Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Favorite Character Dining Experience

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Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Orange.
Enjoy the ride as we share with you our
favorite character dining experiences.
I’m almost ashamed to admit this – but I used to think character meals were a waste of money. After all, I’m a confessed cheapskate.  I love doing Disney trips (or any trips for that matter) – and I’ve learned, over the years, how to do it on a very small budget.  Character meals were not something I was willing to spend our money on.  After all, you can have character encounters in the parks, right?
Disney posts Well, that may be (and is) true.  But, there’s just something extra special about a character meal.  We did our first character meal in 2005.  Honestly, I don’t remember what even prompted us to do it.  I guess maybe I thought we’d do it once – just to see what all the hype was about – and we’d never do it again.  We chose the Crystal Palace (for lunch with the Pooh characters). My album from that trip is literally falling apart, but I did manage to take a picture of a picture ===>
The girls had so much fun (and, honestly, so did Brian and I!)  The food was delicious. And unlike the character meet & greets in the parks – where you often feel rushed because there’s a huge long line behind you – you have plenty of time to interact with the characters.  And, if you eat slow, you might even get to interact with each one more than once!
Florida '09 134 On our next trip – with friends – in 2009, we made plans for two character meals.  The girls chose to go back to the Crystal Palace for another round with the Pooh characters, thinking that Ian might enjoy it.  He did – we all did!  They also chose to dine with the princesses – for breakfast – at Akershus in Norway (more on that later).
Florida 2010 021 We weren’t expecting a trip to WDW in 2010, but when the opportunity presented itself to be in the area on business, we quickly made reservations to dine with Cinderella and friends at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian.  This was another fabulous experience with delicious food.  (The strawberry soup is to die for!)
When we found out we’d be making the trip back down (again on business) this year, we decided to choose two new character meals – ones we’ve never done before.  I thought it might be smart to choose some where we’d meet some characters that normally have long lines in the parks (namely Mickey and Minnie).  So, we decided upon dinner one night at the Garden Grill in the Land Pavilion at EPCOT (with Mickey, Pluto, Chip & Dale) and breakfast at the Cape May Cafe in the Beach Club Resort (with Minnie, Donald, and Goofy). 
Florida 2011 476
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Both of these meals were great fun, with (as always) super yummy food and lots of character interaction.  (But we still chose to wait in line to meet Mickey & Minnie at Town Hall.  LOL)
Florida '09 074 By far, though, our all-time favorite character dining experience has been dining with the princesses at Akershus in Norway (in World Showcase at EPCOT).  When we first arrived, we were taken to meet Belle and have our family picture taken with her.  Then, we were seated and told to help ourselves to the buffet (which included traditional Norwegian faire, along with tons of fresh fruits, pastries, etc). =>
A platter (containing bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, and a yummy-licious potato casserole) was brought to our table. These are all-you-can-eat, so they keep bringing more and more platters until you say you are full!  (I think we went through three of them – there were 7 of us eating it.)
Florida '09 065 Florida '09 068
Florida '09 072 Florida '09 067
The interaction time with each princess was amazing!  Each one took the time to chat with each child (in addition to our 3, our friends had a 9 month old baby along as well).  They are totally “in character” so they chat about their country “of birth”, etc.  It’s very interesting, informative, and fun!
While I’ve heard from others that the lunch and dinner menu here isn’t that pleasing, we LOVED the breakfast and would totally recommend it and definitely would consider doing it again.  (Though right now on we’re on a mission to try all the character meals – and we’ve got a ways to go!) At the end of our meal, we were given a portfolio containing one 8x10, and four 4x6 pictures of our family with Belle – this was a nice surprise that was included with the cost of our meal. 
I’d love to hear about YOUR favorite character meal experience.  We’re hoping to make another trip to the World in late winter/early spring 2012, so please leave a comment!
Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Return to Disney.
blogorail logo (orange) Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ YOU ARE HERE!
2nd Stop ~ Return to Disney
3rd Stop ~ A Glass Slipper Vacation
4th Stop ~ Your Highway in the Sky
Final Stop ~ Focused on the Magic


Debs said...

Great post Heidi! I've never tried Akershus. The boys have kept me away. The food sounds fabulous. This is a must do when I do the next all girls trip with my sister!

Bird said...

I've also heard not so great things about the dinner fare, but we'd love to try the breakfast!

Amanda said...

Wonderful post! We loved the Pooh and friends Character meal. Our favorite so far is Chef Mickey's (we've only done a few!) for breakfast. We like to get one of the earliest reservations so we don't have that long of a wait. The character interactions are great and it's the perfect place to celebrate (we celebrated our son's 2nd and 3rd birthday there)!

Crystal and Bryan - canadisney.com said...

We love character meals! We keep adding more each visit - this time we're doing the Garden Grill and Tusker House breakfast both for the 1st time.

Beth Doda ~ disneymom2jhe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth Doda ~ disneymom2jhe said...

We tried Akershus for dinner last trip and I loved it, but my husband's entree was a little less desirable (though it didn't stop him from eating it!). Cape May Cafe is our all time favorite, but that is probably because it was our first. Like you, we never did character meals until Joey's first trip - we thought they were for kids. Boy were we wrong. Once we did that first one, we can't be stopped! :-)

Disney on Wheels said...

We are going to try Akershus for the first time in January. I am really looking forward to it now!

Savannah said...

Akershus is one of my favorites! My mom and I always go there for lunch and really enjoy the food! It's a little different, but good! Cape May Cafe is also another one of our faves, I like the beach wear the characters have.

DisneyBabies said...

Having a boy, I'm torn on Akershus - the review makes it sound amazing, but he would rather eat a picnic next to Mater and Lightning McQueen than a princess... maybe one day we'll have an excuse!

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