Before we had kids, I wouldn’t ever have considered investing the time and money in a character meal. My interests are the attractions and theming more than the movies and stars. We still hesitated to take our girls due to the cost, but their love of Mary Poppins changed the equation. A major goal of our late January trip was making sure they spent time with the title character. The breakfast at 1900 Park Fare offered the perfect opportunity for them to meet Mary up close. I was also curious about how the character meals functioned. Reactions typically are mixed about their value. We scheduled an ADR for 9:05 a.m. on a Friday and had no issues making the reservation a few months prior to the visit.
Despite being part of the large Grand Floridian Resort, 1900 Park Fare has a modest entrance within the lobby. The check-in desk is part of a small room that probably feels cramped during the busier days. After confirming our name, cast members whisked us to the next step — a family picture in front of a painting of the castle. A single 4x6 or 5x7 photo is $14.95, while an 8x10 is $16.95. You can also download a hi-res version of the image from My Disney Experience for $14.95. The pictures turned out pretty well, but standing in front of a generic image is hardly a classic memory. After a brief wait, we were escorted to our table close to the entrance in one of the smaller rooms. I should mention that there were no high chairs available when we arrived, but cast members quickly located one before we reached the table.
The immediate feeling that hits you upon entering this space is a frenzy of activity. Along with Mary Poppins, the other characters on hand were Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Alice, and the Mad Hatter. Each star was spaced throughout the restaurant and moving steadily between tables. As parents, there’s a conflict between gathering food while ensuring that we didn’t miss the big moments. My wife and I took turns visiting the buffet while the other was ready for the characters. The girls were too distracted to eat very much, so any questions of value on that end are inconsequential. It’s best to remember the true reason for the visit. 1900 Park Fare is deceptively large because the space is split into smaller areas. This creates a sensation that you’re dining in a smaller spot, but it also seems to increase the noise.
The food is mostly standard breakfast fare, but there are plenty of options for varying tastes. Our girls enjoyed the Mickey Waffles, and I picked up a nice plate of French toast, bacon, sausage, and eggs. The quality was solid across the board, and the temperature issues that sometimes occur in a buffet were nonexistent. Along with traditional options, there are more unique dishes like lobster Benedict, smoked salmon lox, and Floridian strawberry soup. My daughter has a peanut allergy, and the chef quickly arrived at our table and explained the menu. The service was top-notch across the board, including the drinks and plate removals. This is no small feat given all the activity that’s happening during this meal.
The cost was around $73 before the tip for two adults and one child. The prices change frequently depending on the day and season, so getting an exact idea of the costs isn’t easy. Breakfast is a better choice to save money, though the dinner at 1900 Park Fare has different characters (Cinderella, Prince Charming, and others). It isn’t an outlandish cost given Disney prices, and it’s hard to put a price on having a special experience. The question is how exceptional the experience can feel given the loud and hectic atmosphere. Our girls had a great time, but they spent less than a minute with Mary Poppins. They had a longer and more personal interaction with her at EPCOT later that day. It’s an anecdotal comparison from one family, but it reveals the complexities when deciding on character dining.
There were positive aspects of our first exposure to character dining at Disney World. The Mad Hatter and Alice were both charming, and this was the girls’ only meeting with those characters. It was a fun surprise for them on our last park day, and adding new elements keeps the trips from becoming too familiar. Even so, it’s unlikely that we’ll do another character meal. When you analyze the time commitments and cost, the value wasn’t there with this breakfast. Disney theme park prices continue to rise, and this fact makes every choice even more important when planning a trip. I understand the allure of character meals and don’t regret trying one, but they just don’t fit with our goals for a Disney vacation.
[Editor's Note: Today, we are proud to announce that we have added Walt Disney World's hotel restaurants to our theme park restaurant listings. You can rate and review 1900 Park Fare and other Disney hotel restaurants by visiting our Walt Disney World Hotels page and clicking through to each hotel, where you will find links to reviews pages for each of its restaurants, below the hotel's description. All readers may rate any of these restaurants, and registered members of Theme Park Insider may submit reviews and photos, as well. Registration is free, and takes just a moment.]
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