We've missed year-round character dining at Universal Orlando Resort! That's why we were so hoppy when it was announced that the Marvel Character Dinner at Cafe 4 would be making its long-awaited return to Universal's Islands of Adventure. Combat your empty stomach and get some tips and training from Marvel's most inspiring and powerful heroes at this all-you-can-eat buffet dinner that the whole frog squad is sure to love. Suit up and keep reading because we're breaking down everything you need to know about this marvelous character dining experience!
Overview of the Marvel Character Dinner
In the shadow of The Incredible Hulk Coaster in Marvel Super Hero Island lies Cafe 4 ... otherwise known as the Baxter Annex (an ancillary structure to the Fantastic Four's famed Baxter Building). This quick-service normally just serves up salads, sandwiches, pasta and jumbo slices of pizza. However, on Thursdays to Sundays, starting at 5 p.m., the black carpet gets rolled out as Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm and Rogue arrive to provide burgeoning heroes such as yourselves with a dining experience to remember.
The Marvel Character Dinner includes a buffet dinner at Cafe 4, one nonalcoholic beverage (while prices aren't listed, alcoholic beverages do cost extra!) and one digital download of a photo with a character. The price is $52.99, plus tax, per adult (ages 10 and up) and $29.99, plus tax, per tadpole (ages 3 to 9). Reservations are required and must be made up to 24 hours prior to arriving by calling 407-224-3663 or by booking online. Characters and dates are subject to availability and change without notice. Separate admission to Islands of Adventure is required. Luckily, you can save some green by booking your park tickets through Undercover Tourist!
Characters at the Marvel Character Dinner
During your mission to defeat your hunger, you'll get to meet two iconic Avengers and four formidable X-Men. These six super heroes rotate through the restaurant, interacting and taking photos with dining froggies. The average time we spent with each character was about five minutes or so, and each hero was as entertaining to interact with as the next.
Wolverine stopped by first and, after a long day of crime fighting, sat down with us to take a quick cat (err ... dog) nap. He also yelled across the Annex to make sure Captain America knew that he got to our table first! Not one to back away from a challenge, Cap came by next and asked us how our day's been going. We told him we were going to see the Goo Goo Dolls at Universal Mardi Gras afterward, and he asked us if we had plans to see the parade. When we told him we actually hopped on a float on opening day, we reminisced about how the promenade paused for a few minutes that night (as his sources told him, seemingly due to some nefarious supervillain activity in the area).
Spider-Man swung by our table next and gave us his best Avengers elevator pitch — trying to recruit us for Earth's Mightiest Heroes. He asked us what kind of suits we would want and, of course, raved about the advantages of Stark tech.
Next, Rogue joined us and she was probably our favorite character interaction of the whole night. She asked us who our favorite super heroes are and when Tad told her he was a huge fan of Magneto's grandsons, Wiccan and Speed, she didn't take her eyes off him. (She also warned him about using chaos magic and opening up the multiverse to all its dangers and multiple Spider-Men.) Lily got on her good side, though, when she told her she was a fan of Ms. Marvel. Rogue asked our little tadpole if she knew the Jersey City native and if she could request some bagels from the Garden State.
After dessert, Cyclops hopped by and lamented about his broken heart and how Wolverine stole his girl. (He also asked who our favorite heroes were. When Tad gave the same answer, I told him how Rogue was't happy with him but the ocularly enhanced hero attempted to reserve judgement.) Lastly, Storm came by and apologized for any potential bad weather that was about to plague the area as she had caught word of some villain sightings on the island. When Mommy Frog said she knew it was about to downpour (referring to her Weather app), Storm asked me if my wife was psychic. (Thankfully, the concert didn't get rained out! Looks like the X-Woman was able to keep her powers contained and get the job done quickly and efficiently.)
My Universal Photos photographers went around with a few of the characters to capture professional photos that we were easily able to download at myuniversalphotos.com once we redeemed our personal code. Any other photos we just took ourselves, and the heroes were hoppy to pose for and with us!
Marvel Character Dinner Buffet Menu
- Caesar Salad - Tossed with Caesar dressing, croutons, shaved Parmesan
- Tossed Field Greens Salad - Cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, balsamic vinaigrette (ranch available upon request)
- Antipasti Pasta Salad - Al dente bowtie, red bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto in an Italian dressing
- Assorted Fruit Salad - Seasonal fruits cut fresh daily
- House made bread with assorted spreads - Rosemary focaccia, Cuban-style dinner rolls, whole wheat mini loaves
- Beef Strip Loin - Carved fresh to order (choice of bordelaise sauce or horseradish crema)
- Honey-Garlic Roasted Chicken - Chicken marinated with a selection of herbs and then slow roasted
- White Cheddar Mac and Cheese - Mini shells coated in white cheddar cheese sauce
- Seasonal Vegetables - Fresh vegetables, roasted and lightly seasoned
- Meatless Beef Stew - with cauliflower rice
- Spicy Orzo Shrimp Stir Fry
- Roasted Marble Potatoes
- Pizza Station - Your choice of pepperoni or cheese (gluten-sensitive cauliflower crust available upon request)
- Mini Hot Dogs
- Two-Bite Grilled Cheese
- Cheeseburger Sliders
- Tater Tots
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Cheesecake Bites
- Key Lime Tarts
- Spiderman Cookie
Our Final Thoughts on the Marvel Character Dinner
While tadpoles will definitely like the variety of entrées and delectable desserts available, parents might want to fuel up on something smaller before heading in for your dining reservation. (We recommend a kebab at Doc Sugrue's Desert Kebab House or some tots at Green Eggs and Ham Café.) Mommy Frog and I ate enough that we got pretty full ... but we both agreed that other sit-down dining options in Islands of Adventure, such as Mythos Restaurant and Confisco Grille, were slightly more enjoyable food-wise.
That being said, the character interactions were top-tier and absolutely worth the price. None of our conversations felt rushed, and Lily and Tad loved getting precious one-on-one time with their favorite heroes (that isn't always guaranteed while strolling through Marvel Super Hero Island). We loved how different and fun all of our interactions were — especially since it's the only year-round character dining currently at the resort! The Marvel Character Dinner is a frogtastically immersive and memorable experience and we can't wait to return (with Jersey bagels in tow for the Mississippian mutant).
What questions do you have about the Marvel Character Dinner at Cafe 4? (And who's your favorite Marvel super hero?) Let me know in the comments below!