Disney Dining, Disney World

The Ultimate Guide to Character Dining at Disney World

July 25, 2022
disney character dining

Character dining at Disney World is one of the best ways to meet a bunch of characters in a limited timeframe.

Whether you’re a fan of fur characters or want to meet a few princesses without facing long queues, Disney character dining can be your best option. And hey – you’ll get to try some seriously delicious food while you’re at it!

Although most of the food at the best Walt Disney World restaurants is decent, you may be wondering where to find the best character dining experiences at Disney World for your party.

You may have certain off-limits foods based on your kiddos, or perhaps you’re really trying to meet a specific character that you might not find elsewhere.

Luckily, I’m here to make dining at Disney World feel like a walk in the park. Offering advice on everything from reservations to the cost of an average meal, this Disney character dining guide promises to make your trip way more magical.

Before I dive in, I just thought I’d mention that the characters listed at each restaurant are subject to change. A few restaurants will always have classic mainstays (like Cinderella’s Royal Table!), but others may rotate characters based on their availability.

What is Character Dining at Disney World?

If you’re new to Character dining at the Disney parks, then let me quickly fill you in on what it’s all about.

Basically, it’s regular restaurant dining (at various levels of luxury!) that involve characters interacting with you, stopping for autographs, and taking photos with your table.

You won’t get to have them sitting at your table, but they should spend a decent amount of time with each group of diners before moving on.

In my opinion, character dining at Disney World can be an excellent way to meet characters without having to stand in long park queues.

It’s worth noting that many of the best character dining restaurants at Disney World are at the Resort Hotels. This means that you can enjoy time with the characters without purchasing a park ticket – the more you know!

How Expensive is a Character Meal at Disney World?

All character meals operate on a fixed-price basis, but you’ll find a large variation in the set prices across the board.

You can usually expect to pay between $35 and $70 for an average adult meal, with breakfast being far cheaper than alternative mealtimes.

If you’re not used to American tipping culture, remember you’ll also need to budget for a tip which can make things far more expensive.

You’ll be expected to tip around 18-20% if you’re dining at a table service restaurant which is based on the pre-tax price of your bill.

If you’re really on a budget, you can probably get away with leaving 15%, but you may get a bit of side-eye.

How to Book Character Dining at Disney World?

Character dining is always going to be tricky to snag a reservation for as it’s extremely popular with Florida locals and diehard Disney tourists.

The best way to score a reservation is by logging onto your My Disney Experience app or heading to the official Walt Disney World website.

You can usually book character dining 60 days ahead of your stay and 70 days ahead if you’re staying in a Disney hotel.

If you are booking through an authorized travel agent, you can also ask them to help you book your character dining.

Hardest reservations for character dining at Disney World

As I mentioned, Walt Disney World character dining is super popular, but I’d say that Cinderella’s Royal Table, Akershus at the Norway pavilion, and Crystal Palace are particularly difficult.

If you’d like to stand a chance at getting a reservation here, you’ll need to be on the ball with the app.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Arkeshus can be competitive as character breakfasts here give you an opportunity to ride Frozen Ever After before other guests have the chance! You’ll already be in the parks, so you can just join the line after your meal.

What is the Cheapest Character Meal at Disney World?

The cheapest character dining experience at Disney World is a breakfast meal at Chef Mickey’s Tusker House, or Cinderella’s Royal Table.

Although they’re not cheap, you can expect to pay $42 per adult and $27 per child. You’ll get several pastries, be able to choose an entrée from a set menu, and a beverage.

If you’re willing to pay a bit more (approximately $12 depending on what you choose), you can get an alcoholic beverage like a Mimosa or Sparkling Peach Cocktail.

Lunch and dinner cost considerably more, and you can expect to pay around $72 per adult for the privilege of character dining at Disney.

How does Disney Character Dining Work?

The setup is relatively simple, and you’ll have to arrive approximately fifteen minutes before your seating time.

You can technically arrive beforehand, but most busy restaurants won’t allow you to hang around, so I don’t recommend arriving too early.

You should then get a text that tells you that your table is ready to go. A host will then lead you over to the table or take your photo at an allocated spot. If you have any allergies or special considerations, you’ll want to let your host know as soon as you’re seated.

It’s worth noting that all characters will be escorted around the restaurant by a Cast Member, and they will go around tables in a specific order.

