A note from Mommy Frog: Now that Disneyland is returning to more normal operations, character dining is gradually coming back. Hop over to our Disneyland reopening post, which we will continue to update with the latest news. You can also hop over to our post on what's open at Disneyland to see what restaurants, rides and entertainment are open or closed at this time. Here is some quick but important reopening information:
- Mickey's Tales of Adventure Breakfast and Brunch at Storytellers Café reopened July 22.
- The Minnie & Friends Breakfast at Plaza Inn reopened Aug. 12.
- The Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at Napa Rose reopened Aug. 26.
- Goofy's Kitchen reopened for breakfast and dinner already, and characters return Sept. 16, 2021.
- PCH Grill, home of Donald Duck's Seaside Breakfast and Brunch, is closed permanently
Keep in mind that menus and character interactions may be modified, so check the menus before you visit! Likewise, the restaurants themselves may be operating a little differently — we experienced a self-serve buffet at Storytellers, while we were helped to portions by a cast member at the Plaza Inn. Procedures are subject to change and may vary by location.
A visit to the Disneyland Resort means balancing your schedule with rides, meals, shows and character meet and greets. Why not multi-task 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 then character dining allows you to fuel up while letting the characters come to you.
Keep in mind that during the Disneyland reopening phases, the characters are on the move and do not stop for hugs (though they may pose quickly like our pal, Dale, above — have your cameras and speedy fingers ready!). They will parade past your table multiple times while you eat, but they generally do not stop. Eventually, we expect character dining to return to normal.
If you are visiting a hotel character dining experience, but are arriving by car and not staying at the hotel, your parking is included. Bring your parking ticket to the restaurant for validation. You will receive three hours of complimentary valet parking at the hotel with your dining (five hours for the Princess Breakfast Adventures meal). The validation will not work for Downtown Disney or other Disneyland parking lots.
There are four restaurants that typically offer character meals at Disneyland Resort — one in the Disneyland Resort hotel, two at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and one at Disneyland Park. (There used to be a fifth, the Donald Duck Seaside Breakfast at PCH Grill in Disneyland Paradise Pier Hotel, but the restaurant permanently closed.) All of them offer character breakfasts, plus Storyteller’s Café has a brunch on select days and Goofy’s Kitchen offers a character dinner. The newest character dining location, the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures, offers a three-course meal that includes both breakfast and brunch food options (as well as decadent desserts). Lily says get your tiaras, princess dresses and sparkles on for this newest princess option!
We are hoppy that there is once again a princess breakfast among the Disneyland character dining choices because we have been missing the royal treatment ever since Ariel's Grotto at Disney California Adventure closed. That restaurant — 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, and there is no character dining inside California Adventure. The new Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures takes place at Napa Rose in the Grand Californian Hotel, right next to the park. 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!
Each of the meals is a little different in terms of food and characters. Let's take a look at what to expect at each dining location.
1. Minnie & Friends — Breakfast Buffet in the Park, Plaza Inn at Disneyland Park (reopened Aug. 12; service and character selection may be modified)
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 seven or eight (while some others have five in comparison). You’ll meet Minnie Mouse and other characters. Normally, you may meet 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, such as Piglet, Pinocchio, Max or some other surprise guest. Of course, this is all pre-pandemic.
The character selection is modified at the moment. Here's what it's like! We were able to meet Minnie, chat with her and take a photo with her upon entering (and we visited her again before we left). The PhotoPass photos were included with the meal! While we ate, Daisy, Pluto, Chip, Dale, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger circulated among the tables. Music would play before the characters appeared. They came out every 20 to 30 minutes. They did not stop long enough to take posed photos, but we waved and blew kisses. Depending on how long you dine, you may get to see them many times.
