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Best Disney World Character Meals in 2024 (Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Best Disney World Character Meals in 2024 (Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

One of the things that many people want to include on Disney World trips are character meals, but there are so many to choose from that it’s hard to figure out which one (or ones!) to do.

In this post, we have listed all the character meals at Disney World with info on which characters appear, prices, menus, plus we have some handy transportation information on how to get to early breakfast reservations.

Let’s get started…

1900 Park Fare is now open

Fantastic news! 1900 Park Fare returned to full operation on April 10. And with it comes some classics (like the Strawberry Soup!) plus fun new characters and an updated space. More on what to expect below.

What character meals are available?

Here is what is currently available:

  • NEW! 1900 Park Fare (breakfast and dinner)
  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  • Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom (lunch and dinner only)*
  • Cape May Cafe (characters at breakfast only)
  • Chef Mickey’s at The Contemporary (breakfast and dinner only)
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  • Crystal Palace (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  • Garden Grill at Epcot (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  • Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios (lunch and dinner only)
  • Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine Character Breakfast at Hollywood and Vine (breakfast only)
  • ‘Ohana (characters at breakfast only)
  • Ravello’s at the Four Seasons (characters at breakfast only)
  • Story Book Dining at Artist Point (dinner only)
  • Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera (characters at breakfast only)
  • Tusker House (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)

*While not currently considered an “official” character meal by Disney, we have included them in this list because a character DOES make an appearance at the meal.

Character Meal Comparison Chart (Graphic)

We go into more details below, but here’s a quick overview of how the current character meals compare to one another:

Click to open full-sized PDF

comparing character meals

Pros and cons of every Disney World character meal

Let’s dive in and look at the pros and cons of each character meal…

1900 Park Fare

Wish upon a star with favorite Disney characters.

Location type: Character Dining – Buffet
Characters available: Aladdin in his Prince Ali look, Cinderella, Mirabel and Tiana in her new look for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
Type of food: American
Meals Served: Breakfast & dinner
Seating Available: Indoor

  • On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 1 table service credit
  • Pros: Easily accessible from several resorts and Magic Kingdom via the monorail, unique characters that appeal to a lot of people
  • Cons: Reservations can be tricky to snag, the restaurant is louder than other buffets during peak meal times (making it difficult to hear)
  • Tip: If you arrive by monorail, it may not be obvious where this restaurant is located. When you exit the monorail, go down to the first floor, and you’ll find the restaurant entrance there.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall offers character dining featuring a variety of Disney princesses. Meals here are served family-style.

ariel at akershus royal banquet hall

Location type: Family-style character dining
Characters (typically a combo of 5 from this list): Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Princess Aurora, Ariel, Tiana
Type of food: Norwegian, American
Meals Served: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Seating Available: Indoor

  • On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 1 Table Service credit for Breakfast and 2 Table Service credits for Lunch and Dinner
  • Pros: Meet multiple Disney princesses at once, that usually include Princess Tiana, Ariel, Belle, Princess Aurora, and Snow White.
  • Cons: Norwegian-style food may not appeal to everyone, especially little ones.
  • Tips: While Cinderella has met here in the past, Tiana, Ariel, Belle, Aurora, and Snow White are usually the main princesses who meet here now. The characters appearances are subject to change, so it’s kind of a “surprise” who you’ll meet during your meal. Eat breakfast here if you have picky eaters since lunch and dinner feature foods that are a bit more adventurous and not as popular for families

Akershus Royal Banquet hall is where you can normally meet Disney princesses, like Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, and Ariel.

The character dining spot is usually open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is a popular place to dine, so reservations are recommended.

While breakfast is pretty standard food, lunch and dinner features a “Taste of Norway,” which includes Scandinavian seafood, imported cheeses, cured and sliced meets, salads, fruits, and desserts.

There are also hot plates, like grilled fillet of salmon, herb-roasted chicken breast, and a Norwegian meatball dish called Kjøttkake.

