Disneyland Character Dining is one of the quintessential experiences of a Disneyland vacation. During the character meal, different characters move from table to table mingling with the guests, signing autographs, and posing for pictures. Disneyland offers multiple character experiences centering around different themes. The different restaurants vary in serving style with some offering buffet service and others providing table service. The characters at each character dining meal are based on the overall theme of the restaurant.
We have tried every single Disneyland character meal and have our thoughts on which is best for your family in the guide below. This guide is frequently updated and currently reflects summer 2023 information.
Below you will find information on every Disneyland character dining experience and my top tips on how to get the most out of the characters at each of the Disneyland character meals.
Should You Book a Disneyland Character Dining Meal?
Disneyland Character Dining is more expensive than other restaurants on resort property and more difficult to reserve. However, these character meals are the perfect way to meet quite a few characters without waiting in long lines inside the parks. You will also have much more quality time with the characters during the meals because they spend quite a bit of time at each table. We frequently enjoy character meals at Disneyland and have all of our favorites and key considerations below.
What you need to know about Disneyland character meals:
- There are four Disneyland character dining options at Disneyland. One is inside Disneyland Park, one is at the Disneyland Hotel, and two are at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
- While theme park tickets are required for the character dining inside Disneyland Park, you DO NOT need to be a hotel guests to enjoy character dining options at the hotels.
- Reservations can now only be made online for Disneyland dining and cannot be made over the phone unless you are a Disneyland Resort Hotel guest. We recommend these services for booking your Disneyland restaurant reservations.
- Disney Vacation Club and Disneyland Magic Keyholder Annual Pass discounts are available at three of the four meals (the Napa Rose Princess Breakfast is not included)
- Previously there were two other character dining options at Disneyland. These other two character dining experiences, Ariel’s Grotto which was closed in 2018 to become Lamplight Lounge and Donald Duck’s Seaside Breakfast which was also previously Mickey’s Surf’s Up Breakfast! at the Paradise Pier Hotel was announced to be permanently closed in 2021 for the renovation into the Pixar Place Hotel, are both now gone for good.
- The Disneyland character dining experiences are now completely back to normal after the lockdown and reopening phases. Though character hugs were put on pause for a little while, the experiences are now completely back to normal in 2023.
- Some of the character meals now also include a complimentary PhotoPass photo with a purchase of the meal.
- Note, kids under 3 are free at character meals but you should count them in your reservation amount so that Disney can accommodate your table.
- Strollers are note allowed in any of the restaurants. There is stroller parking outside each restaurant and high chairs are available.
Keep in mind that small children may be overwhelmed by characters who wear masks. If you know this will be the case, I recommend sticking with non-character dining options.
Disneyland Character Dining Restaurants 2023
Below you will find Disneyland Character Dining reviews of each restaurant explaining where the experience is located, what food they serve, which meals are offered, which characters you will find, and who will enjoy the meal options.
Our Mickey Visit team has eaten at every single Disneyland character meal and has our perspectives on which are the best. After the every single character meal at Disneyland has some notable aspect and each delivers a high-quality character offering. We’ll break down each of our favorite parts of the meals below.
Breakfast With Minnie and Friends at the Plaza Inn inside Disneyland
Where? Right off of the hub in Disneyland park, on the Tomorrowland side, at the Plaza Inn. You must have theme park ticket to visit this character dining experience.
What do they serve? The Plaza Inn serves a hot breakfast buffet, a step up from what you would find at a regular hotel. You can find Mickey waffles, pancakes, omelette stations, breakfast potatoes, hashbrowns, sausage/bacon, and more at this breakfast option.
Who should go? You see a large variety of characters at this breakfast and experience it all in the Disneyland park which makes it a favorite for many park guests. I recommend booking your reservation as late in the morning as possible for a brunch experience so you can spend the morning doing rides and enjoy this as a brunch option. The Plaza Inn is beautiful and was decorated by Walt’s wife Lillian making it a good choice for any Disney history buffs.
What characters are here? A whole mixture of characters can be found here including most often Minnie Mouse, Eeyore, Captain Hook, Rafiki, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Chip n Dale, and Fairy Godmother. Other characters that have been spotted here are Gepetto, Genie, Max, the Cinderella Mice, Pinocchio, and the penguins from Mary Poppins.
