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Character dining is one of the easiest ways to meet a whole host of characters and fill up for (or wind down after) a fun-filled day in the parks. With so many characters to meet and delicious food to taste at Disney World, it can be difficult to decide on the best character dining restaurant for your family. Some of Disney's best character dining takes place at Disney's resort hotels. While you don't have to be staying at the hotel to partake in a character meal, it's another good reason to stay on site (if you do, be sure to book with us for discounts!). Lucky for you, we've taken out the guess work! We’ve ranked all of the current locations offering character dining based on the characters, food and atmosphere to help you choose the best fit for your family vacation.
Note: The characters listed are the characters that generally appear at these dining locations. The number and characters themselves may vary at times.
Best Character Dining at Disney World
1. Tusker House
Located in the Harambe Village of Africa in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Tusker House adds vibrant flavors and fun to your Disney day! Meet Mickey, Goofy, Daisy and Donald in their safari gear throughout the day as they greet your table and lead a joyful dance party around the dining room. Adventurous eaters can explore the buffet of African flavors in addition to American classics such as Mickey waffles and bacon for breakfast, and macaroni and cheese or roast chicken drumsticks for lunch and dinner. We love heading straight to Kilimanjaro Safaris when the park opens in the morning before settling in at Tusker House for a hearty breakfast! The Jungle Juice is delicious, and we have to have the fresh-carved ham with mustard sauce every time we visit. We chose Tusker House for our number one character dining location because there is something for everyone on the buffet, the food is delicious and you get to dance and sing with classic Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse himself! Tusker House serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with character meet and greets at all three meals.
2. Garden Grill
The Garden Grill claims the number two spot in our list of best character dining at Disney World thanks to its unique atmosphere, hearty meals and the amount of time characters spend at each table. The restaurant, located in the Land pavilion at Epcot, slowly rotates as guests dine, giving them a unique perspective of the Living with the Land boat ride below and a changing background throughout the meal. The food is classic American fare in bountiful portions, served all-you-care-to-eat family-style. Heaping plates of fresh-from-The Land salad and vegetables along with buttermilk mashed potatoes accompany roast turkey, beef and fish to appease every taste. Chip and Dale, Pluto and Mickey, clad in his farmer’s overalls, meet and play with guests as they dine. Every time we visit, Lily and Tad love posing with Pluto and playing with Chip and Dale! (By the way, do you know how to tell Chip and Dale apart? It's easy. Chip has a black nose, like a chocolate chip! Dale's nose is red.) We never feel rushed with the characters here. The Garden Grill is open with characters for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
3. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Akershus is the ultimate princess party, located in Epcot's Norway pavilion, which is now home to Royal Summerhus and Frozen Ever After. The dining room is set in a medieval castle with a buffet feast fit for royalty! Our little princess, Lily, loves meeting Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) and Ariel. You’ll find familiar fare at the banquet tables, along with some Norwegian delights such as the breakfast smorgasbord or the traditional Norwegian meatballs at lunch and dinner. It’s impossible to not feel like royalty as we dine at Akershus, and I love seeing the smile on Lily’s face as she gets to meet all of her favorite princesses!
4. Cinderella’s Royal Table
When it comes to Disney, nothing says Dream Come True like dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the heart of the Magic Kingdom. You’re greeted by Cinderella herself as you enter the castle and ascend the spiral staircase (or take the gilded elevator) to the banquet hall above. Overlook Fantasyland and visit with Cinderella’s friends, including the Fairy Godmother, as you enjoy gourmet dishes such as slow roasted pork tenderloin or roasted vegetables over seasonal gnocchi. The food is exquisite, but the real showstoppers are the desserts! Try the “Clock Strikes Twelve” flourless chocolate cake with berry compote and anglaise sauce or Gus and Jaq’s Favorites, a white chocolate-jasmine tea mousse and lemon and lime curd with honey-oat crisp. During dinner, you might even witness a magical celebration, like a storybook proposal, complete with a chocolate glass slipper, or perhaps you’ll be enjoying a celebration of your own! If you're lucky enough to be dining during Wishes, you'll get a spectacular view of the fireworks, with the lights turned down and the music piped in! Cinderella’s Royal Table serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is the toughest place to get a table in all the land, so make sure to book this Advance Dining Reservation early—preferably a full 180 days ahead!
5. 1900 Park Fare
1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort offers a delightfully different experience for every time of day. At the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast, enjoy a buffet of made-to-order omelets, carved ham, and of course, Mickey-shaped waffles. Cheery characters such as Mary Poppins, Alice, the Mad Hatter, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh stop by to say good morning! In the afternoon, the venue is host to the Wonderland Tea Party, where kids snack on children’s tea (apple juice) and cupcakes that they get to decorate themselves as well as some other tasty teatime treats. During the hour-long tea break, our favorite tea-loving characters, usually Alice and the Mad Hatter, entertain their guests with stories and crafts. For reservations to the Wonderland Tea Party, please call (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463. Royal princesses also have the option of partaking in tea in the Grand Floridian's tea room on select mornings with Rose Petal, a magical rose from Aurora's garden, and sometimes even Aurora herself! At Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner, mealtime is a truly regal affair as each family is welcomed as the honored guests of Cinderella and Prince Charming. Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia and Drizella are usually in attendance, greeting guests as they dine on a buffet of international salads, meats, seafood and sides. There are also plenty of American staples such as macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, pizza and chicken tenders. No matter what time you dine, be sure to keep an eye (and ear) out for “Big Bertha,” a turn-of-the-century organ crafted in France that plays while you eat, setting the mood for a whimsical meal at 1900 Park Fare.
