A note from Mommy Frog: Now that Disneyland is returning to more normal operations, character dining is back with some restuarants brining back hugs and personal interactions and others having the characters dance on by. Here is some quick but important reopening information:
- Mickey's Tales of Adventure Breakfast and Brunch at Storytellers Café has characters parade through and also meet at your table.
- The Minnie & Friends Breakfast at Plaza Inn has characters parade through and also meet at your table.
- The Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at Napa Rose reopened. The princesses will greet and embrace guests.
- Goofy's Kitchen serves breakfast and dinner. The characters parade through every 20 minutes.
- PCH Grill, home of Donald Duck's Seaside Breakfast and Brunch, is closed permanently
All this is subject to change by the time you visit as the situation continues to move towards normal operations. Keep hopping back for updates as things may be changing soon!
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. Plus, if you head to the theme parks with a full belly, you won't feel the need to stop for snacks and meals anytime soon.
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 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. You get self-parking at Disneyland Hotel or valet parking at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
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
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 may be modified at the moment. Here's what it's been like, but it could change soon! 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. On another visit we got Perla (from Cinderella) and Rabbit (from Winnie the Pooh). Music would play before the characters appeared. Characters parade through but then also make the rounds to visit each table. 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. Metal utensils have returned. Hooray! We like real forms better than plastic.
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. It's best to note these when you check in. 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 return in summer 2022). 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 (buffet service with some table-service items included )
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, but for the price, we feel that this has the best food and ambiance (outside of the higher-priced Princess option). You can enjoy muffins, croissants, fruit, charcuterie platter, smoked salmon and bagel, and agua fresca or breakfast milk 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. For brunch, you can have your server bring additional items to your table such as sliders (so good!), grilled cheese, avocado toast, fries, chicken tenders and more. It's a little more refined to dine here than Plaza Inn or Goofy's Kitchen.
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. Pluto did not appear on our most recent visit. 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 character interactions returned.It was so fun to have the characters come sit at our table! Just as before, this dining location does not have a PhotoPass photo location. 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. Then they circulate, spending time with each guest. We had each character stop by for personal interactions more than once.
3. Breakfast and Dinner Buffet at Goofy’s Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel
This character dining location was the latest to return. You'll step into Goofy’s Kitchen to get your included PhotoPass photo of your party. Goofy once again will take a photo with you, but sometimes Pluto steps in when Goofy needs to check on the kitchen. You can hug them! Goofy's pals Minnie, Pluto, Chip and Dale dance by every 20 minutes. They care out for about 10 minutes. So that means the characters are out about 50 percent of the time.
During this time they do not stop at individual tables, pose for photos or give hugs. The characters make their last rounds either 20 or 40 minutes after closing, so you want to be sure to book a time where you will have enough time to catch them coming by a few times. You know they are coming because there is a change in the music. You are supposed to remain seated at your table (or continue to get your food) when they circulate. You can twirl your napkin when the music starts.
You cannot ask for autographs or get hugs in the dining room at the moment, but that could change. Now all the characters stay on the move. It's much more challenging to get a pic with a character, but if you time it right, you might get a family member in a photo with a character in the background as seen here with Pluto. You'll probably find it easier to take videos of them dancing by rather than photos.
The rest of the buffet is pretty much the same as before. After being shown to your table, grab a plate and hit the buffet. We usually visit the buffet as soon as the characters leave after making their rounds since we know we can fill our plate and be back at our table in time to catch our Disney pals when they return about 10 minutes later.
Goofy's Kitchen has the biggest variety of food. Even the pickiest eater will be happy here. And healthy eaters have plenty of options too! At breakfast, which offers some brunch selections, as well, you could find some traditional scrambled eggs, eggs Benedict, pastries, bacon (including regular and turkey bacon), sausages, chilaquiles, Mickey pancakes, biscuits and gravy, yogurt, oatmeal, fruits and Mickey waffles, as well as salad, made-to-order omelets, smoked salmon, avocado toast, chicken tenders, mac and cheese and pizza. Pizza? Not just pizza, but also silly pizza, such as peanut butter pizza or or s’mores pizza or breakfast pizza. It is Goofy’s kitchen, so expect some, well, goofiness.
Some of the buffet areas with kid favorites on them are kid height. That allows your kids to help themselves to Mickey waffles, Mickey pancakes, pizza, chicken tenders, mac and cheese and other kid favorites. Adults are welcome to dig in too, of course. Those chicken tenders are yummy!
There is a smorgasbord of dessert, from cookies, cakes, muffins, pastries, gelatin, and even a soft-serve frozen yogurt sundae bar with toppings, 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. We liked the pork ribs.
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 Minnie, Pluto and Chip 'n' Dale. You’ll get those five character interactions at breakfast or dinner.
Be sure to note any special occasions when you check in. Lily celebrated a birthday at Goofy's Kitchen and got a birthday cupcake and birthday button. Speaking of buttons, all guests receive a Goofy's Kitchen button.
We hopped by for breakfast shortly after characters returned and paid $49 for adults and $29 for kids (ages 3 to 9), plus tax and gratuity. (About $65 after tax and tip for adults and about $36 after tax and tip for kids). Gratuity of 18 percent is automatically added to the bill. You will pay your server.
Dinner is $55 ($69.93 out the door for adults) and $32 ($40.69 out the door) for kids 3 through 9. At least you know the total price after tax and gratuity so you can budget. We recommend breakfast to save money because a lot of the kid foods, salads, fruits and desserts are the same for both meals.
Breakfast/brunch begins at 7 a.m. every day and is served until 12 p.m Monday through Friday, and until 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Visit on the later end (like 11 a.m.) if you want the meal to serve as lunch (but give yourself time to dine and see characters a few times). 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
The princesses will once again stop at your table for a hug and photo, but food may vary from past operations. Disney Princesses will also greet you on a private patio. You'll also get an exclusive photo opportunity. 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.
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.
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).
Fairy Godmother ordered that the dessert tray be sprinkled with edible gold glitter! Bibbidi, bobbidi, boo!
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 guests have seen 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.
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.
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 and had a huge dessert buffet. 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. 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 (some may need to be reserved for normal character interactions as characters do not pose or sign gift books at this time):
- 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 when they can pose again.
- 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 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 or five hours of complimentary 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. (We recently hit several rides at Disney California Adventure at park opening and then hopped to Storyteller's for brunch at 10:45, which counted for breakfast and lunch for us that day. It worked out great.)
- PhotoPass photographers may be available for the initial entrance photo at some locations (or parting photo at the Disney Princess Adventures Breakfast)! This is not offered at Storyteller's Café.
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!