Disneyland Character Dining – Which Meal Is Best for Your Family?

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Every Disneyland character dining experience has its own feel, special touches, and star characters. All four of these special meals at Disneyland provide a great way to meet many beloved Disney characters in one fell swoop. This frees up park time to enjoy rides, shows, and other attractions rather than waiting in long lines for a brief photo opportunity. But which meal is best for your family? Decide for yourself by reading our Disneyland character dining reviews and tips below.

Breakfast in the Park with Minnie and Friends ~ Which Disneyland character meal is best for your family?
Breakfast in the Park with Minnie and Friends at the Plaza Inn inside Disneyland (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park

Where? The Plaza Inn inside the Disneyland theme park. All guests over age 3 must have a Disneyland park entrance ticket to dine here.

Meals offered? Breakfast buffet only.

According to the Disneyland website, you can expect, “made-to-order omelets and Mickey waffles, French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, breakfast potatoes, fresh-baked pastries and breads, fruit, and hot and cold cereals.”

Characters? You’ll see a multitude of characters at this meal, from Minnie herself to lesser-known figures like Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother.

The Verdict?
 Dining with characters and a view of Tomorrowland’s Astro Orbitor makes a wonderful start to your day at Disneyland. The food is tasty and the restaurant’s stained glass mosaics are beautiful. Personally, though, I’d rather not “waste” precious park time eating a long breakfast. Instead, I suggest eating a character meal at one of the hotels either on your day of arrival or departure. Then you can squeeze in some extra Disney magic when you don’t have the time or money for a full park day.

Tips? Unless you have your heart set on dining al fresco, I suggest requesting a seat indoors. You will feel much more a part of the action when you dine inside the restaurant. Plus, you can get out of the heat or the cold, as the case may be.

Read reviews of Plaza Inn on TripAdvisor.

Chip n’ Dale Critter Breakfast at Storyteller’s Cafe ~ Which Disneyland character meal is best for your family?
Character dining at Storyteller’s Café (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet

Where? Storyteller’s Café at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

Meals offered? Breakfast or brunch buffet and table service small plates.

Pile your plates with items from the extensive buffet. You’ll find such goodies as Mickey waffles, chilaquiles, beignets, fresh fruits, pastries, and hand-carved meats. Diners can also opt to order table service items like oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, made-to-order omelets, or avocado toast from their servers.

Characters? Mickey Mouse and other classic Disney characters.

The Verdict? The beautiful Craftsman-style dining room at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel is a warm and welcoming place to dine. If your family has its heart set on seeing the head cheese Mickey Mouse, then this is the meal for you!

Tips? Don’t follow the characters around the restaurant. Enjoy your meal and they will come to you! (This is true of all Disney character dining meals.)

Read reviews of Storyteller Cafe on TripAdvisor.

Mickey-shaped waffles are a hit with kids at Disneyland character breakfasts
Mickey-shaped waffles are a hit at Disneyland character breakfasts (Photo credit: David Nguyen, Disneyland Resort)

Goofy’s Kitchen

Where? Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel.

Meals offered? Breakfast buffet only.

Look for cheese blintzes, Mickey-shaped waffles and pancakes, fresh fruits, breakfast meats, eggs benedict, pastries, made-to-order omelets, and more. Be sure to try Goofy’s signature peanut butter and jelly pizza!

Characters? The only character guaranteed to make an appearance at any meal is the meal’s namesake. So, for sure you’ll see Goofy here. You are likely to see other classic characters like Pluto, Donald Duck, and Daisy Duck.

The Verdict? In my experience, this is a particularly playful Disneyland character dining option. The highlight for my family was a joyous parade of characters through the dining room. Then the characters split apart and made their way to the tables.

Tips? This used to be the only meal at Disneyland with characters at dinnertime. Note that characters now make appearances at breakfast only, NOT at dinner!

Read reviews of Goofy’s Kitchen on TripAdvisor.

Belle at Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures
Belle at Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures (Photo credit: Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort)

Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures

Where? Napa Rose, at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa. This Disneyland character dining experience replaced Ariel’s Princess Celebration at Disney’s California Adventure Resort.

Meals Offered? Three-course table service breakfast only.