6. Hollywood & Vine
One of the best character dining restaurants for the littlest tadpoles is Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Hosting the Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine for both breakfast and lunch satisfies the entire family with a hearty buffet. Disney Junior favorites such as Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Jake and the Never Land Pirates and Handy Manny interact with the little ones. Breakfast features waffles, frittatas and fresh fruit before switching to baked chicken, deli meats, pastas and fresh salads for lunch. During dinnertime, Minnie Mouse and her friends host seasonal dinners such as the Summertime Dine, a beach-inspired bash that runs through Sept. 11, Minnie’s Halloween Dine on Sept. 12 through Nov. 6, and Minnie’s Holiday Dine on Nov. 7 through Jan. 6, with tastes and festivities to reflect the season. Dinnertime character guests usually include Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy in their best seasonal outfits of course! Minnie’s Seasonal Dining is also eligible for the Fantasmic! Dinner Package. With the dinner package, guests can dine at one of the three participating restaurants (The Hollywood Brown Derby, Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, or Hollywood & Vine) before heading over to reserved VIP seats for Fantasmic!, the park’s nighttime spectacular!
7. The Crystal Palace
Another great restaurant for the little ones is The Crystal Palace nestled beside the hub in Magic Kingdom. The open, Victorian-style setting is a bright and verdant backdrop for meeting friends from Winnie the Pooh, including Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and the lovable bear himself, Pooh. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with Pooh and friends present at all three buffet-style meals. The food is classic fare such as fruit, pastries and omelets for breakfast, and carved meats, soups, breads, fish and vegetables at lunch and dinner. Be aware of the timing here. If you are finishing your meal around the same time a parade or fireworks display is ending, it can get a little crowded as you try to make your way back out into the park.
Dynamic duo, Lilo and Stitch along with other classic Disney characters like Mickey and Pluto, join guests for breakfast at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Breakfast is standard fare of scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, sausage, bacon and fruit served family style, of course! If your goal is just to meet Lilo and Stitch, look for them over at Hollywood Studios instead. If you’re looking for a Polynesian-inspired breakfast, head over to Kona. The real allure of ‘Ohana is at dinnertime. No traditional Disney characters appear during dinner, but the evening meal is certainly not lacking in fun as entertainers sing, tell stories, and invite guests to join them for games and dancing. The dinner menu at ‘Ohana features our favorite pineapple-coconut bread, followed by salad, pork dumplings, honey-coriander chicken wings, meat skewers, noodles and vegetables, finished with ‘Ohana’s specialty, bread pudding a la mode with bananas-caramel sauce. With the right timing, dinner at ‘Ohana also provides a spectacular view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks.
9. Chef Mickey’s
Disney's Contemporary Resort offers a classic buffet-style restaurant serving breakfast, brunch and dinner. At Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet, the Fab Five: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy join guests for their meals. The restaurant overlooks Bay Lake as well as the 90-foot-high mural by Mary Blair that has become an icon of the Contemporary Resort. The enormous buffet offers a variety of dishes at every meal. For breakfast, enjoy fresh fruit, cereals and oatmeal, cheesy potato casserole, sausage, pancakes and other breakfast favorites. Brunch adds soup, salads and seafood to the breakfast offerings. At dinner, choose among salads, sushi, pasta dishes, carved-to-order meats, lobster macaroni and cheese, pork ribs, salmon and more. With so many choices, this is a great choice for groups with diverse palates as well as picky eaters. Although slightly outdated, Chef Mickey’s is a crowd-pleaser with few surprises.
10. Cape May Café
Minnie Mouse loves to throw a beach bash! Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast at Disney's Beach Club Resort gathers classic Disney characters such as Minnie, Goofy and Donald in their beachy best to start the day sunny side up. With fewer characters than some other breakfast buffet locations and it’s off-the-beaten-path location (unless you're staying at the Epcot-area resort hotels), Cape May Café ranks lower on our list. Breakfast includes an unusual mix of items from sliced deli meats and cheeses to applesauce, bagels, scrambled eggs, seasonal fruits and veggies and cereals.
11. Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
Over at the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, Mickey’s throwing a barbecue hoedown! It’s a little bit as if someone tried to combine the characters from Garden Grill with the atmosphere of the Hoop Dee Doo Review. However, the food is not as high quality as either of those venues, serving the standard chicken, ribs, hot dogs and burgers. Drinks are included with the meal, even wine and beer for guests 21+. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Chip and Dale visit guests during dinner and lead line dancing to live country music. This is another location that is a bit out of the way to get to. We’ve never really had a bad time at any Disney restaurant, but if you want better food and pretty much the same characters, check out The Garden Grill instead.
The Four Seasons also hosts a Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and His Pals as does the Garden Grove at the Swan Hotel. However, since these are not exactly official Disney Resorts, they were not included in this ranking.
12. Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno
Located at Disney's Boardwalk (one of our favorite areas on Disney property!), Trattoria al Forno is home to a breakfast celebration featuring some of Lily and I's royal favorites: Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Ariel and Prince Eric. Each are welcomed with a royal entrance and individually make their way to your table. Brief, interactive activities are planned for little ones as well!
The Bon Voyage Adventure breakfast offers some of the most delectable breakfast items out of any character meal offered. The prix fixe menu starts with pastries for the table and an individual fruit starter before ordering your entrees. King Triton's Shipwreck al Forno is a must-try breakfast calzone that has quickly become one of my top three favorite meals at Disney World! Exquisite drinks are available as well ... if you're a Bloody Mary fan, the Caprese Bloody Mary is out of this world!
With so many character dining locations, you're sure to find at least one that will make the whole family happy. These are our picks for the best character dining at Disney World. What are your favorites? Share in comments below!