TMSM Explains: Walt Disney World Character Dining

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Character dining is one of the topics we discuss almost daily in the Disney-verse. Many people wonder how it works, where can I see this character, how much is this meal etc. This week we will explain, how Walt Disney World character dining works. Like with all Walt Disney World Dining, booking for character meals opens at 180 days out. I personally recommend if you are staying on property, since the first ten days of your trip’s dining will open at the 180 day mark, that you look into the later part of your trip for those hard to get dining options (Be Our Guest,Cinderella’s Royal Table). Remember dining wise, nothing is automatically guaranteed to be a part of your resort or dining package. So make sure you book the meals you know you can’t live without as close to your 180 day window as possible. Also remember dining opens at 6am ET online, and 7am ET on the phones.
943940_1120025858032225_8662749326396456365_n All Disney Table locations request you arrive 10-15 minutes before your scheduled meal to check in so remember to be on time. Once your table is ready and your family is seated at your table the fun begins. The characters will come to your table, allowing you the chance to eat and visit with the family and not have to worry about chasing down Mickey. Most character dining locations have four characters, who work the restaurant in teams of two. What this means is the location is split in two halves, with two characters on each side of the room. For example at the Garden Grill Chip and Dale will come around together and Mickey and Pluto later. At Akershus two princesses will rotate through the room, usually one a few tables ahead of the other, then when they have completed the room they will switch to the other side of the building allowing the other two princesses a chance to come visit.

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When the characters come to visit, they will interact with the people at your table that want to interact. They will not force an interaction. The majority will do autographs, all the characters will take pictures with you, but on occasion a meal may not offer at table autographs, when this occurs the restaurant will let you know in advance either at check in  or when you are being seated.

Character Dining 101 Tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to have FUN! Do you like taking selfies with characters? Do you have a photo from every trip where you are giving your spouse “bunny ears”? Do you like to make silly faces in photos? You can do these things in character dining meet and greet photos too! The face characters will sometimes even get involved!

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  • The majority of character meals do not offer a “character host” but the few that do also offer a pre-meal family photo. Two of these meals are Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus where you take your photo with Belle, and Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom where you take your photo with Cinderella.
  • Disney makes sure you can get to your early morning dining. Just check with your concierge desk to confirm your best option for transportation. (Also remember transport starts at least an hour before park opening, which means an hour before AM EMH on those days)
  • Have your autograph books open and ready before the characters get to the table. To make this easier put them in the center of the table in an open pile.
  • Do not chase down characters. If you missed one let their assistants know and they will make sure you meet them.
  • If a character is a table or two past you when you are being seated, don’t worry, they WILL come back the next time they rotate through the room.
  • While we know you want to get the perfect photo remember the characters must see everyone in the room, so try to have a “pre-visit photo plan” so as to avoid being the family hosting a paparazzi session while taking 20 minutes per character. For that plan agree who is going to be in all the pics, and who will have their own photos i.e. ” ok guys we are going to go a group picture with each character, and a picture of just the kids with the characters, and since Mickey is Tina’s favorite, make sure we get a solo picture of her and Mickey.”
  • Take your stuffed critters! Stitch and Lilo LOVE seeing stuffed Stitch toys, and Mickey and Minnie adore seeing Duffy and ShellieMay.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. If a character has come through and you have already seen them and just want to eat in peace, you can tell the character’s “assistant” that and they won’t be offended.
  • SPREAD THE MAGIC! If you see a family that is struggling to take a family photo, be a good person, put your fork down, and offer to take a picture for them. They will appreciate it, you will have made magic, and who knows maybe they will return the offer.
  • All appearing characters are subject to change without notice. Meaning a specific character everyone swears will be at a certain meal there may not be there. Obviously Mickey has to be at his Chef event, and Cinderella has to be at her castle, but the supporting friends can change at any time.
  • Most character dining locations are 1 table credit if you are using Disney’s Dining Plan. The ones that require more than 1 table credit are noted below in our list of Walt Disney World character dining locations.
  • The majority of character meals do no include a tip in their bill so please remember to thank your servers by leaving a tip, even at buffets.
  • If you need pricing for a character meal we suggest you visit Disney’s official Dining site to look at their online menu. If the pricing system is confusing, give them a call and the Disney Dining team will happily help you out.
  • Character meals are for EVERYONE. You don’t have to be traveling with children to eat at a character meal or enjoy it. Some of Drew and I’s best character interaction stories come from character meals.

