saving time.
- PhotoPass photographers may be available for the initial entrance photo with the main character host, so bring your camera!
- If you are planning to use MaxPass, try to enter a theme park before your meal so you can activate MaxPass. That way, you can make FASTPASS ride reservations from the restaurant and be ready to skip the lines in the park once you are done eating.
- Let the attendant who brings around photo packages know you would like your free downloads. You will need to ask because they won't automatically scan your app.
- Optional photo packages for those without PhotoPass include printed photos and downloads and run about $37.99.
While you may be able to get reservations for Disneyland character dining upon short notice, you should make your reservation in advance to get the best choice of times and locations. If you are visiting during a weekend or holiday time, reserve up to 60 days in advance. And if your favorite character did not make it to breakfast, no worries. Here are some tips for meeting your favorite characters in the parks.
Hoppy eating and meeting!