Characters? Expect to see princesses like Ariel, Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, and Mulan. Unlike the masked characters, the princesses talk to diners. They never, ever break character, either. My husband said, “You really look like Snow White.” The raven-haired princess replied in her tiny, bubble gum voice, “Why, whatever do you mean?”

The Verdict? For Disney princess fans, this is the ultimate treat for a birthday or other celebration. Plus, younger children scared of plush characters will be enamored by the charming princesses. My son was just a toddler when we first attended a princess meal and he seemed just as enthralled as his big sister by all the sweet, pretty women stopping by his table to say hello.

Napa Rose is renowned for its high-end, delicious food and this is the most elegant of the Disneyland character dining options. If you prefer table service to buffet meals, then the Disney Princess Celebration makes a good option. Meals include your choice of a starter, main course, and royal desserts.

Tips? You are guaranteed to meet princesses at this character meal but not any one princess in particular. Therefore, if your children are particularly smitten with a certain princess, be sure to tell them beforehand that their favorite princess may not necessarily be present.

Read reviews of Napa Rose on TripAdvisor.

Child meeting Ariel at a Disneyland character dining meal
Meeting Ariel at a Disneyland character dining meal (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Disneyland Character Dining Tips

Some young children are fearful of life-sized cartoon characters. Before attending a Disneyland character dining meal, you may want to get your child acquainted with Disney personalities. Do this by reading Disney books together, watching shows on Disney+, or renting Disney movies. Also, you might wait until after your family has had a day in the parks to see characters at a distance before plunging into a character meal.

An autograph book brings a whole new, entertaining dimension to the character dining experience. My daughter got her first autograph book at age 5 and proudly brought it to preschool for “show & tell” the following week. Buy your autograph book now from Disney Store!

Don’t forget your camera or smartphone at Disneyland. Pictures of your kids with their favorite characters are priceless. Professional photos taken by Disney crew members are available for purchase at every Disneyland character dining experience, too.

Disney autograph book
Disney autograph book (Photo from DisneyStore.com)

Book Your Disneyland Character Dining Experience

Reservations are recommended for all Disneyland character meals. Book as far as 60 days in advance here or call (714) 781-3463.

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Save Money on Your Disneyland Vacation

Want to save money on your Disneyland vacation? Of course, you do! Use discount code TravelMamas to get an extra $10 off any two-night or longer Southern California package (hotel and two ticket minimum) when you book through Get Away Today.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Learn More Disneyland Tips

Maximize fun and minimize stress with these tips for visiting Disneyland with kids.

Learn tips to save money on your Disneyland vacation from our friends at Trekaroo.

Take a break from theme parks during your Southern California holiday with this list of fun things to do in Orange County with kids.

Headed to the Happiest Place on Earth with young children? Be sure to check out the best rides at Disneyland for babies and toddlers.

Disneyland Character Dining Reviews and Tips

Save These Disneyland Character Dining Reviews and Tips

For future reference, keep these Disney character meal reviews and tips. Simply pin the image above to Pinterest. I hope you’ll follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Which of these Disneyland character dining options would you most like to experience? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from the Travel Mama: My family paid for all meals mentioned in this post ourselves. I always let you know if I receive any complimentary or discounted goods or services related to a story.

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, TravelMamas.com. She is an expert in travel with kids and without. As the author of the book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents how to make the most of traveling with babies and children. Colleen loves sharing tips on hotels, cruises, spas, theme parks, and global lifestyle topics. When she is not traveling the world, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. I also am a big fan of doing character meals in the earliest part of our vacation because I hate the line ups for autographs. The more we get this way, the less time we waste in the parks! My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t feel it is worth the extra money… fortunately he is a good sport and gives in for at least one a trip!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      That’s the nice part about being the family vacation planner…you get to choose the meals and activities! 🙂

  2. Tony Cruz says

    The tips on where to eat are amazing but I bet it’s very overpriced for the meals. Best to pack snacks and eat at a restaurant outside the park. ????????????????????

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Tony – It’s true that Disneyland character meals aren’t cheap. I think it’s nice for one splurge per trip.
      To save money on your character meal, be sure to take advantage of the Get Away Today discount!

  3. Kimberley Jansen says

    You have to try them all at least once!

