Character breakfasts are a great way to start a day at Walt Disney World, and dinners a good way to end it. We’ve done character dining experiences at restaurants in all of the parks and several hotels, with mixed results. Some we’ve loved, others have felt like a rip-off. In this post, we’ll share our favorite character meals. (Updated February 16, 2020.)
Our favorite character meals make the list for a variety of reasons. In a couple of cases, we’re swayed heavily by the unique outfits of Minnie & Mickey Mouse that you can’t find elsewhere. (Full disclosure of our biases: we prefer fur characters to face characters, so this list is a bit skewed towards Fab Five meals.) Other meals have especially unique settings or are known for particularly good character interactions.
Finally, some have far superior cuisine choices as compared to other restaurants. When it comes to character meals, the food is pretty important to us. Some character meals have notoriously bad food, which gives the distinct impression that you’re simply paying to meet characters. That’s fine for some people, but we have qualms with it. The good news is that things are getting better!
In the last few years, a trio excellent character meals began. First, Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast set sail at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, offering couples from the Little Mermaid and Tangled, along with a solid prix fixe menu. This began what now appears to be a trend of elevated character dining experiences.
This has continued with both Storybook Dining at Artist Point and Breakfast a la Art with Mickey & Friends at Topolino’s Terrace. Both of these venues are otherwise Signature Restaurants, and while these character meals aren’t quite up to those standards, they are very good. Cuisine quality at this trio of new restaurants surpasses other character dining at Walt Disney World.
For the flip side of this post, see our companion post: Worst Character Meals at Walt Disney World. Not everyone agrees with our choices there, so be sure to read the comments for different perspectives. Some of you agreed with our choices, many of you disagreed, and a few felt it was a personal affront that we would dare list your favorites among our least favorites.
As always, we welcome respectful and constructive disagreement with any post here. We’re hardly definitive authorities, and reasonable minds may vary on a lot. Our hope is to offer a helpful resource and one perspective about these character meals–but we can only offer reviews and feedback based on our personal experiences, and of course those can differ from what you have experienced.
There is also the caveat that the very nature of buffets (which is what most character meals are) at Walt Disney World is hit-or-miss. Buffet food quality is in large part dependent upon how long your food has been sitting under the heat lamp. Nevertheless, some restaurants have objectively better food choices on their buffets, so we think it’s still possible to rank them.
Now that we’ve explained a bit of our “methodology” for choosing our list of the best character meals at Walt Disney World, let’s discuss the choices…
Located on the rooftop of Disney’s Riviera Resort, Topolino’s Terrace is a great venue for a character meal. Thanks to the spectacular views, airy atmosphere, elegant design, chic character costumes, and an ambitious menu, Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends definitely feels like the most upscale character meal.
The prix fixe menu is mostly very good, and a great option for those wanting quality over the quantity found on a buffet. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan and enjoy characters, Artist Point is a no-brainer. Its objective value is on par with Akershus while offering significantly better cuisine. Even paying out of pocket, Artist Point is a solid choice for Snow White fans.
Cape May Cafe – Minnie’s Beach Bash is the character breakfast at Cape May Cafe, and it’s perfectly fitting for Disney’s Beach Club Resort. It’s also one of two nostalgia choices on this list. Cape May Cafe was one of our first character meals as adults, and we enjoyed this breakfast so much that we did it on our first several trips together over a decade ago, including on our honeymoon.
We love Cape May Cafe because it is fairly low-key and laid back by Walt Disney World character breakfast standards. Minnie’s Beach Bash has great breakfast food variety, fun costumes for characters we like. Despite being better than Chef Mickey’s or ‘Ohana, it’s never as busy as either of those, and we’ve had great success with the character experiences here.
Second, the setting itself is iconic–an EPCOT Center gem for old school fans like us. Not only is it a rotating restaurant in The Land pavilion in Epcot’s Future World, but it also offers views into the Livin’ with the Land attraction. That’s huge and would give the restaurant a lot of appeal even without characters.
Then there’s the family style dinner, serving pot roast, turkey breast, carved pork, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, and berry short cake. Some people might lament the lack of diversity among these dishes or having fewer choices than buffets, but we feel the quality and consistency are higher here, so it’s a mostly fair trade-off.
At both meals, the character interactions were head and shoulders above anything else we’ve been a part of at Walt Disney World. The costumes are also incredible–far better than what you’ll find at the hard ticket events, in fact. We also appreciated that the characters had fun moments together between tables for everyone to witness–this made it more of a communal experience, and more than just your typical ‘pose for a picture’ greeting.
Then there was the buffet itself, which had a wide selection of cuisine. It was definitely not in the realm of Boma or Tusker House in terms of ambitiousness, but the quality was on nearly the same level for several entree and dessert items. If you’re looking for good comfort foods, you really can’t go wrong with Minnie’s Seasonal Dines at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The only real downside is price, but that’s no worry if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan.
1900 Park Fare – We finally did the Grand Floridian’s character breakfast and the main thing I found myself thinking is, “what took us so long?!” Despite doing multiple repeat meals at other character restaurants on this list, we had always passed over 1900 Park Fare for some reason or another (okay, I know the exact reason–Trail’s End is our go-to for breakfast in the Magic Kingdom resort area).
Suffice to say, 1900 Park Fare lived up to the hype. The characters were top-notch, with some highly amusing and fun interactions (we normally aren’t huge on face characters, but Alice and Mad Hatter were wonderful and didn’t just blow past us). The food was also exceptional, with a robust buffet that included several high-quality and unique options. The cuisine was actually so good that I think it would’ve been “worth it” even if there were no characters at this meal–a rarity for character dining, in our experience.
Bon Voyage Adventure at Trattoria al Forno – Another instance of “what took us so long?!” we had been hearing hype about this from readers since it debuted a couple of years ago. However, it hasn’t exactly been easy to book due to the rare couples from Little Mermaid and Tangled (you won’t often find Flynn Rider or Prince Eric elsewhere). Also, we far prefer fur characters to face characters.
However, this is another instance of a character breakfast living up to the hype, and Bon Voyage exceeded our expectations. The prix fixe menu features a couple of ambitious entrees that are far superior to what you’d find on a buffet, and are incredibly filling. That plus the fun interactions and nice atmosphere makes Bon Voyage a real winner–arguably the best character breakfast at Walt Disney World! (On the lunch and dinner front, we’d put it behind a couple other restaurants on this list.)
Tusker House – When it comes to food, Tusker House is the best character meal at Walt Disney World. This is like “Boma-Lite” on the cuisine front for lunch and dinner, which is about the highest possible praise for character dining since Boma is the best buffet at Walt Disney World–and one of the top meals, period.
Since this is character dining that appeals primarily to families, Walt Disney World wisely offers standard options in addition to the more adventurous African foods. It’s a pretty healthy split between safe choices and ambitious ones, meaning everyone leaves happy here. This is a huge distinction as compared character meals, which are overwhelmingly unadventurous.
If that’s not enough, Tusker House also has some of the best character outfits for Donald’s Safari meals, and the value for money offered here is much better than most character meals. For all of those reasons, this ranks as our top overall character meal at Walt Disney World. Tusker House really offers something for everyone.
Do you agree or disagree with our best-of list for Walt Disney World character dining? Any restaurants you’d add–or remove–from this list? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!