Dining with characters during your vacation at Walt Disney World is one of the highlights for many families. These meals offer you a great opportunity to interact and play with you favorite characters while enjoying a break from your busy days at the parks and some respite from the Florida heat. Character dining is also among some of the most coveted reservations in Walt Disney World and can offer an overwhelming array of choices for new visitors. Here are five tips to help you navigate the many options for character meals in Walt Disney World.
Tip #1 – 180 Days
Any Walt Disney World veteran knows that Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) are the only way to get into your most popular meals. Since character dining experiences are some of the most sought after meals in the parks, be sure to make your reservations as early as possible. Reservations for meals open up 180 days ahead of your visit. If your planning to dine with a princess, a mouse, or any other favorite friends, be sure to visit the My Disney Experience website or call Walt Disney World on the day reservations open for your stay.
DIStracted Tip – Dining reservations for guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort property are available up to 10 days earlier than the 180 day mark. This allows guests to book all dining reservations for the length of their trip at once.
Tip #2 – Transportation
Think about your plans for your vacation prior to making your dining reservations. Walt Disney Resort provides bus transportation throughout it’s many properties, but getting from park to park or resort to resort can sometimes require a few bus transfers and a lot of time. By planning character meals that match with the park you will be in that day or in resort hotels with close proximity or easy transportation from a park, you’ll be more relaxed when trying to make your reservation.
Tip #3 – Timing
In my opinion, breakfast is the perfect time to have your character meal. First, if you’re not using the Disney Dining Plan and are paying out of pocket, breakfast offers the same characters at a cheaper cost. Secondly, if you are dining in a park, you can make your dining reservation prior to park opening and have exclusive access to some great photo opportunities while the park is empty.
Tip #4 – Plan
Don’t plan to rush your character dining experience in the parks. Allow at least 90 minutes between your dining reservation time and any future FastPass+ reservations you may be making. Remember that sometimes you don’t get seated right at your reservation time and often characters can take a while to make their way around the restaurant as many character meals offer frequent breaks from the table visits for characters to dance and play with the kids.
Tip #5 – Prepare
Come prepared with your autograph books, pens, and camera. While characters do a great job visiting with your children, remember they also have lots of other tables to visit. By having everything ready when they arrive at your table, you’ll be able to maximize the fun and playful interactions with your child rather then stressing over which pocket of the diaper bag you left your camera.
There you have it! Five easy ways to make sure your character dining experience is every bit as magical as the rest of your trip.