What costs are involved? This restaurant is located inside Disneyland Park and requires park admission. The price as of July 2023 is $41 for adults and $24 for children aged 3-9. Two and under are free but still include them in your reservation so the cast member makes enough space for your party. Reserve this dining option here.
Side note: this is Lindsay’s favorite character dining option due to the charm and history of the Plaza Inn and the variety of characters you get to see. On her last visit, Tigger took the time to play Tic-Tac-Toe with her eight year old son in his autograph book which was a nice touch to see how characters keep the magic alive for older kids! But watch out- Tigger cheats!
Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Character Breakfast at Disney’s Grand Californian
Where? Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel in Storyteller’s Café.
What do they serve? Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast is a buffet style meal that has food that appeals to kids and adults alike. While the characters available have changed, the buffet will remain the same as the Chip and Dale Critter Breakfast. The buffet is great here. Great Caramel French Toast! Surprisingly the cereal milk pouch is a sugary winner that I haven’t seen anywhere else. This is far and away the best food offered at any Disneyland character meal.
Who should go? This is the only breakfast where you can meet Mickey Mouse. This is a great reason to go, simply because you will avoid the long lines to meet Mickey Mouse in Toontown. It is a good idea to have an early breakfast here before hitting the parks or a late breakfast on the final day of your trip when you don’t purchase park admission. The food and atmosphere are good for the entire family.
What characters are here? The only confirmed character you’ll see at Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast is Mickey Mouse himself, who’ll take you through immersive tales through his magical Adventurer’s Journal. You will likely also see Minnie Mouse, Chip n Dale, and Pluto.
What costs are involved? This character dining does not require park admission since it’s located at the Grand Californian Hotel. The price for breakfast (from 7 am – 10:55 am) is $49 for adults and $29 for children aged 3-9 and the price for brunch (from 11 am – 1:30 pm) is $51 for adults and $41 for children ages 3-9. Two and under are free but still include them in your reservation so the cast member makes enough space for your party. Reserve this dining option here.
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at Disney’s Grand Californian
Where? Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel.
A member of our Disneyland team, Lindsay Petit, just experienced the meal with her daughters and came back with a couple of key highlights of this relatively new Disney princess character breakfast.
The morning begins with a three-course breakfast (with champagne options for adults!) in the fine dining option of Napa Rose. During breakfast Princesses such as Belle, Tiana, Ariel, Jasmine and others arrive to greet and make memories with families.
After breakfast, Princesses will share storytelling moments featuring tales of empowerment out on the patio. Mulan may encourage children to strike a pose to discover their own inner warrior, while Rapunzel may share how she felt when she found the courage to explore the world outside her tower, showing little ones how to spin joyfully and shout, “Best day ever!”
Lindsay shared that her two favorite special touches from the meal were that they spread pixie dust over the desserts and her daughter’s plates. She that “then each child got a special goodie bag to take home which included a really pretty princess crown necklace. I love that they have something to remember the experience by.”
The experience concludes with a photo portrait opportunity with the Princesses and premium keepsakes for guests to remember this inspirational day. Children will receive character autograph books and pens along with a choice of princess crown necklace or sword. All the adults receive a special chocolate to take home.
What do they serve? This will be a three-course breakfast option featuring a first course with lobster rolls, beignets, chia pudding; a buffet-style second course with Mickey waffles, eggs, bacon, fruit, and mac & cheese; and a third course with a large dessert menu featuring chocolate princess cake pops, white chocolate slipper with strawberry ganache, petite fruit tarts, and more.
Who should go? Since this is a high ticket character dining experience, only the most devoted Disney Princess fans should attend. This is a great option for special occasions like birthdays, first visits, or anniversaries. The menu items seem more similar to a lunch/dinner option than breakfast so picky eaters should keep that in mind or book a later breakfast so it feels more like brunch. You should plan to save at least three hours for this multi-course experience. This is a great option for families with kids at least 5-6 years old.
What characters are here? There will be a variety of Disney Princesses at this meal such as Belle, Tianna, Ariel, Jasmine, Mulan, and Rapunzel. No princess is guaranteed to be in attendance, though Rapunzel typically greets guests at the beginning of the meal as they come into the restaurant.
What costs are involved? The price for this meal is $125 per person (adults and children) not including tax or gratuity. Includes 5 hours of complimentary parking with validation at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. You can book your reservation here.
Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel
Where? In the Disneyland Hotel located just a couple steps from the lobby and next to Steakhouse 55.
What do they serve? Goofy’s Kitchen is a buffet style meal with food that appeals to kids and adults alike. The food changes between dinner and lunch. I highly recommend the peanut butter pizza.
Who should go? Everyone! This is our favorite Disney character meal. This meal can be a great mid-day break from visiting Disneyland. The best time to visit Goofy’s Kitchen is when you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or something else special. But, as Disney recently said, there is always something worth celebrating. Any visit to Goofy’s Kitchen is a good one.
What characters are here? Goofy’s Kitchen is home to Goofy and a variety of other random characters. In the past, we have seen characters including Pluto, Baloo from the Jungle Book, Aladdin and Jasmine, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Chip or Dale, and Pinocchio. In the evening, Minnie Mouse might be found here.
What costs are involved? This character dining does not require park admission since it’s located at the Disneyland Hotel. The price is $49 for adults and $29 for children aged 3-9 for breakfast and for dinner it is $55 for adults and $32 for children aged 3-9. Two and under are free but still include them in your reservation so the cast member makes enough space for your party. Reserve this dining option here.
Side note: Goofy’s Kitchen is Gavin’s favorite Disneyland character dining experience because of the variety of characters and wacky food options. For many years the brunch–featuring his favorite Peanut Butter Pizza–was critical for every birthday celebration.
Which is the best Disneyland character meal?
Each character dining experience at Disneyland is varied by location, food offerings, and characters. Each location nicely suits a different need for each family and group visiting Disneyland hoping to meet characters.
While we grew up loving Goofy’s Kitchen, our top pick has varied over the years for which is the best overall food and character experience. Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast is currently our top pick for character dining at Disneyland. This meal became a contender for the top spot when it was retooled to feature Mickey Mouse. Previously the meal at Storyteller’s Cafe featured Chip and Dale and other characters from the forest that are lesser known, but even then had the best buffet food at for a character meal. The fab five now spends time at this location and really makes it the best general character dining experience. The entire experience feels relaxed and luxurious in the middle of Disneyland’s nicest hotel. Our top recommendation!
I set the Disneyland princess breakfast into a category of its own. You can’t really compare that expensive brunch option with the other character dining experiences. The princess brunch is perfect for some families with kids in that perfect age. The experience there is also top-notch.
Breakfast with Minnie and Friends at the Plaza Inn is a popular classic great option, but I have never enjoyed dining inside Disneyland Park because it always feels more rushed and slightly more cramped. When we are inside Disneyland Park I want to be focused on getting rides and attractions. The character dining is always a difficult long break for kids early in the morning and sitting within view of attractions always speeds up the meal as everyone is anxious to get back into the parks which is one reason I don’t enjoy the Plaza Inn breakfast as much. It is much better to take your break out of the parks in a comfortable setting with the theme parks out of child sight and mind.
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When to Enjoy a Disney Character Meal?
Schedule your Disney Character Dining as either a late breakfast or lunch. For years, our tradition was enjoying Goofy’s Kitchen to celebrate a birthday. On these days, we would go into the park early using Early Entry and then exit the park right around 9:30 or 10 am just as the huge crowds were arriving. This is a great break after utilizing our Disneyland morning strategy or Disney California Adventure morning strategy.
As I tell you in our guide to maximizing your time at Disneyland, these first couple of hours in the parks are extremely valuable for riding the most popular attractions in the parks. Lunch is a perfect option to escape the crowds and weather during the busy months of the year. Actually, I always recommend booking a meal to escape the crowds.
Having your character dining scheduled for a brunch/early lunch timeslot is also the perfect way to save on one meal for the day. As we shared above, the character dining experiences at Disneyland are more expensive than other sit down table service meals at the resort. This way, you can rely on snacks you bring to Disney for the morning or groceries you ordered for your trip. Then, after our big character meal we often enjoy snacks and the great quick service options in the parks rather than scheduling another meal.
Another good option is booking your character meal on the day you arrive or leave if you’re interested in character dining options at the hotels so you don’t have to spend valuable park time on a longer meal experience.
Disneyland Character Dining Discounts
First, make your reservation for your Disneyland character meal. Reservations are highly recommended for all dining at Disneyland. Securing reservations for prime Disneyland character dining is still our top recommendation, but we have recently had success with walking up to certain restaurants early in the morning. You should read our top tips for securing a Disneyland dining reservation here.
