Character dining is an area where Disney has always excelled. They know how to create the best character interactions for so many families. Character dining is a wonderful way to experience your favorite characters, but there are lots of tips and tricks that can help make your precious experience the best it can possibly be. Here are 10 tips and tricks for character dining at Walt Disney World:
10. Plan dining times carefully.
Character dining usually takes a least an hour to fully enjoy the experience, dine and meet all of the characters in the rotation. You may not want this to cut into your park time, so for breakfasts you want to consider making early reservations before the park opens. You get to enjoy the park without the crowds, as they will let you in early to walk to the restaurant for your meal (if inside a park). For lunches and dinners, pick the off-peak times. You may get to experience a little bit less crowds and the dining room may thin out a little bit between services, so you can relax a little bit during your meal.
9. Make reservations as soon as you can.
You are able to begin making reservations at the 180 mark prior to your trip. I highly recommend that you do so, especially for the character dining locations, which are extremely popular. Many of these book up fast and become difficult to get, especially if you have a larger party. Plan your dining early so you are ready to make reservations as soon as your booking window opens
8. Confirm costs or dining plan entitlements.
If budget is a factor, you will want to get an idea of the prices for the different dining experiences. Breakfasts are usually the cheapest, then lunch and then dinner is the most expensive. If you really want to plan character dining, but need to save funds, then look at the breakfast options, first. If you are on the dining plan then pay close attention to which meals are 1 entitlement versus 2 entitlements. If you don’t have the extra entitlements to use, then you will want to make sure to pick 1 entitlement options.
7. Have your camera ready.
Be mindful of where the characters are and how close they are to your table. It is usually helpful if you have your camera ready when they get to your table so you can instantly start taking pictures and not miss the initial encounter. This will also help when you ask the nice cast member to take your picture, as you will be ready to hand over the camera and pose as a family.
6. Bring autograph books and other items to have signed.
Guests get really creative with the items that they have characters sign, like pillow cases, picture frames, shirts, etc. Whatever your heart desires, make sure that you have it ready to sign, with pens/markers so that you did miss out on the autograph opportunity.
5. Does your child want to dress up?
There will many children dressed in costumes at these events, especially the events where you dine with the princesses. Knowing this going in is helpful so you can plan accordingly. If your child is interested in the full costume, go for it. If you don’t want to have to mess with that, you could come prepared with a special shirt or maybe Mickey ears or some other kind of “mini costume” so that they feel they are in on the fun.
4. Wait your turn.
I know that the excitement builds and you can’t wait to meet your favorite character, but make sure that you wait until they come to your table. Don’t let your children run over to them or interfere with other family’s time with the characters. They want their time, photos and memories just as you do, so just wait until they get to you and it will make everything flow much better.
3. Plan buffet trips or restroom breaks.
You don’t want to miss your character opportunity and have to wait for them to come around again. Try to encourage the kiddos to use the restroom before you are seated so that you lessen the likelihood of random bathroom visits that could cause you to miss characters. Pay careful attention to how far a character is from your table and plan your trip to the buffet when you won’t miss the characters (if applicable). It’s pretty easy to plan, just look around and gauge how much time you have. Your server can help you, too.
2. Consider Memory Maker.
Many of the character dining locations take group photos at the location. There is a charge to get the print package for these photos. If you have Memory Maker, you get them added to your account for no additional charge. Memory Maker also gets you all of your ride photos, as well as all photos taken by PhotoPass photographers. This makes the purchase a value outside of character dining, and is worth the consideration. If you plan on doing several character dining experiences, you will definitely get your money’s worth just with those. Then you won’t have to miss out on having the treasured memories.
1. Have fun and make each moment magical.
Don’t be shy and afraid to cut loose! You’re in the Happiest Place on Earth with your family, classic characters and amazing food. Don’t worry about what anyone around you is doing or thinks. Focus on having the best time with your family and creating magical moments that you will treasure forever. This is your opportunity to be silly and bring the characters to life for your family in a new way than they have ever experienced. Enjoy and have a magical day!