One experience that is really a can’t miss at Disney World, especially if you have little ones is Character Dining. We are all for stopping at the grocery store and stocking up on snacks and uncrustables to keep down the cost of your Disney World adventure down. However, having a couple of fun dining experiences really will enhance your trip and leave you with those magical Disney memories. Character dining is one of the absolute best experiences and it truly can be fun for everybody. Choosing the best character dining at Disney World is not easy due to their being there are over 15 awesome options, but we did our best to narrow it down for you.
The Best Character Dining at Disney World – Top 7 Places!
Quick Overview of Disney Character Dining
For those of you who are not familiar with character dining, let me go over it really quick. The character dining experiences at Disney World are where your family dines and as you dine, characters come around to see the kids, take some pictures and even sign some autograph books. It’s a great way for your kids to interact with the characters as you don’t have to wait in a line and the kids usually get to meet between 3-5 characters while having their meal.
At some of the dining experiences, the characters will have a little celebration or fun interaction with the kids to keep the family entertained as they dine. This is definitely a great place to celebrate a birthday. We have done it many times with our kids on their special day.
To book a reservation, visit Disneyworld.com – You can book a reservation 180 days before your visit.
Best Character Dining at Disney World – In the Parks
There are two options when it comes to enjoying character dining at Disney World, you can have a meal at one of the many Disney resorts, or you can have it right in the theme park itself. Now, when you do have dining in the Theme Park, you do have to have park admission so make sure you are ready to seize the day in one of the parks.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – Best Princess Dining
I am going to start off with a little controversy right off the bat. In my opinion, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot is the best Princess Character Dining. You might ask, what about Cinderella’s Royal Table. Cinderella’s Royal Table is incredible in the fact that you are eating inside the castle, but after that, Akershus is better in every way.
First off, Akershus is less expensive and if you are on the dining plan it only takes one dining credit versus 2 for Cinderella’s Royal Table. Akershus is a buffet dining experience with a full omelet station and plenty of healthy options as well. Because Akershus is not as popular we found that our little ones got to spend more time with the princesses then at Cinderella’s royal table. It is amazing to see your little one’s eyes light up when they meet a princess. It is such a fun experience.
Akershus is in the Norway section of Epcot, and yes this does mean you will get to try out some yummy Norwegian dishes for lunch or dinner if you book your character dining experience here. Make sure to check out the special extras Disney offers that will make the experience even more memorable, like flowers or balloons.
Tusker House at Animal Kingdom – Best Atmosphere
If you’ve done any other research on Disney World dining, you have surely come across the Tusker House. It is one of Disney’s finest both in terms of the atmosphere and the yummy food. Plus, it is located in Animal Kingdom so you will get to see the characters in a bit of a different light as they will all be in their safari gear. You get to see Donald and his friends
The restaurant resembles a bustling marketplace with so much detail you will feel like you have been transported. It is my favorite atmosphere of any of the character dining locations. A common reason it’s favorited is that it suits both the adventurous palette and the picky eaters. There are some delicious African options on the menu, which is a really nice change up from the traditional theme park food. Plus, they have some super cute Simpa and Nala Waffles for Breakfast.
A nice feature about this character dining is you can choose from breakfast, lunch, or dinner unlike some others where characters come out only during breakfast. Check out all the Menus for Tusker House Here!
Hollywood and Vine – Perfect for your Disney Junior Fans + Special Themed Meals
Hollywood and Vine is a must do if you have little ones tagging along with you at Disney World. The Disney Junior Play n Dine experience is truly catered to them and there’s a good chance this will be their favorite memory. You will be dining with Disney Junior’s biggest stars like Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and more!
There is no better way to kick of a day at the parks for your little one than the magic of hanging out with all their favorite characters.
Hollywood and Vine also hosts seasonal dinners, like a summertime beach bash and a not so spooky Halloween, with Minnie Mouse and friends. These are super fun events, especially the Halloween one, where the chacters are dressed up in their Halloween Costumes. Check Menus Here!
*Pro Tip – If you are planning on dining here, book it with the Fantasmic Package and you will get premium seating at Fantasmic!
Best Character Dining at Disney World – At the Resorts
Chef Mickey’s – Most Classic Characters
You just can’t go wrong with a classic. Chef Mickey’s is in the Contemporary Resort and serves buffet style breakfast, brunch, and dinner. The Contemporary is very close to Magic Kingdom and just a quick monorail ride away, so you can walk off the filling buffet meal at the park. At Chef Mickey’s you get to see all of the favorites; Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto.
The characters will have a celebration as they dance around with towels waving over the their head. Our little ones always enjoyed grabbing their napkins and swinging them around with the characters.
You will also have a huge variety of food and dessert items. There is an omelet bar in the morning and a custom carving station at night. This character dining restaurant books up very fast though, so if it is something you really want to do make reservations as soon as you possibly can.
‘Ohana – Family Style Character Dining
Turn your Disney World vacation into a tropical paradise with a family style meal, limbo dancing, and maybe even a visit from Lilo & Stitch. The service at ‘Ohana is unparalleled and you will feel like you have truly become part of one big family. In fact, all the food is served family style on one big platter. Breakfast is served with eggs, bacon, hawaiian bread, Mickey & Stitch waffles sausage, fruit and potatoes.
If you have special dietary needs, don’t worry they will custom make you whatever you need to fit your situation. We had an egg white scramble which was incredible.
Keep in mind ‘Ohana is only a character dining experience for breakfast, but if you choose to go there for dinner there are no characters but they will surely keep you entertained. Just make sure to arrive hungry because the food doesn’t stop coming. While still expensive, this is some of the best character dining at Disney World that won’t break the bank.
1900 Park Fare – Most Unique Experience
Breakfast suited for Mary Poppins? Tea parties with the Mad Hatter? Don’t mind if we do! 1900 Park Fare is an awesome character dining experience both in the mornings or the afternoons. If you make breakfast reservations you will get the Supercalifragilistic buffet with made to order omelets, carved ham, and Mickey-shaped waffles.
You will dine with Mary Poppins, the Mad Hatter & Alice, Pooh, and Tigger. When joining the characters for tea, you will get to decorate cupcakes and work on crafts while snacking on some lighter food like sandwiches and chicken nuggets. Making this a superb option if you want to spend some time with characters but do not want a big buffet style meal.
Minnie’s Beach Bash at Cape May Cafe – Best Character Interaction
My personal favorite is Minnie’s Beach Bash at Cape May Cafe. I might have a soft spot because it is located at my favorite resort, the Beach Club. The characters are alll dressed for a beach party. Typically, the characters include Minnie, Donald, & Goofy, sometimes Chip & Dale.
The reason I love this, is not only is the food really good, the characters at this restaurant always spend a little extra time with the guests. We have had Goofy sit at our table and color, on our most recent visit Minnie was flirting with my teen boys. I think the interaction with the characters is by far the best.
At night, there is no character dining, this is a breakfast only event. Check out the menu here!
Whichever one you choose, you for sure will have a blast. Make sure to take your time, don’t feel rushed to eat and take lots of pictures. Enjoy your experience with the characters and if your kids don’t feel like taking pics with the characters, that’s ok too. Just enjoy the experience.
If you need help planning and booking your magical Walt Disney World vacation, contact our friends at Tink’s Magical Vacations. They are truly Disney Experts, and not only are their services FREE, but they will save you both time and money.
Have any questions about Character Dining? Ask away in the comments!
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