  4. Hannah J. says

    Thanks for the tips! Any experience with allergies?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hannah – I am a gluten-free eater so I do have experience with working around food allergies and sensitivities at Disneyland. Disney is really fabulous about helping food allergy sufferers enjoy safe and delicious meals. When you make your booking, mention the allergy. Tell your server again when you arrive. Someone will walk you around and show you which items you can eat. They may even make a special meal just for you, depending on the severity of your allergy and dining situation. I have a friend whose daughter has Celiac and she never, ever lets her go out to eat anywhere for fear of cross contamination. I recommended a Disney Cruise to her because I know how fastidious Disney is about food allergies. They had a fabulous time on their cruise, with their daughter enjoying meals with the rest of the family with zero problems.

  5. Love this article.

  6. Jeane Campbell says

    We are the Breakfast with Mickey Family! Have done that before and were not disappointed.

  7. My kids would love Goofy’s Kitchen. Thanks for the tips.

  8. Goofy’s Kitchen took really great care of all 4 generations when we were there! From the eldest to the youngest.

  9. We are looking forward to Goofy’s Kitchen on the day of our arrival!

  10. KATHRYN TEEL says

    I would say Goofy’s Kitchen for me but for the grandkids it would probably have to be Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey & Friends they like most kids love Mickey Mouse!

  11. M Burrell says

    I celebrated a birthday dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen and had a blast! So many characters and the food was A-MAZING! I’d do it again in a heartbeat. *0*

  12. Stephanie V. says

    We’ve never had a character meal — but Mickey always get my vote!

  13. Marcella Brazelton says

    Goofy’s Kitchen or Ariel’s Grotto would be the best for my family. I think we might have done Ariel’s Grotto at some point.

  14. Yanhua T. says

    Thank you for sharing!

  15. Jason Diehl says

    You can see often see Remy (from Ratatouille) at the Cafe Orleans in the French Quarter and get a picture with everyone’s favorite “little chef”.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      So fun! I haven’t been to Cafe Orleans for a while. Will need to check it out the next time we go to Disneyland!

  16. We loved our character dinning experienced at PCH. It was a must do because we wanted to meet Stitch.

  17. paula skeans says

    I dont know my favorite meal as we are just planning on trying to take my daughter and nephew maybe next yr. thank you for awesome information.

  18. I have never been to a character meal but I know they book SUPER EARLY!! It was a good idea to do it on arrival or departure day. Thanks for the tips! kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you. Happy Spring!

  19. Jan Komancheck says

    Thanks for the tips but I think we would rather be walking throughout the park rather than spending an hour at breakfast.

    Jan K

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Jan – I see what you mean. I typically plan a character meal on a day when we are NOT touring the parks – like on arrival day or departure day – to add an extra bit of magic to our visit.

  20. carolyn phinney says

    Our kids loved Surfs up Breakfast with Mickey. The only character meal, you can meet Mickey and Sitch!

  21. Nancy Curtoa says

    Hopefully we can take our kids one day.

  22. kevsunblush says

    Thanks for the tips. Did I miss how much they cost?

  23. alissa farias says

    thanks for the contest!and the blog about disney!

  24. Wow.. these are simply amazing. I hope one day I will be there.

  25. suzanne mallon says

    Disney meal at Disney’s PCH grill. I love the classic characters, Donald is my favorite!!

  26. Jennifer Crowell says

    I remember going to a character meal when I was a kid!

  27. Katie Sharpe says

    Loved Goofy’s Kitchen!

  28. Michelle Gray says

    Goofy’s KItchen is fun–we’ve done it twice. We usually don’t do character meals due to time factor but it has been a nice way for the littles to see a lot of characters without waiting in long lines.

  29. Melissa via says

    We love meals with mickey

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      If Mickey is your favorite, then Disney’s PCH Grill at the Paradise Pier Hotel is for you!

  30. Shayla Kent says

    The one time that we went to Disneyland. We loved the Minnie and Friends breakfast. It was great and we got to get up close and personal with characters.

  31. Cathy Siewert says

    Since I dont have little kids, I probably wont use the character meals but its wonderful that it is an option

  32. Oh, we have to hit up the princess meal!

  33. Dawn gordon says

    I have to say Ariels Grotto is probably where we would end up !

