Updated October 3, 2019
For many, a visit to Disneyland isn’t complete until they share a meal with a Disney character.
I’ve researched your options, below, with details on each so that you can find the best fit for your friends and family.
If you’re considering dining with characters, read through this post and let me know what questions you have.
In this article
- Basic Info
- Tips on Dining
- Quick Reference for your Meal Options
- Storyteller’s Cafe – Mickey’s Tales of Adventure
- Goofy’s Kitchen
- Donald Duck’s Seaside Breakfast
- Breakfast in the Park with Minnie and Friends
- Disney Princess Adventures at Napa Rose
- PhotoPass at Each Meal
- When I Recommend You Dine
- Some More Tips
- Where to Go if Your Reservation is Prior to Official Park Opening
- There are five options for character dining at the Disneyland Resort. Four are within the resort hotels and one is at Disneyland.
- Theme park tickets are required to enjoy a dining option inside the park.
- A hotel room stay is not required to enjoy a character meal at one of the DLR hotel restaurants.
- Reservations are highly recommended and can be made up to 60 days in advance. All reservations can be made online or you can call (714) 781-DINE (3463) between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM daily (Pacific Time).
- Each meal lasts approximately an hour. (With one exception.)
- You will not have to pay for children under the age of 3, however, include them in your party count when making a reservation. That way, the restaurant can accommodate accurate seating for your group. Children age 2 and under can eat off your plate or you can bring food for them.
Tips on Dining
- Character meals are priced a bit higher than other meals throughout the parks, however, there is a lot to be gained with these experiences. You can avoid standing in line for signatures and photos during park times, you get personal interaction with the characters and you can often achieve a more memorable experience during character meals.
- There is no need to follow characters around throughout your meal. They come to you! Be sure to pack your autograph book.
- Characters vary throughout meals and there are no guarantees you will see specific ones. The only absolute is that you will see the character whose name is included in your meal’s name. IE: Goofy will be at Goofy’s Kitchen.
- Small children may be overwhelmed with life size, enthusiastic characters interacting with them. Consider this before making a reservation. I’ve been at many meals over the years with kids crying because of the characters. I recommend watching YouTube videos of character meals prior to arrival if you think this might be an issue with your kids.
- To ensure the most time available for rides and attractions, choose one of the three DLR hotel character dining experiences (unless you time it just perfectly – more on that later), perhaps on the day you arrive or leave. This way, you don’t interfere with precious park time.
- Strollers are not permitted in any of the four restaurants with character meals. You may park your strollers outside and use a high chair when you dine.
- If you are dining at one of the meals at a Disneyland Resort Hotel and driving in only for that meal, park at the hotel and ask for your ticket to be validated. You’ll receive free parking up to 3 hours with your paid meal.
Quick Reference for your Meal Options
Storytellers Cafe Breakfast – Mickey and crew in safari-esque costumes; great food
Goofy’s Kitchen Breakfast or Dinner – Your only dinner option; lots of “kid” food
Donald’s Seaside Breakfast – Your only option to meet Stitch at the Disneyland Resort (unless you’re a Disney VISA card holder)
Minnie’s in the Park Breakfast – Most diverse characters and most you’ll encounter at your meal; my favorite
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures – New, high end experience at Napa Rose in the Grand Californian Hotel
Now, let’s compare the five restaurants in more detail……
Storyteller’s Cafe – Mickey’s Tales of Adventure
- Location: Grand Californian Hotel
- Menu: Breakfast every day and Brunch (Brunch is offered on select days from 11:30am-2:00pm)
- Cost: American, Mexican fare ($39 for adults, $23 for children)
- The main idea: Mickey, Minnie and friends wander while you dine on a lovely buffet
- What’s unique: This option has the most high end food and it’s in the most high end setting. It’s also the only meal that has both Mickey and Minnie Mouse together.
- Check out my recent visit on opening day of this redesigned meal. I’ll be back September 21, 2018 to dine again!
- Typical (but not guaranteed characters): Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Chip, Dale, and Pluto
- Note: This is the only character meal option that does not include PhotoPass photographers.
- Location: Disneyland Hotel
- Menu: Breakfast and Dinner
- Cost: American fare ($55.94 for adults, $33.06 for children for breakfast; $61.03 for adults and $35.60 for children for dinner) – these prices include tax and tip
- The main idea: With table service and a buffet, this classic Disney character experience is a favorite because of its lively ambiance and because it’s the only option for dinner with characters.
- Unfortunately, the interaction between characters and guests is limited – I believe – due to the size of this character meal. We have had brief encounters with each of them during our visits, although they did all make it to our table once.
- What’s unique: This is your only opportunity for a character dinner, in or out of the parks. It is also the only place to find Goofy’s famous Peanut Butter and Jelly Pizza and Mac n Cheese Pizza. Kids LOVE this option because of the huge amount of “kid food”.
- Check out one of our visits from 2015 so you know what to expect. My most recent visit can be found here, which was in January 2017. Finally, I visited in September 2019. Find that review here.
- Some people suggest that this option has gone down in quality. We had a great time at this meal, but encountered more characters at others. Other locations are more up to date decor wise, as well.
- Typical (but not guaranteed characters): Goofy, Pluto, Chip n Dale, and Minnie
Donald Duck’s Seaside Breakfast
- Location: Paradise Pier Hotel
- Menu: Breakfast everyday and Brunch (Brunch is offered on select days from 11:30am-2:00pm)
- Cost: American fare ($39 for adults; $23 for children)
- The main idea: Donald and friends cause mischief throughout this beach-themed restaurant, stealing sips of milk and acting silly. This meal is very interactive and lots of fun.