This is carefully thought out, so don’t think you’re being ignored (and don’t call anyone over!).

The characters will usually cover the restaurant section by section, and you’ll usually meet several characters during an average visit.

Disney is very careful to ensure that guests leave character dining meals feeling satisfied, so it’s extremely unlikely that you won’t have excellent interactions with every character that visits your table.

Getting autographs when doing character dining at Disney World

You should only try and get autographs when characters come over to you. Just be sure to keep your autograph book ready and have a pen with you.

You can use a notebook if you don’t have anything else to hand, but I highly recommend purchasing a high-quality autograph book from the shops, Amazon, or shopDisney before sitting down.

Getting Disney character dining photos

Sadly, you’ll have to use your own camera to get photos at character dining experiences in Disney World as most of them don’t offer PhotoPass.

The only ones that do are Cinderella’s Royal Table, Akershus Princess Dining, and the character meal with Snow White at Artist Point.

The Best Character Dining at Disney World: All Your Options Ranked!

Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom

Cinderella's Royal Table
Photo Credit: HarshLight|Flickr

If you want to meet Cinderella during your trip to Disney World, I highly recommend dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table. It’s at the top of my list as it’s located right inside the Cinderella Castle. When it comes to character dining at Disney World, that’s basically as good as it gets.

In addition to meeting Cinderella, you’ll cross paths with princesses like Jasmine, Snow White, Ariel, and Aurora. I also adore the fact that many tables overlook Fantasyland, giving you fantastic views over the park that you simply won’t find anywhere else.

The menu is prix-fixe and includes delicious dishes like duck and beef tenderloin. However, they also have an impressive selection of desserts that are wonderfully themed.

The “Clock Strikes Twelve” mousse dessert remains the most popular offering, but you’ll also be able to order cheesecakes and other sweet treats too!

If the food wasn’t enough to convince you, there are a few extra touches that make dining here perfectly magical. Not only will princesses and princes receive a wand or a sword to take away, but they will even have the chance to wish upon a star during their meal.

Cinderella’s Royal Table continues to be one of the most popular Disney World character dining experiences because of the princesses and its excellent location. As a result, you’ll need to be on the reservation system as soon as you possibly can.

Overall pros:

  • A truly stunning atmosphere
  • A great variety of princess meets are on offer
  • The food is high-quality and beautifully presented

Overall cons:

  • It can get busy
  • It’s hard to get a reservation

Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast at Garden Grill at Epcot

If you’re looking for character dining restaurants at Epcot, then you’ll love Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast at Garden Grill. As you might expect, there’s a big Chip n’ Dale focus here. But you’ll still be able to meet Mickey and Pluto too!

This is an almost offensively popular character dining spot, as is all-you-can-eat and takes place in a spinning restaurant. Throughout your meal, you’ll gradually spin (don’t worry – it’s slow!) around the restaurant to give you alternative views, making it one of the more unique character dining meals at Disney World.

In case you were wondering, the food is classic American and features dishes like pancakes, grilled beef, mashed potatoes, and delicious shortcake to finish. There’s plenty here for every palate, and even the fussiest eaters should find something to enjoy.

I’ve put this extremely high on my list as it offers excellent gluten-free options, is buffet-style (meaning great value-for-money!), and has a lively and exciting atmosphere.

Overall pros:

  • The character meets are great
  • It offers a range of food and is all-you-can-eat

Overall cons:

  • It’s very hard to get a reservation at
  • It may eat into your park time as it’s located inside Epcot
Garden Grill Epcot
Photo Credit: Michael Gray|Flickr

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot

I’ve got to admit, I’ve got a major soft spot for Akershus Royal Banquet. It’s one of the best character dining restaurants at Disney World and allows you to meet with several princesses on rotation. Cinderella and Ariel usually make an appearance here, but you’ll also spot Snow White, Aurora, and Belle too.

As this restaurant is in the Norway Pavilion, you can expect classic Norwegian fare like meatballs (also known as Kjøttkake!), hash browns, potato casserole, and smoked pork loin.

There’s plenty to eat here for all tastes, but little ones may find the flavors a bit too complex. I haven’t found this myself, but it’s something to bear in mind if you’re traveling with picky eaters.

I personally prefer Cinderella’s Royal Table, but this is an excellent alternative if you can’t score a reservation or want to jump right onto Frozen Ever After following your meal.

