One thing you’ve got to do during your Disney vacation is visit one of the many characters found on property. You can use one of your FastPass+ spots to meet popular characters like Anna and Elsa, stop in to see some classic characters like Mickey and Minnie at Epcot’s Character Spot or dine at one of the Disney restaurants that offer character meals and experiences.
Some characters are only found at the character meals and aren’t always available out in the parks. For example, Eeyore is a regular at Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace but isn’t always out in the parks greeting guests. Enjoying a character meal is also a great way to kick off or end your day of adventure and either make plans for the day ahead or catch up to hear about everyone’s day. Meals offer a great meeting place because the restaurants are generally easy to find and everyone’s got to eat. Because character meals are offered both in the parks and the resorts, they’re also a great way to spend a non-park day. Many of the character meals are buffet or served family style so it’s easier for everyone to find something they like during the meal and to enjoy as much as they’d like during the meal. Having a character meal at one of the resorts also provides an excuse to explore the resort which can be a lot of fun.
Most obvious is the cost of the meals. When people look at reserving these, the price causes them to hesitate. You’ve just got to remember you’re paying for entertainment as well as the meal you’ll be eating. A lot is included in these meals-not only are many all you care to enjoy but you also don’t have to spend your valuable park time waiting to see characters (I’m all for multitasking and killing two birds with one stone!). Another con is that these book very quickly. You may be able to get an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) but it might not be at your preferred time. (Like all popular reservations, if you keep trying you just might get lucky!)
Tip and Tricks
Keep in mind that these meals can get a bit loud and can be a bit intimidating for little ones, especially on their first visit. If it’s too much for the characters to come to your table, speak with one of the Cast Members and they’ll either have the characters skip your table or make other arrangements for you.
If you’re collecting autographs during your visit, be sure to bring those books and pens along with you. Just like your character interactions in the parks you’ll be greeted and have time to get autographs and pictures when the characters stop by your table.
Things can move quickly once characters start coming out and greeting guests. For us, I always get the kids situated at the table and go grab their food so they can start eating right away. I just go back up to the buffet and grab our food and alternate with my oldest son so someone’s with the kids while the other is getting food.
Some of the restaurants will also open before the park opens. Nabbing one of these ADRs is a great way to get a peek at an empty park (and maybe a picture or two too!). Getting these ADRs can be hit or miss – some people don’t like getting up early while others enjoy getting up and starting their day off. Since my kids are always up before the sun, these early morning meals are great for them since they’re up anyways.
Do you have a favorite character meal you enjoy while visiting Disney?