It was early morning at Animal Kingdom, over in the Africa Section, when I was sold on the value of Character Meals. Since then I’ve sampled all of the character meals, mostly for the allergy foods, but also to know if they are worth it for someone vacationing on their once in a lifetime trip.
Character Meals are fun options offered at Disney where you get to have a meal with beloved Characters. There are lots of different options, and no Character Meal is a copy of another. Character Meals are truly unique in both the location, character set up, and food offered.
It’s important to note that Character Meals come in many different shapes and flavors. What might be worth it to a Princess Obsessed Family is not the same as the worth to a Star Wars or Harry Potter family (and there’s no Harry Potter at Disney FYI)
Below we’ll dive into more about what makes it worth it, and what it might be worth to certain groups of people based on what they are trying to accomplish.
Are Character Meals worth the Money?
Yes-if they have your favorite characters, or you will save time by paying to meet several characters over an hour that would have taken you two hours+ in the parks.
No- If you don’t plan to see any characters, and wouldn’t save time or money to meet the characters by doing a Character Meal. Character Meals are worth it because of your experience. The food isn’t very special, and only a few select locations have an ambiance worthy of the price.
Ready to do a Character Meal? See the list of options available here
Are all Character Meals worth it?
No, Not all character meals have the same characters, interactions or food options. What might be worth it to a Family that wants to meet Mickey Mouse, would not be the same worth as a Family that wants to meet Princesses.
➡️ Character meals take around 90 minutes, have a higher price point, and have various interactions with the characters (some you only see once, some more than once).
To be crystal clear: You can ****absolutely**** get similar food plus wait in line to see many regular characters instead of going to a Character Meal. But, the key of the Character Meal lies in the ability to take the time you’d use for a table service meal (at 45 minutes) and three character lines (at 20 minutes each) iand turn it into a 70 minute Character meal for 20-30 dollars more than the Table Service + regular lines.
Unless you are a Beauty and the Beast fan and want to see the Beast (not Belle) and the inside of the Beast’s Castle (which is pretty impressive), Be Our Guest inside Magic Kingdom is not worth it. You are already paying for a ticket, so to add this meal (Which has a time expense as well as a monetary cost) is not worth it.
Likewise, I would say that Cape May Breakfast is not worth it if you are wanting bright pictures (but the character interactions are great). While it is also on the Skyliner Loop, it doesn’t even compare to Topolino’s Character Breakfast at Disney’s Riviera (yet they are the same price!) If you have the option, go to Topolino’s.
Princesses are a draw for many, and I love the Princess Dining at Akershus. BUT, if you aren’t a princess stan, this locations wouldn’t be worth the price.
But then there’s locations that are absolutely worth it. Chef Mickey’s is nostalgic and worth it for many people as they come on their ‘no-park day’. Garden Grill is one of the simplest, quickest and no fuss options with easy characters and all you care to enjoy food. Making it a low stress option if you want to add on the experience without the 1.5+ hour time commitment.
‘Ohana’s is the perfect brunch option, with views of Cinderella’s Castle and a great meal with great Characters. Or for the best late night PG entertainment, Storybook Dining at Artist’s Point, with the Evil Queen herself, is sure to wow the crowds.
Let’s talk more about what makes Character Meals worth it, and what options might be the best fit for you!
Quick Reference on Recommended Character Meals
Reminder that Character Meals really need reservations, as last minute reservations or walk-ups can be hard to get. Head to Disney World’s Dining Reservation system to book your option, or let your Travel Agent know which location you’ve picked.
Note: Characters Can Suddenly Change- This is based on past appearances.
|Restaurant Name||Characters||Location||Overall |
Worth it scale 1-5
|Tusker House Breakfast||Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Daisy||Animal Kingdom||5|
|Tusker House Dinner||Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Daisy||Animal Kingdom||3.5|
|Hollywood and Vine Disney Jr. Breakfast||Racing Goofy, Vampirina, Fancy Nancy, Doc McStuffins||Hollywood Studios||3.5|
|Hollywood and Vine seasonal Minnie Dinner||Minnie, Mickey, Goofy and Pluto||Hollywood Studios||5|
|Garden Grill Dinner||Mickey, Pluto, Chip & Dale||EPCOT||5|
|Akershus Dinner||Princesses: Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, Jasmine, Belle||EPCOT||5|
|Trattoria al Forno- CLOSED||Boardwalk|
|Cape May Cafe Minnies Beach Bash Breakfast||Minnie, Mickey, Goofy and Donald||Beach Club on the Boardwalk||3|
|Topolino’s Breakfast||Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy||Disney’s Riviera Resort||5|
|Crystal Palace Breakfast||Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet||Magic Kingdom||5|
|Crystal Palace Lunch/Dinner||Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet||Magic Kingdom||4|
|Be Our Guest Lunch/Dinner||The Beast||Magic Kingdom||4|
|Cinderella’s Royal Table||Cinderella||Magic Kingdom||4|
|‘Ohana Breakfast||Mickey, Lilo and Stitch||The Polynesian Resort||4.5|
|Chef Mickey Breakfast||Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto||The Contemporary Resort||4|
|Chef Mickey Lunch/Dinner||Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto||The Contemporary Resort||4|
|1900 Park Fare- CLOSED||The Grand Floridian Resort|
|Storybook Dining with Snow White||Snow White, The Evil Queen, Grumpy and Sleepy||Wilderness Lodge||4|
What’s the Best Character Meal for a First Timer?
