Walt Disney World has announced that Mickey Mouse and friends are returning to host a modified character breakfast at Chef Mickey’s restaurant in Contemporary Resort, bringing menu new items with them inspired by their favorite dishes. In this post, we’ll preview some of the new dishes and offer thoughts on the potential of the changes.
To quickly recap, Chef Mickey’s has already returned for breakfast only as part of Walt Disney World’s phased reopening. However, unlike the modified character meal at Topolino’s Terrace at Riviera Resort or Garden Grill in the Land pavilion at EPCOT, Chef Mickey’s has not offered a modified character meal for that last few months.
Instead, Disney’s Contemporary Resort has served the character-free Chef Mickey’s Family Feast, which Walt Disney World describes as “a lively, all-you-care-to-eat family-style meal in a bright, happy space.” As the monorail whizzes by, guests can soak up the expansive views of Bay Lake, and behold the stunning 90-foot-high mural by Disney Legend Mary Blair that overlooks the festive eatery…
Chef Mickey’s Family Feast has featured a very basic menu of pastries, cold items, and hot selections (e.g. Scrambled Eggs, Sausage Links, Bacon, Mickey Waffles, Potato-Cheese Casserole, Honey-glazed Ham, etc). Due to the limited offerings and lack of characters, the price has been reduced to $25 per adult or $14 per child ages 3 to 9.
This looked so uninteresting to us that we didn’t even bother to test and review it during our most recent stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The good news is that now appears that Chef Mickey’s Family Feast will soon be retired and replaced…
On December 16, 2020, Chef Mickey’s will debut menu items and bring back Mickey Mouse and friends. Per Walt Disney World, “the experience may look a little different than the last time you visited, but you can still expect to smile, wave and make unforgettable memories with some of your favorite characters as they parade through the restaurant in their chef’s best.”
This sounds identical to the other modified character meals that have returned elsewhere at Walt Disney World, most recently with Minnie’s Halloween Dine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The biggest change to the experience is the characters doing a physically-distanced, smile & wave character cavalcade through the restaurant rather than posed photos with guests. We’ve done a couple of these meals thus far and have had mixed results.
It is possible to grab posed photos of the characters and quick selfies with the characters, but the latter is not easy. You can see what this is like in our Topolino’s Terrace Modified Character Meal Review or our Good Morning with Goofy & Pals Modified Character Meal Review.
Another way that Chef Mickey’s will be changing to bring it more in line with the aforementioned modified character meals is via the menu options. Each table will enjoy breakfast breads, traditional breakfast entrées such as Mickey waffles, and selections from Chef Mickey’s Signature entrees. Here’s a preview of some of these Signature items…
First up, we have Mickey’s “Celebration” Pancake.
This pancake is topped with whipped cream, celebration sprinkles, shimmering pixie dust and more.
For something a bit more savory, there’s the new “Loaded” Potato-Cheese Casserole.
This dish is topped with smoked bacon crumbles and chives. (Here’s hoping the presentation of the actual dish looks this good!)
Finally, Goofy’s Banana Bread French Toast will combine unique flavors of banana bread baked in zesty orange-scented French toast batter, topped with Espresso-mascarpone cream, toasted bananas and chocolate crumbles.
This is what sounds the most interesting to us. If Goofy’s past work cooking up bizarre but inventive and shockingly good pizzas at Disneyland is any indication (see below), this could be a new top breakfast item at Walt Disney World.
If you can’t decide on which new item to try, you’ll be able to taste all three as part of an all-you-care-to-eat family style feast with other traditional breakfast favorites.
Reservations for Chef Mickey’s character breakfast will open on October 17, 2020. In addition, Disney Resort hotel guests can make reservations up to 60 days in advance plus the length of their stay (up to 10 days). Due to physical distancing requirements (and the reduced capacity that entails) plus the popularity of character meals around the holiday season, we’d expect ADRs to fill up quickly.
Additionally, each table will receive a special autographed card keepsake from Mickey and his friends, similar to the one offered at Topolino’s Terrace (see above). Of course, all of these enhancements to Chef Mickey’s come at a cost: pricing will increase to $42 per adult and $27 per child, plus tax and gratuity.
That’s almost double the current cost, but in fairness, this looks like a significant upgrade over what’s currently offered. Plus, that pricing is identical to the modified character breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace, which is probably the closest counterpart to the new-look Chef Mickey’s.
On a somewhat tangential note, we likely would be comfortable doing Chef Mickey’s at some point this year or early next. This is mentioned because we’ve been reticent to do indoor dining at Walt Disney World since it reopened (see our Best Outdoor Dining Options at Walt Disney World for recommendations on that front).
Not only is Chef Mickey’s in the cavernous, open-air atrium of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, but it’s getting fresh air from outside each time a monorail glides through the hotel and immediately above the restaurant. Obviously, we’re not experts on transmission, but based on what we’ve read and personal comfort level, Chef Mickey’s is fine for us with physical distancing measures. Your mileage may vary.
Ultimately, I’m optimistic about these changes, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise to anyone who has read our Chef Mickey’s Review. That’s one of the harshest reviews on this blog, and while it applies to dinner (which is definitely worse than breakfast), the criticism has only become sharper since that was originally published. My thinking on the matter is pretty much that the only direction Chef Mickey’s can go from here is up. Changing things is pretty much a no-risk scenario.
More to the point, Walt Disney World has really stepped up its game on the character dining front in the last few years. This began with Bon Voyage Adventure at Trattoria al Forno, continued with Storybook Dining at Artist Point, and was really fine-tuned last year with Topolino’s Terrace. Not so coincidentally, that trio tops our list of the Best Character Meals at Walt Disney World. By contrast, Chef Mickey’s feels like a relic from a different era–and not just in terms of the very 90s decor–that emphasizes quantity over quality.
While still caught in this era of “temporary abnormal” which means a diminished character experience and scaled back menu, we view this as a half-step forward for Chef Mickey’s. Our only hope is that come Spring or Summer 2021, the restrictions are able to be removed, another few entrees debut, and Chef Mickey’s becomes the flagship Walt Disney World character dining experience that it deserves to be. Heck, maybe even close for a few weeks to spruce up the decor and refresh the character costumes to really signal a new chapter for Chef Mickey’s.
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Does the modified character dining experience at Chef Mickey’s seem like it’ll be worth the money to you? Will you be booking an Advance Dining Reservation for breakfast at Chef Mickey’s this Christmas or in 2021? Is not being able to take photos with each character be a dealbreaker for you? Have you done Chef Mickey’s at Walt Disney World in the past? What did you think? Worthwhile for the characters, for the food, or for both? Is this meal something you’d like to try? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? 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!