Updated Sept 2018
Heading to Disney World adults only style is a lot of fun, thats right, I said it. Disney World character meals are almost like a right of passage for anyone visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. Even for those on an adult Disney vacation. It is just one of those things that you kind of have to/want to do. Also, why
wait in line for 30-45 minutes to take a picture with a character in the park when you can pay $30-$40 dollars to take pictures with 4 characters, and eat a meal at the same time…I mean, you were going to have to eat anyways. If you are gearing up to enjoy a Disney character dining experience as an adult, allow me to help you decide which one is the best fit by ranking them by adult experience.
Disney World Adults Only: From Best Experience to Worst
1. Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno on the Boardwalk
Why adults love it: Trattoria al Forno’s breakfast setting is much smaller than other character meals meaning it is much quieter. The more people, the more noise…its just science. Visiting this smaller breakfast means that your dining experience will remain a dining experience, which is ideal for a Disney World adults only experience. The menu at Trattoria is also a little bit more inspired than the regular Disney breakfast menus. From pancakes with seasonal compote, to smoked salmon, to frittatas and even breakfast calzones, the menu here is a nice change of pace from ordinary character dining. Finally, each character at the Bon Voyage Breakfast has their own introduction followed by a generous space of time before the next character is introduced. Introducing them this way adds a calmer approach to the character chaos.
Characters: Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder
2. 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian Resort
Why adults love it: When it comes to interacting with characters, face characters tend to appeal to adult personalities just a little bit more than ‘fur characters’. ‘Fur characters’ being those wearing full costumes including a head versus only make-up on ‘face characters’. Being able to verbally interact and joke with the characters really can enhance your experience. So why 1900 Park Fare? Well, because the restaurant offers face characters of a different variety than your princesses who have a certain…Je Ne Sais Quoi about them…right Gaston? Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins and Alice at our breakfast were absolutely hilarious. They were able to make a few adult jokes with us as they visited our table…in keeping with their character’s persona of course. At dinner we had a great time joking with Anastasia, Drizella, and Lady Tremaine; Cinderella’s villainous step family. They interacted well with us, being somewhat sassy, making for a great time and different experience than the usual pleasantries, pose and picture.
What adults did not love: The food is only decent. It is your basic American Disney buffet, meaning Mickey waffles in the morning, and peel-and-eat shrimp and carving stations at night. The other downfall is that this restaurant can be little bit noisy and as in any buffet and you might have a bit of a wait before you are seated.
Characters: The Mad Hatter, Alice, Winnie the Pooh Tigger, Mary Poppins (breakfast)
Anastasia, Drizella, Lady Tremaine, Cinderella, Prince Charming (dinner)
3. Tusker House in The Animal Kingdom
Why adults love it: The food at Tusker House is wonderful. It is flavourful. It is unique. The African inspiration is what makes this restaurant amazing for adults with a more adventurist palate. This is one of the best dining experiences at Disney World and a perfect place to go after riding Flights of Passage in the morning. Breakfast, lunch and dinner all serve dishes originating on the African continent…surprisingly highlighting the occasional curry plate. If you are looking for something a little bit different, then Tusker House is a great choice with or without characters. The food alone is outstanding. Tusker house is also a great way to get your picture taken with some of the most iconic characters. The Fab 4 are dressed in their safari outfits and visit you at your table.
What adults did not love: If you are a picky eater then maybe this is not for you. The restaurant itself tends to be a bit on the noisy side. While the food area is big and open, the dining area feels a little cramped and with the noise, a little chaotic. This character experience is for the Disney foodie who wants to meet with the fab 4.
