Character Dining Changes at Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World character meals have always been a staple a Walt Disney World Resort. If you have young children, character meals are a must on your trip. In normal times, character meals included individual time with each character including hugs, autographs, conversations, and pictures.
Since the parks reopened, there have been modifications and changes to character dining at Walt Disney World to protect cast members and guests.
Prior to COVID, Disney had 13 character dining meals. Since reopening only 4 character dining experiences have returned.
Currently the only character meals open at Walt Disney World at Topolino’s Terrace, Garden Grill, Chef Mickey’s, and Hollywood and Vine. Several changes have occurred to character dining at Walt Disney World.
Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic Kingdom also have a character appearances but since they are not guaranteed.
In our 2 experiences with Be Our Guest post COVID, the Beast walked around the restaurant so guests could take a quick picture. At Cinderella’s Royal Table, Cinderella often makes quick socially distant appearances.
If using the Disney Dining plan, character meals are often a good use of a dining credit as they are often expensive per person. Since COVID the dining plan has not yet returned and many families wonder if the character dining is still worth the cost.
Most character meals cost $42-$55 per adult and $27-$36 per child. Character meals do provide plenty of food and are most are served family style.
Changes to Character Dining
The experience at all of these modified character meals are very similar. Guests remain in their seats and the characters remain at a safe social distance. Guests are allowed to take pictures and selfies but cannot leave their tables. The characters will often wave and blow kisses to the guests.
Guests are also not allowed to ask for autographs but in our experience all of the restaurants provided a pre-signed card with all the character’s autographs. The characters also usually have a performance of some type which usually involves a dance around the dining room.
Selecting a Character Meal
Overall we had a good experience at all of the character meals even with their modifications. But character dining is expensive especially since the dining plan is not currently available. If your budget only allows one character meal for your trip, do your research on which option is best for you.
In my opinion, Topolino’s Terrace has the best quality food. Garden Grill has the best character interactions since reopening due to the close proximity (characters appear directly behind your table) and layout of the restaurant.
At some restaurants such as Topolino’s and Chef Mickey’s we felt the characters felt far away depending on your table location. Chef Mickey’s and Hollywood Vine have changed from a buffet to family style meal. In both cases, the quality of the food has improved significantly.
Hollywood and Vine also offers seasonal dine in which the character’s costumes change depending on the season.
If you plan to add a character meal to your Walt Disney World trip, make sure you make reservations 60 days out as these reservations are the first to be booked. If you use a Disney Vacation Planner like MickeyTravels they can book these reservations for you!
Do you want more help planning your next Disney vacation? As an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, my goal is to help you plan the Magic your way. I also create customized itineraries, book advanced dining and FastPass+ reservations, monitor for discounts for your vacation, and much much more! Also, did I mention that my services are FREE!!!! Contact me at SLoehrlein@MickeyTravels.com or follow me on Facebook @MickeyTravelsShannonLoehrlein