My family and I are big fans of eating out, so we definitely budget a decent amount a month to enjoy restaurants in our local area. Since we live in the suburbs of NYC, we are fortunate enough to have great food all around us. However, when we go to Disney, I really prioritize planning dining experiences for my family. We love places like Sci-Fi Dine In Theater or Space 220, which give you a unique experience that you can’t get in your local Italian restaurant.
Our top choices at Disney are the character meals. We love the interactions with the characters, and nothing says “I’m in Disney!” quite like hugging Mickey while you wait for your waffles to arrive. With that said, there are a few that are still closed that we LOVE, and I really hope they come back soon. This list is in no particular order, but all of the meals here are excellent experiences that add so much to a Disney vacation, so hopefully we will see them return soon.
The first time we went to Disney I had a 2 year old daughter who was in love with all things princess. This restaurant was truly a hidden gem because it allowed us to meet the princesses with a less hefty price tag than Cinderella’s Royal Table. It also put us right in the Norway pavilion, which allowed us to make a pre-park opening breakfast reservation and then quickly shoot over to Frozen Ever After. This was such a fabulous way to check meeting princesses off the Disney bucket list, as well as a top tier attraction. We also genuinely enjoyed the breakfast offerings, and felt this meal was a great value. Of all the meals on my list, this is one experience that I think is the most missing from the parks, and hopefully will return soon.
Sticking with the princess theme, this restaurant allowed you to meet Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, and the evil stepsisters all at once! Some of these are super rare characters that you can’t see outside of the restaurant, which was great for autograph collectors. The breakfast hosted Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland, which was another special experience, although one we had yet to experience. While the dinner was a typical Disney dinner buffet, the restaurant was beautiful and the experience was unique. The stepsisters were hysterical and kept guests laughing. Another huge perk to this restaurant was that it is located in the Grand Floridian, so you were able to have this dose of Disney Magic without being inside a Disney park. This was a great option for arrival day or a Disney resort day.
3- Garden Grill Breakfast
Yes, Garden Grill is open, but as a mom of picky kids who don’t enjoy the offerings at lunch or dinner, this is the meal I am most closely keeping an eye out for. We have not tried Garden Grill in Epcot yet, but it was on our list for our 2020 trip that was cancelled. We skipped it in 2021 since breakfast wasn’t open yet, and we are still holding on to some slight hope that it will be back before we go in fall of 2022. A lot of families prefer character meal breakfasts because they are less expensive. For us, the cost savings are nice, but even nicer is the fact that my kids will eat the offerings. This meal offers a unique dining experience since the restaurant rotates, and the character interaction is known to be top-notch. Please, Disney, PLEASE, reopen this breakfast soon!
4- Trattoria al Forno Bon Voyage Breakfast
This character breakfast pairs Rapunzel and Ariel with their leading men, giving us an opportunity to meet Prince Eric and Flynn, both of which are not easy to find! This meal is located at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and was a great character meal option away from the monorail loop. Once again, being located outside of a park makes this meal very appealing for families who don’t have a park ticket one day, but want a little extra Disney magic. What also makes this meal so appealing is that it is known to be a quality breakfast. Reviews are often very positive, so hopefully it will open soon and allow diners to return!
5- Honorable mentions: ‘Ohana, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace is my absolute FAVORITE character meal. I love being right on Main Street, I love the glass windows that surround this restaurant and the beautiful greenery within, and I LOVE Winnie the Pooh. While the restaurant is currently open, there are no characters as of the day I am writing this. The same holds true for ‘Ohana. We have had breakfast with Lilo and Stitch and it’s another great meal option outside of a park. Both of these meals are currently open, but not with characters. Cinderella’s Royal Table has Cinderella, but it is not back to the “princess palooza” it once was. I hope all of these modified experiences change back soon, as they truly brought a lot of magic to the parks. Sure, we can get Mickey waffles in many locations, but we can’t replicate these character meal experiences!