It’s the start of Walt Disney World’s new fiscal year, which is basically the bean counter’s Christmas because it means price increases. Unsurprisingly, character dining experiences are among the biggest jumps–breakfast, lunch & dinner at many of the most popular (and some of the least popular!) ones have gone up by several dollars each. This offers a rundown of before & after pricing, plus our commentary about what didn’t increase and the impact of the Disney Dining Plan returning in 2024.
This comes amidst other price increases to start the Walt Disney Company’s new fiscal year. At Walt Disney World, this also includes Annual Passes, Memory Maker, parking, tours, dessert parties, water parks tickets, miniature golf, and more. Over in California, Disneyland increased park ticket prices…and pretty much everything else, too.
Let’s start inside Magic Kingdom towards the front of the park, with Crystal Palace: A Buffet with Characters featuring Winnie the Pooh and Friends. Breakfast at Crystal Palace went from $45 to $48 for adults and from $29 to $30 for children. Likewise, lunch and dinner (same buffet, subdivided by hours) increased from $59 to $61 for adults and from $38 to $40 for kids.
The price of this previously increased when Winnie the Pooh and his posse returned last fall, which made sense. You’re obviously paying a premium to meet characters, so the price had decreased while Crystal Palace was character-free. I wouldn’t say I’m surprised by any of these price increases, but if there were nevertheless a ‘surprise scale,’ it would measure highest here. Crystal Palace is probably the least or second-least popular restaurant on this list to see price increases.
Next up is Cinderella’s Royal Table, which last saw price increases when princesses returned to the dining room earlier this year. In the prior two years, Cinderella greeted guests downstairs (unofficially) but the other visiting princesses were not back to roaming the main dining room, making the rounds for photos due to a pronounced ‘princess shortage.’ Normalcy has since been restored to the kingdom, and there was much rejoicing.
Following that, October 2023 brings with it the second round of price increases. Breakfast increased from $65 to $69 for adults and from $39 to $42 for children. It’s a similar story for the lunch and dinner services, which jumped from $79 to $84 for adults and from $47 to $49 for kids.
On top of this, various premium cocktails, wine, and other alcoholic beverages have also gone up. We won’t fixate on this, as it’s already covered in our last post about hundreds of price increases. Nevertheless, expect to pay $.50 to $3 more for drinks at Cinderella’s Royal Table, should you order anything that isn’t included in the flat-rate prix fixe price.
Walt Disney World has also raised the price of Magic Kingdom’s other royal restaurant. (Okay, so you’re not actually dining inside that toy castle perched atop the mountain…and that big mess hall in the middle doesn’t feel very regal…but this is still technically inside Beast’s Castle!)
At Be Our Guest Restaurant, lunch and dinner increased from $67 to $70 per adult and from $39 to $41 per child. Similar to Cinderella’s Royal Table, there are also a variety of higher booze prices at Be Our Guest.
Breakfast still is not back at Beast’s Castle, which really seems like Walt Disney World leaving money on the table given what they’re charging for lunch and dinner. I’m also not sure whether Beast is back to greeting guests in his ‘reception’ area that’s a dedicated meet & greet, or roaming around the room at a distance from guests like it’s still late 2020. (He wasn’t as of late summer and I haven’t heard anything since, so I assume that’s still the case.)
I feel like I should stop sharing this opinion as fewer and fewer people agree with each passing year, but Be Our Guest is still our #2 restaurant in Magic Kingdom. That’s not the highest of praise given the (lack of) competition, but we think it gets disproportionate hate. A lot of that is driven by sky-high expectations and hype. If you take that away, it’s an above-average Walt Disney World restaurant. (That can be excellent if you order the filet and get a good cut that’s properly-cooked.)
