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 Walt Disney World Resort's restaurants, it can be difficult to decide on the best character dining experience for your family. When it comes to deciding on Disney character dining, we're hoppy to remove the guess work! We’ve ranked all of the restaurants offering character dining based on the characters (of course!), food and atmosphere to help you choose the best fit for your family vacation.
Keep in mind, 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 (be sure to book with us for discounts).
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, some character dining experiences are currently modified, and others have not returned just yet. Most buffets have transitioned to family-style dining to minimize contact, and characters will wave from a safe distance. (For more information about what dining is like right now at Walt Disney World, hop over to our full post!) We're hoppy to report that as time has passed, more and more options have slowly but surely been coming back! Most recently, Disney Junior Play 'n Dine announced it will be returning to Disney's Hollywood Studios' Hollywood & Vine March 22. Below, we've ranked these experiences, and also included each experience's current status, including any modifications in place.
Note: The characters listed are the characters that generally appear at these dining locations. They are subject to change. There may be more or less (or even different) characters during your visit.
Ranking Disney World Character Dining
1. Tusker House at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Tusker House is temporarily closed.
Located in the Harambe Village of Africa in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Tusker House adds vibrant flavor 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 Simba and Nala waffles and bacon for breakfast, and macaroni and cheese or roasted chicken 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 a delicious and refreshing treat.
We chose Tusker House for our no. 1 character dining location because there is something for everyone at 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. Chip 'n' Dale's Harvest Feast at Garden Grill at EPCOT
Currently, Garden Grill is open as a modified experience. Guests eat at the tables on the lower level of the restaurant, while the characters walk around on the upper level. They are able to stop briefly for individual photos.
The Garden Grill claims the no. 2 spot on our list of best Disney World character dining thanks to its unique atmosphere, hearty meals and the ample 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-can-eat, family style. Heaping plates of fresh-from-The-Land salad and vegetables, along with buttermilk mashed potatoes, accompany turkey breast slices with gravy, grilled beef with chimichurri and herb and leek stuffing to appease every taste. (And dessert — berry shortcake with vanilla bean whip cream — is yummy too!)
We never feel rushed with the characters at Garden Grill. Chip 'n' 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 'n' Dale! (By the way, do you know how to tell Chip 'n' Dale apart? It's easy. Chip has a black nose, like a chocolate chip! Dale's nose is red.) The Garden Grill is open with characters for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
3. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at EPCOT
Dining at Akershus is temporarily unavailable, as the restaurant is being used as an indoor mask relaxation area.
Akershus is the ultimate princess party, located in EPCOT's Norway pavilion, which is now home to Royal Sommerhus 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 her favorite princesses. After meeting Belle in her beautiful yellow ballgown, Snow White, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Ariel and Cinderella are on rotation, ready to mingle and march. (Elsa and Anna do not appear at Akershus, but you can find them greeting guests nearby at Royal Sommerhus.)
You’ll find familiar fare at the banquet tables, along with some Norwegian delights such as the breakfast smorgasbord (Leap loves the hashbrowns!) or the traditional Norwegian meatballs at lunch and dinner. It’s impossible not to feel like royalty as we dine at Akershus, and I love seeing the smile on Lily’s face as she gets to visit with her favorite princesses. Tadpoles also get to participate in a princess processional, dancing and waving alongside their favorite characters!
Akershus is a great alternative to Cinderella's Royal Table if you aren't able to get that coveted reservation.
4. Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom
Currently, Cinderella's Royal Table is open, but the princesses are not available to greet guests.
When it comes to Disney, nothing says "dream come true" like dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the heart of Magic Kingdom, inside of Cinderella Castle. 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.
At Cinderella's Royal Table, you can look out the castle windows overlooking Fantasyland and visit with princesses such as Ariel, Aurora, Jasmine and Snow White as you enjoy gourmet dishes such as seared pork rib chop, beef tenderloin or chickpea panisse. The food is exquisite, but the real showstoppers are the desserts! Try the “Clock Strikes Twelve," dark chocolate mousse with a dark chocolate ganache served with a raspberry coulis, or Jaq & Gus, amaretto cheesecake with an almond crust, macerated peaches and hibiscus meringue, to please even the tiniest tummies.
Princesses are also given a magic wand to take home with them, while princes are given a small souvenir sword. To make things a little extra magical, tadpoles are given a wishing star and are prompted to literally wish upon their star with a wave of their wand or sword. Lily has kept her wishing star for years!
Cinderella's Royal Table is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you're lucky enough to be dining during Happily Ever After, you'll get a spectacular view of the fireworks with the lights turned down and the music piped in! This is one of the toughest places to get a table in all the land, so make sure to book this Advance Dining Reservation early — preferably a full 60 days ahead!
5. 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
1900 Park Fare is temporarily closed.
1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa 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 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, during which 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.
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, cheese pizza and chicken tenders for the tadpoles.
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. Topolino's Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera at Disney's Riviera Resort
Currently, Topolino's Terrace is open as a modified experience. The characters won't stop at each individual table, but they parade around the restaurant several times so you can get a selfie from afar!
