*DIS Contributors review meals, resort stays, and entertainment that they have paid for during their own vacations. They only utilize discounts and offers if they are available to the general public, such as annual passholder discounts, Tables in Wonderland, or DVC membership discounts. They receive no additional compensation for dining experiences or events, so that they may give their honest opinions about price and value.
This is a review of six different character meals done over an eight night, nine day vacation at Walt Disney World during August 2019. For the full seven days we were there, our party of six, including myself, my wife, our six and one year old daughters, and our four year old son, along with my mother, braved a collection of buffets to see as many characters as we could. These reviews were done with the Disney Dining Plan, and the only out of pocket expenses were the tips.
The scores given in these reviews will be in context of each other, and not comparing them to other restaurants on property. The scores are out of 10, and anything less than a 5 will signal that there was a negative experience.
So, why so many character meals? First, it's a fantastic way to maximize the value of the Disney Dining Plan. Second, it gets you and your family out of the heat and into some air conditioning. Third, after seeing all the different characters at the meals, you don't need to wait in line to see them in the parks. When you're shepherding around three small kids, these meals are great at keeping them occupied at the table while allowing you to relax for a bit before getting back to touring the park.
Chef Mickey's Buffet
Location: Disney's Contemporary Resort
Characters: Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto
Cost: $38.00 per adult, $25.00 per child
Total Cost: $164.00 | Disney Dining Plan Cost per day: $282.43
The Location and Theming
Chef Mickey's Buffet is located on the fourth floor of the Disney's Contemporary Resort right in the middle of the action. The Contemporary Resort is located a short walk (about 10 minutes) from the Magic Kingdom. Having made this walk with three kids, I would say it's an easy walk for most families. If the weather is not cooperating with you, or if it's too hot or raining, you can hop on the monorail and take the long way back or take a quick tour of the Seven Seas Lagoon and check out Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. If you've never been on the monorail before, this is a great chance to cross it off your list.
The restaurant is open to the atrium inside the resort allowing you to watch the monorail come and go while you eat. The look and theme of the restaurant is bright and colorful and wide open. It can potentially get loud inside depending on where you sit. There are several different sections of the restaurant so it's not completely wide open, but, most of the time, you can get a good look at least half of the restaurant.
Score: 8 / 10
We ate brunch at Chef Mickey's this visit and the buffet served up a typical brunch menu that would not surprise you. Various types of scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, hash brown, waffles and pancakes. Different bagels and breads with spreads are offered, along with a carving station and a few other options for kids.
This was our last stop on our character dining tour and it was a welcome change from the dinner offerings at the other buffet character meals. Everything was fresh and well stocked. If you're used to good bagels, then I would pass on the bread and get an extra sausage link instead.
Score: 7 / 10
The characters in this location are much like the other resorts. This particular stay however, it seemed like the characters were rushing through the tables and Donald actually skipped our table! A great cast member was able to get him back for pictures. Compared to our other character meals, my immediate thought was that the restaurant may have been too busy for these guys to properly visit each table long enough.
We've been here before and, on previous visits, did not have the same rushed experience with the characters.
Score 7 / 10
Service was average for this visit. Our server didn't necessarily clear our plates well or keep my coffee warm. Perhaps it was because it was busy, however I wasn't as happy with the level of service as my other experiences. It's a buffet based meal, so my expectations are lower from the beginning regardless.
My previous service experiences at Chef Mickey's Buffet were excellent.
Score 6 / 10
Value for Your Money
Eating brunch at Chef Mickey's on the Disney Dining Plan is questionable for value. The total cost of the meal is much lower compared to dinner so it's much more palatable when you're paying out of pocket. If you're trying to maximize your Dining Plan, you may want to consider spending the money and using your table service credit at dinner or at a signature dining restaurant on another night.
However, if you do use a Disney Dining Plan credit, the value is still there. If you're paying out of pocket for breakfast or brunch at Chef Mickey's, I think you're getting fair value for your money. If you end up doing breakfast at another character meal elsewhere, you're close to matching the cost of a single dinner experience. Breakfast or Brunch is definitely the way to go if you are cost sensitive.
Score 7 / 10
8 / 10 The Location and Theming
7 / 10 The Food
7 / 10 The Characters
6 / 10 Service
7 / 10 Value for Your Money
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