Be Our Guest

Be Our Guest

Location type: Table Service
Character: The Beast
Type of food: American/French
Meals Served: Lunch and Dinner

  • On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 2 table service credits
  • Pros: The only way to go inside The Beast’s castle and to see The Beast in person (he only walks through the dining room; not a meet and greet)
  • Cons: Expensive, service and food can be inconsistent, waits can be long, one of the hardest dining reservations to get at Disney World
  • Tips: The Be Our Guest lunch and dinner menus are a fixed price format that includes an appetizer, main entrée, and dessert. Even though it is a Signature Table Service meal (meaning it is more expensive) it is still one of the toughest reservations to snag. Check out our tips for getting reservations for help.

Be Our Guest is one of the most popular Table Service options at Disney World, especially at Magic Kingdom.

be our guest grand ballroom magic kingdom

After all, this is the only place you can wave to The Beast and dine inside his castle. There are 3 rooms to dine in: The Grand Ballroom, The Rose Gallery, and The West Wing (this may scare little ones).

While the experience is one-of-a-kind, there’s no denying it is a very pricey meal.

Reservations are accepted and very much recommended.

Cape May Cafe – Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast

Location type: Buffet
Characters (can vary): Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Daisy (all dressed in beach attire)
Type of food: American
Meals Served: Only breakfast here has characters

  • On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 1 table service credits
  • Pros: Nice variety of foods to choose from, when characters are present, they’re dressed in beach attire, often easier to find a reservation here than other character dining locations
  • Cons: Fairly expensive for breakfast food
  • Tips: May be a good option before heading to Epcot or Hollywood Studios, which are both within walking distance.

Cape May Cafe is a New England-style restaurant that serves both breakfast and dinner buffets. You can only meet Minnie, Daisy, Donald, and Goofy in beach attire during breakfast, though.

Breakfast fare here is pretty typical – but they do have crêpes and a nice selection of sides.

Chef Mickey’s

Chef Mickey’s offers character dining featuring The Fab Five in chef attire: Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto. Meals here are served buffet-style.

chef mickey's contemporary resort

Location type: Buffet-style character dining
Characters: Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, and Goofy
Type of food: American
Meals Served: Breakfast & dinner
Seating Available: Indoor

  • On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 1 Table Service credit(s)
  • Pros: Family favorite due to the fun vibe (and it’s fun to ride the monorail right into the building), good spot to catch the classic characters together, food has improved with many plant-based options
  • Cons: Reservations are hard to get, can be loud
  • Tips: Only 4 of the characters come to your table; you’ll meet either Chef Mickey or Chef Minnie at the separate PhotoPass meet and greet after you’ve paid

While maybe not the best food in the world, Chef Mickey’s remains one of the most iconic character meals at Walt Disney World.

I mean, where else can you meet Mickey while the monorail is zooming above you?!

Expect it to be loud and a little chaotic here. But, if you are looking for a fun experience for kids that is near Magic Kingdom, this might be a decent option. Just know that large price is for the experience, and not necessarily for the food.

Cinderella’s Royal Table

cinderella at cinderella's royal table

Location type: Character Dining
Characters (can vary, but typically includes a combination of several of these): Ariel, Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White, Jasmine and sometimes Merida
Type of food: American
Meals Served: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

  • On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 2 table service credits
  • Pros: The experience, view, and characters (which include Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White, and Jasmine), are all good. Food has improved over the years.
  • Cons: Expensive, waits can be long to get in even with a reservation.

Cinderella’s Royal Table is a sit-down restaurant, where you can meet princesses (like Cinderella, of course) and dine inside her castle.

cinderella at cinderella's royal table

While it’s certainly a unique experience and the only way you’re able to enter the castle, it’s extremely pricey.

cinderella's royal table dining room

While in the past, the food hasn’t been memorable, it has improved greatly over the years. We recommend lunch and dinner over breakfast.

plant-based avocado toast cinderella's royal table

If this is a top option and you (and your little one) want to meet several Disney princesses at once, be sure to snag a reservation as soon as possible!

The Crystal Palace

Location type: Character Dining
Characters available: Eeyore, Piglet, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger
Type of food: American Buffet
Meals Served: Breakfast and snacks

  • On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 1 table service credit
  • Pros: This is a Winnie the Pooh and friends buffet character meal that has the benefit of having both good food and fun character interactions
  • Cons: Can be a wait, even with reservations (which you almost always have to have to get in here)

Crystal Palace is a character dining spot on Main Street that serves buffet-style during breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

You can, of course, also meet characters here, including Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore.

the crystal palace at magic kingdom

We highly suggest snagging a reservation here. While it’s not the most popular character dining location at Disney World, it can still get busy.