As the latest Disney character dining option, Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends at Topolino's Terrace at Disney's Riviera Resort has one of the most adorably themed character dining experiences. Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy have arrived at the European Riviera to study different art forms. Their brand-new outfits reflect their areas of expertise: Mickey the painter, Minnie the poet, Donald the sculptor and Daisy the dancer. We think the character interactions are the highlight of this character breakfast. We didn't feel rushed during our individual interactions, and the characters made multiple rounds. Lily twirled around in her dress alongside Daisy in her tutu!
The prix fixe menu includes shared pastries, an entrée and fresh juice or coffee. Entrées include spiced sausage hash, wood-fired butcher's steak, smoked salmon, sour cream waffles and more. The tadpoles can create their own combination of an entrée (Mickey waffle dippers, scrambled eggs or fruit and yogurt) and two sides (roasted potatoes, fruit cup, granola, bacon or sausage) from the kids' menu. While the food is undeniably delicious, it's lower on our list because it's on the pricier end for the amount you get, compared to the breakfast buffets.
7. Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno at Disney's Boardwalk
Currently, Trattoria al Forno is open, but the character dining experience is temporarily unavailable.
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's and my royal favorites: Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Ariel and Prince Eric. Each are welcomed with a royal entrance and individually make their way to your table. (Don't shy away from asking them questions ... Flynn had some hilarious conversations with us!) 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 entrées. 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!
8. Story Book Dining at Artist Point with Snow White at Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort
Currently, Story Book Dining at Artist Point is temporarily unavailable.
Heigh-ho, it's off to Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort we go for a character dinner featuring Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy and the Evil Queen! Choose your entrée from a prix fixe menu, including Royal Prime Rib Roast, Brother’s Grimm roasted chicken or a vegetarian option — A Stroll Through Nature — featuring butternut squash, arugula and gnocchi. Rounding off the menu are cocktails, mocktails and beer and wine from Oregon and Washington state, as well as some sinfully delicious desserts such as Fairy Tale Gooseberry Pie and, of course, a “poison” apple. This Disney character dining location is notable not only because of its delicious eats, but also because of its atmosphere. Guests dine in a rustic Enchanted Forest to mimic the iconic movie, complete with twinkling lights.
9. Hollywood & Vine at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Currently, Hollywood & Vine is open. Minnie's Seasonal Dining is being offered as a modified experience, and Disney Junior Play 'n Dine will return March 22, 2021!
One of the best character dining restaurants for the littlest tadpoles is Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine breakfast satisfies the entire family with a hearty buffet. Disney Junior favorites such as Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Jake (of the Never Land Pirates), Vampirina and Roadster Goofy interact with the little ones. Breakfast features waffles, omelets and pastries.
During lunch and dinner time, Minnie Mouse and her friends host seasonal dinners with tastes and festivities to reflect the season. Character guests usually include Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy ... in their best seasonal outfits, of course.
10. The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom
Currently, The Crystal Palace is open and serving updated family-style entrees, but the character dining experience is temporarily unavailable.
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 the Hundred Acre Wood, including Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and the willy, nilly, silly ole 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.
11. ‘Ohana at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
'Ohana is temporarily closed.
Dynamic duo Lilo and Stitch, along with other classic Disney characters such as Mickey and Pluto, join guests for the Best Friends Breakfast at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Breakfast is standard fare of scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, sausage, bacon and fruit served 'ohana style. If you’re looking for a Polynesian-inspired breakfast, head over to Kona.
The real allure of ‘Ohana is at dinner time. 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 banana-caramel sauce. With the right timing, dinner at ‘Ohana also provides a spectacular view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks.
12. Chef Mickey’s at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Currently, Chef Mickey's is open as a modified experience, featuring family-style entrees and character greetings.
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, breakfast potatoes, sausage, pancakes and other morning favorites. Brunch adds soup, salads and seafood to the breakfast offerings. At dinner, choose from a carving station, pasta, seafood paella and a smorgasbord of sides and desserts. With so many options, this is a great choice for groups with diverse palates, as well as picky eaters. Chef Mickey’s is a crowd-pleaser with a few surprises.
13. Cape May Café at Disney's Beach Club Resort
Cape May Café is temporarily closed.
Minnie Mouse loves to throw a beach bash! Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast at Disney's Beach Club Resort gathers Minnie and her BFF Daisy in their beachy best to start the day sunny side up. Breakfast includes a mix of items from sliced deli meats and cheeses to bagels, scrambled eggs, seasonal fruits and veggies and cereals. This is a relaxed, casual dining experience and a perfect choice if you're staying at one of the EPCOT-area resort hotels, but it offers fewer characters than some of other character breakfasts, so it's lower on our list.
The Four Seasons also hosts a Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and His Pals (and is currently open with a modified experience). However, since it is not an official Disney Resort, it was not included in this ranking.
With so many Disney World character dining locations, you're sure to find at least one that will make the whole family hoppy. These are our picks for the best Disney World character dining. What are your favorites? Share in comments below!