Characters: Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck
4. Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom
Why adults love it: Everyone visiting Walt Disney World has wondered at some point what is inside Cinderella Castle. When they find out it is a restaurant, the curious want to see it. I won’t lie to you. It is pretty cool. To sit inside Cinderella castle with the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom below you is pretty unique. The theme of this restaurant is on point. It is a magical medieval castle full of princesses and knights. Each princess visits every the table for a meet and greet, behaving as that character would. All participants in the breakfast gets either a wand or a sword as a commemorative item, and a picture with Cinderella herself at the entrance. Cinderella’s Royal Table is of the hardest Walt Disney dining reservations to find, so book early. If you choose to eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table at during fireworks at dinner, then you can dine with some sparkle in the sky visible through the back windows of the castle.
What adults did not love: The food is…well, food only a princess could eat. It is decent food, nothing to write home about but also not the worst. The cost however is significantly more than restaurants with better food. It is plated with thought and served with spirit. Cinderella’s Royal Table is also a little expensive, but even as an adult, this Disney World character dining experience is magical.
Characters: Cinderella, Various Princesses (Ariel, Jasmine, Belle, Aurora)
5. The Garden Grill in Epcot
Why adults love it: The Garden Grill is situated in the Land Pavilion in Epcot. The restaurant slowly rotates over a 1 hour time period just above the living with the land ride, one of the rides you can fastpass at Walt Disney World. The restaurant is circular shaped with only 2 rows of booths, an upper and lower. This is why adults love it and why it ranks high on our Disney World adults only list. It is definitely less chaotic than other character experiences and feels more private since you are not facing other tables of diners awaiting or interacting with Disney characters. As a result of having less tables and less people, this character meal is a little quieter than most. The interesting aspect of the food is that while it is your basic American meal (Mickey waffles, bacon and eggs for breakfast and roasted meats, vegetables and potatoes for dinner), some of the meal is actually sourced from the laboratory below and is served family style.
What adults did not love: The food tends to run a little plain Jane for the adult foodie with less choice than the buffets. The horseshoe shape of the booths in the restaurant also can be difficult to get in and out of when the characters come to visit making picture taking a little less convenient.
Characters: Chip, Dale, Mickey Mouse and Pluto
6. Ohana’s Breakfast at the Polynesian Resort
Why adults love it: Dining with Lilo and Stitch at O’hana’s in the Polynesian Resort is enjoyable by the standards of many adults, mostly because of its relaxed vibe. The food is served family style, so you do not need to make any decisions, and there is no buffet to navigate. Simply sit down and wait for your food to come. Serving a Hawaiian take on American favourites, you will find Mickey waffles, bacon, eggs, and home fries with the addition of Hawaiian fare such as pineapple bread. The restaurant has a fabulous view of the Magic Kingdom, my favourite of the Disney World Parks ranked, sporting big windows with lots of natural light. The music and spirit of the restaurant is relaxed and positive, making for a really enjoyable experience.
What adults did not love: It is possible that O’hana’s can feel a little bit too kid friendly with the mid morning coconut race and parades.
Characters: Lilo, Stitch, Mickey Mouse, and Pluto
7. Cape May Cafe Breakfast at the Beach Club Resort
Why adults love it: Cape May is a restaurant at the Beach Club Resort near Epcot and it only offers character dining during its breakfast seating. Cape May is great place to meet some of the ‘fab 5’ iconic Disney characters in a less popular situation, which is why it is part of my Disney World Adult tips. It also has a few unique dining offerings from seafood to a fabulous crepe station. The crepe station at breakfast is what really won me over.
What adults did not love: The restaurant itself is a little noisy…I mean anywhere there is Mickey there is excitement and noise. It is however, organized in a way that feels less chaotic than others.
Characters: Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Pluto
8. Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom
Why adults love it: The Crystal Palace is a big wide open sunny restaurant with a glass ceiling right next to Main Street. One of the best parts about Crystal Palace character dining is that it is right inside the Magic Kingdom so you do not have to leave the park to get there. You can enjoy the sights of the happy park goers while you dine. If you go for an early breakfast, you can get into the park before other guests. For patrons of Disney, a Disney World character breakfast is all about location, location, location.