    Great post

    I’m Canadian and never been and never realized how much thought went into a vacation to Disney world or Disney land vacay

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Dawn – Yes, planning a Disney vacation can be a lot of work, but I’ve read that people actually enjoy the planning part of their vacations more than the actual vacations so…all the more joy! 🙂

  34. diane patterick says

    I too prefer to not use the park time to have a fancy meal, but every little girl should do Ariel’s Grotto sometime. AND it saves time waiting in lines later.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Diane – Agreed! I’m so glad we did Ariel’s Grotto when my daughter was still big into the princess phase!

  35. We love the character breakfast at the Plaza Inn. Definitely a family favorite!

  36. Great info!

  37. Amy Buckley says

    Thanks for all the helpful Disneyland info! It helps looking at it even if we don’t have a trip planned right now. The withdrawls aren’t so bad. 😉

  38. Goofy’s kitchen looks like a fun one!

  39. Great tips, thanks!

  40. KRISTEN SOWKO says

    This is awesome! Thank-you for sharing! Hope one day my family gets to experience Disney!

  41. Kristy Ferguson says

    I’ll start saving now and maybe I can give my kids this experience

  42. Love reading about all the character dining and who you will meet

  43. Casey Edwards says

    I love Ariel’s Grotto!

  44. stacy hunter says

    We tend to only do dinner at the park so this was extremely helpful thanks guys!

  45. We are just in town for one night next week, passing through. Not going to Disneyland. Thought I’d book a character breakfast. I’ve never been to Goofy’s Kitchen but have done Surf’s Up and really enjoyed it. I can’t decide whether to try something new and go to Goofy’s Kitchen or stick with what I know we enjoyed and go back to Surf’s Up. Both have reservations available for our party size at the same time (10:10a). Any advice? 🙂

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Emily – I’d probably go with Goofy’s Kitchen since you haven’t done that one before. But the Surf’s Up breakfast has more entertainment for the kids with singalongs and whatnot. You can’t go wrong either way, really!

  46. We are going to Disneyland next week. I have reservations for Disney’s PCH Grill and the Plaza Inn. Which do you think would be better for my son who just turned 4 on Sunday. We will be celebrating his birthday. He is a Disney Jr. fanatic. Do you know the prices for each of these? We will probably only be able to do one. There are 5 of us, 4 adults and my little cutie.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Melinda – It really depends on if your son is the type of kid who likes to get up and dance with characters (at PCH Grill) or if he is more of a sit back and just chat with the characters type of a guy (Plaza Inn). If he’s super into Mickey Mouse, I’d say go for PCH Grill because that is the only meal where Mickey is guaranteed to make an appearance. Here is pricing from November 2014:

      Story Teller’s and Plaza Inn: $30 per adult, $14 per child (age 3-9)
      Disney’s PCH Grill and Goofy’s Kitchen: $33 per adult, $17 per child (age 3-9)
      Ariel’s Grotto: $37 per adult, $20 per child (age 3-9)

      To make sure those prices are still accurate, you can ask when booking: Call (714) 781-3463 or you can email them here: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/help/email/


  47. Hi my family always go to Disney on Ice Shows!!!
    Now it’s time to surprise the girls with Disneyland trip… We’re a family of four 3 princesses me+toddlers and my husband lol…
    Now I’m always dragging him to do Disney related trips and he’s the typical male he’ll go with the flow, but not excited w prices to make long story short doing these meet and greets which I really want to do with my girls… Is it worth it do all princesses show up and how long do we have with each also is the food worth it thnx 4 response

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Candice – I definitely recommend taking advantage of the Disney character meals while your children are still little. Many people think you should wait until kids are older to visit Disneyland or Disney World so they will remember it, but seeing Disney through the eyes of young children is priceless. Time flies and soon they will not believe the princesses and other characters are “real” so I think you are wise to spend the money on a character meal now. I like the food best at Ariel’s Grotto, especially since it is the only sit-down (non-buffet) character meal option. I don’t know if you will see every single Disney princess, but surely a wide range. The only character who is guaranteed to be present is the namesake character, so in this case, for sure Ariel will be there. Enjoy!

