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The 3 best Disney World character meals you've never heard of -- and how to book them

Feb. 21, 2020
6 min read
Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
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If you're planning a trip to Disney World, a character meal is likely on your must-do list. However, many of the most popular options get booked up at the first available opportunity: 180 days in advance. If you don't have a six-month lead time to plan a specific meal, we're here to help.

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What are character meals all about?

If you've never done a character meal, you may be wondering what the fuss is all about and whether the meals merit the steep cost. The honest answer to "Is it worth it?" is "Sometimes." "Some elements are common to most character meals, but the quality of both the food and the character interaction varies widely.

Most meals are served "family style" at the table. I'd compare it to a cruise ship dining experience. You have a waiter and, unlike a buffet, don't have to leave your seat to get your meal. You also can order as many entrees as you like. For example, if both the waffles and the fruit plate look good, try them both.

Related: The best restaurants in Walt Disney World

Most of these meals have the characters visit your table; you don't have to line up to visit with them. Some meals have a marquee character who is either at the door or in his or her own area, but the bulk of the character experience takes place at your table.

This is certainly more convenient than waiting in line at the parks, but it can also mean that you're caught with a mouthful of muffin when Mickey strolls over to say hi.

How to book a character meal

You can book Disney World dining reservations 180 days in advance -- or up to 189 days beforehand if you're staying at Disney Resort -- by calling 1-407-WDW-DINE, booking online at Disney World's website or via the MyDisneyExperience mobile app.

3 fantastic character meals you can actually book

Do you want to book a character meal for your next Disney trip? Here are three Disney World character meals that are both terrific and usually available with a last-minute reservation. All three are outside of the parks, so they would be great for a day where you don't want to use your ticket.

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Related: How to enjoy Disney World without a park ticket

As with all things at Disney World, the availability of these reservations may change over time as they become more familiar to visitors.

Breakfast with Mickey & Friends: Topolino's Terrace, Riviera Resort

Topolino's Terrace is Disney World's newest character meal -- at the new Riviera Resort -- and I'd argue it's now the best. Available at breakfast only, Topolino (Mickey Mouse in Italian) appears with his friends Minnie, Donald and Daisy in adorable and original outfits. Mickey and Donald are wearing painter's smocks, while Minnie has a cosmopolitan outfit and Daisy is featured as a ballerina. The character interaction is top-notch, but that's not why this character meal has rocketed to the top of my list.

This is the first character meal I've ever walked out of thinking that the $41 I spent was a bargain based on the food alone. This is what you want to do: Get the latest possible breakfast reservation (which should be 10:30 a.m.) and consider this meal brunch. Order the steak. The wood-fired butcher's steak is not only the best steak I've had at Disney World, it ranks among the best steaks I've ever eaten. Don't get me wrong, the breakfast items are lovely. But get the steak. Thank me later.

Related: TPG's ultimate guide to Walt Disney World

Donald Topolino
Oh, that Donald! (Photo by Dia Adams/The Points Guy)

Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast: Trattoria al Forno Restaurant, Disney's Boardwalk

This character meal has been around since 2017, but word still hasn't gotten out. That's a good thing as you can often get even a same-day reservation to meet Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder. If your girl isn't set on meeting Anna and Elsa or Cinderella, you can get both food you want to eat (which is hit or miss at Akershus where you can meet the "Frozen" crew) and not have to pay a king's ransom to enjoy Trattoria al Forno.

I have friends who dine at this meal every time they visit Disney World specifically for King Triton's Shipwreck al Forno. They crave the eggy, meaty and cheesy goodness all wrapped up and baked in a calzone. At $45, the Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast isn't as great a value as the one at Topolino, but Ariel and Rapunzel make for fun character encounters. And I'll confess to having a bit of a crush on Flynn Rider.

(Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog)

Storybook Dining at Artist Point: Wilderness Lodge

Do you have a tween who rolls her eyes at character meals? An up-close sneer from the Evil Queen at Wilderness Lodge might be just the ticket. This character dinner reservation is a bit harder to get than the two breakfasts I mentioned, but I do see last-minute availability so diligence could pay off.

At $55 for dinner, Storybook Dining is not a meal to just sample. The dishes are hearty -- think prime rib and veal shank -- but also well prepared for a kitchen that puts out hundreds of the same dishes every night.

Mommy Points was a fan of Storybook Dining, which features Snow White, Grumpy, Bashful and the aforementioned Evil Queen. She especially enjoyed the themed drinks and recommends the Enchanted Apple, which is a vodka, sour apple and white cranberry potion. I'd go just to catch the photo below with my own teen.

Related: How much does a Walt Disney World vacation cost?

Even tweens will have fun at this character meal. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

If you're looking for a Disney World character meal that allows you to eat well and is available on a last-minute reservation, be sure to check out these three. If you have to choose just one, I would definitely make it Topolino, and be sure to save room for the steak.

Featured image by Matt Stroshane, photographer