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 December 1, 2023.)
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. 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!
Since reopening, Walt Disney World has very slowly been restoring character dining experiences. When these meals first returned at all, many went from being buffets to prix fixe or family-style feasts. Some came back entirely without characters, others had fur characters that greeted guests from a distance while none had face characters.
Fast-forward a few years, and things are mostly back to normal. Princess meals are back, as are buffets. A few menus have changed and prices have gone up across the board, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, there are a few very high-profile character meals that still have not returned–including a couple that previously topped this list.
We had been waiting to refresh this until those returned, but at this point, who knows whether that’ll ever happen. Accordingly, we’re updating this for Late 2023 based on our most recent experiences with character meals 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.
We’ve dined here several times since it debuted, and we’ve also had a consistently high-caliber experience. Unlike many meals, Artist Point isn’t trying to turn over tables as quickly as possible, so you generally get more time with the characters. That means better interactions, photos, and just a better overall experience.
The Artist Point menu is far more ambitious and inventive than anything other character dining experience, but that’s unsurprising given that this used to be a Signature Restaurant. The prix fixe menu is mostly very good, and a great option for those wanting quality over the quantity found on a buffet. When paying out of pocket, Artist Point is a solid choice for Snow White fans.
What’s interesting to us is how polarizing Story Book Dining is. If you read the comments here, you’ll see that a lot of Walt Disney World fans are not fans of this restaurant. We strongly disagree, but feel that it’s only fair to point out that not everyone shares our rosey opinion of this restaurant.
We also need to issue another ‘warning’ of sorts. On the 2024 Disney Dining Plan, Story Book Dining at Artist Point will become a 2-credit table service restaurant on the Disney Dining Plan (DDP). This makes it an objectively poor use of DDP credits. That was not the case before, when Artist Point was a 1-credit restaurant on the DDP and the #1 value as a result. That is no longer the case as of 2024–the opposite is now true due to the doubling of credits required.
Cinderella’s Royal Table – For princess lovers, Cinderella’s Royal Table is the character dining experience at Walt Disney World. Located inside Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom, Cinderella’s Royal Table is a rite-of-passage experience…and one that is priced accordingly! Because of that, it becomes almost impossible to assess this meal. It’s the type of thing your kids will talk about for months afterwards, and it leaves an indelible impression…with a price tag to match.
In that regard, it’s a lot like Chef Mickey’s–an iconic experience with bottomless demand that could get away with low quality at high prices. Unlike that, Cinderella’s Royal Table is surprisingly good, with cuisine that’s near fine dining caliber (probably the best food quality in Magic Kingdom, or close to it). The atmosphere is also excellent. Beyond the lavish and regal setting, it’s not as loud and chaotic as you might expect given the target audience. Whether it’s overpriced is subjective; for many young kids, eating inside a castle with royalty is a priceless experience.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Dinner Only) – Located in the Norway pavilion at EPCOT, this character dining experience is housed inside a fortress-slash-castle, but it doesn’t look like a castle in the same way that Cinderella Castle does. So this is very much a “consolation prize” from that perspective.
That doesn’t mean Akershus is bad, though. Far from it. At least, at dinner. While we’d strongly recommend that princess-lovers prioritize Cinderella’s Royal Table, if you want a second in-park princess meal, Akershus is no slouch. The lunch/dinner menu is head and shoulders above the (weak) breakfast menu, and is a fantastic overall experience. It’s almost as expensive as Cinderella’s Royal Table and not nearly as memorable, but it’s still top tier.
(As with Story Book Dining at Artist Point, Akershus also now requires 2-credits on the 2024 Disney Dining Plan for lunch and dinner. Accordingly, it is also now a poor use of credits. It’s still only 1-credit for breakfast and a better value as a result…but a worse experience. So pick you poison, we guess!)
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. (It’ll be one of the top values on the 2024 DDP since it’s still only 1-credit!)
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 also enjoyed this breakfast on our honeymoon. (As such, we might be just a little biased and sentimental about Cape May Cafe!)
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.
Tusker House – When it comes to the intersection of cuisine quality and quantity, 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.
1900 Park Fare (Temporarily Unavailable) – For a long time, this was one of the more under-the-radar character dining experiences at Walt Disney World. Even though 1900 Park Fare is located within walking distance from Magic Kingdom at the flagship Grand Floridian Resort, it never had the same popularity as Chef Mickey’s or even ‘Ohana.
However, 1900 Park Fare really shines. The characters are 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 is also exceptional, with a robust buffet that included several high-quality and unique options. The cuisine is 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 (Temporarily Unavailable) – Another of the newer character breakfasts at Walt Disney World also remains unavailable over 3 years after reopening. Our expectation and hope is that it’ll be back in 2024, especially with the Disney Dining Plan driving more demand for character meals.
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.)
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!