What adults did not love: The restaurant itself is very noisy. The characters also take around 90 minutes to get around the restaurant (most character meals are a 1 hour rotation) meaning you can be there waiting for just a little too long. I would suggest visiting over breakfast. While the biggest draw for the Crystal Palace is its location, for those on a Disney World adults only trip, let it be known it is primarily geared towards younger children.
Characters: Winnie the Pooh, Eyore, Piglet, and Tigger
9. Chef Mickeys at the Contemporary Resort
Why adults love it: Chef Mickeys is THE restaurant to visit if you are interested in getting your picture taken with the ‘Fab 5’. It is a true right of Disney character dining passage. If you have eaten at Chef Mickeys then you have earned your ears. The food is decent. Once again, it is your basic American buffet…but at least it has it’s own ice cream bar.
What adults did not love: The restaurant is really noisy and it is usually full of kids running around. Bring on that character chaos. The monorail also runs above the restaurant which makes for a little extra noise. I would not consider the ambiance that spectacular, and there are so many tables the characters need to rush their visits…but as I said before…it’s a right of passage.
Characters: Minnie, Mickey, Goofy, Pluto, Donald
10. Akershush in Epcot
Why adults love it: Akershush is one of the few princess meals on Disney property adding to its popularity. The restaurant is located in the Norway pavilion of the world showcase at Epcot. The best part of the meal, outside of it being inside the park, one of my tips to enjoy Epcot, is its ambiance. Akershush looks like a medieval castle on the inside displaying high vaulted ceilings and ‘stone’ walls. Upon entering the dining experience, each visitor is offered the opportunity to take a picture with Belle before being seated.
What adults did not love: The food at Akershush is only average. There is an a la carte menu to choose from as well as a cold bar of Scandinavian offerings. The characters are fun but as with any princess meal, it is geared towards the younger generation…unless you are a huge fairy Godmother fan, which many disney world vacation adults are…then this is your one and only place to have meal with her.
Characters: Belle, Snow White, Aurora, Fairy Godmother, Miscellaneous Princesses
11. Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios
Why adults love it: This restaurant is inside Hollywood Studios, a big plus for any dining experience and one of my favourite disney world adult tips. One of the best features of the restaurant is that the characters outfits change with the season. Another great quality of this particular dining experience is that you can get Fantasmic tickets (a laser, character, and fireworks show) with your meal for a small up-charge. This means that for a little extra you get preferred seating to Fantasmic allowing you to show up only 15 minutes before the show instead of 1 hour. If you are on a Disney World adults only trip, an additional 45 minutes of park time is always a significant benefit. This is the most affordable way to get dining Fantasmic tickets as you will be simply paying for the cost of a buffet whereas if you pick them up at Mama Melrose or Hollywood Brown Derby, the tickets require you to get an appetizer, entree and dessert. Hollywood and Vine is the most affordable.
What adults did not love: The food at Hollywood and Vine is your basic American buffet fare. Yes, it does have a chocolate fountain, but otherwise the food falls below par. At lunch and breakfast the characters at Hollywood and Vine are the Disney Junior characters and so should be avoided unless you are with a little one. Only the dinner characters are geared towards both adults and children.
Characters:Breakfast/Lunch-Handy Manny, Jake, Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins
Dinner-Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy
Garden Grove is a restaurant in the Swan Hotel in the Epcot resort area. The restaurant offers character dining throughout the week. It is smaller, less known, and quieter than the regular character dining experiences. At breakfast and evenings on the weekend, you can meet Chip and Dale, Goofy and Pluto with your standard American buffet. I have never eaten here, however, I have heard if you are looking for a quiet character meal, this is the place to go.
Have you visited any of these restaurants and character dining experiences? I would love to know your favourite Disney World adult only dining experiences.
Heading to Walt Disney World on vacation, not sure where to start or what to do? That totally OK, connect with me for a consultation and tap my brain to help organize your trip!