  48. Megan Renfree says

    Hi there. We are looking at coming to Disneyland from New Zealand in May. My boys are 15 and almost 12. What character breakfast do you think would suit them being a bit older? Thanks very much.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Megan – I think your boys might get a kick out of Surf’s Up! with Mickey & Friends at PCH Grill at the Paradise Pier Hotel since it’s got a surf theme and they sometimes play Elvis music to go along with the Lilo & Stitch/Hawaii theme. They’re probably not going to get up and dance with the characters, but it’s fun to watch the little kids get in on the action. The most subdued meal is probably the Chip n’ Dale Breakfast at Storyteller’s Cafe at the Grand Californian Hotel, if you want a more mellow meal. Hope that helps!

  49. Hi!
    We are eating at Adriel’s grotto in mid January for my daughters 4th birthday. We wanted to celebrate her birthday there so we decided to do lunch instead of breakfast. I originally booked it for 4:00 but do you suggest going for an earlier lunch? I just want to make sure we get the experience all of the princesses and not feel rushed because they leave at 5:00.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Michelle – It really depends on what time you think will be best for your family. All of the princesses will make the rounds to your table, so you should be fine with the 4:00 seating. But if you’d like a long, relaxing lunch you might want to switch the time. Enjoy!

  50. Hi! We’ve surprised our 4 kids for Xmas and heading down in January just for a long weekend. Do you know if you need to be a Disney guest with a park ticket to dine at Goofy’s Kitchen?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Dani – You do NOT need a park ticket to dine at Goofy’s Kitchen. The only meals for which you need a park ticket are those located within the parks, namely Ariel’s Disney Princess Celebration at Disney’s California Adventure and Breakfast in the Park with Minnie and Friends at Disneyland. Enjoy your meal with Goofy!

  51. I have a question, we bought a package deal that came with premium character dining. If we reserved dinner with Goofy is there an additional charge or is it covered by the ticket?

  52. Thank you for doing all of this work! How do all of these compare when it comes to cost?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Diane – I just spoke to Disney Dining and as of today, here’s pricing for brunch (lunch also offered at Ariel’s Grotto and dinner offered at Goofy’s Kitchen for a few more dollars per person):

      Story Teller’s and Plaza Inn: $30 per adult, $14 per child (age 3-9)
      Disney’s PCH Grill and Goofy’s Kitchen: $33 per adult, $17 per child (age 3-9)
      Ariel’s Grotto: $37 per adult, $20 per child (age 3-9)

      Children under 3 can eat for free off a parent’s plate at all character meals. This is easily done at the buffets, but at Ariel’s Grotto where you order off the menu, you may want to order something for a young child if they don’t want to eat the same dish as you.

      Hope that helps!

  53. Hi there! Thank you so much for taking the time to make planning our trip easier! We will be coming from Brazil to visit Disneyland in December and we want to have breakfast at the PCH Grill. Because of the time difference, we want to make reservations at the later hours, around 10:00. I saw that breakfast is from 7:30-10:30 so I am worried about our reservation time. Do they stop serving at 10:30? Do the characters leave at this time? If the place is crowderd and it takes us a while to get seated, will they extend breakfast hours? Thank you so much for your help!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Marcia – I just spoke to Disney Dining and they said PCH Grill will stop serving fresh food at 11:30 am and the characters will leave around 11:35 am. They assured me you would have plenty of time to be seated and enjoy your character meal. Bon appetit!

  54. We are sending our friends, a family of 15, to Disneyland for three days. With a group that large, I think I should make them dinner reservations for each night. Thank you for the information that Goofy’s Kitchen is the only restaurant with characters at dinner. That will definitely be one night’s dinner booking. Would you have suggestions for family dining with children ages 2-26, plus the parents? Thanks so much!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Tracy – What a fun trip for your friends and family! My family LOVES Tortilla Jo’s Trattoria in Downtown Disney – tasty food plus live entertainment via mariachi band to entertain the kiddos. The Wine Country Trattoria in Disney’s California Adventure park is also quite good. You can purchase a World of Color meal package, which includes a reserved spot at the water, color and fire spectacular. It’s always fun to dine at Blue Bayou beside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride or Big Thunder Ranch (with live music) in Disneyland.

  55. Thanks a million for the great tips! I’m going to run the Dinseyland marathon next month and booked a trip that includes premium character dining. I made a reservation for Goofy’s on one of our park days and after reading your hot tips I realize it would be so much better to go on the day we aren’t planning on going to the park and have to go pick up our bibs at the Disneyland hotel.