Previously travel agencies sold discounted vouchers for Disneyland character dining experiences. These discounts for character meals are no longer offered.
Certain Disneyland Magic Key Passholders receive discounts (see details) on select food and beverage including character dining at Disneyland. In 2023, the discount for Disneyland character dining ranges from 10-15% off depending on pass level. Disney Vacation Club members also receive discounts on select Disneyland character dining.
9 Tips To Make the Most of Your Disney Character Dining Experience
These are a couple of my top tips to make the most of your character dining experience.
- Respect The Character’s Time: Be on the lookout for the characters as they are coming around the room. If you see a character approaching, wait to take another trip to the buffet or restroom. Get ready for the character by having cameras on and autograph books out. The more you have ready, the more quality time you will have with the Disney character.
- Autograph Book: Be sure to bring an autograph book with you to the character dining meal you choose. These books really engage your children and will have them looking forward to seeing each character. After purchasing the book, this is something free they can collect to really make the experience that much better. You can purchase a Disney autograph book in advance to save money over the prices charged at the parks. See all of our tips on souvenirs here.
- Consider PhotoPass: You can read all of our review of PhotoPass here, but in essence, this system will allow you to purchase specific pictures with characters. You will have your picture taken at the beginning of your meal and during the meal a PhotoPass photographer will come offer you the prints. If you have purchased Genie+, you just need to show them this on the Disneyland app and they will give you the code to load your digital photos. You are also welcome to purchase the prints, too!
- Don’t Promise Any Character: The only characters that are guaranteed to appear at any one Disney Character Meal are the ones who the experience is named after. I don’t think I have ever been to Goofy’s Kitchen and not seen Goofy, but just in case, I wouldn’t get too excited about any one character.
- Tell Them What You Want: Be sure to let the character know what photos and signatures you want from them right when they arrive at your table. This will ensure that they don’t leave before you have gotten all of those different groupings of people in photos and each autograph book signed.
- Don’t Freeze Up: For some reason, I will often freeze up around characters and just stop talking. Interact like it’s a regular conversation and join into the story with them. This is especially fun for the face characters who will get into big conversations with you. We have had quite fun conversations with Peter Pan and the Fairy Godmother once I loosened up. Many of the characters will do selfies with you too which can be fun!
- Remind the Character If You Have Met: If you have met the character previously, remind them of your previous meetings. Ask them how they have been and really get the conversation going. This will start them along the path of checking in with you about how you have been since your last meeting.
- Tell Your Waiter If You Are Celebrating Or Need Anything: Let your waiter know if you have any special circumstances. This can mean that you are enjoying a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary, or first visit to the parks or could be that you need special care because of a certain allergy or food preference. In both of these situations, the restaurant staff will be especially helpful. Keep in mind that you can also make special notes when booking your dining reservations (info above). If you feel like you’re not getting enough time with characters, just tell a cast member (nicely!) and they will be sure to help the situation!
- Costumes Are Just Fine For Most: The character meal is the perfect time to break out the costume if your son or daughter wants to dress as their favorite characters. It can go either way, a majority of those in costume are young guests dressed like princesses. Disneyland recently updated their costume rules to state that costumes are allowed for anyone under the age of 14.
Bonus: If you are looking for any other specific characters, check out the Disneyland App, which is now available to track characters in the parks. This will help you to find characters you didn’t get to meet at your character meal.
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Disneyland Character Meals Frequently Asked Questions
Though Disneyland character dining was temporarily altered during the reopening, the experiences at the four Disneyland restaurants (as detailed here) are now fully back to normal with character hugs and characters circulating to tables.
You can book character dining at Disneyland in California 60 days in advance. Reservations do fill up which is why we detail our tips for getting reservations here.
If you just want a quick picture with Mickey Mouse, booking a character meal may not be worth it for your family however if you want to see lots of different characters and enjoy great food offerings you should consider one of these Disneyland character meals.
There are currently four Disneyland character meals available. Those meals are:
– Breakfast With Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn
– Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast at Storytellers
– Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel
– Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure at Grand Californian’s Napa Rose
Yes, you can now hug characters at Disney once again. This is true at character dining and in the theme parks.
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