This week it was brought to my attention that as someone who visits the parks a lot, I take the knowledge of the Walt Disney World Parks for granted. So… Let’s get down to basics and answer some very basic questions. Questions that weren’t so basic the first time I did them and had to have a Cast Member walk me through it! Like Character Dining. What is it? Where is Character Dining? How much does it cost? Is it included in my tickets?
First let’s tackle the question of What is Character Dining?
Character Dining is probably the most enjoyable and easiest way to meet Disney Characters. While you enjoy your meal, Disney Characters come around to your table to greet you. There are different characters at different locations. If you want to meet Mickey you can either wait in line at one of the Meet and Greet locations or make a dining reservation at someplace where he will show up. Don’t know about you, but I would rather not wait in any more lines and we have to eat anyways, right?
You can meet a variety of Disney Characters. There are the classics Mickey and Minnie at several locations, Disney Princesses as well. You can meet Winnie the Pooh and all sorts of different character, just depends on what you or your little one wants to do!
Where is Character Dining?
Character dining is all over the Parks and various resorts! Most people think of the classic dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom. And yes, you can meet Various different Princess at this Character Dining. You can also Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at The World Showcase in Epcot. It is in the Norway Pavilion. You can also see Cinderella and Prince Charming most evenings at 1900 Park Fare at The Grand Floridian Resort.
Want a list? You know Disney has your back! Check out this resource on where to find all Walt Disney World Character Dining!
How much does it cost?
For starters, it does not cost extra, per se, for Character Dining. It is included with your meal. Characters come around to all the tables. You can get autographs and take pictures.
That being said, it still cost you the price of the meal. Many of these meals are great deals. Our favorite is 1900 Park Fare. It is an all you can eat buffet. It also has an extensive kids selection. Their strawberry soup is not to be missed!
If you are on the dining plan, most places that have Character Dining also accept the dining plan. Most are 1 table service credit. Some like Cinderella’s Royal Table are actually 2 credits.
If you are paying out of pocket you can check Disney’s extensive website for menu’s and cost. Going back to 1900 Park Fare you can see they list dinner as $35 to $55.99. It depends on the time of year that you go. Here is the link to 1900 Park Fare.
I have always recommend to people who are staying on Walt Disney Property and are planning on more than one Character Dining to get the Disney Dining Plan. To me it just makes sense. You will see that in a future post!
I guess the answer to how much it cost, is not a set answer. You can look it up before you go, or if you have the dining plan know that it is covered all except tip/gratuity which you will be responsible for.
Is Character Dining included in my Ticket Price?
This is a bit of a misleading question. You will need a ticket if you have Character Dining in one of the Parks. For example if you are doing Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom, you will also need a park ticket. When you make your reservation for one of these resorts it will say that park admission is not included.
If you are going to Chef Mickey’s at The Contemporary Resort then you will not need park admissions. Any of the resort Character Dining locations will not require park admissions.
Make sure you know where your character dining location is. Many plan their park days around where they are able to get dining reservations. This is especially true if you opt for one park per day tickets. If you only have admission for one park per day you don’t want to spend your day at Animal Kingdom and have Character Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
Other Notes of Interest
Dining reservations are strongly recommended for table service meals, especially for Character Dining. These reservations can go quickly. You are allowed to start making dining reservation 180 days before your vacation. If there is a particular Character Dining experience that you want, I would advise you to be on the phone or the computer making that reservation on that 180 day mark. Yes, you can find the occasional cancelation after that, but if you or your kiddo has their heart set on Chef Mickey’s, make that reservation now!
Tips and Gratuities
As I mentioned in the how much it cost, tips and gratuities are not included in any of the dining plans. . Be sure that you factor that into your budget. If you have a credit card linked to your Magic Band then you can put the charge on there.
If you are dining at some other resort other than your own, consider your transportation options before hand. Especially for those early morning reservation. It can be a bit tricky getting from one resort to the other. Often times you have to take transportation to one of the parks and get transportation back to the other resort. This can be daunting especially for those breakfast reservations.
Lyft offers the Minnie Vans and people often use that for resort dining. You can also use Uber and/or a Taxi. These options will take you from your resort straight to your dining location.
Cancelations and No Shows
If you are not going to make your character dining reservation, make sure you cancel 24 hours prior. Disney will charge you if you are a no show.
I stand behind my statement that Character Dining is the very best way to meet Disney Characters. While Disney Characters may vary and you are not guaranteed that any specific character may show up at any dining location, it still beats standing in line. I have to eat and I want to see characters. That is a wise use of my valuable Disney Vacation Time!
Would love to hear what you think! Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or other information that I may not have included!
Go out there and do something GREAT!
And have a Magical Day!
My Husband and his favorite Step-Sister, Anastasia, at 1900 Park Fare at The Grand Floridan Resort and Spa.