Most of us who visit the Disney Parks have some desire to meet the Disney characters we fell in love with on the screen. We all have our favorite characters and some of us would be willing to wait for hours in line just for the chance to snap a picture and grab an autograph. Waiting in line in Disney to meet a character gives you less time to enjoy the rides and shows, so since everybody needs to eat, why not try to accomplish two things at once? Instead of a Meet & Greet, try a Meet & Eat with a Character Meal. Disney offers a variety of character meals at all times of the day, both in park and at resorts, and they include some of the most popular characters. The following chart summarizes the character meals offered at Disney World (click on it to enlarge it):
Tips for making the most of your character meals:
1. Make a Reservation for a Breakfast inside the park BEFORE it opens:
All of the character breakfasts offered inside the park (see chart above) have reservation times available BEFORE the park opens. For example, on a morning that Magic Kingdom opens at 9am, Crystal Palace begins taking reservations starting at 8am. If you are lucky enough to get a reservation at this time, you will be let into the park through the Reservation turnstile on the far right of the entrance about 15 minutes before your reservation time. This gives you the ability to walk down an empty Main Street and take in its glory with no crowds. Photopass photographers are often available to take photographs of your party in front of the castle and an empty Main Street. The other advantage this gives you is that you are eating your breakfast as the crowd builds at the entrance of the park. All of these meals are very good (I have eaten at all of them) and the character interaction varies, but I find it is as good as you want to make it. Once your meal is complete, you are ready to go and, since you are already inside the park, you will be one of the first people in line at your favorite attraction.
Bonus Tip: You don’t want to have to wait at your table for your check when the park is open, so be sure to ask for the check as soon as you sit down.
2. Late Morning Brunch
For those of you who are late risers or for those that wish to take advantage of the lighter morning crowds by touring when the park opens, I suggest a late morning brunch or lunch where available. Since the best touring hours are usually the first couple hours after park opening, why not hit your favorite attractions early and then head to a character meal for a brunch? This also gives your party a break when the Florida sun starts to take its toll.
Bonus Tip: At Tusker House, if you book the last breakfast reservation of the morning (10:55am), you will pay the breakfast price but be able to enjoy all of the breakfast items as well as the lunch items that are being served.
3. Autograph Books & Cameras Ready
Although you are there to eat a good meal, try to make the most of your time with the characters. The characters rotate around the restaurant in a predictable pattern, so at buffets try to get your food before the first character arrives or when there is a noticeable break between them. Make sure you have your camera out on the table, and items such as autograph books out and ready for when the characters arrive. During most of the meals the characters will dance and interact with their guests, so be ready with your camera for some great photo opportunities.
Bonus tip: Instead of an autograph book bring a new solid pillowcase and some permanent fabric markers with you. It makes a nice inexpensive souvenir for your child and they will use it daily.