Planning a trip to the Disney theme parks can be one of the most exciting and overwhelming travel experiences of your life. There are so many different opportunities to take advantage of that it is almost certain that you won’t be able to tick everything off your to-do list the first time. Disney’s Character Dining is one way to enjoy spending time with a group of characters while enjoying some delicious Disney food at the same time, but it does have its drawbacks. In the final installment of our 2023 Disney Dining Series, we are looking at the pros and cons of booking a character meal experience and how to choose the best one for your family.
The Disney Character Dining Pros
It’s a Unique Experience. Dining with Disney characters is one of those experiences that you won’t forget in a hurry. The dining package is a lovely way to interact with your favorite characters in a more intimate way where you aren’t bothered by the same level of hustle and bustle that can be found in the parks.
It Can Be a Good Use of Time. If you are a family who sits down to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner, adding your character dining to a meal could be the best way to spend that exciting time with your Disney friends while also ticking off meal time.
You Can Choose Your Experience. The best part of character dining options that have evolved over the years is the variety you have to choose an experience that is best suited to your family. The right characters, location, and food are all considerations, and there are more choices than ever to be had.
Controlled Sensory Setting. Meeting characters can be a daunting experience, and for some families, the environment can make all the difference when it comes to how successful the session will be. Character dining allows you to meet and greet in a more casual setting with a more controlled sensory experience surrounding you. Seeing the characters mingling with others before your visit can also help to settle nerves and make your children feel less on the spot when their turn comes.
The Disney Character Dining Cons
It’s Expensive. While you might be thinking that most Disney dining is on the pricier side of things, most of the character dining options will have set menus or buffets that don’t leave you any wiggle room for budgeting. The most popular locations to enjoy a character experience can be upwards of $60 per adult, which is more than many guests would be budgeting for at breakfast time.
It’s Time-Consuming. Being at a certain place at a specific time can take a huge chunk out of your Disney day, especially if your booking isn’t within the park you are visiting that day. If you are limited on time to spend at Disney, try to coordinate your desired character dining with where you will be spending your time that day so that you aren’t losing precious hours in transit.
It Can Be Chaotic. One thing I’ve always noticed is that character dining can be a bit hectic if you aren’t prepared for the experience. Characters arrive as you are mid-way through eating or when you are visiting the buffet, and the busyness of the room can be overwhelming. Know what to expect in advance so you can make the most of your time.
Characters Can Change. You’ve spent all of that money and time setting up the perfect chance to meet your favorite Princess, and when you arrive, she is nowhere to be seen. It happens. If the character you are hoping to meet is a “friend” and not the main event, like Mickey, Pooh Bear, or the headlining Princess, there is a chance that you won’t see them. Keep expectations in check, just in case.
How To Choose The Right One
There are a couple of factors to consider when deciding which character dining opportunity is right for you. There are several locations where some of the characters will double up, meaning that if you are most interested in seeing Mickey Mouse, you can still choose the best option that suits your day.
Consider where you will be spending your time before and after the meal; some locations might take too long to get to and not be a feasible addition to your schedule. If you are interested in a particular location that doesn’t gel well with the rest of your plans, consider moving the meal to breakfast or dinner, that way you can anchor the beginning or end of your day to one location rather than disrupting the flow in the middle of the day. If you are visiting with small children, breakfast can be a great time to make the most of their energy and enthusiasm; after a long and tiring Disney day, they may not be as excited to meet new character friends.
Know your characters. Take note of which characters will be taking part in which meals so that your family can have the most enjoyable experience possible, interacting with their favorites. Similarly, know your food. Most of the dining offered for this type of experience are assorted buffets; however, some have different themes and styles that might be worth looking into. You can find more information on characters and food selection in our Character Dining Guides linked below.
If you have questions about Character Dining, add them to the comments sections of the articles in the list below or ask for advice from our online community.
What’s Come Before in the Disney Planning Character Dining Series?
- Your Guide To Disneyland Character Dining
- Your Guide To Walt Disney World Character Dining
- How To Have The Best Disney Character Dining Experience
- The Pros And Cons Of Disney’s Character Dining & How To Choose Which One (This Article)
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.