- What’s unique: This is the only location that you can meet Stitch at the Disneyland Resort, unless you are a Disney Visa Card Holder. For more on the Disney Visa Card Holder meet-up, visit this link.
- Check out my most recent visit, just after this character meal was redesigned into the Donald Duck theming.
- Typical (but not guaranteed characters): Donald, Daisy, Stitch, and Minnie Mouse
Breakfast in the Park with Minnie and Friends
- Location: Disneyland, The Plaza Inn Restaurant
- Menu: Breakfast
- Cost: American ($34 for adults, $19 for children)
- The main idea: Minnie and friends mingle at this breakfast on-site, with seating inside and out. Most people like indoor seating better because interaction is a bit more likely and weather isn’t a factor. I’ve dined outside several times and have had great experiences each time, however.
- What’s unique: You can enjoy a view of the entrance to Tomorrowland while you dine and the Astro Orbitor is in view. Check out out photos for more details from a recent visit. Find more photos from another visit here. And, here. And, here.
- Most people love this meal for both the food and interaction with characters, plus the amount of characters you’re likely to see. I average 11 character interactions each time I dine here. The three previously mentioned meals include 4-5 characters.
- Typical (but not guaranteed characters): Chip n Dale, Minnie, Hook, Tigger, Eeyore, Fairy Godmother, Winnie the Pooh, Max, and Rafiki. I saw Pinocchio last visit! Others have reported seeing the mice from Cinderella. One of the penguins from Mary Poppins can be seen here sometimes.
Disney Princess Adventures at Napa Rose
My review is posted!
Visit this link for a very detailed recap of how opening day played out.
PhotoPass at Each Meal
PhotoPass photographers are at each meal with the exception of one – Storyteller’s Cafe.
They will take a few photos as you enter the character meal, but do not follow you around the restaurant taking photos of you eating or seeing characters at your table. Use your phone or camera for that.
About 2/3 of the way through your meal, a cast member will come to your table with a keepsake folder and a few prints of the best image from that first photo op. You may purchase it for around $35. If you don’t want the prints, here’s how to get the digital image(s) included in MaxPass or any PhotoPass package:
- If you purchase MaxPass, your digital images will be extended to you at the meal for no additional charge. Show proof of MaxPass on your device when requesting the digital images. More details on PhotoPass via MaxPass can be found at this link. That same link provides info on if you are dining prior to entering the park where you would purchase MaxPass.
- If you do not purchase MaxPass, or are dining at a character meal on a non-park day (meaning, you wouldn’t be able to purchase MaxPass), buy the printed images offered to you at the meal if you want them. This is your only option to obtain the images unless you have purchased the One Week PhotoPass Package. I share all about the PhotoPass options in this link.
When I Recommend You Dine
Schedule your character meal for 10:00am or 10:30am. This way, after you arrive early for the morning hours to enjoy the parks with fewer crowds and less chaos, you’ll have a nice escape to a nice meal waiting for you right as the the people arrive.
You will love this break from the crowds.
This is a good way to balance out the cost of the character meals, too. Since they’re more expensive than standard dining at the parks, consider this 10:30am dining event a “brunch”. Have a granola bar/fruit/muffins, etc, on your walk to the park or in your hotel room to start the day. Enjoy a couple of hours of low lines for attractions (use my strategies here to avoid waiting more than 20 minutes for anything – with one exception) and then enjoy your “brunch” and eat lots! You’ll have worked up quite an appetite by the time you sit down.
Then, a big lunch won’t be necessary. Snack your way through the afternoon and then finish your day with dinner on site.
Some More Tips
- Use the Disney Parks App to locate characters outside of your committed meal times if you don’t get to see the ones you want during your dining arrangements.
- My absolute favorite character meal is the Breakfast in the Park with Minnie and Friends. Here is why: It hosts the most characters, the characters are super interactive and attentive, and it’s in the best setting, as far as I’m concerned. I also love that it’s in the park, which is super convenient.
- My second favorite character meal is Mickey’s Tales of Adventure at Storyteller’s Cafe. I love that you can see Mickey and Minnie at this meal. It also has the best food of the four options. The setting is upscale and convenient in the Grand Californian Hotel.
- While I list the characters you’re most likely to see at each meal, there is no guarantee that every one of these characters will greet you at your table. Characters do their best to accommodate every table, but occasionally, you might miss one. Character focused cast members are on site. If you feel that you’re not seeing enough interaction, kindly approach a cast member and ask if he or she can help. Disney wants you to have the best experience possible.
- Each meal is set up a little differently. With some, you will check in and pay upon arrival. Others will include receiving the check at the end of the meal. I encourage you to leave gratuity at every character meal.
- Most character meals include specific buttons designed to show you enjoyed a meal there that day. Grab one for each person in your party upon check in. If you don’t see the buttons on a basket when you check in, kindly ask a cast member for them.
Where to Go if Your Reservation is Prior to Official Park Opening
If you make your reservation prior to official park opening, you will need to take your reservation confirmation (email or via your mobile) to the gate marked for such. You will be allowed to enter for your time, even without Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning.
Do NOT use your EMH or Magic Morning for a character meal. Save it to use another day. Find more on EMH and Magic Morning in this post.
Here is a photo of what your gate will look like:
Leave me a comment if you have any questions. Happy to help you!