Disneyland Character Dining 2023 – Tips & Tricks For A Magical Meal
While some go to Disneyland for the rides, for others, it wouldn’t be a trip to Disney without getting to meet some characters. For us, one of our absolute favorite ways to come face-to-face (well, not quite – more on that in a bit) with the likes of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and the Disney Princesses is with Disneyland character dining.
Whether having dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen or breakfast with Disney characters like Chip ‘n’ Dale, Ariel and Belle, these whimsical meals make for a downright magical way to start or end your day. So, bring your appetites and autograph books as we go over everything you need to know about dining with Disney characters at the Disneyland Resort.
Character Dining at Disneyland: Things to Consider
For the uninitiated, Disney character meals feature all the food you can manage, along with appearances by everyone from Mickey and Minnie to the Disney Princesses. In the past, characters would stop by each table, pausing to pose for pictures and sign autographs. Unfortunately, as we’ll get to a bit later, that is no longer the case due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Still, while character meals certainly aren’t the most affordable Disneyland dining option, they are a ton of fun, especially if you’re traveling with kids, and can even be a great way to help manage your time. After all, everyone has to eat! So, you might as well multitask and see some Disney characters while you’re doing it.
Just keep in mind, unlike some other meal options at Disneyland, dining with characters takes some planning, particularly when deciding where and when to go.
Consider Your Must-See Characters
When deciding which to book a reservation for, you don’t really need to worry so much about what kinds of food is served since most serve basically the same thing (i.e., Mickey waffles, eggs, bacon, etc.) with a few variations. Instead, think about the character you’d most like to see (they’re who you’re paying for anyway, right?) and, if possible, choose their titular dining experience. Everyone else is subject to change.
For example, is your group of gal pals hoping to see Minnie Mouse on your adult Disney trip? While you’re likely to catch this polka dot-wearing icon at two other Disneyland character meals – Storyteller’s Café and Goofy’s Kitchen – Minnie Mouse is only guaranteed to greet her adoring fans at “Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park” at the Plaza Inn in Disneyland Park.
Likewise, the same goes for Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast & Brunch Buffet at Storyteller’s Café in Disney’s Californian Hotel & Spa, as well as Goofy’s Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel. Although you’ll probably see Minnie, Pluto and Chip ‘n’ Dale there, too, they’re not a certainty, merely the supporting cast to Mickey and Goofy’s headlining acts.
If you’re hoping for a more regal special appearance, you’re better off booking the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at Napa Rose, also in the Grand Californian. Just remember that no princesses are a definite at this royal(ly expensive) meal.
As for any other faves, you may be better off with Miss Minnie’s morning get-togethers with “friends” – and my, oh, my, what a diverse friend group it is. We’re talking everyone from her bestie Daisy and the gang from the Hundred Acre Wood to the Fairy Godmother and even rare characters like Goofy’s son Max.
Choose Your Mealtime Carefully
Believe it or not, but when it comes to Disneyland character dining, when you decide to eat is so much more than just mealtime. It can be a strategic, budget-minded or even experience-based decision. Since Disneyland character breakfasts tend to be cheaper than dinner or even brunch, minus one glaring exception, making a morning reservation can be smart if you have a tight travel budget.
Having said that, some folks (like us) would rather rise with the sun and head straight to the theme parks to capitalize on all those blissfully short wait times. There will be plenty of time for stuffing ourselves silly and snapping selfies with characters later.
If your reservation is near the tail-end of a meal period, you’ll also want to bear in mind that characters usually make their final appearances between 20 to 40 minutes after closing time. So, be sure to schedule accordingly if you want plenty of character sightings. Similarly, for those wanting to get their money’s worth of food and eat late, be aware that dishes may start disappearing from the buffet line before you’ve had your fill.
