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Pros and Cons of Disney World Character Meals

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Pros and Cons of Disney World Meals

Disney World currently offers more than 20 character meal experiences that range from Princesses to the Fab 5 to some characters that you wouldn’t otherwise meet in the parks.  Booking some of the meals like Be Our Guest Dinner, Cinderella’s Royal Table and ‘Ohana Breakfast can prove to be a difficult task with reservations filling immediately 180 days in advance.  Should you choose a character meal or multiple character meals during your upcoming trip?  Here’s some things to consider:

Pros and Cons of Disney World Character Meals
Goofy at Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club 2008

Which characters do you want to meet?

Before deciding if a character meal is important to you, check this list of characters that usually meet a the official Walt Disney World character meals.  If you’ve found some characters you’d like to meet and don’t want to spend time waiting in lines, you might choose a character meal or two to accommodate your family

  • Alice – 1900 Park Fare (Breakfast), Wonderland Tea Party
    *Also meets in Magic Kingdom,  Epcot and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
  • Anastasia 1900 Park Fare (Dinner)
    *Also meets in Magic Kingdom and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
  • Ariel – Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Cinderella’s Royal Table
    *She meets in fin form at the Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Aurora – Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Cinderella’s Royal Table
    *Also meet at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Beast – Be Our Guest (Dinner ONLY)  
    *This is the only way to meet him
  • Captain Hook – Pirates and Pals Fireworks
    *This is the only way to meet him regularly
  • Chip n Dale – Garden Grill, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
    *Meets in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Cinderella – 1900 Park Fare (Dinner) Cinderella’s Royal Table and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
    *Also meets in Magic Kingdom with Fastpass+, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Doc McStuffins – Hollywood and Vine (Breakfast and Lunch)
    *Meets in Hollywood Studios
  • Donald Duck – Cape May Cafe, Chef Mickey’s, Tusker House
    *Meets in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Drizella 1900 Park Fare (Dinner)
    *Also meets in Magic Kingdom and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
  • Eeyore – Crystal Palace
    *This is the only regular meet
  • Goofy- Cape May Cafe, Chef Mickey’s, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, Tusker House
    *Meets in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Handy Manny – Hollywood and Vine (Breakfast and Lunch)
    *This is the only way to meet him
  • Jake – Hollywood and Vine (Breakfast and Lunch)
    *Meets in Hollywood Studios
  • Jasmine – Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Cinderella’s Royal Table
    *Also meets in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Lady Tremaine  1900 Park Fare (Dinner)
    *Also meets in Magic Kingdom and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
  • Lilo – ‘Ohana (Breakfast)
    *Also meets at Typhoon Lagoon
  • Mad Hatter – 1900 Park Fare (Breakfast), Wonderland Tea Party
    *Also meet at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
  • Mary Poppins – 1900 Park Fare (Breakfast)
    *Also meets in Magic Kingdom and Epcot
  • Mickey Mouse – Chef Mickey’s, Garden Grill, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, ‘Ohana, Tusker House
    *Meets in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Minnie Mouse – Cape May Cafe, Chef Mickey’s, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
    *Meets in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Mr. Smee – Pirates and Pals Fireworks
    *This is the only way to meet him regularly
  • Peter Pan – Pirates and Pals Fireworks
    *Also meets in the Magic Kingdom and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Piglet – Crystal Palace
    *This is the only regular meet
  • Pluto – Chef Mickey’s, Garden Grill, ‘Ohana
    *Meets in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom
  • Prince Charming – 1900 Park Fare (Dinner)
    *This is the only way to meet him (except Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party)
  • Snow White- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Cinderella’s Royal Table
    *Also meets in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Sofia the First – Hollywood and Vine (Breakfast and Lunch)
    *Meets in Hollywood Studios
  • Stitch – ‘Ohana (Breakfast)
    *Meets in Magic Kingdom and Typhoon Lagoon
  • Tigger – 1900 Park Fare (Breakfast), Crystal Palace
    *Also meets in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Winnie the Pooh – 1900 Park Fare (Breakfast), Crystal Palace
    *Also meets in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Pros and Cons of Disney World Meals

Weigh the Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Meet the characters you want with little stress.  
    A character meal is an easy way to meet some special characters.  All characters, except Beast, stop by your table and play with your kids for a moment or two before posing for a photo or two.
  • No need to stand in the heat for some meets
    Some characters like the Alice, Aurora, Tremaine family and others only offer meets that are outdoors and could have long lines.  The characters try to find some shade for themselves, but cannot guarantee you’ll have shade in the lines.
  • Meet characters in special costumes
    One of the fun part of character locating is seeing how many different characters and different costumes you can meet.  It’s kind of like collecting pins or baseball cards and could become addictive.
  • Meet some characters you wouldn’t otherwise see.
    Characters like Beast, Captain Hook, Handy Manny and Mr. Smee can be difficult or impossible to meet in the park outside of these special meals and experiences.  If meeting them is important to you, book that meal and know you’ll have that meet. (Provided Disney doesn’t make changes before then)

