When it comes to dining with Disney characters, Disney has a meal to please all guests! Of course, some of the most popular characters are what we Disney lovers call the "Fab 5." The Fab 5 include: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto.
|Mickey Mouse at Chef Mickey's|
Why Character Dining?
Character dining is a wonderful way to complete two tasks at one time. Since you have to eat, and you (or your little ones) want to see the characters, why not do both at once? When you participate in a character meal, each character will visit your table at least once during your meal. They will spend time with your group, sign autograph books, and take pictures. The setting is usually less rushed than standing in line at the parks, and you don't run the risk of standing in a long line to have Mickey take a break just as you near the front. For this reason, we meet most of our characters at meals and save the lines for the characters we can't see while dining.
|Goofy at Tusker House|
The "Fab 5"
There is currently only one restaurant that offers dining with all of the Fab 5. There are also several locations that offer dining with at least 2 of the Fab 5 characters.
|Mickey Statue at Chef Mickey's|
You can find all of the Fab 5 at Chef Mickey's restaurant at Disney's Contemporary Resort. This restaurant serves breakfast and dinner, and is a favorite for the characters along with the celebration (fun dance party) that happens during the meal. We like to eat here on the day we arrive at Walt Disney World, since it does not require park admission and we can see the characters and feel some Disney magic even before going into the parks. If you purchase the Fastpass + photo package, the group picture with a Chef Mickey statue is also included in the package.
|Minnie at Chef Mickey's|
My next favorite classic character meal is Tusker House at Animal Kingdom. This character dining location features Donald and friends at all three meals. Donald's friends usually include Daisy (sometimes difficult to find in the parks, so we love to catch her here!), Mickey, and Goofy. The picture with Donald before you are seated is also included in the Photopass + package.
|Donald at Tusker House|
We also love to eat at the Garden Grill in Epcot, which features Mickey in his farmer's outfit, Pluto, and Chip and Dale (also difficult to find in the parks). The food at the Garden Grill is amazing, since it is seasonal and much is grown at the Land pavilion in Epcot.
|Pluto at Garden Grill|
Some of the Fab 5 also make appearances at the following dining locations:
- Cape May Cafe at Disney's Beach Club Resort: Characters appear at breakfast and usually include Minnie Mouse, Donald, and Goofy.
- Garden Grove at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel: Two classic characters appear at dinner.
- 'Ohana at Disney's Polynesian Resort: Characters appear at breakfast and usually include Mickey and Pluto along with Lilo and Stitch. The character meal picture is also included in the Photopass + package.
- Mickey's Backyard BBQ at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort: This dinner show is held seasonally in the summer. Characters usually include Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Chip, and Dale.
It is important to note that Disney World does not guarantee character appearances and all policies state that characters are subject to change without notice. Even Mickey Mouse can get a cold! I am always careful about guaranteeing anything to my girls, in case something doesn't work out the way we expect it to.
|Daisy at Tusker House|
As a rule, we much prefer character dining to waiting in long lines at the parks. We are more comfortable and the character interaction is fun! If you would like to dine with Mickey Mouse, Chef Mickey's is by far the most popular location, so making advanced dining reservations is essential. Remember that advanced dining reservations can be made up to 180 days before the trip! I was able to make reservations for a client three months before their vacation, but only after trying for several weeks; it was booked the first several times I tried.
|Mickey at Chef Mickey's|
Garden Grove and Cape May Cafe are probably the least well-known, being at resorts on or near the Disney Boardwalk. If you are trying to make a reservation and other character dining is booked, there may still be openings at those restaurants.
When in doubt, ask your resident Disney specialist! Do you have questions about character dining? Is there another meal or character that you would like me to cover in the blog? Let me know in the comments section!