Regardless, even I’m seeing it break the $70 barrier for adults and over $40 for kids and wondering to myself whether I’m still on board. Again, I’ve lost the capacity for surprise when it comes to Walt Disney World increasing prices, but I feel it’s also appropriate to point out that the popularity of Be Our Guest Restaurant as measured by ADR availability has absolutely plummeted over the years. Sure, it’s hard to book during peak season (e.g. most of the next few months), but it’s so much easier than it once was.
Total aside, but it’s pretty wild to me that only a few years ago, people were able to do dinner inside Beast’s Castle and order only a cupcake. Not just that, but that this was a known problem for a long time, and it Walt Disney World several years to do anything about it.(File this under “why we can’t have nice things.” It’s also the explanation the next time you’re wondering why another prix fixe menu is replacing an a la carte one.)
From Magic Kingdom, we take a quick stroll (or monorail ride) over to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. In the Grand Canyon Concourse, the flagship character dining experience has seen another change, as prices have gone up at Chef Mickey’s.
Breakfast at Chef Mickey’s now costs $54 per adult, up from $51, and $34 per child, up from $33. That’s an increase of $3 and $1, respectively. As with other restaurants, smoothies and other specialty drinks have also gone up in price by $.50 to a couple dollars each.
Dinner at Chef Mickey’s has also now been increased to $66 per adult (up from $62) and $41 per child (up from $39). All of these prices went up last October, and again this spring when the buffet returned and the restaurant went back to normal.
Continuing on the monorail loop, prices have also increased at ‘Ohana. Each morning for breakfast, ‘Ohana serves up the Best Friends Breakfast Featuring Lilo & Stitch. This character dining experience has increased in price from $45 to $49 for adults and from $29 to $30 for children.
Although it’s not a character meal, dinner at ‘Ohana has also gone up in price. Adult increased from $59 to $62, and children’s pricing went from $38 to $40. And although it’s neither a character meal nor at the Poly, Walt Disney World’s Easy ADR That’s Better & Cheaper Than ‘Ohana is now $38 per adult and $20 child–up from $35 and $19. Don’t tell Disney I wrote this, but it’s still worth it!
Staying outside the parks for a bit, the best character breakfast at Walt Disney World also increased in price. Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends at Topolino’s Terrace — Flavors of the Riviera (say that full name five times fast…or even slowly!) previously cost $45 per adult or $29 per child. It has gone up to $49 for adults and $30 for kids.
We are big fans of the newer, ‘elevated’ character meals…but at these ever-increasing price points, I think that’s much more palatable at dinner than breakfast. Perhaps it’s a me problem, but there’s only one entree (the Wood-fired Butchers Steak) that approaches being worth it at this point. I cringe a little when we order a waffle or really any item without meat at this price–and it doesn’t help that they no longer let you do multiple entrees.
We next enter EPCOT, where a couple of character meal prices have increased. Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast at Garden Grill raised its prices for every meal–breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast bounced from $42 to $47 per adult and from $27 to $30 per child.
Lunch and dinner went from $55 to $62 per adults, and from $36 to $40 for kids. These are among the more significant price increases across all of Walt Disney World character dining, which is a bit surprising. Garden Grill doesn’t strike me as a particularly popular or competitive Advance Dining Reservation. Maybe they’re expecting the filling in of the Giant EPCOT Dirt Pit™️ to generate tons of enthusiasm and open wallets!
Back in World Showcase, the more popular EPCOT character dining experience also increased in price. Breakfast at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall now costs $55 for adults (up from $53) and $35 for kids (up from $34).
Lunch and dinner at Akershus now charge $67 for adults (previously $63) and $43 for children (previously $41). As with the other character dining experiences that have separate charges for alcohol, prices there are also up.
Exiting out International Gateway and walking over to Disney’s Beach Club Resort, we find that Minnie’s Beach Bash Character Breakfast is now pricier. Both that meal and dinner are now $47 for adults, while breakfast is $30 for kids and dinner is $27 for children.
Walking or taking the Skyliner or boat over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the cost of Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine has increased. Breakfast went from $42 to $47 for adults and from $27 to $30 for children. Lunch and dinner jumped to $63 per adult (up from $59) and $40 per child (up from $38).