  56. Thanks so much for this!!! We’re headin to Disney this Dec and are trying to figure out the character dining. Our biggest problem is my 11 year old son. He wants characters and my twin girls want princesses… oh the struggle 🙂
    A couple of years ago we did the Surf’s Up! breakfast at Paradise Pier. We had 6 kids with us and got to see quite a few characters (Stitch was their fav). They get the kids up and teach them to dance with the characters! Loads of fun and it’s VERY kid friendly food.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      That’s what my dad would call a “high class problem”! I hope you come to some sort of resolution. Maybe two character meals?! Or tell your 11yo the princesses are very pretty and it’s a good way for him to practice his flirting skills?! 😉

  57. We made Surf’s Up reservations for the latest available time. By the time we finished eating there were only a handful of kids and they got tons of dancing time! I did feel a little rushed with the meal however. It just didn’t seem to equal a character meal at WDW. We will try a different one at DL next summer and see how it compares.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Shannon – I’m sorry to hear your dining experience didn’t live up to expectations! Next time you might want to try the Ariel’s Grotto character meal. It’s the only sit-down meal, which I really enjoyed. It felt the most relaxing of all of the Disneyland character meals to me. Hope that helps!

  58. Great article! We will be going to Disneyland in September to celebrate our daughters 5th birthday! We will be doing Ariel Grotto for lunch one day, but we are stuck between The Plaza Inn and PCH Grill. Do you know if its possible to make reservation at the Plaza Inn before the park opens? It also seems that Minnie and friends breakfast & Goofys Kitchen seem to have the same characters, any thoughts? Thank you!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Cindy – You can’t make reservations at The Plaza Inn until after the park opens. I would make your decision based on the main character. Does your child have a preference for Mickey, Minnie or Goofy? Only the title character for any meal is guaranteed to make an appearance at a Disneyland character meal. If you don’t have a character preference, go for convenience. Which meal is closest to your accommodations? Do you want to take away from park time with a long meal or would you rather attend the character meal on an off-day as a special treat?

  59. Hello,
    I read your wonderful review on the character dining and my family and I decided to do the Ariel and princess lunch and my only question is what was the duration of the lunch?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Gabriel – I’d plan for 1.5 – 2 hours including check-in time for the Ariel lunch. (Keep in mind, you may need to wait awhile after you check in, even with reservations.) You want to have plenty of time to spend with the princesses chatting, taking photos and getting autographs! Enjoy!

  60. Thank you for the excellent info! We have a HUGE Mickey fan. We are first-timers headed to Disneyland this summer. Just to clarify, do you need a ticket to go the Mickey breakfast at the Paradise Pier?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Tera – You DO need a park ticket to attend Ariel’s Disney Princess Celebration inside Disney’s California Adventure Park. You do NOT need a park ticket to attend Breakfast with Mickey & Friends at the PCH Grill at the Paradise Pier Hotel. Reservations are strongly suggested for either. You can make reservations as early as 90 days before your trip. Have a great time!

  61. Janeen McLaughlin says

    Thank you for the great article! We are going to Disneyland in September and will be spending Monday (evening) thru Friday and leaving CA on Saturday afternoon. I’m wondering if you have advice on whether or not we should wait until Saturday morning to do a Character Breakfast or do it during the week? I’m leaning towards that Saturday…but fear it will be SUPER busy? Do you have any idea how early they start serving? I’m thinking of the breakfast at Paradise Pier. Thanks for any advice/thoughts.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Janeen – What fun – almost whole week at Disneyland! Breakfast is served at the PCH Grill 7:30 – 10:30 am. The wait can be long to get in on weekends, even with a reservation. If you book a table at 7:30, I’d think you’d get seated right away. Since you will be at Disneyland for so long, you will have time to do your character meal another day but it could be a fun send-off on your last morning. It really depends on what time you need to leave on Saturday and if you want to have the extra pressure of another activity on your last day or if you want to take away from park time on the other days to enjoy a character meal. Whatever you choose, I’m sure your family will have a blast!

  62. Is Arial’s breakfast the only one where you see princesses?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Michelle – In all of our many Disneyland character meals over the years I don’t think I ever saw any princesses at any venue besides Ariel’s Grotto. We did, however, meet Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother at the Plaza Inn inside Disneyland. If you’ve got a princess fanatic, Ariel’s is the place for you!