Overall pros:

  • Perfect for meeting princesses and there’s tons of interaction
  • Unique food
  • It lets you easily join the queue for Frozen Ever After (ideal if you’re visiting for breakfast!)

Overall cons:

  • It will eat into your park time
  • The food might not be suitable for everyone
Arkeshus Disney World
Photo Credit: HarshLight|Flickr

Topolino’s Terrace: Flavors of the Riviera – Breakfast a la Art with Mickey & Friends

Topolino’s Terrace is one of my top character dining restaurants at Disney if you’re looking for a luxury experience. Located on the roof of the Riviera Resort, it promises to be the most aesthetic meal you’ll have during your trip.

At your meal, expect to meet Minnie, Mickey, Daisy, and Donald while enjoying a high-end prix-fixe menu of breakfast goodies. Everyone that dines here will get a selection of bread and pastries to start before chowing down on an entrée of choice.

I’m partial to the Quiche Gruyère with house-made pancetta, but the Smoked Salmon and Sour Cream Waffle are equally delicious.

It’s by far one of the best character dining breakfast options at Disney World, but it’s extremely popular. So, I recommend booking a slot as early as you can to avoid disappointment.

Overall pros:

  • There’s a great selection of characters
  • The food is genuinely excellent/of a fine-dining standard
  • There are plenty of a la carte options
  • There’s a great kids’ menu

Overall cons:

  • It may be slightly too complex for fussy eaters
  • Snagging a reservation can be challenging
Topolino's Terrace character dining at Disney World
Photo Credit: Instagram|parurun628

Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk

If you’re looking for Disney Boardwalk restaurants that offer character dining, then you’ll adore Trattoria al Forno.

This place only serves breakfast, but the characters here are seriously good. You’ll get to meet Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, Ariel and Prince Eric, and a few fur characters too. So, if you’re a fan of Disney couples, then you should certainly consider booking a reservation here.

Although the character experiences here are very good (and there are several interactive activities for kids which will keep little ones occupied), I’d genuinely come back for the food. You’ll get a selection of pastries and fruit to start, before being offered a prix-fixe menu of Italian-themed dishes.

I highly recommend adding King Triton’s Shipwreck al Forno to your list of things to try – it’s a cheesy calzone that’s ridiculously good. However, I doubt you’ll be disappointed by anything on the menu. I mean, there is a Tower of Pancakes available too!

Overall pros:

  • You’ll be able to meet a host of unique character couples
  • The menu is unique + the food is excellent

Overall cons:

  • Getting a reservation can be tricky

Ohana at Polynesian Resort

If I’m being honest, I’ll never turn down a meal at Ohana. Although I’m more partial to having dinner here, the restaurant offers a fabulous character breakfast that allows you to meet Lilo and Stitch, Mickey, Pluto, and several other familiar faces during your visit.

You can expect to find classic breakfast favorites like eggs, sausages, bacon, and fruit, which should suit most people. It may be disappointing if you’re looking for Polynesian food, but I found that it was excellent value for money.

However, I honestly recommend shelling out for a dinner slot if you can. The food is truly next-level, and you’ll be able to try everything from pork dumplings to meat skewers and their famous pineapple coconut bread while chatting with characters.

Overall pros:

  • You can’t really beat the food here – it’s genuinely incredible
  • If you’re sitting by the window and have a late reservation, you may even catch glimpses of the Magic Kingdom fireworks

Overall cons:

  • It’s quite an expensive option if you’re visiting for dinner
  • It’s very popular
  • The food isn’t Polynesian-themed if you’re dining for breakfast
Ohana Disney character dining
Photo Credit: Steven Miller|Flickr

1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

If you’ve always wanted to grab a meal in the luxurious Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, then I recommend heading to 1900 Park Fare.

Not only is this one of the most popular locations for character dining at Disney World, but you’ll be able to catch lesser-spotted characters like Mary Poppins, Alice, Winnie the Pooh, and the Mad Hatter.

Breakfast visitors will get to chow down on Mickey waffles, delicious fresh omelets, and classic items like sausage and bacon.

If you’re visiting during the afternoon, you can partake in a charming tea party with cupcakes (that kids can decorate!) and other classic afternoon tea staples.

You can also get dinner here, but you’ll need to plan for transportation from the parks or your hotel to make it in time. The dinner characters include the entire Cinderella clan (including the stepsisters and Lady Tremaine). They’re quite rare though, so don’t count on them appearing.

