Walt Disney World has announced more character breakfasts, lunches, and dinners are returning to table service restaurants that have already reopened in Magic Kingdom, plus Polynesian Village and Beach Club Resorts. This post will share dates, details, and what’s up with the slow pace of these character dining experiences returning to normal. (Updated September 16, 2022.)
In the weeks since then, other character meet & greets have been returning. Recent and upcoming examples include Adventurers Outpost at Animal Kingdom and Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Slowly but surely (emphasis on slowly), Walt Disney World has been restoring character components, bringing them closer to pre-closure.
Even though it has been back for a while, Cinderella’s Royal Table is not normal. Likewise, Akershus and Bon Voyage remain closed, as do other locations that previously featured face and fur characters–like 1900 Park Fare. Not to ruin the illusion or anything, but we’ve heard that this is because Walt Disney World is currently experiencing a pronounced ‘princess shortage.’
More recently, other character experiences and dining updates occurred, including the return of Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Chip ‘N Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. While both were great news, the latter was especially significant as a signal that Walt Disney World still intends on bringing back the little things that could easily be forgotten–or be the victims of cost-cutting.
In any case, we have some good news on the character dining front, with a fairly noteworthy expansion to options. Here’s the announcement from Walt Disney World…
Across Walt Disney World, some of guest-favorite restaurants are gearing up to welcome popular pals back, including Stitch for breakfast at ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Minnie and her friends for breakfast at Cape May Café at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, and Winnie the Pooh and friends at the Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom for both lunch and dinner.
Get ready for some hugs, laughs, and lasting memories because here are the places getting character dining back soon!
Let’s start with Magic Kingdom, where there are some special characters coming back for a friendship celebration nestled within Main Street, U.S.A. at the Crystal Palace: A Buffet with Characters featuring Winnie the Pooh and Friends. This greenhouse-inspired beauty is the perfect place to spend your day with some hugs and a feast, with options like Carved Prime Rib, Seasonal Ravioli, and Peel & Eat Shrimp.
Beginning September 20, 2022, friends from the Hundred Acre Wood will be rejoining the celebratory feasting for lunch and dinner at Crystal Palace. (Note: breakfast is still unavailable at Crystal Palace. It’s unclear when–or even if–this missing meal will return.)
We’re rumbly in our tummy with exciting news! Winnie the Pooh and pals are returning for breakfast on Oct. 25 at the Crystal Palace! Reservations open Sept. 22. 🍯✨#DisneyWorldpic.twitter.com/lnm8ZLZtCB
September 16, 2022 UPDATE: Walt Disney World just shared the above on Twitter (as well as Facebook and Instagram), indicating that breakfast will be returning to Crystal Palace on October 25, 2022. Advance Dining Reservations open on September 22, 2022.
No other details have been provided, no press release was issued, and the official page for Crystal Palace has not yet been updated. Regardless, this is fantastic news. The breakfast options at Magic Kingdom (and all of the parks, honestly) have left a lot to be desired, and this should help with that. Here’s hoping that this means a return of more breakfast options…and pre-park opening ADRs! We’ll keep you posted.
Fortunately, those who wanting to start the day out right and have breakfast with characters before a day in Magic Kingdom can do so a short walk, boat or monorail ride away from the park at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
At the Poly, guests can get ready for some relaxing vibes as you treat yourself to some breakfast classics at the ‘Ohana Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo and Stitch! Nothing beats getting some love from everyone’s favorite mischievous friend, Stitch, to start off your day. Get your hugs in as you enjoy tasty treats like the Pineapple Coconut Breakfast Bread and Mickey Waffles and sip on the iconic Lilikoi Juice and the yummy Moana Smoothie.
‘Ohana Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo and Stitch will return on September 27, 2022.
Over at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, you’ll find Cape May Café, a New-England inspired spot serving up some tasty eats in an all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet. Have some fun with Disney friends as you enjoy your morning favorites at this feast, including the mouthwatering Salted Caramel “Beach Buns.” And what breakfast is complete without the famous Mickey and Minnie Waffles? Fuel up for your day the right way with these unforgettable characters and dishes.
Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast at Cape May Café will be making its exciting return on October 4, 2022.
One thing to keep in mind when making Advance Dining Reservations for any of these meals is that prices will almost certainly increase once the characters return. Currently, each of these restaurants is priced around $10 to $17 less than they were pre-closure.
As you’re undoubtedly aware, Walt Disney World has not decreased prices across the board in the last couple of years. Quite the contrary, in fact. Accordingly, our expectation would be that each of these meals increase by about $17 to $23. While there are no great apples to apples comparisons, that would roughly bring them in line with mostly equivalent character meals around Walt Disney World. Just something to keep in mind when perusing menus and planning ADRs!
Once this trio of character dining experiences return, the list of “missing meals” at Walt Disney World will be as follows:
1900 Park Fare – Breakfast & Dinner
Akershus – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Be Our Guest Restaurant – Breakfast & Counter Service Lunch
Cinderella’s Royal Table – Fairytale Princess Dining
Trattoria al Forno – Bon Voyage Character Breakfast
Out of these, the most obvious candidate for returning is 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Although that featured Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, and Mad Hatter before closing, it could easily be modified to all fur characters if necessary.
Then there’s Cinderella’s Royal Table, which seems like such an integral part of the Walt Disney World experience for some families. Even with the purported “princess shortage,” it seems like that would be a priority to bring back. Similarly, Akershus is EPCOT’s lone princess meal, and was always immensely popular pre-closure. It’s somewhat surprising that Disney hasn’t found a way to bring both of those back–especially considering how lucrative both are for the company.
Everything else is breakfast in the parks, and it seems like the big impediment to that right now is staffing. Walt Disney World still can’t imagine to open Magic Kingdom before 9 am or close after 11 pm on the same day due to staffing limitations; bringing back breakfast at Crystal Palace, Be Our Guest, or Garden Grill would probably necessitate closing those restaurants earlier in the evening due to Cast Member shortages.
Again, these meal services are all profitable for Walt Disney World, so we cannot imagine that the current scenario is the outcome that the company “wants.” They’re leaving money on the table, and thus will restore those breakfasts as soon as possible.
Ultimately, all of this is great news and should please several of you who have specifically been asking about these meals (although I think we’ve received more questions about the Crystal Palace character breakfast, and this doesn’t address that at all). While this doesn’t directly impact restaurant capacity or the Disney Dining Plan since all of these restaurants were already open for these meal services, it’s still another stepping in the right direction for Walt Disney World’s dining and character experiences.
On another positive note, Walt Disney World’s culinary teams aren’t quite as understaffed as they were last year. This is one of the big reasons why restaurants are able to fill more tables and increase their capacity. That’s good news for those trying to score Advance Dining Reservations or walk-up availability. We’ve found ourselves having way better success with ADRs on short notice in the last couple of months, including during times that are peak season.
More importantly, it’ll allow the Cast Members currently at those restaurants to be reassigned to other restaurants around Walt Disney World, thereby helping to increase capacity across the board. That alone will be huge. Here’s hoping we get more big dining news as Walt Disney World prepares for that expansion and reallocation of resources!
What do you think of this Walt Disney World character dining news? Excited that character meals are returning to Crystal Palace, Cape May Cafe, and ‘Ohana? Or, would you prefer that the cheaper, regular meal services stick around at those restaurants? Would you like to see more characters, or think Walt Disney World has done a good job bringing them back? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? 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!