Being a fan of all things Disney, I have ventured down to Florida on multiple occasions for a day or two at the various parks that make up Walt Disney World in Orlando. For those of you that are planning your first trip to Disney World, or if you are taking your own children for the first time, you really need a plan of action when it comes to dinning. Disney offers several different dining plans, many of which open up dining opportunities you may have never considered before. With so many dining options at the park, it’s difficult to decide which one is best for you and your children. Most families will want to attend at least one character dining experience during their visit. To help take some of the guess work out of your visit, I have comprised a list of my top five suggestions for character dining at Walt Disney World.
1. Cinderella’s Royal Table: Located inside Cinderella’s castle in the heart of The Magic Kingdom, this dining experience is one of the most exclusive and hard to get seats around. Cinderella and her princess friends join guests for the most magical of all the dining experiences. You won’t find a more enchanting location to wow your kids, especially if you have a little princess to entertain. However, the cost of the meal is rather expensive and must be paid in full before you attend. I’ve also found the food at lunch and dinner to be more to the liking of older children rather than a very young child. Lunch and dinner is not an all you can eat buffet, so once you order your meal, that’s all you get. Portion sizes are very nice, but if you have children, you know how picky appetites can be. However, for the true Disney fan, this is a “must have” once in a life time experience.
2. Chef Mickey: The one character everyone hopes to see while at a Disney park is Mickey Mouse. Just outside The Magic Kingdom at the Contemporary Resort is the one dining experience where you are guaranteed to meet the main mouse himself as well as the rest of the Fab Five! Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy dressed in chef outfits make their way around the tables to great guests at Chef Mickey. The buffet itself is one of the best Disney has to offer. With its location being outside of the parks, you don’t need to pay the entrance fee to dine here. If you take a day away from the parks to swim or explore Downtown Disney, you can always join Mickey for dinner. Any family or friends you might have in the area can also join you here without the extra cost of a park ticket.
3. 1900 Park Fare: Another option for elegant dining outside of the parks is 1900 Park Fare located inside The Grand Floridian near The Magic Kingdom. Two options are offered here; one with Mary Poppins and friends for breakfast or lunch, and one with Cinderella and friends for dinner. I have never attended the option with Mary Poppins, but dinner with Cinderella is absolutely one of my own personal favorite experiences. This is one of the few places where you can find a Prince interacting with guests. But more than that, all the characters for Cinderella’s dinner are unmasked and ready to talk to you about their lives. The interaction between the Step-Sisters is a fan favorite for frequent Disney goers. With the food being offered in buffet style, everyone is sure to be full of their favorites when they leave.
4. Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast with Lilo and Stitch: If you’re looking for something different to start the day, breakfast at the Ohana in the Polynesian Resort is a great option. Lilo, Stitch and a few other guests will entertain your family while you dine on some of the best breakfast food and drink the park has to offer. The orange juice offered here is simply to die for! Being another location outside of the parks, it’s a great way to start your day before venturing on to any other place in Walt Disney World. You can also meet Mickey here if you haven’t yet had the chance to catch sight of the head mouse!
5. Crystal Palace: Offering what I feel is the best buffet at Walt Disney World, Crystal Palace inside the Magic Kingdom gives you and your children the chance to visit with Winnie the Pooh and all his friends. It’s an easy location to get to, situated right off of Main Street, with a nice view of flowers and courtyards. As entertainment, Pooh will lead children around the restaurant in a parade complete with flags and music. But the real star of the show here is the food. All three meals offer some of the best food found in all the parks. With the moderate price range for this experience, you really can’t go wrong in choosing to dine here.
There are a few more things to consider before you make your final choices. If you have one of the dining plans, remember that you will get the most for your money if you choose to use your sit down meal at lunch or dinner. You also want to be sure to call 180 days before your visit to make your reservations for each sit down dining experience. Don’t wait until a few weeks before or your chances at getting the experience you want will be limited. Character dining, though a bit more expensive, will save you time in the parks if you have children who are desperate to meet certain characters. Lines for Mickey and popular princesses can be over an hour wait. But you do have to plan your day accordingly so that you are in the right park to make your reservation. Where ever you choose to eat inside Walt Disney World, you will be well taken care of by the staff. They will always do their best to make sure your experience is top notch!
Call 1-407-WDW-DINE for all your Walt Disney World dining needs.