Where to Dine with the Disney Characters Outside of the Theme Parks by Liliane Opsomer
Walt Disney World offers plenty of amazing character meals, both inside and outside the theme parks. However, to truly enjoy a character meal, you need to set aside a big chunk of time away from touring, so I suggest you reserve your character meal for a day that you won’t be visiting a theme park. Here are my top five character meals to enjoy outside of the parks. They are perfect for getting you into the magical spirit on an arrival day when there is really not enough time to tour a park or when using a full-day ticket would be a waste. A character breakfast is also a wonderful experience on departure day when you have a late flight leaving Orlando. Regardless of when you go, these meals are a good way to easy little children into meeting characters.
At Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Lilo and the mischievous Stitch are your main hosts at the Best Friends Breakfast taking place at Ohana. If you want to dress up for the occasion, put on your Hawaiian shirt. Don’t worry if you don’t own one, though, because a flower lei, albeit an artificial one, will be bestowed upon you as soon as you arrive. Did you know that Ohana means family? Guests feast on scrambled eggs, Island-style fried potatoes, Hawaiian pork sausages, Hawaiian-style ham topped with pineapple compote, and a nice spread of fresh fruits and assorted breads. Lilo and Stitch, joined by Pluto and Mickey, lead little tykes in a conga line, dancing and singing throughout the restaurant.
Tips for interacting with the characters: Ask Stitch what his badness level is today, and find out if Pluto has gotten enough treats. Compliment Mickey on his Hawaiian outfit. Ask Pluto to read his tag, which says, “If found, please return to Mickey Mouse.”
Over at the Boardwalk, Cape May Café, located inside Disney’s Beach Club Resort, is home to Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast. This low-key, fun-filled affair is the least crowded of all character breakfasts and provides ample time for all to meet Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Daisy Duck—all clad in their beach-inspired outfits.
Breakfast is a huge affair. Several stations serve scrambled eggs, frittatas, pancakes, grits, biscuits and gravy, breakfast potatoes, bacon, ham, sausage links, and the mandatory Mickey waffles. Cold offerings include fruits, cereals, yogurt, cheeses, cold cuts, and plenty of pastries.
Tips for interacting with the characters: Ask Daisy if Donald has proposed yet. Ask Mickey, “Where’s Pluto?” Minnie Mouse loves talking fashion, so go for it! Ask Goofy about his son, Max.
At Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, join Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, The Mad Hatter, Tigger, and Winnie-the-Pooh for a Supercalifragilistic Breakfast. The all-you-care-to-enjoy breakfast buffet is held at the carousel-themed 1900 Park Fare. The rather large main room is decorated with carousel horses and features a massive pipe organ on the wall.
Mary Poppins and the gang interact with guests while they enjoy eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, and a selection of pastries and fruits. My favorites are Eggs Benedict and heaps of lax on my bagel. A hickory-smoked-ham carving station and omelets (made to order) round up the offerings. And who can say no to Mickey waffles, ice cream, and gummy bears for breakfast?
Tips for interacting with the characters: Ask Pooh if he has any honey, or ask Mary Poppins how Bert is doing and where her penguins are. Be sure to ask the Mad Hatter for tips on how to be on time. Tell Alice your favorite color, ask her what her favorite color is, or tell her that today is your Unbirthday!
At dinner, this same venue (1900 Park Fare) is the place to be if you want to mingle with Cinderella and Prince Charming, Cindy’s stepmother Lady Tremaine, and stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella. The Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner is my favorite character breakfast outside of the parks.
Cinderella and her beau dance and invite little children to dance with them, and all characters visit diners at their tables. Anastasia and Drizella are hilarious, and it is easy to interact with them. I suggest you wear a princess crown and ask either of them if they want to try it on.
Tips for interacting with the characters: Ask either of the stepsisters which one is the prettiest—or ask them to sing. Ask Cinderella if she has tips on how to find your own fairy godmother.
Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort serves breakfast, brunch, and dinner.
Helping out in the kitchen are Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. If you have fidgety and picky eaters, Chef Mickey’s is the place to go. The big, open dining room is loud and, at times, resembles a madhouse, but kids love it. The restaurant is popular, so plan ahead.
For breakfast, Chef Mickey serves up the usual fare of scrambled eggs, bacon, smoked salmon, pancakes, Mickey waffles, assorted muffins, fruits, and doughnuts. There is plenty of food, including mac and cheese, mini-corn dogs, and assorted cereals, but it is far from gourmet!
Brunch has most of the breakfast items, but it includes seasonal salads, shrimp cocktails, pot roast, chili-cornbread casserole, carved pork tenderloin, and a soup of the day. In the dessert department, go for the Mickey Mousse Domes and lots of cookies.
At dinner, a buffet is supplemented by a charcuterie board, a chef’s carving station featuring prime rib, a seafood paella, and much more.
Finally, the chocolate and vanilla soft-serve machine is up and running, and you can join the kids in loading the ice cream with sprinkles, chocolate chips, cherries, gummy bears, and much more. The area around the soft-serve machine often looks like a battlefield, even though cast members are constantly cleaning and freshening up the entire dessert area.
The fabulous five will not disappoint and will entertain your kids with all kinds of shenanigans, including napkin waving. Chef Mickey’s is like a huge birthday party. The energy and sugar overload will get to the quietest kid. Try to plan some down time at your resort after all this fun!
Tips for interacting with the characters: Ask Goofy if he’s ever taken Pluto for a walk, and find out if Mickey has given Minnie a ring. Compliment Chef Mickey on the great food he cooked up.
The Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattorio al Forno, located at Disney’s Boardwalk, is the new kid on the block and my new favorite character breakfast. Here, Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Ariel, and Prince Eric reign, and their royal chefs prepare a breakfast much to my liking. Start with a choice of a mixed-berry parfait or fresh fruit salad and a frying pan of pastries featuring braided breakfast bread and clamshell pastries.
There are plenty of fabulous choices for a main course, such as a frittata of Prosciutto di Parma, Piquillo peppers, green onion, Pecorino Romano, and roasted potatoes; poached eggs with house-made fennel sausage; and Parmesan over polenta with a side of toasted Ciabatta. The Pancakes Tower will please the entire family; for the big hunger, go for the grilled steak accompanied by a cheesy egg torte, asparagus, crispy onions, and roasted potato. My favorite is the smoked salmon egg white omelet with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, goat cheese, and roasted potatoes.
Kids will enjoy the Little Royal Breakfast, which features an egg, bacon, and toast. Not to be missed is, of course, the Mickey Pancake and the Mickey Waffle.
Extra Bonus: The Bon Voyage Breakfast is the only place where you can meet Prince Eric and Flynn Rider.
Tips for interacting with the characters: Ask Flynn to see what’s in his purse. Tell Ariel that you, too, are a mermaid; show her your own dinglehopper (fork) and talk about the human treasures she likes best. Ask Rapunzel how she keeps her hair from getting tangled and where Pascal and Maximus are. Ask Prince Eric where Max is. Take it all one step further and dress for the occasion!
If your kids like to interact with characters and are autograph collectors, then the character meals are ideal, as you can easily collect a few in one seating. As for the parents: Get your cameras ready!
Liliane Opsomer is the coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids.
She visits the parks several times a year.
Best Friends Breakfast: Courtesy of Jocelyn Martin and her family
Supercalifragilistic Breakfast: Courtesy of Ellice Ford and her family
Chef Mickey’s: Courtesy of Rikki Niblett
Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast and Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner: Liliane Opsomer