Where to meet Disney World characters without buying a park ticket?

February 8, 2018, 3:26 PM · Ever wondered if it was possible to meet Disney's popular characters at the Walt Disney World Resort, without having to buy a theme park ticket? It is, and we're not talking about meeting some sketchy, probably-not-official "character" in a bought-it-on-eBay suit, like you'd find in Times Square or on Hollywood Boulevard. These are the real-deal Disney characters, ready to meet and greet your kids... or anyone else who wants in on the fun.

Now, even though won't need to buy a theme park ticket to get into these meet and greets, they aren't free — they are the character meals at the Walt Disney World resort's on-site hotels, and prices range from 30-some bucks to ten times that, per person. (Yes, the top price for a Disney hotel character meal is more than $300, so — at that price — you might be better off just buying that theme park ticket and getting in line.)

The good news is that Disney doesn't charge for parking at its on-site hotels. Just show the parking attendant that you have a reservation for a character meal and you're in. So that's another 20 bucks or so saved.

Of course, if you're not a local, you're probably not going to travel to Orlando just to get into a hotel character meal. But if you are a local, or are looking to extend an Orlando area vacation with an extra day without a theme park ticket, these events can give you that "theme park" experience without all the expense.

Most of these character meals are buffets. Expect abundant Mickey waffles and other breakfast staples at that meal, with made to order eggs and omelets available at some events, while dinner typically features a carving station with beef and turkey, and kids' selections that include chicken nuggets and sometimes pizza.

Chef Mickey's
Disney's Contemporary

Disney's "Big Five" — Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald Duck — are the main attractions at what seems like Disney World's most popular character meal, serving breakfast and dinner daily. Prices: $41 adults at breakfast, $50 at dinner.

Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo & Stitch at 'Ohana
Disney's Polynesian

Meet the stars of Lilo & Stitch as you chow down on an Island-inspired breakfast, served family style to the table. Price: $34 for adults, $20 children.

Supercalifragilistic Breakfast and Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare
Disney's Grand Floridian

Meet Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, The Mad Hatter, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger at breakfast and Cinderella and Prince Charming for dinner at these buffets. Prices: $32 for adults at breakfast, $45 for dinner.

Disney's Perfectly Princess Tea
Disney's Grand Floridian

Aurora is your host at Disney's priciest character meet and greet, a fancy tea party that costs a whopping $333.64 (plus tax) for one adult and one child. It's $234.08 for each extra child you bring and $98.66 to add another adult to your party. Yes, the kids' tickets cost more... because they are the ones taking home the princess doll and all the accompanying swag. (If you want to know all what's included, here's a review from a while back, when my kids where young enough to go without drawing stares.)

Mickey's Backyard BBQ
Disney's Fort Wilderness

Like the Princess Tea Party, this is more of a show than a straight character meet-and-greet-with-a-meal. A live band plays while Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Chip 'n Dale greet guests at this outdoor barbecue, featuring ribs, chicken, burgers, and hot dogs. Prices range from $72-62 for adults. Open seasonally.

Minnie's Beach Bash Breakfast at Cape May Cafe
Disney's Beach Club

Minnie and selected friends will greet you at this buffet, which is relatively low-key by the typically high-adrenaline standard of Disney character experiences. Price is #36 for adults, $21 for children.

Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno
Disney's BoardWalk

Meet Ariel and Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Tangled at Disney World's newest character dining experience, which serves your choice of Italian-inspired breakfast entrees. Price: $34 for adults, $20 for children.

Disney World fans, which is your favorite character meal in the hotels, and why?

Replies (4)

February 9, 2018 at 11:58 AM · Having done my share in the past, I will be skipping Disney character dining.Not worth the price hikes. ..
February 9, 2018 at 1:30 PM · We've done a couple of these (1900 Park Fare and Chef Mickey's), but as our son is aging, we probably won't do them again. IMHO, most character meals are incredibly overpriced for those paying out of pocket. They're far more sensible if you're using the Disney Dining Plan, which defeats the purpose of this list, because you have to be staying on site with park tickets to purchase the DDP.
February 9, 2018 at 10:01 PM · I've done two character meet and greet breakfast when I tagged along on my sister's Disney trip in 2014. Chef Mikey's was fun but the food was no better then a breakfast buffet at any other hotel I've been to... for the most part. Some of the bacon was rubbery and overall breakfast food is cheap so the price for this is strictly for meeting the characters. Some hotels that I've stayed at have included free hot breakfast and this was equivalent to that for me but maybe a few more choices and of course Mickey waffles!!! The restaurant is open concept kinda in the hotel so it doesn't feel very exclusive... although the people who tried to get in that thought this was a free breakfast at Holiday Inn were a little perturbed! Haha The characters took a little bit to get to our table but no major complaints around the board. The next meet and greet was at Cinderella's Royal Table. Now this is in Magic Kingdom so there goes the whole avoiding a park ticket but this is definitely a better setting. Eating inside Cinderella's Castle is about as iconic as u can get at Disney World. The food was much more "high end" too. I had a lobster eggs Benedictthat was delicious, however this was not buffet so the portion you got was all! It was a normal sized portion don't get me wrong but I would have forced more down because I enjoyed it!!! Princesses were the characters that were walking around and they seemed to stay longer and be more frequent... which was okay for a single guy like me! Haha. I was with my niece and nephew who were at perfect ages to experience the characters and be super excited. My niece was in love with the princess too so that was a no brainer. We were lucky enough to have the free dining plan included with our package so that is what made these possible. I do think we would have considered at least one of these if we had to pay out of pocket but maybe not both. I will be going again this spring and looked into some of these again. But this time we will not partake because of the price and the nephew I'm going with is a little to old and not crazy about any of these characters. But maybe Uncle Bob will go see the princesses again :)
February 14, 2018 at 11:48 AM · You forgot to include the character meet & greets at the Garden Grove (Swan Hotel) and the Wyndham Resort (Lake Buena Vista) has a character breakfast buffet.

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