Dining with a princess or a mouse (Mickey, of course) is all the rage in Disney World — but there are so many character breakfasts to choose from that it can get overwhelming. While these breakfasts are expensive, there are many perks: Your child will meet all of his favorite characters at once (so you won’t have to stand in line at the park); you get access to the parks early for photos and if you time it correctly, you can go on a few rides before your meal; and, of course, you can make your child’s dreams come true by arranging a meal with their favorite characters.
But if you can only choose one or two of these, choose wisely (and make your reservation 180 days in advance).
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Ambience: The meal took place in an elegant castle with royal flags hanging from the ceiling. In the middle of the meal, children were invited to parade through the banquet hall with the princesses.
Food: Breakfast was served buffet-style and offerings included bagels, smoked salmon, fruit, yogurt, and a few other cold items. The waiter brought each table a plate full of hot food (every table received the same items): scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages and cheesy hash browns. Coffee and other breakfast drinks were included.
Characters: Ariel, Cinderella, Snow White, Princess Aurora and Belle. They casually came to the table to pose with the children and sign autographs. There were enough princesses that you never had to look far to find one to hug.
Extra keepsakes: A table of four receives one professional photo package with a princess, which includes one 6x8 and four 4x6 prints in one pose with a princess (on our day, the princess was Belle).
Price: $42 for adults; $25 for children 3 and older
Tusker House Restaurant
Location: Animal Kingdom
Ambiance: It truly looks like a large dining area in the midst of Africa. It’s loud and rustic and open. It’s a little spread out, so if you don’t want to walk too far, request a table closer to the buffet or you might find yourself walking through rooms to get there. Children are invited to do a very quick parade with the characters.
Food: It’s the usual American breakfast buffet plus a tiny handful of African specialties thrown in (but not very many). You can sample beef bobotie and sweet plantains — but that’s about as African as it gets. The rest is Mickey-shaped waffles, fruits, etc.
Characters: Mickey, Daisy Duck, Goofy and Donald Duck. Since they can’t talk, this is less intimate than a princess breakfast — and they need to get to a large number of tables — so their time is very limited.
Extra keepsakes: They take your picture professionally, but if you want to take it home, you have to pay for them. They don’t give any keepsakes gratis.
Price $30 for adults; $16 for children 3 and older.
Location: Contemporary Resort (you won’t be able to get into the Disney parks early with this reservation).
Ambience: This is inside a hotel, and it is new and modern — but it lacks the character that the other breakfasts offer (it isn’t a castle or a kitschy Mickey Mouse home —it simply is a contemporary hotel restaurant with Mickey Mouse décor). During the meal, the characters do a dance, but unless you’re seated in the main seating area, you may miss the majority of the short dance (we were off to the side, and by the time I got my youngest out of the highchair and maneuvered our way to the center, we missed the show).
Food: A traditional American buffet: Eggs, Mickey waffles, pancakes, fruit, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, cereal, pastries.
Characters: Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto. If you don’t engage them (hugs, kisses — they’ll sign your autograph book, take a photo and wave goodbye since they technically can’t speak).
Extra keepsakes: Each child gets a placemat signed by the characters. A professional photo package is available for $35.
Price: $35 for adults; $18 for children 3 and older.
Cinderella’s Royal Table
Location: Magic Kingdom
Ambience: You’re dining in a castle, so this is as majestic as it gets. It’s truly beautiful inside (picture the dining scene from Harry Potter, and you’ll get a good feel for the inside of this grand castle). The dining experience, however, is a little rushed, as they have many tiny princesses who wish to have the pleasure of dining here. There is no character parade and no dance.
Food: An assortment of muffins and pastries are delivered to the table and then adults and children can choose from a set one-course meal, which ranges from bacon and eggs to apple French toast or beef tenderloin.
Characters: Ariel, Cinderella, Jasmine, Snow White and Aurora. They came toward the end of the meal to sign autographs, pose for pictures and to hug each child (Cinderella doesn’t stop at the table because the children meet her at the entrance).
Extra keepsakes: A table of four receives one professional photo package with a princess, which includes one 6x8 and four 4x6 prints in one pose with Cinderella. Each child also gets a wishing star and a sword or a wand.
Price: $58 for adults; $35 for children 3 and older.