The food at dinnertime includes delicious dishes like herb-crusted prime rib and honey sriracha salmon, making it a great choice for foodies.

Overall pros:

  • It offers a great mix of characters and experiences
  • The food is generally excellent

Overall cons:

  • It can be tricky to get to if you’re rushing from the parks
  • It’s on the expensive side
1900 Park Fare Food
Photo Credit: Edward Russell|Flickr

The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom

The Crystal Palace is one of the best character dining restaurants at Disney World as it serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the coveted Magic Kingdom area.

It’s usually a buffet restaurant and serves dishes like ravioli, beef brisket, and fried chicken. It’s pretty all-American which will suit most people.

As well as its great location, The Crystal Palace is cheaper than other character dining spots at $39 per adult and $23 per child. This makes it an excellent option if you’re looking for character dining that’s slightly more affordable.

Now don’t get me wrong – I like The Crystal Palace. But when I visited, I found that there was quite a lot to be desired.

It’s one of the only places where you can meet Eeyore and Piglet in the parks (which is a major selling point!), but the crowds were insane and Winnie the Pooh characters may not be for everyone.

I also thought that the food was only ‘okay’ and I often found myself wishing I’d picked something else when I visited.

Again, it’s a good option, but it may not be your best option if you’re only doing one character dining meal during your trip.

Overall pros:

  • It’s one of the only places where you can meet Winnie the Pooh characters
  • It’s conveniently located and offers nice views of the Magic Kingdom

Overall cons:

  • It can get unpleasantly busy
  • The food is honestly not that great

Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary

Chef Mickey’s is one of the most popular Disney character dining locations, so you may be wondering why it’s not higher on my list.

I love Chef Mickey’s, but it’s honestly a bit busy for me. Whether you’re dining for breakfast or dinner, the entire experience feels a bit hectic.

As it’s similarly priced to the rest of the character dining restaurants at Disney World, I wouldn’t put it at the top of my shortlist.

However, I must say that the character meets here are always excellent. You’ll get to meet Mickey and friends dressed in adorable costumes, and the characters always offer top-notch interactions to adults and kids.

If you’re looking for princesses though – skip this one!

The experience used to be buffet-based, but it’s now a table service option with a fixed menu. This may suit you more, but it may take away from the magic if you were hoping for an all-you-can-eat affair!

It’s also worth noting that most of the action happens in the main dining area. You won’t have a bad time if you’re seating somewhere else, but this is where most of the characters hang around, so you might feel a touch short-changed.

If I’m being totally honest, I also feel that the food isn’t quite as good as it is at other locations. It’s cool that the monorail passes over you as you dine, but I’d say you can get a better experience of the monorail at the Contempo Café (without characters though!).

Overall pros:

  • Great interactions
  • An upbeat atmosphere
  • A cool view of the monorail

Overall cons:

  • Expensive for what you get
  • The food isn’t great
  • It can be extremely busy
Photo Credit: Princess Ashley|Flickr

Donald’s Dining Safari – Tusker House at Animal Kingdom

Tusker House is a popular option for character dining at Disney World and offers excellent themed food in the Harambe area.

You’ll be able to try treats like Mickey and Simba Waffles, Durban Chicken and Egg Curry, and Berber Marinated Pork.

Because the food is slightly ‘fussier’, I’d say that this is a better option for adults than children. Most children will give the food a try, but they may prefer the more basic food at the other character dining locations at Disney World.

What I love most about this location is how the characters are dressed – they’re all in adorable safari suits. There’s a big Donald Duck focus here (as you may have guessed from the name), but you’ll also be able to meet classic characters like Goofy, Mickey, and the rest of the main crew.

You’ll be able to pick up breakfast, lunch, or dinner while you’re here, so don’t worry too much about timings.

Overall pros:

  • Good food
  • Great theming (especially costumes!)

Overall cons:

  • It may be a bit too fussy for young children
  • As it’s in the parks and some of the seating is outside, you’ll have to deal with the hustle and bustle of Animal Kingdom’s atmosphere.
    • For some people, this may be a good thing!
Donald's Dining Safari Character dining at disney world
Photo Credit: Dixie Delights

Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort

Another princess dining experience at Disney World can be found at Artist Point and it’s a dinner-only option.