The character dining experience offers a breakfast buffet with traditional breakfast items, including cereal, scrambled eggs, French toast, sausage, bacon, potatoes, pastries, fruit and those froglet-favorite Minnie waffles (that's right, Minnie waffles — it's her breakfast, after all!). You can top them with syrup or caramelized bananas foster! You can also order made-to-order omelets. One thing that was extra special about this character dining location was the fried chicken and biscuits with gravy. Yum! It was a boneless fried chicken thigh, so it did vary slightly from the chicken you eat at lunch and dinner, which has bones. You serve yourself beverages at this location. You could have juice, coffee, hot chocolate, soda and tea. At this time, you also get your own disposable napkins and plastic ware.
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 $41 and children ages 3 to 9 are $24, plus tax. Gratuity is not added to the bill at this location. Breakfast hours vary per day, and the restaurant may be open during Magic Morning and Extra Magic Hour (which are not currently available). There is a separate park entrance open for character dining all the way to the left of the park entrance.
The last reservation is 10:40 a.m., last seating by 11 a.m., and the breakfast food disappears by 11:30 a.m. It felt like things were wrapping up about 11 a.m. and got quieter. We recommend an earlier seating so you have time to catch multiple character experiences. You want to be there well before 10:40 a.m. to make the most of your meal.
2. Mickey's Tales of Adventure Breakfast and Brunch Buffet — Storytellers Café (reopened July 22; buffet service)
Storytellers Café at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel offers a relaxed buffet breakfast daily, followed by a brunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. until 10:55 a.m., and brunch food comes out from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The breakfast choices closely match the other Disneyland character meal buffets. You can enjoy muffins, croissants, fruit, charcuterie platter, smoked salmon and bagel, and agua fresca or breakfast milk in a bag to start. Main dishes include scrambled eggs, an egg white frittata (with spinach, tomato and basil), eggs Benedict, bacon, sausage, pancakes, Mickey waffles, chilaquiles, carved meats and breakfast potatoes with Impossible meat.
You can request your server to bring vanilla yogurt parfait, oatmeal with all the fixings, milk for cereal and a custom omelet to your table. Juices, coffee and soft drinks are included as well. It's a little more refined to dine here than Plaza Inn for character dining at this time because you have a cloth napkin, silverware (instead of heading to dispensers to get a plastic fork) and a server to bring drinks. 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 $49 for an adult and $29 per child (ages 3 to 9), plus tax and gratuity. The last breakfast seating is by 10:55 a.m., and brunch food starts coming out at 11 a.m. Brunch is $51 per adult and $29 per child, plus tax and gratuity.
We recently hopped by for breakfast to check this character breakfast out after it reopened. While the buffet style of serving has returned, and you serve yourself, the character interactions are a little different from before. Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Chip 'n' Dale parade through the restaurant every 20 minutes. When they are out, they pass each table multiple times, but they do not stop. It can be challenging to take a still pic of them, but if you pose it and time it just right as they are coming by, you might be able to capture a distanced photo or selfie. If you want to preserve the memory, we recommend a short video instead. Tad filmed the experience, so you can experience the return of character dining to Disneyland Resort on our YouTube channel!
3. Breakfast and Dinner Buffet at Goofy’s Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel (Characters return Sept. 16, 2021.)
This location will reopen first for breakfast and dinner without the character hosts. Don't worry — they'll see ya real soon when they return at a later date in fall! But here's what this experience was like previously. (We'll update with new deets as soon as we have them!)
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 could 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. A 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 mac 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.
Prices are subject to change once the characters return. Previously, the character breakfast price was $45 for adults and $27 for kids (ages 3 to 9), plus tax and gratuity. Breakfast/brunch usually begins at 7 a.m. every day and is served until 12 p.m Monday through Thursday, and until 1:30 p.m. Friday through Saturday. Dinner ran $49 for an adult and $29 per child, plus tax and gratuity. Dinner is from 5 p.m to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
4. Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures — Napa Rose (character dining reopened Aug. 26)
This character dining experience returned, but food and character interactions may vary from past operations. Disney Princesses will greet you on a private patio for an exclusive photo opportunity. They will also pass through the dining room but will not stop at your table at this time. Throughout the experience, your little princesses and princes can enjoy fun princess-themed activities. A special keepsake will help them remember their special morning!
