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.

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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)

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 shopDisney!

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 shopDisney.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.

Book Your Disneyland Trip

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

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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.

Comments
  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.

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