Monday, January 24, 2011

Destination Disney: Character Meals


Oh boy oh boy! Heidi is starting up the Destination Disney meme again and I am super excited!  Perfect timing, what with our next trip to Disney World only 2 weeks away.  :)  This week’s theme is character dining, something my family is very familiar with and fond of.

Character meals are an awesome addition to your Disney fun.  You get a yummy sit down breakfast, lunch or dinner and Disney characters come right up to your table and interact with your family.  You can get their autograph, snap tons of pics or just sit back and live the moment.  :)  Different characters appear at different locations and the variety of meal opportunities available now make it appealing to almost everyone!

There are basically two types of character meals, buffet style and family style.  Pretty self explanatory there, at buffet meals you serve yourself from a wide array of offerings, and with family style servers bring large platters of food to your table and refill as needed.  Character meals are offered at some resorts and all 4 parks so it would take me forever to detail them all.  My favorite site to get the lowdown on these meals is  It lists where the meals are, what type they are, how much they will be, what characters you can expect to see and even what kind of food you will get.  Check it out.

Our favorite character meal, by far, is at The Garden Grill in Epcot.  It is a rotating restaurant on the second floor of the pavilion with a family friendly farm theme.  You even get glimpses of the Living With The Land ride as the restaurant slowly moves during your meal.  You get to see Mickey, Pluto and Chip and Dale all dressed as farmers, your silverware comes in bandannas and some of the food is even in cute tin ware buckets.  Some of the fresh food is even grown in the Living With The Land exhibit, like the catfish and most of the veggies.  The kiddos get chicken strips, fries and mac&cheese (and picky dh’s can eat that as well lol.)  For many years this was the place we celebrated my oldest son’s birthday…the servers would bring out a small cake just for him and all the characters would come and sing “Happy Birthday.”  Can’t get more special than that.

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Truth be told, we aren’t really a sit-down meal eating family when we are at Disney.  We are the crazy ones hitting ride after ride, park-hopping and barely taking breaks for the bathroom, let alone to eat lol.  That is why a breakfast character meal is what we chose to do most often.  Usually we go to one on the last morning of our trip before we are heading back home (because seriously, after a big character meal you don’t want to be hitting a bunch of rides lol.)  I would have to say that it is a tie for our favorite breakfast, between Chef Mickey at the Contemporary and O’Hana at the Polynesian.  And take note, you do not have to be a guest at a resort to take part in a character meal there.

Chef Mickey is a buffet style meal in a nice open area of the Contemporary.  Mickey comes by all dressed like a chef and you get to see the monorail come and go all morning.  The food is familiar and the atmosphere is, let’s say, “child friendly" (read LOUD lol.)  A great experience for the younger set.

O’Hana is a family style buffet hosted at the Polynesian resort.  Your server, or “cousin” comes to get you and picks up some super yummy sweet bread on the way to your table.  Quite quickly they bring out platters of sausage, bacon, eggs, and potatoes that you munch on until you burst.  Minnie comes by all dressed in her Hawaiian best and sometimes the characters will lead the children in a surprisingly subdued parade around the gorgeous restaurant.  You get views of the 7 Seas Lagoon and Polynesian pool and the vibe is just very relaxing and homey.

Other character meals we have experienced include breakfast at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom (a buffet style must do for the Pooh fan in your family,) a Thanksgiving style family feast at the colonial themed Liberty Tree Tavern (also MK) and a rather cramped and hurried- feeling breakfast at Hollywood and Vine in MGM.  Want another “insider tip?”  Reserve a character breakfast at a park before park opening and skip all the crowds.  Yes, a early breakfast reservation will get you into a park before it is open to the public…none of the rides and such will be open, but you’ll be in the park lol.  :)

Feel free to ask any questions, we’ve probably “been there and done that!”  And of course you can just join on in with Destination Disney!


  1. This is a great post! Thanks so much for playing along. I'm glad you're going back in a few weeks - that means you'll have plenty of new tips to share with the Destination Disney groupies. :)

    I'm sorta steering away from Ohana, just because my kids aren't really Lilo and Stitch fans, but you make it sound so wonderful and now I'm second-guessing myself. LOL

  2. We are thinking about going back to Disney World in Jan of 2012. That is not close enough to plan yet.
    I have awarded you the Stylish Blogger Award and you can see my post here.

  3. Thanks for this post. We are big Disney fans as well and have had annual passes for the past 3 years, but I have never done character dining. I may have to think about this when we are there again in Feb. How far in advance do you find that you need to make a reservation in the slow season?


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