Garden Grill

farmer mickey at garden grill in epcot

Location type: Family-style character dining
Characters available: Pluto, Mickey Mouse, Chip, and Dale (dressed as farmers)
Type of food: American
Meals Served: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Seating Available: Indoor

  • On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 1 Table Service credit(s)
  • Pros: Meals are served family-style, which may be easier for families when compared to a buffet. The restaurant rotates, offering cool views of Living with the Land. You can meet Chip, Dale, Pluto, and Mickey, who wears farmer overalls. Good use of a Table Service credit when using the Disney Dining Plan.
  • Cons: While the rotation of the restaurant is super slow, it may bother some guests.
  • Tips: It is often possible to get a reservation here when many others aren’t available. Garden Grill is often included as an option for dining packages like those for the Candlelight Processional.
garden grill - the land pavilion - epcot

Garden Grill is a character dining spot, where you can meet farmer Mickey, Chip, Dale, and Pluto.

Better yet, this is a rotating restaurant that offers cool views of the rainforest, farmhouse, thunderstorm, sandstorm, and prairie scenes from Living with the Land.

You’re served an all-you-can-eat family-style meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Garden Grill

Breakfast includes Mickey waffles, pastries, fruit, bacon, eggs, grilled steak and potatoes.

Lunch and dinner include salad, chicken, macaroni and cheese, grilled beef, mashed potatoes, vegetables, Southern-style spoon break, and berry short cake.

There are also plant-based and allergy-friendly platters available upon request.

Garden Grill whole gang

Advance reservations are highly recommended. You can book up to 60 days in advance.

Hollywood & Vine

Hollywood & Vine offers two different character dining opportunities. The first is the Disney Junior Play n’ Dine for breakfast with Disney Junior characters (Vampirina, Fancy Nancy, Doc McStuffins, and Goofy). The second is Minnie’s Seasonal Dining for lunch and dinner with Minnie, Mickey, Goofy, and Pluto in rotating attire based on the season (Springtime, Summertime, Halloween, Holiday, and Silver Screen). All meals are served buffet-style.

minnie's holiday dine at hollywood and vine in hollywood studios

Location type: Buffet-style character dining
Characters available:

  • Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine Breakfast – typically Vampirina, Fancy Nancy, Doc McStuffins
  • Minnie’s Seasonal Dine Lunch and Dinner – typically Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy (costumes vary by season)

Type of food: American
Meals Served: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Seating Available: Indoor

  • On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 1 Table Service credit(s)
  • Pros: Lunch and dinner experiences change with the seasons, meaning you get to see the characters dressed in different costumes during certain times of the year.
  • Cons: Can be loud and busy.
  • Tips: As the only character dining in the park, can be popular. You can only see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto at lunch and dinner. During breakfast, Disney Junior characters and Goofy appear.

Hollywood & Vine is the only character dining in Hollywood Studios.

For breakfast, you can meet Disney Junior characters. For lunch and dinner, you can meet Minnie, Mickey, Goofy, and Pluto.

Regarding the latter, the themes change depending on the season and is known as “Minnie’s Seasonal Dining”.

minnie's silver screen dine hollywood and vine

Here’s a breakdown of each character experience:

  • Disney Junior Play n’ Dine (year-round)
  • Minnie’s Summertime Dine (May through August)
  • Minnie’s Halloween Dine (August through November)
  • Minnie’s Holiday Dine (November through January)
  • Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine (January through February)
  • Minnie’s Springtime Dine (March through May)
hollywood and vine hollywood studios

Depending on the season, the characters appearing during Minnie’s Seasonal Dining wear different outfits!

goofy signing an autograph book behind his head

Reservations are accepted and recommended.

This has served both family-style and buffet meals, with the latter being the main form of dining.

Best Friends Breakfast at ‘Ohana

‘Ohana is a popular Table Service location that serves breakfast and dinner, with the former featuring beloved characters. The family-style food is also usually a hit here, especially the noodles and bread pudding.

