Thursday, May 12, 2011

Disney Character Dining: Where food takes a backseat to fun!

In today's Disney Parks Official Blog they gave tips on character dining at Walt Disney World. This inspired me to write about our family's favorite places to grab some food, and also some photos with some famous friends... Keep in mind that when I say "grab some food" it actually means that the adults end up eating cold food because they are taking pictures through out the entire meal, and the kids eat nothing because they are too excited to even sit in their chairs...

We have had the opportunity to enjoy several wonderful character meals with Disney. Some better than others, and one that we will never do again. But I will say that we have found these meals to be some of our best time spent at Disney World, and at sea. As always I'm not decisive enough to actually pick just one favorite, and it's my blog so I make the rules!

Chef Mickey's
Contemporary Resort
This is the character meal you want to reserve (as far out as possible) if
you want to see the big hitters. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto
are the characters that will be visiting your table. This is a buffet restaurant, so if you really try you might be able to get your moneys worth. we have done breakfast here three times, and it has never disappointed. There's just something to be said about eating a Mickey Waffle with Mickey at the table, and the Monorail zooming by overhead. Celebrating birthdays are fun here because the characters get the entire restaurant to swing their napkins like lassos while a special song plays over the sound system. One trip we were lucky enough to get a morning of reservation on the last day of our trip. It was a nice way to make an otherwise depressing morning great.

Cape May Cafe
Beach Club Resort
We love this character meal for a couple of reasons. The first being that it is at our favorite resort, Beach Club. Another reason is that it is a pretty easy reservation to get. On our last trip we arrived at the resort very early (around 7:00 am), and our room wasn't ready, so we walked over to Cape May to see if they had room for us and they did. We have always been able to get a reservation when we wanted one, even a couple weeks before our trip. The characters here are great, Minnie, Goofy and Donald, and it isn't as crazy as at Chef Mickey's. The characters tend to spend more time with your table here. This is also a buffet breakfast, and the food is pretty much the same as anywhere else at Disney for breakfast.

Polynesian Resort
This is our number one character meal at Walt Disney World. First of all it has our youngest daughter's favorite (and mine too) Stitch. In addition to the little blue guy, his pal Lilo is here, and Mickey as well! We have found the breakfast here to be a bit better than the buffets. Here your meal is served family style, so you get a huge platter of food to split between the entire group. They will bring you more of anything, or everything if you would like. They also have a special fruit juice that they serve here that is great! This meal is tougher to get, but if you are willing to eat a late lunch you might be in luck. I would still recommend getting your reservation pretty early though, this is a popular restaurant. The theme at the Polynesian is also a fun plus, and they hand out Hawaiian Leis to everyone, and you get your picture taken at a Tiki alter.

Special Character Breakfast Menu
Disney Cruise Line
This is our all time favorite character meal! On cruises of 7 nights or longer you will get to have a special character breakfast in the Parrot Cay restaurant (on the Magic and Wonder, specifics for the Fantasy have not been announced yet). This was our first character meal experience, and it spoiled us. Not only are you on a Disney Cruise ship, but you get so many characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale), and such great service! You order your breakfast off the menu, so it isn't a buffet, but they will bring you as much food as you want, and it's a cruise so go crazy! Another great thing about this experience is the service. On a Disney Cruise you have one wait staff that takes care of you in all the restaurants. By the time your character meal comes around they know you pretty well, and they know what you like. even at the best character meals at Walt Disney World I sometimes feel like they are rushing us out so they can turnover the table. On the ship I have never felt rushed by the staff at all. I can not recommend this highly enough! Just another reason to take a Disney Cruise.

There has only been one time when we tried a character meal that was not a breakfast, and it was the bad experience. We decided at the last minute to try and get a reservation for a character meal one morning. The only thing we could get was the Playhouse Disney character lunch at Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios. It was just a bad experience. We had to ask our server to get one of the characters to come to our table, and the server just seemed like she couldn't be bothered at all. We expressed our disappointment with the manager on the way out, and he basically blew us off. Luckily this is the only bad experience we have had with any meal at Disney.

There are still several character meals that we are yet to experience. I have heard great things about Donald's safari Breakfast at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, and 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian. Of course the one that eveyone wants is Cinderella's Royal Table inside the castle at the Magic Kingdom. We haven't been able to score a reservation for that yet. We never plan our trips 180 days out, so we have been closed out numerous times. Hopefully it will be in our future, and you can bet that you'll hear about it when it is!

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