I love character dining! Nothing beats getting to eat while meeting your favorite characters all at once! I enjoyed character dining before having a family, but I have even more fun seeing my son interact with them. Watching his face light up in anticipation of Mikey Mouse or Pluto visiting our table is a highlight of the trip. With all of that being said, I do have a couple of tips for character dining with kids in Disney World.
1. Let Your Children Acclimate to the Characters
For us adults, seeing and interacting with Mickey Mouse is nostalgic and fun! In my excitement, I booked lunch at Epcot’s Garden Grill for the first day of our vacation. Unfortunately, that did not go over so well with my son… Looking back, I did not consider that character interactions can be overwhelming to children. As a result, my son barely ate any food and clung to me as if his life depended on it throughout the entire meal. This was not fun for any of us and a waste of money as a result! So, for our most recent trip to The World, I booked Garden Grill a few days into our vacation and secured Fastpasses to meet characters in the days leading up to our reservation. This worked like a charm!! We thoroughly enjoyed lunch and my son eagerly anticipated the characters visiting our table.
Learn from my mistake… Get the most out of that expensive dining experience by booking Fastpasses to meet characters early on and reserve a table later in your trip!
2. When possible, Table Service over a Buffet
There are two types of character dining in Walt Disney World: buffets and meals brought to your table. I highly, highly recommend the latter for one main reason… You do not need to step away from your table to get food. This gives you two advantages: (1) you will never have to worry about missing characters as they walk around the restaurant; and (2) you do not need to attempt to juggle food and kids. Both of these are reason enough to stay away from any buffets!
Based on those recommendations, I highly suggest you try out Garden Grill in Epcot’s Land Pavilion. Here, they bring the food hot and fresh to your table. As an added bonus, the vegetables served are likely grown on site. How amazing is that?! Plus, this restaurant is all-you-care-to-enjoy, so eat up! This is some of the best food served at a table service restaurant- we really enjoy the meal (my son included!)! The characters that visit are Mickey (dressed in farmer chic attire), Pluto, Chip, and Dale.
Other non-buffet character dining experiences include:
- Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom): features your favorite Disney princesses
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Epcot): feature your favorite Disney princesses BUT appetizers are buffet style (mains are brought to your table)
- Disney’s Perfectly Princess Tea (Grand Floridian Resort): features Princess Aurora (aka: Sleeping Beauty)
- Storybook Dining at Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge): features Snow White, The Evil Queen, Dopey, and Grumpy
- ‘Ohana (Polynesian Village Resort): features Lilo, Stitch, Mickey Mouse, and Pluto
- Trattoria Al Forno (Boardwalk Resort): features Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel, and Flynn Rider
I hope these tips help you make the most of your family’s character dining experience!