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Disney character dining is one of the hallmark features of Disney parks. Ever since the parks opened you could meet and greet with the Disney princesses, the Boss Mouse himself, or even some of his lesser known friends, like Marie from The Aristocats or Balou from The Jungle Book. With the edition of Marvel and Lucasfilms to the Disney company, you can now even meet your favorite Avengers or challenge a Sith Lord to a staring contest! Many Disney kids have fond memories of meeting characters, getting autographs in their autograph book, and then focusing more on rides and thrills as they get older – but does that mean adults can’t enjoy the characters too?
Of course not!
Now, let’s realistic here – we know the characters are not actually real. We know it’s a hard working Disney cast member under that giant Donald Duck head. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a memorable experience with them! I’ve actually enjoyed meeting the characters more now that I’m older than I did when I was younger. Whatever you do though, do NOT say or do anything that encourages the performer to break character. While it might be tempting to tell the cast member portraying Aurora that you follow her on Instagram, DON’T. Trying to get them to reveal that they’re playing pretend is not only rude, it puts the cast member’s job in jeopardy. If you want to meet the face characters just to heckle them, just don’t. It’s not funny, and no one likes THAT type of guest.
Some of my BEST character experiences have been during character dining – here are 5 reasons why adults should book a reservation for character dining events ASAP!
No Waiting in Line
Let’s face it – what adult wants to wait in line for 40 minutes, with screaming kids surrounding them in the beating hot Florida sun, just to have a few moments with Mulan? Or waste one of your precious Fastpasses on meeting Anna and Elsa in Princess Fairytale Hall? With character dining, once you’re seated, the characters come to YOU, and the meet and greets happen right as your table. So not only are you NOT wasting your time waiting in line – you’re EATING at the same time. Win win!
More Characters, Less Time
Disney character dining usually involves at least 3-4 characters making the rounds of all the tables as you eat your meal. Don’t worry, cast members make sure you’re visited by the characters before leaving, and they usually follow a pattern of tables to make sure they don’t miss anyone. The advantage to doing character dining is that instead of wasting 45 minutes waiting in line for one princess, you will most likely end up meeting multiple princesses over that same period of time!
Did Someone Say BUFFET?
The majority of character dining experiences are buffets – and who doesn’t love a buffet? Breakfast buffets are my favorite (I’m not a hard girl to please!) but there are also opportunities to try new foods at these character dining experiences! For example, I never would have enough THOUGHT of trying Norwegian food until I dined at Akerhaus, and I ended up loving the food. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan (featuring table service) most character dining services are just one table service credit. There are exceptions to this, such as Cinderella’s table. You can actually get a couple of character dining experiences in to your trip if you play your cards right!
If you’re not on a dining plan, I recommend doing a breakfast buffet character dining somewhere, like Crystal Palace. This is a great way to get you energized for the day (you won’t need to refuel for HOURS!) while getting the most bang for your buck.
Another fun feature I love about character dining is the little personal meet and greet you get before you’re seated at some locations. At Akerhaus, we got to take a picture with Belle with a Disney Photopass photographer before we were seated. It was like doing a meet and greet in the parks but all we had to do was check in for our reservation before being whisked off to our photo, and we only had to wait a few minutes. The Photopass photographer got great shots, as expected, and because we always purchase the Memory Maker package, we got all our pictures available for download!
The character also changes every time. On that same trip, we passed the restaurant another night and it was Aurora. You never know who you might get!
When Aurora has 300 people to meet and greet in line, your meet and greet probably won’t be very engaging. She’ll likely take a picture, maybe comment on your outfit, and then thank you for coming before moving on. With character dining, you have a bit more time to take pictures with the characters. This makes it a really memorable experience. This is why I say I’ve had the best character experiences while doing character dining. It’s allowed me to:
- have a conversation with Tiana all about her lily pad dress
- talk to Ariel about how my sister might be a mermaid because of her bedazzled headband
- Watch Chip and Dale both shamelessly flirt with my mom in front of my dad
- See Pluto scare my boyfriend by sneaking up behind him while he was eating
And so much more! These are just a few of the memories I’ve had that I can cherish from character dining.
Not to mention they all provided some great pictures for Instagram!
Disney Dining Plan
If you’re headed to Walt Disney World, many of the character dining options are included in the Disney Dining Plan. Not sure what the Dining Plan is? Check out my post on all the ins and outs of this great vacation add on.
There you have it – five reasons you should definitely book character dining for your next Disney vacation!
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