DiningPlanning Your Dining

9 Reasons You Must Experience Character Dining at Least Once on Your Disney World Vacation

If you haven’t experienced character dining at Disney, we have to be honest – you’re missing out! Here are nine reasons we think you need to experience character dining at least once while on your Disney World Vacation!


1 – Of course, the Characters!

Dining in our household is a time for family and friends to come together and enjoy one another over a meal and great conversation. You’re at Disney, you have to eat anyway – so we figure why not add a touch of magic and select a character dining location. Character dining feels like you’ve invited a variety of characters over for a meal! Plus, where else can you dine and see characters? And no, we’re sorry, but Chuck E. Cheese’s does not even come close to counting. We also must mention the variety of characters each character dining location offers. For example, instead of meeting one princess at a time – you can meet several of them. Or instead of meeting just Minnie, you get to meet Donald and Goofy as well! Take a break from the standard meals and shake it up a little. Try dining with characters walking around; chances are strong you’ll leave wanting to experience it again!

2 – Excellent Food

Since most character dining locations are buffets, we’ve heard that the food must be gross! While buffet food typically isn’t our favorite either, we must say of all the character dining experiences we’ve tried, we love the food. We enjoy the selections, the variety, and the taste. Plus, with Disney, you know the top-of-the-line Chefs are providing your meals and that the behind-the-scenes are as clean as the front. Allergy issues? No problem – Disney is excellent at providing alternative meals for folks with allergies. They will let you know what is and is not ok on the buffet or from the menu. So loosen those belt buckles and dig in!

Mickey Waffles

3 – The Kids Behave

You think your children simply can’t behave at a restaurant, so why bother? Take them to a character dining location, and a switch seems to flip. An almost creepy quiet will come over the kiddos as they have an overwhelmed expression as Mickey comes up to their seat to give them a hug! They’ll even put down the macaroni and cheese and leave their sister alone for an approaching character. Remember, for us, manners are top on our list, and our children know that. If misbehavior at restaurants isn’t an issue for you, you can still dine at a character dining location as a thank you to your child! Plus, no matter how well behaved your child may be, there is always an increase in noise level when dining with children. You’ll notice that the noise increase is expected and sometimes encouraged at character dining locations!

4 – No Lines or Disney Genie+

There may be a specific character your child (or yourself!) is just dying to meet, but you don’t want to have to stand in a long line or worry about paying for and using one of your Disney Genie+ selections for their Meet and Greet within the park. No worries! See if they are available to meet at one of the character dining locations. Not only do you get to avoid the long meet-and-greet lines, but you also get to enjoy a meal while you’re at it.


5 – Unique Characters and Outfits

Above, we mentioned characters as being an excellent reason to try character dining at least once, but we feel we should add the unique characters you can dine with that you might not see anywhere else. While characters are subject to change and do fluctuate, here are some examples: The Mad Hatter at 1900 Park Fare, Ariel (with legs!) at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Eeyore and Piglet at The Crystal Palace, Beast at Be Our Guest Restaurant (during dinner), or even possibly Prince Charming and/or the Fairy Godmother at Cinderella’s Royal Table. You might get to see some unique characters that you may not otherwise be able to meet in the parks. Plus, some of the characters’ outfits change slightly at each location. For example, check out Goofy’s beach gear at Cape May Café, Mickey’s chef hat at Chef Mickey’s, or Minnie’s writer’s outfit at Topolino’s Terrace!

Chef Mickey's Goofy

6 – Autographs

Get those autograph books out and ready! Most characters at the character dining locations do, in fact, sign autographs. This is an easy and fun way to collect several great autographs to fill those autograph books up with! And just as we’ve stated above, you don’t have to wait in line for the autographs. Plus, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to grab some of those unique characters’ autographs if they sign. For our daughter, collecting autographs has been one of her favorite things to do. She especially likes those autograph books with a page for the autograph and a page for her picture with the character to go side by side. Speaking of pictures…

7 – Great Photos

Get those smiles ready! Take your time posing with the characters when at character dining locations. Everyone in the family is welcome to pose with the character greeting you. This is especially great for good photos because, typically, you’re refreshed, not sweating, and full of tasty food, which makes smiling for the camera much easier! As we mentioned above, sometimes the characters are in different outfits, which makes the photos unique and memorable.

Ohana Mickey with Hawaiian Outfit

8 – Location

We love some character dining locations that we probably wouldn’t explore if we didn’t have a dining reservation at that specific place. Maybe you’ve never seen the monorail run through the inside of the Contemporary Resort… well, dine at Chef Mickey’s and be amazed! You’ll enjoy the time getting to and from your dining location as you check out a resort or specific area you may have never seen otherwise!

9 – The Disney Experience

Whether you are planning to go to Disney just once in your lifetime or 99 more times, character dining is worth the extra cost to experience Disney as a whole. All sides of Disney are so unique and special that it’s hard to narrow down what one should spend their limited time on while vacationing at Disney – but character dining is an easy one to say, YES, it should definitely be on your list of must-dos. You’ll understand the extra touch of magic once you’ve dined at one of the character dining locations. So many to select from! Here’s a handy list of all the character dining options at Walt Disney World: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Cape May Café, Chef Mickey’s, Cinderella’s Royal Table, The Crystal Palace, Hollywood and Vine, The Garden Grill, Garden Grove, Garden View Tea Room, ‘Ohana, Topolino’s Terrace, and Tusker House. When reviewing dining options at the locations above, check to see if characters are available for all meals or only for specific meals. Enjoy!

For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.


Matt & Kim

We have had a long time love affair with Disney. We love the magic and the memories we've made at Walt Disney World! We follow all things Disney and have great experiences with being Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, and RunDisney participants. From lodging to dining to Genie+ we have a spreadsheet for every occasion. Usually there isn’t a day that passes without some discussion of the master plan of our next trip to the happiest place on earth. Most people think we’re normal – until they travel to Disney with us.
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