The menu at this breakfast features both breakfast and luncheon offerings. You'll start with three-tier towers of appetizers, which may include:
- Banana wraps
- Chia and granola parfait with mango, kiwi, and coconut
- Ham and cheese sandwiches with cranberry cream cheese
- Lobster salad crostini with a dinglehopper (toadally cute!)
For the main course you will head to the buffet. Tadpoles can choose from house-made mac ‘n’ cheese, princess waffles and barbecue beef sliders. Adults have savory options such as scrambled eggs, bacon, turkey sausage, vegetables, papas bravas, mac & cheese, and a selection of meats. Choices include braised short ribs, barbecue beef sliders, and chicken and Mickey waffles.
End on a sweet note with chocolate princess cake pops, petite raspberry tarts, seashell macarons, sorbet and more. The waiter sprinkles gold pixie dust on the sweets with a star-shaped wand.
Masks are required indoors when not actively eating or drinking. Mask rules may change before you visit, so hop over to our theme park mask policy post for the more up-to-date rules for Disneyland Resort and other theme parks.
Character interactions may differ from what we are used to at this time. Like the other character dining experiences, the princesses move through the dining room one by one without masks and without stopping for photos. You may meet princesses outside on the patio from a safe distance. The princesses will draw you into their stories. For example, Belle might read stories while Mulan teaches you warrior poses. Depending on the day, you may expect to meet about eight princesses. The selection may vary but on opening day, guests saw Tiana, Ariel, Belle, Mulan, Jasmine, Aurora, Rapunzel and Pocahontas. Your parting gift is a swag bag with either a necklace pendant or sword and shield with a princess cinch bag and a button.
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures Before the Pandemic
Now here is what the experience is like normally. We will leave this information here as we are not sure when and if menus will return to the previous service and when princesses can stop at your table again. Some aspects are the same. It includes a three-course meal, souvenirs for the tadpoles and themed activities. Some are different, as you can meet a princess when you enter the lounge, have more princesses visit you at your table, then join a princess for a story and a hug outside. For the finale, 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 a.m. through noon and blends table service with a buffet.
Here’s the plot twist: You may need a fairy godmother or the crown jewels to pay for this experience, which ran $125 per person, adult or child (although babies 2 and under who share the food on your plate are free)! (We are still waiting on 2021 pricing.) Tax, gratuity and certain beverages are extra. For this price, each child will receive a souvenir autograph book and a pen when they arrive, which will be useful in gathering signatures of the princesses, as well as parting gifts. The whole experience takes two to two and a half hours, and does not feel rushed at all. You get up to five hours of complimentary valet parking with validation at the Grand Californian Hotel.
Lily was all too hoppy to try out this new breakfast since she loves researching all things princess! It was fabulous, and we enjoyed our leisurely morning of dining and basking in the love of six princesses. This royal feast is truly that — a feast! We counted it as both breakfast and lunch (and it feels a little like an early high tea too).
Beverages such as juice, coffee, hot chocolate and milk are included. Adults can have a glass of champagne included, but you may need to ask for it directly. There is a list of Royal Morning Libations with both adult beverages (such as the Cajun Mary, Royal Fizz and Still Royal After Midnight) and fun, themed nonalcoholic drinks (such as the Colors of the Wind with a light-up cube and lemon, orange, passionfruit and pineapple juices along with ginger beer and apple cider, or the Fearless Guardian with dragon fruit, strawberry puree, lemon juice and stevia syrup) and others for an additional cost. You can enjoy the drinks at the bar or order at your table.
