This is our third trip to Disney World in five years. We like to go whenever one of our children is three, when they can fully embrace the magic of Disney. The joy on their faces at that age when they hug Pooh or Cinderella is completely pure, and beautiful to behold. Every time we go, we have the best character meals outside of Magic Kingdom, at the Grand Floridian Hotel.
We’ve had a lot of character meals during these three trips. I’ve logged my time on the Disney reservation line (407) WDW-DINE, months before our trip to book the perfect meals. Our experience with character and reservation meals in the parks has not been good. We’ve never gotten into Cinderella’s Royal Table in the castle at Magic Kingdom for either breakfast or dinner, but we have eaten at the Crystal Palace with Pooh and friends. It was crowded, our time with the characters was rushed, and the food was lousy. Even though we had the coveted character meal reservations, we still had very limited access to the characters, even though we paid dearly for our meal.
Our best character meal experiences have been at the Grand Floridian. Character meals at the fanciest Disney resort seem to be the best kept Disney secret.
Breakfasts at 1900 Park Fare feature character apperances by a varied cast of characters to please both girls and boys:
- Mary Poppins,
- Alice in Wonderland,
- and my personal favorite, the Mad Hatter.
- On occasion, even Cinderella makes a breakfast appearance.
At dinner time, 1900 Park Fare becomes Cinderella’s court:
- Prince Charming
- Evil Stepmother
You’ll see Cinderella dance with the Prince, and you will get lectured by the evil Stepmother on your children’s table manners. At breakfast you can expect silliness from the Mad Hatter and great, big, cuddly hugs from Tigger and Pooh.
Every time we come back to Disney, I expect the word to be out about the Grand Floridian character meals, but reservations are always easy to get, sometimes even the same day as walk-ins. And you don’t need to be a guest of the hotel!
What I love about the Grand Floridian meals is that they are truly a special experience. Your children will really get to interact with the characters without feeling rushed. Tonight the prince danced with many princesses throughout the restaurant, Cinderella took the time to ask each of the kids at our table what their favorite ride of the day was, and Anastasia called to all of the boys by their first name to invite them to dance a crazy dance with her in the middle of the restaurant. We all had an amazing time, a night my kids will always remember.
In the past we always experienced these Grand Floridian dinners as guests of the Grand Floridian. But this trip, the room rate for the Grand Floridian was just too astronomical. I just couldn’t stomach paying $800 a night for a smallish room with dated decor and two full beds so we chose to stay at a nearby hotel. But thanks to our meals at the Grand Floridian, I think we got to experience the best of Magic Kindom.
We made reservations for a 9:00AM breakfast at 1900 Park Fare this morning, and valet parked our car there for the day for $12 (saving $2 compared to the park parking rate). We then had our day in the park. Occasionally we saw long lines of people waiting for a quick autograph from a character. Then we returned to the Grand Floridian for dinner, and enjoyed a great night getting to know Cinderella and her crew. After dinner, we headed back into the park to see the fireworks.
When we packed the kids into the car back at the Grand Floridian valet parking, we felt like we had experienced the Magic Kindgom to the fullest. Good food, fun rides, and amazing, quality encounters with a wide variety of characters.
So next time you begin planning a Disney trip, make sure you book a breakfast and dinner at 1900 Park Fare. It’s a character experience like none other.
1900 Park Fare is on the Disney dining plan. If you’re not staying on a Disney property, breakfast and dinner are $15 to $29.99 per person.