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Robert Niles

Vote of the week: What's the best meal for character dining?

Published: September 16, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Character dining provides a great way to multitask on a theme park visit. Shell out the extra bucks for a character meal and you can take care of two tasks at once - eating a meal and seeing some of your favorite characters.

(I mean, your kids' favorite characters. Right.)

Character tea party at the Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel

But when to enjoy your character meal? Do you book a character breakfast, and ensure that you'll meet your favorite characters right away? Or does booking what might be the highlight of the day for some kids (or adults) make the rest of the day seem too anticlimactic?

What about dinner, then? But what happens if you meet those characters in the park earlier in the day? Does that make the character meal less special, and not worth the extra cost?

That leaves lunch. But do you really want to spend all that potential ride time stuck in a restaurant?

Let's put it up for a vote, then. And after you vote, please click the link to comment and tell us about your dream character experience. Who would the characters be? The restaurant? Would there be a show, or just walk-around characters? And if you've already been to a character meal that you'd consider perfect, let us know about that instead.

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Replies (10)

Andrew Mooney

Published: September 16, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Breakfast allows guests to experience something quite unique - an empty park. I always enjoyed getting my first meal of the day alongside Mickey and gang, as well as the princesses. Whilst lunch/early evening may allow guests more time with the characters (this happened to us a few years ago at Liberty Tavern when my brother was a baby and all the characters, especially Minnie, spent a lot of time with us) breakfast in the park is brilliant.

Published: September 16, 2011 at 1:01 PM

We used to like Crystal Palace for character breakfasts, but this last trip took a ferry over to the Polynesian to visit with Lilo and Stitch. It was pretty much the same setup as the Palace, with visiting characters, photo opportunities, and occasional character and kid coordinated marches and dances. The main difference, however, was the food: The Polynesian fills you up with some fine offerings, and a big jug of fresh OJ to get you started on the day. This was quite a departure from the Palace, where some of the buffet food can taste a little warmed-over after a while.

Even though breakfast is probably the best time to do a meal like this, there's an opportunity that not many folks mention: Late night dinner at Cinderella's table. The added delight here is that you're actually liable to get a reservation, even at a late date, and while the Wishes fireworks show goes off outside, you're _under_ the fireworks display. Everything outside seems to turn bright colors, and you can hear the booms through walls of the building.

Anon Mouse

Published: September 16, 2011 at 1:41 PM

I would have to say brunch (not on the list). Breakfast is too early. Lunch is a different mood. Brunch is a more leisurely unrushed experience from 10 to 12pm. You can enjoy the food at your own pace and it runs into lunch so you'll be completely satiated at the conclusion. It is also easier to enjoy the characters when you're fully awake.
KJ Simpson

Published: September 16, 2011 at 3:51 PM

There's nothing like an early breakfast reservation at Akershus- walking through a completely empty Epcot, dining on decent food, seeing a few princesses (whether or not that's your thing, it's worth it!), and finishing in time to be right at the front of the crowd where they hold you for ropedrop. Although, apparently they're doing away w/ ropedrop at Epcot, so that part of the strategy may need to change...
Deidre Dennis

Published: September 16, 2011 at 5:42 PM

We've always done the breakfast meals and they've all been great. Did lunch once because we were a large group at Goofys Kitchen @ Disneyland. We all had on matching tshirts and the characters spent a lot of time with us. It was great.

Since the son and niece are older now, (14 going on 30), don't know if we will ever do character meals again.

David Sutter

Published: September 17, 2011 at 4:28 AM

Dinner at the Royal Table...It starts with meet and greet in the lobby with Cinderellia and her fairy God Mother..Then Climbe the stairs to the Hall. Be treated like a real guest. Waitted on hand and foort. Meet Cindy as shes working the room. a Great way to enf any evening at the Magic Kingdom.
Anthony Murphy

Published: September 17, 2011 at 4:39 PM

I enjoy a good Character Dinner. It feels to me as something more "adult like".

Anyway, they took away my favorite character dinner: Liberty Tree Tavern

Published: September 18, 2011 at 7:36 PM

See I never have done it but my opinion is that do the breakfast cause U will beet the lines in the morning since U R early. Lunch cuts into riding time and dinner U R tired normaly.
Rob P

Published: September 19, 2011 at 2:57 AM

Love the breakfasts. Apart from meeting the characters you get to take on all that much needed fuel to give you energy for the day ahead. The other days we give a full breakfast a miss to make early starts at the Parks.
Our favourite was always Ohanas at the Poly in the days before Stitch.
Robert Waldbauer

Published: September 20, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Late Dinner at Cinderella's Table-- the Princesses spend more time at each table, the fireworks go off while you eat (ask for a window table, though!), and you get great service that seems less rushed.

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