    • We actually saw Snow White and Aurora at Goofy’s Kitchen last may 😀

      • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

        Randy – Good to know! Still, if the main thing you’re seeking from a character meal are princesses, then I’d head to Ariel’s Grotto.

  63. This was SO helpful in choosing an option for my 3 year old daughter! THANK YOU!!!!!

  64. My husband and I plan are surprising our kids with a trip to Disney before he leaves for boot camp, and plan on staying at Paradise Pier. We have the Disney Chase debit card and they offer 10% off dining. They also have other dining discounts and shopping!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Kelly – Great tip on the Disney Chase debit card discount! You will love Paradise Pier. I hope you get a chance to dine with Mickey and friends while there!

      • We did Goofy’s kitchen last time and had a blast there! We got to see a lot of characters- we went early (7am) so it didn’t interrupt our park time. Also, there is a walmart not too far from Disneyland and they have a decent selection of items, including autograph books. We got some there for under $5.

  65. I have done the plaza one inside the park and it was pretty fun! We did meet Minnie mouse, tigger, the fairy godmother. We were able to just walk up without a reservation, although we did sit on the porch, it was actually nice, they all came out to the porch to us, we didn’t have to walk in and find them. Very fun, buffet was okay. But just kind of a short and sweet meet and greet, great for older kids who don’t want to dance and sing with them but still want to see the characters.

  66. Laurel- Capturing la Vita says

    This family would head straight to the Surf’s Up!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Good choice! I do love the Surf’s Up character meal and the interactivity makes it especially appealing.

  67. Good tips. We’ve done character dining in Hong Kong and Tokyo but I agree, not worth park time. I like doing it at the hotels instead (also because they have better booze). 🙂

    • Katie, We are travelling from Australia to Tokyo Disney in December. Our princess-crazy daughter has her 11th birthday while we are there, and I would love to surprise her with a breakfast with princesses. I am, however, having trouble finding info re same. Can you assist?

      Thank you so much

      • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

        Kylie – Ariel’s Grotto offers a princess-filled breakfast inside Disney’s California Adventure. You will need to have a park ticket to attend this character meal. Enjoy!

      • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

        Oh sorry, Kylie! I missed that you are looking for character dining in Tokyo! Let me see if I can nudge Katie (my #KidsNTrips business partner) to see if she can help you out!

      • Hi! Character dining happens at Tokyo DisneySea at the Horizon Restaurant but it is more like Mickey, Minnie, etc. If she likes princess Ariel, then you have to go to DisneySea because she has a grotto there and is only seen in this park (or at least that was the case when we went 2 years ago) but you can take a nice photo of her. Jasmine is at DisneySea, too. Have fun!

  68. wanderingeducators says

    who knew? that is SO CUTE!

  69. We haven’t tried a character meal, but I know people who consider it a MUST for any trip to Disneyland. Thanks for the tips!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Allison – Oh my, you haven’t ever done a character meal?! I think your kids would love it and you will probably enjoy it too!

  70. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Maureen – You can still dine with princesses at Ariel’s Grotto for breakfast or lunch, just not at dinner. Plus, you can stop by Princess Fantasy Faire to meet your favorite princesses. Here is a link: http://disneyland.disney.go.com/disneyland/en_US/parks/attractions/detail?name=DisneyPrincessFantasyFaireAttractionPage
    You may need to stand in line for photo opps but it’s free. Be sure to swing by to listen to one of the princesses reading a fairy tale aloud to the kids at scheduled times during the day! (I think the times are listed on the daily Schedule of Events that you receive when you enter the park.)

  71. Anywhere to dine with princesses after Mid-June?

  72. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Hi Debra – Disneyland is much smaller than Disney World but there are other fun meals there, just no other character meals. There’s Blue Bayou inside Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue with live entertainment, oooh- and my favorite – the Napa Rose at the Grand Californian Hotel – just to name a few. If you can ever swing a date night at Disneyland, I highly recommend the Napa Rose. Here’s why:

  73. Debra @ A Frugal Friend says

    I’m surprised they don’t have more character meals inside the parks at Disneyland/Calif Adv. So different from WDW.

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