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Standard in park and resort character dining locations:

  • 1900 Park Fare; Grand Floridian
    Breakfast, Dinner   (Buffet)
    Supercalifragilistic Breakfast: Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter and friends.
    Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner: Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, and Anastasia and Drisella.
  • Cape May Cafe; Beach Club Resort
    Breakfast  (Buffet)
    Beach Club Buffet Character Breakfast: Minnie, Goofy, and Donald
  • Chef Mickey’s Buffet; Contemporary Resort
    Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner (Buffet)
    Hosted by Minnie, her friends in attendance are usually Mickey, Goofy, Pluto and Donald.
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table; Magic Kingdom (2 Table Credits)
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Joining Cinderella at all three meals will be her Disney princess friends. The Fairy Godmother is not present at these meals, but Cinderella will greet guests for photos as they enter dinner.
  • Crystal Palace; Magic Kingdom
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Buffet)
    Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet.
  • Donald’s Safari Breakfast/Tusker House; Animal Kingdom
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Buffet)
    Donald and friends
  • Garden Grill; EPCOT The Land
    Breakfast and Lunch, Dinner (Family Style)
    Farmers Chip and Dale and friends (usually Farmer Mickey and Pluto)
  • Hollywood and Vine; Hollywood Studios
    Breakfast, Lunch (Buffet)
    At Breakfast Disney Junior takes over. Meet Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, Jake from Disney Junior’s “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”
    Dinner Character (Buffet)
    Dinnie switches to the new Minnie and Friends seasonally themed dining event. The theme will change throughout the year.
  • Mickey’s Backyard BBQ; Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground (2 Credits)
    Dinner Show (Buffet)
    Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is a seasonal offering that takes place at the outdoor Pavilion located at the Settlement at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Mickey’s Backyard BBQ  has a live country-western band and characters make appearances throughout the meal. Please that characters appear for dancing. They don’t visit each table, instead you visit them at a set character meeting location.
    Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, and Goofy
  • Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast; Polynesian Resort
    Breakfast (Family Style Buffet)
    Lilo and Stitch, Mickey and Pluto.
  • Princess Storybook Dining; Akershus Royal Banquet Hall EPCOT
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Location has All You Care to Enjoy Breakfast with a Norwegian Smorgasbord at Breakfast and  a Norwegian Smorgasbord/salad bar w/ menu ordering for Lunch and Dinner)
    Hosted by Belle, various Princesses usually varies between Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, and Jasmine

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Character Meals on property, but in non-Disney Locations that can be booked through Disney Dining:

  • Garden Grove; The Swan Hotel (Does not accept Disney Dining Plan)
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    “Disney character dining at dinner nightly and for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays.”
  • Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and His Pals; Ravello at Four Seasons Resort Orlando (Does not accept Disney Dining Plan)
    The Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and His Pals takes place on Thursdays and Saturdays—and Tuesdays during school break periods—from 7:30 AM to 11:00 AM, and includes a complimentary download of digital photos! All Guests will have to arrange their own transportation when booking dining reservations at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando.

12729316_10154630275399358_3614124823669474815_nCharacter but not character dining:

The following locations offer food and characters, but do not operate in the same way as other character meals or events.

  • Be Our Guest, Magic Kingdom
    Dinner
    Beast is available for diners to meet him in his library. He does not go table to table, and is the only character there.
  • Club Villain; Hollywood Studios
    Club Villain is a special ticket event being held at Hollywood Studios. Tickets to Club Villain can be purchased for $129 per person, tax and gratuity included. This event will offer banquet style seating with a tapas style buffet, so you may be seated with other parties. Characters present to meet are the Evil Queen (Snow White), Maleficent, The Queen of Hearts and Cruella De Vil.
  • Perfectly Princess Tea Party; Grand Floridian Resort
    Tea and Tea Time treats served
    Princesses ages 4 to 12 are invited to attend this tea party hosted by Princess Aurora
  • Wonderland Tea Party; Grand Floridian Resort
    Tea and Tea Time treats served
    This tea party is for guests from 3 to 10 years of age and is usually hosted by the Mad Hatter & Alice.

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Michele
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Michele Atwood is the Owner/Editor of The Main Street Mouse and it’s subsidiaries and author of the books “Moving to Main Street U.S.A.” “How Many Sleeps Till Disney?” and “How Many Sleeps Till Disneyland?” Michele also contributes Disney news to the Joe Kelley Morning Show on 107.3 WDBO in Orlando. She and her family made the move from Michigan to the Orlando area to pursue their Disney dreams. Michele is a life long Disney fan, and has two sons who have followed suit, each going on their first Disney trip before their first birthday’s. Part of the goal Michele has for The Main Street Mouse is not only to keep members informed, but to create somewhat of a Disney Family by relating to others through personal experiences and opinions. Also, Michele is making it a priority to share stories of inspiration and hope to other Disney Fans in an effort to share the Magic and hopefully make a difference in the lives of others. ~ I enjoy writing personal perspective blogs, doing TMSM Meet Ups for our readers, and keeping the constant interaction going with others, sharing the Disney Magic to people when they can’t be at their Happy Place.

Michele has 6140 posts and counting. See all posts by Michele

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