Pros and Cons of Disney World Meals

Cons

  • Cost
    Character meals can be quite expensive.  You could spend $100 and up for a family of 4 to enjoy a meal and meet a handful of characters.  Many guests don’t see how much they are actually spending when they use the Disney Dining Plan, but the cost is still there and should be accounted for on your trip plans.  Don’t forget that 18 to 20% tip has somehow become customary in the United States, so you’ll pay an extra $20 for that kind person who set delivered your orange juice, offered you one refill and removed your plate at a buffet.
  • Very few or no photopass photographers
    The Princess meals will offer you a photo of Cinderella or Belle taken by a Photopass photographer, but most of the other meals don’t have Photopass people following characters around, so you’ll need to have your own camera.
  • Character meals can be quite loud congested
    Character meals can be fun with special children’s food, Mickey waffles and characters passing through constantly.  But the meals can be very loud environments and the tables are often very close together to get as many paying guests into the restaurant as possible.
  • Morning character meals can affect your sleep
    Those early morning character meals sound like a blast, then two days of commando style, do everything touring will cause you to want to pull those sheets over your head and go back to sleep.  You had every intention of waking up at 6am for that 8am breakfast, but things didn’t go as planned.  Many guests stay up late for the evening spectaculars and try to turn around with an early morning meal with Mickey.  Decide how much of this you can take with your 12 miles of walking per day before making that schedule.
  • Morning character meals can affect your prime touring time
    It doesn’t matter what theme park you visit, the best times to be in the park to see attractions are the first 2 hours of park opening and park closing.  You can walk right on attractions that other guests will wait 2 hours or more to enjoy.  Effective Fastpass+ usage and visiting the Magic Kingdom 2 or 3 times on your trip will help as well.

Pros and Cons of Disney World Meals

Character Meal Expert Tips

  • Book your meal choices as soon as you decide!  
    Many meals book 180 days in advance, so be sure to book your favorites as early as you can.  Be sure to read Melissa’s ideas on How to get every Dining Reservation you want!
  • Don’t use Disney Dining Plan credits for Cinderella’s Royal Table.
    It’s not a good value because it requires 2 credits, just pay out of pocket for this.
  • Disney offers a Character Meal bus to your Walt Disney World resort before other buses begin running. 
    Check with your concierge, but the buses typically begin running as early as 6:30am
  • Be aware that Magic Kingdom might move its opening time to 8:00am
    You booked that Cinderella’s Royal Table or Crystal Palace character meal at 8:00am in order to get that amazing photo with the Castle in the background (which could also be under construction or installing lights with a crane) but Magic Kingdom MIGHT change its opening time to 8:00am for regular guests and it messes up your grand plan.
  • Book late breakfast, lunch or dinner when you are touring the Magic Kingdom
    The Magic Kingdom has several attractions that are prime for park opening visits including Anna and Elsa, Merida, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight.  Plan that meal after 10am and you’ll be able to do those at park opening with no stress.  Late breakfasts may also let you sample breakfast and lunch foods at buffets.
  • Arrive early!
    You can check in up to an hour early and you’re often seated quickly if you arrive 30 minutes early.
  • Allow travel time
    It could take up to an hour to transfer from your hotel or theme park to a different hotel or park.  Buses never run from one hotel to another, except the early morning character meal bus, so allow for a transfer at the nearest theme park.
  • Don’t be afraid of being late
    Many guests are overly stressed about arriving right on time but I’ve checked in at character meals up to an hour late and had no issues.  The Cast Members understand that things breakdown and may affect your plans.
  • Don’t be afraid to politely ask the character to move to a better spot nearby to get a better photo.
    In our early trips, we took a number of terrible photos with plates and glasses in them rather than a nice picture of a character with our kids.  Good manners go a long way with characters and attendants!
  • Bring a decent camera or camera phone.
    You don’t want to waste that memory with some low quality, blurry image that looks like Ghostbusters stopped by to visit.  Use a flash too to eliminate shadows.  You might want to give the kids the camera phone to take some cool Selfies.
  • Have that autograph book ready!
    Bring a large pen or sharpie to help the characters sign.  We like retractable sharpies.
  • Remind a character if you have met them before.
    Hey, Cinderella!  It’s so great seeing you!  Do you remember our visit …  This helps the character quickly retrieve that special memory.  My little girl talked to Ariel in California Adventure about the time my son didn’t enjoy her meeting him in Magic Kingdom and she picked right up like it was yesterday ;)



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8 COMMENTS

  1. Is Mulan not meeting at Akershus as much? Or at all? I know she use to be rare there, but sometimes appears. We booked this hoping there was a chance. Her and Belle are my sons two favorite princesses. If not, I guess right after we will be heading over for her meet.

  2. We love the character meals! Totally worth it if you have a favorite character that you want to see, especially with younger children. Chef Mickey is probably our favorite as well as Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, but we have enjoyed so many of them! Great pictures and the character interaction is many times above and beyond! On my son’s 3rd birthday we ate at Chef Mickey and asked our server if Pluto (our son’s favorite character) could come over when he brought out the birthday cake for us. Our server personally went and got Pluto and brought him over to take photos with my son and his birthday cake. Pluto pretended to eat the cake but instead fed a bite to our laughing son. The memory is priceless and the photos are great too! It is almost two years later and my son still remembers and tells people this story.

  3. I do not see Eeyore and Piglet mentioned. Except for parties I know you cannot see Eeyore now anywhere else except at the Crystal Palace. I’m not sure about piglet.

  4. Kenny, where is the best place to meet Minnie mouse in her red and white polkadot dress? My daughter has a look-alike dress we were hoping to let her wear at Hollywood studios, but now that Minnie’s dressing room is gone what would be the next best place for that photo op?

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