And maybe someone doesn’t know what to expect?
First, go with a meal that has Characters you are interested in seeing. If there’s no special meal with Character that stand out, go for the food!
Topolino’s Breakfast, Be Our Guests French Cuisine and Storybook Dining at Artist’s Point are all one’s I’d recommend for *more eats* over Character Interactions. But the Character Interactions are Great, for kids and adults alike!
Lastly, if you’ve never been to a Character Meal and aren’t sure if it’s worth it, head to ‘Ohana’s for Breakfast (or Brunch!). This is a laid back option with AUCE set meal brought out Family Style. Great views, lower price point as it’s Breakfast, relatively easy to get to, and one for the memory books!
See more about Disney World for First Time Visitors here.
Are Character meals worth it for Toddlers and Preschoolers?
Yes! Toddlers and Preschoolers will have so much fun with the Character Meals. Since the Characters typically come around more than once (or you can ask your Server if there was an issue during the first meeting), you will get guaranteed pictures and memories.
My favorite reason for taking my toddlers to Character meals is the opportunity to see characters when kids might be scared. Unlike waiting in line in the parks where they need to rush you along, there is a lot more time at the Character Meals for the kids to warm up to the characters. Like Doc Mcstuffins giving Vampira a Broom at Hollywood and Vine’s Disney Jr. Character Breakfast.
You get to prep your kids as they see the characters walking around, and if they are scared the first time, you might have better luck with the second walk through!
It’s also amazing to watch their eyes when they realize that the characters are walking around the restaurant for the whole meal! Since it’s so new to their little minds, it’s fun to see how they interact.
Recommendations for Toddlers and Preschoolers for Breakfast Character Meals are found here.
Are Character Meals worth it for a No-Park Day?
Yes! This is the number one No-Park Day option, and it is absolutely worth it for this day. On a No-Park Day or an Off-Park Day, you skip the theme parks and enjoy what Disney World resort has to offer. This is the best use of an off day as you get a full belly and get to meet some great characters.
All but one of the Characters Meals outside of the Parks are only available for Breakfast, but many of the locations have reservations through 12 pm, so you can make this a brunch option. Here’s the full breakdown of dining at Character Meals without a Park Ticket.
The one location open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner outside of the parks is Chef Mickey.
Chef Mickey is loud, cheesy and so popular it can be hard to get a reservation! It’s the only location that has 5 characters, it’s full of silly songs and playful tunes, and has all you care to enjoy food options.
Are Character Meals worth it for Adults?
Yes, Character meals are worth it for Adults! Adults love to meet characters too, and in many ways, it’s easier for adults to do a Character Meal. When you do a Character Meal, you get food, get to meet 3-5 characters, and can recharge yourself in the Air Conditioning all in an hour. It’s a win/win/win.
But, if you are not interested in meeting characters, it’s not worth it. The food is not very special, and you can get comparable food that is quicker and less expensive at any of the Table Service options inside or outside the park! If character meals aren’t your thing, stick to regular table service options.
Are Character Meals worth it during Special Event tickets like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party?
No! These locations do not change for the party
There is one exception. With a park ticket, you can get in at 4pm with a party starting at 7pm. If you are coming in at 4 pm and get a reservation at 4:30 for a character meal before the party starts… then it is worth it.
Special event tickets for Mickey’s Halloween and Christmas are only at Magic Kingdom. You can see all the Magic Kingdom Character Meals here.
Not to confuse you, but there is a *holiday* Character Meal at Hollywood Studios. This is at Hollywood and Vine where the Characters change for seasonal offerings. You can view the Halloween Outfits here.
What Character Meal is always worth the money?
There is one Character Meal that I also recommend, and it is Topolino’s at Disney’s Riviera Resort. This is the newest Character Meal on the property, and it has great views, delicious food and great Character Interaction (in fun new outfits!)
I’d also argue that Garden Grill in EPCOT is also worth the money, as the characters, the ambiance and the food are always on point. I love that the food is served family style and AUCE. (But pictures and video can be blurry and low lighting here)
Character Breakfasts, when you don’t have a ticket for the day, are almost always worth it! All of the Character Meals outside of the parks that are open for breakfast are buffets. So not only do you get to see and interact with the Characters BUT ALSO, you get AUCE buffet-style breakfasts which is great for a no-park day.
On no-park-days, I prefer to make my reservation for 10:30 or so, to make the Character Meal a late brunch (as many take reservations through noon). Caution that you don’t get too late of a reservation, as most Character Cast Members only work through 1 or 1:30.
Overall, Character Meals are worth it for most people
yes, there’s times that the Character Meals aren’t worth it. Coming just for the food? Go to a regular table service! Not interested in Characters? Don’t come (or go to Be Our Guest!)! In a rush and need your meets and food in less than 45 minutes? please reconsider. Need perfect pictures? Go to Topolinos!