If meeting the characters is a priority when you are visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland my recommendation is to make a reservation at one of the many character dining experiences. You have the opportunity to meet everyone from the classics, Mickey, Minnie and Donald, or some of the more current characters like Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First. In this blog I’ll be talking about the Sensational Six and other Classic Characters. The Sensational Six are Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, and Goofy. Some of the other classic characters you can find are Chip and Dale. Many of the character meals will list one character that is the central and others are listed but are not guaranteed. So let’s start with one of the most well known character meals, Chef Mickey’s.
Chef Mickey’s is located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Typically Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Goofy are there -it’s a great group of characters. They will be dressed in their chef attire. The location is unique because you can see the monorail going through the building and for some, that’s a big reason to reserve this experience. In my opinion the food and menu are just okay. It’s a pretty basic menu for all their menus: breakfast, lunch and dinner. It also find it loud and a bit chaotic. Also, know that because it is at a resort, you will need to give yourself more time to get there as there are no resort to resort buses so you will need to get a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then walk or take the monorail to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Your other option is to take a cab/Uber/Minnie Van, this will certainly get you there faster but you will incur the cost of the fare.
Tusker House Restaurant
Safari Donald and friends join you here. Most of the time Daisy, Mickey, Minnie and Goofy are with Donald. They are dressed in safari themed outfits. This restaurant is located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It’s a great location because you don’t have to get to a resort, you can plan this for the day you are at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. One of the best parts of this experience is the food. It has a fantastic variety of African inspired fruit chutneys, salads, and potato dishes as well as your classic Mickey Waffles, scramble eggs, and bacon. This is the best character breakfast on property in my opinion. The character experience is fantastic and the food is delicious. Lunch and dinner here are also very good. There also tends to be more availability for lunch and dinner. Tusker House is one of the restaurants that can also booked as a Rivers of Light package. Rivers of Light is the night time show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Booking it as a package doesn’t add any cost but you do get reserved seating for the show!
Cape May Cafe
This is billed as Minnie and friends beach bash. Usually you will see Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Pluto here too. This is at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and the characters are in there beach attire. I only recommend doing this if you are staying at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club or Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. Because there are no resort to resort buses, if you are not staying there you would need to take a bus to a park and then another bus to Disney’s Beach Club. You could take a taxi/Uber here on your Epcot day and then walk into the back of Epcot after your breakfast but it is still a bit out of the way. This is a standard buffet with the typical fare so I don't think it's worth the logistic of getting there.
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
This experience is more than just a dining experience, it’s a hoedown! Complete with dancing and an all you care to eat buffet. Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale and Goofy join everyone on the dance floor. And they are all dressed for the occasion.
This experience give you the most time with the characters and I think the best interactions with the characters. The food is your typical BBQ and it’s well done. This experience is at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness. You can take a boat from the Magic Kingdom over there or a bus from any of the parks. There is an internal bus at Ft. Wilderness so leave yourself enough time to get there.
In the Land pavilion in Epcot, the Garden Grill features Chip and Dale but I mention this one because most of the time you will also find Mickey and Minnie there too. The food here is wonderful, some of it is even grown on property! This is a great option if you are looking for the characters and you have time while you are at Epcot. Breakfast is standard but lunch and dinner have more variety.
Hollywood and Vine
Minnie’s Seasonal Dining can be found at Hollywood and Vine. This is offered only at lunch and dinner (Disney Jr Characters are there for breakfast). You typically will see Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald and Goofy there. The food is okay, so I would go to for the characters more than the food. You can also pair this with reserved seating for Fantasmic! It doesn’t cost any more but does give you great seating for the night time show. The catch is that it’s usually for off times, for example 3PM dinner.
There are a lot of options! Depending on your schedule and which characters you are looking to meet you should be able to find something just right. My two favorites are Tusker House and Mickey's Backyard BBQ. We are alway here to talk to you more about the menus and which will fit well into your vacation!