The meal is supposed to start with a pastry basket of monkey bread and scones with lemon curd (we did not happen to see this course, but no worries — there was so much other food we didn’t miss it. Be sure to ask about it if you don’t see it). Your server will bring a three-tier tower of starters to your table with enough servings for everyone. It includes:
- Magic carpet parfait: Chia and granola parfait with mango, kiwi and coconut
- Tangled open-face ham and cheese sandwich with cranberry cream cheese
- Banana wrap in a crepe with Nutella in berry compote
- Lobster salad crostini (with a Dinglehopper, aka mini hot dog, upon request)
Then, you will be invited to visit the buffet, which has breakfast favorites and brunch-like options such as:
- Scrambled eggs
- Artisan turkey sausage
- Chicken and Mickey waffles
- Sliced fruit, fruit kabobs and whole berries
- Either braised short ribs or roasted pork belly (we got the short rib, and it was very tender and delicious)
- Mac and cheese
- Roasted asparagus and tomato
Your waiter will bring a basket of hot papas bravas (seasoned french fries) with ketchup and Romesco sauce while you wait for the finale — the dessert tray. Save room for the delectable desserts! End your meal on a sweet note with:
- Chocolate princess cake pops (Aurora, Tiana and Belle themes)
- Belle’s raspberry bouquets (petite raspberry tarts)
- Ariel’s seashell macarons with mango passionfruit ganache
- Mulan’s firecracker strawberry honey sorbet topped with cotton candy and sizzling surprise candy
- The Pocahontas peanut butter crunch mousse with a chocolate feather
Fairy Godmother ordered that the dessert tray be sprinkled with edible gold glitter! Bibbidi, bobbidi, boo!
The experience ranks high because of the princess interactions and time spent with the characters and quality of the food and service, but it ranks last mostly due to price, because it may be out of budget for many families. Adding tax, a tip and any themed beverages brings the total of this breakfast to over $600 for a family of four, so be aware of that going in and before suggesting this dining option to your princess-loving tadpoles. Make this meal count as breakfast and lunch for the day if this is a ball you cannot miss, and bring only the family members who would appreciate this royal treatment. Perhaps you can follow this breakfast with a relaxing day at the pool or with inexpensive entertainment.
The princesses may vary slightly, but you can expect to meet six to eight of the more adventurous princesses including Rapunzel, Tiana, Belle, Jasmine, Mulan, Pocahontas and Aurora. Mulan and Pocahontas happened to be the two princesses who were taking turns sharing stories on the patio on the day we visited. We met Mulan while Pocahontas was out exploring. Perhaps you’ll have a chance to experience story-time with Belle, who can’t put down a good book, during your visit. You’ll end your adventure in the library for a final private moment with a princess — we got Ariel — for a photo and final sendoff. They will give you a PhotoPass card for digital downloads. You can also take pictures with your own camera.
Don’t froget the parting gifts! Each child chooses either a crown necklace or a shield and sword set as a gift. Adults receive a souvenir cinch sack and a box of truffles.
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 similar. Goofy’s Kitchen usually 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 they can get up and hop around. Your older child might want to maximize the signatures they add to their autograph book (once that returns). 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 and Things to Keep in Mind!
Here are some tips for the best Disneyland character dining experience:
- Bring your camera.
- Once characters can sign books again, bring your autograph book (or DIY character signature project like this one), and a pen or marker (tadpoles at the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures in the past received their own souvenir autograph book and pen).
- 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 (when characters are able to stop by individual tables once more).
- 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 may bring out a cupcake with a candle (along with birthday buttons) for no extra charge.
- A gratuity is added to most buffet meals.
- Children under the age of 3 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 there (you will get three hours of complimentary valet parking while you dine).
- 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 (and work up an appetite!).
- Consider booking a late character breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner so that you can take advantage of morning time in the park.
- If you are entering the theme parks the same day of your character dining, consider purchasing MaxPass, 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. (Note that MaxPass is currently unavailable.)
- PhotoPass photographers may be available for just the initial entrance photo with the main character host (or parting photo at the Disney Princess Adventures Breakfast), 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. You'll 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. (May be temporarily unavailable at some locations.)
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 now or 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!