Finally, as the saying goes, your eyes can be bigger than your stomach. And if you’re anything like us, it feels like that’s especially the case at a Disneyland buffet. Whether it’s the steep price point or all those long hours spent walking around and standing in line, there’s just something about seeing all that food spread out that makes us say, “challenge accepted.”
Of course, if it’s the morning and you’re then planning to then go spin about on Mad Tea Party immediately thereafter, your stuffed stomach (and the people in the teacup next to you) may have something to say about it. Alternatively, if you fuel up at a buffet earlier in the day, you can also save money later with a smaller dinner. In other words, consider your eating and spending habits, other plans and stomach of steel (or lack thereof) and plan accordingly.
Always Book a Reservation for Disneyland Character Meals
As you can probably imagine, advance reservations for character dining at Disneyland are incredibly popular and highly recommended. Although there may be some same-day availability, it’s usually very limited and shouldn’t be relied upon. This has been especially true recently, as character dining reservations have been booking up faster than in previous years.
Needless to say, if you don’t want to potentially be disappointed, you’ll need to plan ahead. Typically, reservations are released 60 days in advance at around 6 AM.
So, if your little princess absolutely must go to the Disneyland princess breakfast or your kiddo can’t miss dining with Mickey, just fire up the Disneyland app. And don’t freak out if something isn’t available at that time, just refresh, refresh, refresh – cancelations and new openings do happen.
If your desired reservation is particularly popular, you may even want to sign up for Mouse Dining. This snazzy service notifies you of any new availability for your desired restaurant, date or mealtime. While there is a free option, it’s limited to six alerts over email only, you can also opt to pay for a monthly or even annual plan if you want to set up more alerts or prefer texts.
Dining with Disney Characters in These Pandemic Times
Prior to Covid-19, meeting characters at Disneyland, character meals included, felt like and up-close-and-personal experience. Hugs were had, autographs were given and, of course, don’t forget about posing for pictures.
Unfortunately, what with social distancing throwing a wrench into everything, that is currently not the case. Now, rather than make the rounds from table to table, characters tend to move about the dining room quickly, dancing along to music as they go.
So, if you want to snap a photo, you’ll need to be quick about it and get the timing right to catch them in the frame as they parade past. Imagine an awkward selfie you sneakily tried to take with a celebrity sitting near you somewhere and that’s kind of what it feels like.
Luckily, since characters will likely roam through several times during your meal, you’ll get plenty of chances. Just keep an ear out for the music to change, as that normally announces their entrance. Or, make your life easier and take a video instead.
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures has been especially affected by the pandemic. Instead, guests greet the princesses out on the patio from a safe distance for activities like storytime with Belle and a special photo opportunity. The Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park has also seen a bit of a shake-up, with a downsized line-up of characters than have previously made an appearance.
Lastly, we’re also sad to say that there’s one character breakfast at Disneyland that isn’t coming back after the Covid-19 pandemic. Following Ariel’s Grotto and character dining at California Adventure before it, Donald Duck’s Seaside Breakfast Buffet and PCH Grill in Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, its host restaurant, sadly closed its doors for good.
Breakfast in the Park with Minnie & Friends at Plaza Inn in Disneyland Park
In the Disneyland Hotels:
Goofy’s Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel
Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storyteller’s Café in Disney’s Californian Hotel & Spa
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at Napa Rose in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
So, which one should you choose? Well, as long as you have a ticket, it’s not so much about where has the best character dining at Disneyland, but instead, which of the Disneyland restaurants with characters is right for you and your group. Let’s dig into each delicious option.
Breakfast in the Park with Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn in Disneyland Park
If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck as far as character spotting is concerned, aside from the Napa Rose princess breakfast, there’s no better choice than the Plaza Inn’s Minnie & Friends character breakfast. Disneyland Park’s only character meal stars an awesome line-up of both common and rare characters, from Winnie the Pooh to Max.
As the hostess with mostest, Minnie welcomes diners and poses for pictures out on the patio. And bonus, the PhotoPass photo is included with your meal.
