There are an overwhelming number of places to eat in Walt Disney World Resort. There are the classic restaurants where everyone wants to go, like Cinderella’s Castle. There are new places to try, Be Our Guest is still hugely popular for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And then there are the places that fewer people seem to know about, where you can still get a delicious meal and hug your favorite characters. Here is my list of those. All restaurants listed are one table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan.
Best Character Meals
I have three on this list because it’s hard to decide, it depends on what park and what characters you are looking to meet. The restaurants I’ve chosen also have excellent food, which is just as important as the characters to me. Chef Mickey’s is classic, but very loud and the characters can move through quickly to handle the large space. The food is underwhelming in my opinion. Crystal Palace is also excellent, but only has Pooh and friends. Without further ado, here are my no fail options.
Maybe because it’s at the least popular park, but Tusker House at Animal Kingdom usually has an available reservation at some point during a trip. Donald and friends (every time we visited they have included Mickey, Goofy and Daisy) are decked out in Safari Gear.
Unlike many restaurants they are visiting at ALL meals and they offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is plentiful and delicious. Don’t miss the decor in the food area. The open airy market feel makes it easier to navigate then some of the cramped buffets offered elsewhere. There are your usual staples, like Mickey Waffles at breakfast, but there are also more unusual offerings to fit in with the African theme. When I was on an insulin resistance diet this restaurant had the most options. The pacing of the characters is extraordinarily smooth. At every visit we’ve had characters come by multiple times and really spend time with the kids.
Located in Epcot’s Land building is the Garden Grill. This restaurant is a hidden gem, although I have no idea why everyone isn’t going there. Chip and Dale greet guests, along with a few farmer friends-typically Mickey and Pluto. Mickey is in his farm friendly overalls! The food is served family style, you can request seconds (or thirds, or fourths, etc) of anything you’d like. They serve the most fantastic mac and cheese for kids, topped with goldfish crackers. It was a huge hit. . The house salad is loved by grown ups and much of the veggies in all the dishes are grown right downstairs in The Living Land gardens! Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all available with characters. But the other not to be missed part of this restaurant is the view. Or should I say viewS. The restaurant rotates over the Living Land throughout your meal. You can peek inside the upstairs of the farmhouse, or look deep into the rain forest. You can even enjoy the sights and sounds of the prairie below you. I highly recommend including a request for a booth on the bottom level in your reservation. You can still enjoy the view from the top row, but not as well. And fear not, I have severe motion sickness, I can’t even handle Goofy’s Barnstormer. But I could easily tolerate the spin of the Garden Grill.
Another Epcot restaurant, but this is reserved for Princess fans. Cinderella’s Royal Table is the usual choice for meeting princesses, but it is hard to get, pricy and takes two table credits on the dining plan. Although Akershus is no longer a hidden gem, it’s still a great meal. Breakfast is for the least adventurous pallet, a small buffet offers some traditional Norwegian items, but a traditional American breakfast is served family style. For those looking for something new, aim for lunch or dinner. You will be served a Taste of Norway at your table, then you can choose an offering from the menu. Kids can try something exotic or stick with a typical Disney kids menu of pizza and the like. This restaurant offers more princesses then Cinderella’s Royal Table as well. We’ve had photos with Belle, Snow White, Ariel, Aurora and Cinderella. Don’t think this is just for girls either, they are thrilled to see boys in attendance and some of the princesses really ham it up with shy little brothers.