Bouncing back to the parks, we head to Tusker House at Animal Kingdom. For breakfast, adult pricing increased $45 to $47, and children’s increased from $29 to $30.
Previously, the all-day lunch and dinner meal at Tusker House cost $59 per adult and $38 per child. Adults increased to $62 and kids to $40. Those prices are certainly high, but frankly, the buffet is so much more ‘worth it’ than the prior family-style meal. That was such a downgrade and having the buffet back is a huge value-add (or restoration).
Turning to commentary, one of the biggest surprises to me is that the insanely popular Story Book Dining at Artist Point with Snow White did not increase in price! This Wilderness Lodge character dining experience serving dinner features Show White, Dopey, Grumpy, and the Evil Queen.
More to the point, Story Book Dining at Artist Point with Snow White is the most popular character meal and toughest Advance Dining Reservation in all of Walt Disney World. Subjectively, I would also contend that Story Book Dining at Artist Point is the best character dinner (distinguished from breakfast or lunch–a total cop out by me) in all of Walt Disney World.
So for that reason alone, it’s surprising that Story Book Dining hasn’t seen more price increases. Not just in October 2023, but in general. Several of the restaurants on this list are seeing their second price increase of the year, whereas Story Book Dining at Artist Point still costs the same amount today that it did last October (when it last went up). For a meal with a serious supply-demand imbalance, that’s surprising. I hate to say it, but Walt Disney World could price this at $80 per adult and $45 per child and have no issues filling tables.
Walt Disney World seemingly recognizes this, which is why it’s going to require 2 credits on the 2024 Disney Dining Plan. At its current price of $65 for adults and $39 per child, it’s a really poor use of DDP credits. (Because you have to divide that by 2 to determine the per-credit value.) It’s even worse than Be Our Guest Restaurant, which is among the lowest values on the Disney Dining Plan.
As we discussed in the commentary to the other price increase post, it’s common for Walt Disney World to increase menu prices to improve the illusion of value on the Disney Dining Plan. If you’re doing the math on meals and comparing menu prices to the cost of the Disney Dining Plan, the latter becomes more attractive when the former is higher.
This is especially true for families interested in doing a lot of character dining experiences, as those are among the most compelling “arguments” in favor of purchasing the Disney Dining Plan. This is doubly true for 2024 with the standard Disney Dining Plan seeing significant price increases for adults, the bulk of which was presumably driven by assigning higher values to table service credits.
Given that, I’m honestly somewhat surprised that Walt Disney World didn’t push some of these out-of-pocket prices for character meals higher. It likely would’ve resulted in driving more sales of the Disney Dining Plan, maintaining more of a captive audience, etc. Walt Disney World is currently seeing a sharp drop-off in ADR demand and the competitiveness of character dining reservations is not nearly as bad as it once was…for now.
I’m guessing that’ll change once the Disney Dining Plan returns, if not earlier for the start of this year’s holiday season. There are probably a lot of fans and families that have been holding off on character meals until the Disney Dining Plan returns, so it’s possible that character dining experiences will see their own form of pent-up demand in 2024. In fact, I’d be willing to bet on that.
Then again, maybe Walt Disney World is playing the ‘wait and see’ game, and intends upon increasing character meal prices again in January or February of next year. Assessing demand and doing more incremental price increases is probably the savvier strategy. Obviously, that’s not what I want to see happen–especially as a family that will be doing more character dining next year and probably paying out of pocket for much of it–but I’m trying to be a realist about pricing and Walt Disney World’s motivation for it.
What do you think of these character meals and other recent price increases at Walt Disney World? Think this is a natural consequence of supply and demand, or another example of Disney getting more greedy? Will these price increases impact your plans for future vacations? Do you agree or disagree with our commentary? Think there will be long-term consequences for Walt Disney World resulting from its pricing trends the last few years? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!