Seating is available both indoors and out. Buffet items are just like what you’d expect from other breakfast spots at Disneyland, including Minnie waffles (top them with a dollop of caramelized bananas foster if it’s available), made-to-order omelets, biscuits & gravy and sometimes even fried chicken.
Keep in mind that since the Plaza Inn is in the park, a ticket is required for entry. So, if you’re going to the park another day, make a reservation elsewhere.
Available: Breakfast only, hours vary
Characters: Minnie Mouse is guaranteed, while other possible characters include Daisy, Pluto, Chip ‘n’ Dale, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Rafiki, Captain Hook, Fairy Godmother, Pinocchio, Geppetto, Max or more
Pricing: $41 per adult, $24 per child (ages 3-9)
Goofy’s Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel
Goofy’s Kitchen at the iconic Disneyland Hotel is the only restaurant with Disney characters at dinnertime, as well as arguably the most popular of the four Disney character meals.
Like Minnie’s breakfast party, Chef Goofy typically greets his guests in the kitchen for a complimentary PhotoPass photo opportunity. However, since the pandemic started, that hasn’t always been the case. Instead, you may need to catch him while he parades through the dining room with the rest of the characters.
While you’ll still find much of the same reliable theme park fare, such as French toast and eggs Benedict in the mornings and a carving station and fried shrimp in the evenings, you can also expect a few playful options. This is Goofy’s Kitchen, after all. So, think pizzas topped with macaroni & cheese or peanut butter & jelly.
Available: Breakfast (7 AM to 12 PM Monday-Friday, 7 AM to 1:30 PM Saturday & Sunday) and dinner (5 PM to 9 PM Monday-Thursday, 4 PM to 9 PM Friday-Saturday)
Characters: Goofy is guaranteed, while other characters typically include Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Chip ‘n’ Dale (subject to change)
Pricing: $56 per adult & $33 per child for breakfast, $61 per adult & $35 per child for brunch
Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast & Brunch at Storytellers Café in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
If you’re hoping to hobnob with the Big Cheese, your best bet is to book a table for Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast or Brunch. Held at Storytellers Café in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, this laidback meal offers a few slightly more sophisticated dishes, such as chilaquiles, egg white frittatas and eggs benedict drizzled with spiced hollandaise sauce.
Unfortunately, no PhotoPass opportunity is included here. So, if you want a picture, be sure to bring your camera or have your phone ready.
Available: Breakfast (7 AM to 10:55 AM) & brunch (11 AM to 1:30 PM)
Characters: Mickey Mouse is guaranteed, while other characters typically include Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Chip ‘n’ Dale (subject to change)
Pricing: $49 per adult & $29 per child for breakfast, $51 per adult & $29 per child for brunch
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at Napa Rose in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures takes Disneyland character dining to a new, luxurious level – with a price tag to match. This three-course royal feast served both family-style and with a buffet touts the most impressive menu of any Disneyland character meal, from the tower of appetizers to share down to a sweet ending of princess-inspired sweets, complete with a tableside sprinkling of pixie dust.
But this Disneyland princess breakfast doesn’t stop there. A plethora of princesses are on-hand throughout your meal, whether posing for photos out on the patio or sashaying through the dining room. Little princesses and princes can also take part in an array of regal activities, like storytime with Belle or warrior training with Mulan.
A PhotoPass photo is included with your meal, as is a parting gift to commemorate your visit. Little ones can decide between either a tiara necklace or a sword and shield set, as well as a souvenir cinch bag.
Available: Breakfast only
Characters: Expect to meet around eight different Disney Princesses, such as Ariel, Belle, Aurora, Jasmine, Mulan, Pocahontas, Tiana and Rapunzel
Pricing: $125 per person (both adults and children)
Well, ya’ll, that’s everywhere you can enjoy 2023 character dining at Disneyland. Which of the Disneyland restaurants with characters is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!