The restaurant offers a prix-fixe menu that includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert, but I find that the selection might be a bit too limited for some. You can check the menu out here if you’re curious!

Although I think the character meets here are good and you’ll get to meet Snow White and the Evil Queen (two characters which are tricky to find in the parks), I found the food a bit blah.

It wasn’t bad per se, but it didn’t live up to the other options on our list. As a result, I’d suggest saving this one for die-hard Snow White fans.

Overall pros:

  • You’ll get to meet a few hard-to-find characters
  • There’s a decent amount of choice
  • There’s a good atmosphere

Overall cons:

  • The food isn’t as good as in other restaurants
apples at Snow White restaurant
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Disney Parks

Cape May Café at Disney’s Beach Club

If you’re wanting to invest in character dining at Disney for breakfast, I recommend checking out Disney’s Beach Club. It offers lovely views of the water, Mickey and friends in adorable beach-themed costumes, and decent access to the Epcot Resorts.

Although I enjoy Cape May Café, it honestly would never be at the top of my list. As with many other character meals at Disney World, you’ll be paying a premium and I just don’t think the atmosphere or experience is quite worth the high price.

In addition to this, you’ll only be able to dine here for breakfast, as the dinnertime seafood buffet is completely characterless.

The resort is gorgeous and totally serene, but I suggest visiting one of the other Disney World character dining destinations if you want more bang for your buck.

Overall pros:

  • You’ll get to meet characters in unique costumes
  • The resort area is just beautiful
  • It’s convenient for anyone staying near the Epcot Resorts

Overall cons:

  • It’s expensive for what it is
  • You can only visit for breakfast which may not be convenient for everyone

Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios

Tucked inside of Hollywood Studios is the next place on our list of character dining locations at Disney World. Hollywood & Vine is the only place where you can eat with characters in this park, and it’s a buffet-style layout that offers decent value for money.

One thing that I love about Hollywood & Vine is the fact that the characters tend to dress seasonally. So, you’ll constantly see them switching things up around Halloween, Christmas, and other special events.

Although you’ll be able to catch a few Disney Junior characters here (think Fancy Nancy etc.!), it’s mainly Minnie Mouse and Friends that take center stage.

The reason that it’s at the bottom of my list is down to the food. You’ll be able to dine here for lunch or dinner, but the food is only passable (if not downright mediocre!).

It’s a shame, but I personally wouldn’t choose this spot as it’s just as expensive as a few of the other options.

Overall pros:

  • It’s one of the only places to meet lesser-seen characters like Fancy Nancy and Vampirina
  • It’s great for seasonal costumes

Overall cons:

  • The food is disappointing
  • The atmosphere isn’t as good as some of the other character dining locations at Disney

Tips to Remember For the Best Disney World Character Dining Experience

If you’re looking for Disney World character dining tips, then you’ll want to follow these handy hints for the best experience possible.

  • Don’t forget to book your reservation as soon as you can. This is 60 days in advance of your visit, but it may return to 180 days in advance soon!
  • Keep checking back on the app if you’re not successful the first time. People cancel regularly, and you may be able to snag something last-minute.
  • Allocate plenty of time to reach your restaurant. You never know whether the monorail is going to be having issues or whether you’ll struggle to find the location.
  • Bring your own autograph book and something to take photos on – these won’t be provided at the restaurants, so I always recommend bringing your own along!
  • If you’re visiting the parks for Disney character dining, it’s best to plan your meal around busier times in the park. This way, you’ll have an awesome experience while missing the worst of the queues!
  • Understand that you’ll probably have to opt for good food or good characters.
    • This might sound silly, but you’ll have to choose your experience based on the type of food, the time of day, and what characters you’ll like to meet.
    • Most of the character dining restaurants at Disney World have decent food, but you’ll get themed meals at Ohana, for example.

A Few Final Comments on Character Dining at Disney

Booking character meals at Disney World can be a great way to add some magic to your trip. Although it’s never cheap, it’s worth booking if you have a bit of spare cash in the budget.

I know that this post has been quite long, but it should cover literally everything you need to know for a successful character dining experience at Disney World!

I hope that this guide has been helpful, but I’m always open to questions, opinions, or additions that you think would make it even better.

Have you ever been to any of these Disney character dining locations? I’d love to hear about your trip in the comments below!

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