Sunday, January 22, 2017

{Disney} Character Dining and the most bang for your buck!

It's no secret that we're fans of Disney character meals.  The girls enjoy the entertainment of meeting characters while they eat and in many cases, we save time by not having to wait in line in order to meet the characters in the parks.  Not all character meals are the same.  There are different themes and characters, and pricing amongst the restaurants vary and can change based upon the time of year.  This post focuses mainly on cost with some other factors taken into consideration.

Disney Dining Plans

If you're on the Disney Dining Plan or the Deluxe Dining Plan, you'll most likely want to dine at the more expensive restaurants in order to get your money's worth.  Otherwise, you may have paid more for the dining plan than the out of pocket cost of the meals.  That being said, here are my top 3 picks for character dining with a meal plan:
  1. Dinner at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, located in Epcot
  2. Dinner at Chef Mickey's, located in the Contemporary Resort
  3. Dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table, located in Magic Kingdom
Note that the character interaction at all three of these restaurants is highly rated.

If your little ones are princess fans, Akershus is the perfect (read: much less expensive) option over dining in Cinderella's castle.  It's still pricey compared to other character meals, but on the dining plan, you will only use one table service credit versus the two you would have to give up to dine in the castle.  Akershus's theming is medieval castle which will appeal to those wishing to dine in a castle setting.


Chef Mickey's is extremely popular and features the "Fab 5" which results in higher meal costs.


I know there'll be arguments over my choice of dinner at CRT, but hear me out.  It is extremely expensive when paid for out of pocket, so, for many, eating here under the dining plan makes economic sense.  Yes, it can be argued that you are losing an additional table service meal on your dining plan which doesn't make economic sense (for some), but you have to consider what you're receiving in exchange for the use of that extra table service credit.  Not only are you able to meet Cinderella and dine in her castle, but the food is the best tasting of all the character meals.  Quality over quantity here when it comes to food.



Paying Out of Pocket

If you're on a budget, here are my top picks:
  1. Crystal Palace, located in Magic Kingdom
  2. Supercalafragilistic breakfast at 1900 Park Fare, located in the Grand Floridian
  3. Breakfast at Tusker House, located in Animal Kingdom
Tip:  Breakfast is usually the least expensive meal.

Crystal Palace is the most cost friendly character meal.  The character interaction is always fun and entertaining, and there's a decent selection of food at the buffet.


The breakfast at 1900 Park Fare is lively and amusing with a satisfying buffet.


I debated on whether or not to include Tusker House here.  I included food selection in addition to the cost in weighing my decision.  We've eaten breakfast here twice.  Obviously, we enjoyed it so much the first time that we returned again.  The second time was not so great.  The restaurant feels cramped and crowded, and the handlers rushed the characters.  There's a huge selection of food and if you don't have a million slow guests in front of you, the food is tasty.  When it takes a year to wait in line and return to your table with a plate of cold food, not so much.  I don't often see bad reviews of this restaurant so the thought (hope) is that we just happened to eat there on a bad day.  



Kate said...

Not dining related, but we stayed at AKL our last trip and are hoping for a monorail resort for our next one. I know you're always on the lookout for deals--do you work with a Disney planner to find them or just keep an eye out on the website?

Sarah said...

Hi Kate - I usually just check the special offers on the WDW website. I've also booked through Magical Vacations Travel - they had their own exclusive offer for August/September. I would recommend them if you want to use a travel agent. Just google - they'll pop up.