Stitch at Ohana

Location type: Family-style
Characters (can vary): Mickey, Stitch, Lilo, and Pluto
Type of food: American, Polynesian
Meals Served: Breakfast & dinner are served here, but only breakfast is a character meal
Seating Available: Indoor

  • On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 1 Table Service credit(s)
  • Pros: Food options to please most anybody (all-you-can-eat American breakfast, lots of meat options for dinner plus the much-beloved bread pudding for dessert, and plant-based choices), characters appear (Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, and others), kids are included in activities during the meal
  • Cons: Popular spot so reservations are hard to get, check in can take a long time so maybe even consider arriving early for your reservation
  • Tips: Book ASAP if you are interested in eating here; breakfast hours extend until 12:00 pm which makes it a great place to grab a late breakfast

The character breakfast at ‘Ohana offers a relaxed setting to start your day.

Here, guests can enjoy a variety of breakfast favorites served family-style while Disney characters mingle with the diners, adding a personal touch to the meal. The location is great for a pre-park breakfast since you’ll be within walking distance to the Transportation and Ticket Center, which can take you to Epcot, or you can jump on the monorail to Magic Kingdom right at the Poly.

And although there is zero science to confirm it, the waffles just taste extra delicious here for some reason!

Story Book Dining at Artist Point with Snow White

Enjoy a prix fixe menu in an enchanted forest, with visits from Snow White, dwarfs, and the opportunity to meet the (Evil) Queen.

dopey at artist point

Location type: Table Service character meal
Characters (can vary): Snow White, Evil Queen, Dopey, and Grumpy
Type of food: American
Meals Served: Dinner
Seating Available: Indoor

  • On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 2 table service credits
  • Pros: Opportunity to meet Snow White and the Evil Queen, fun themed menu
  • Cons: Can be a little bit of a hassle to get there if you aren’t staying at Wilderness Lodge or have plans to be at Magic Kingdom that day; food quality has decreased greatly since first opening
  • Tip: The specialty mocktails and cocktails here are fun and very well themed

Story Book Dining is one of the more unique character dining experiences in that it includes at villain, and not just the good guys.

Located at Wilderness Lodge, the surroundings are lovely, and it feels a bit more upscale than the other character meals. And because this isn’t a buffet, it also isn’t as noisy (which is a huge perk if you just want to relax and dine).

The food here can be hit or miss – but we’re hopeful that Disney figures it out and gets the consistently good grub headed out of the kitchen, because when this meal is good, the entire experience is great.

Tusker House

Tusker House offers character dining featuring Donald, Daisy, Mickey, and Goofy in safari attire. Meals here are served buffet-style.

Tusker House Animal Kingdom Mickey Mouse safari outfit

Location type: Buffet-style character dining
Characters: Donald, Mickey, Goofy, Daisy (dressed for a safari)
Type of food: African, American
Meals Served: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Seating Available: Indoor

  • On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 1 Table Service credit(s)
  • Pros: Lots of good food (standard breakfast items, various African dishes available at lunch and dinner).
  • Cons: On the pricier end of restaurant prices at Animal Kingdom, service can be inconsistent.
  • Tips: This is probably the most popular dining reservation at Animal Kingdom. Be sure to book 60 days in advance, particularly if you want the much-coveted 8 a.m. breakfast reservation.

Tusker House is the only character meal at Animal Kingdom — and it’s a great one.

tusker house animal kingdom character dining

In addition to a buffet serving African dishes (with many kid-friendly choices), you get to meet Safari Donald, Mickey, Goofy, and Daisy!

safari mickey tusker house animal kingdom

This is one of the best character dining options and is super fun. You can book it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Topolino’s Terrace — Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends

Enjoy a prix-fixe menu during breakfast (aka Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends), where you can meet Mickey (dressed as a painter), Minnie (dressed as a poet), Daisy (dressed as a dancer), and Donald (dressed as a sculptor).

donald at topolino's terrace flavors of the riviera

Location type: Character dining, Fine/Signature dining
Characters available: Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy (dressed as different types of artists)
Type of food: French, Italian
Meals Served: Only breakfast has characters
Seating Available: Indoor

  • On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 1 table service credit for breakfast
  • Pros: Chance to meet Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, and Donald in artist-themed attire during breakfast; beautiful rooftop views; not a character breakfast buffet, which can be easier for families
  • Cons: Relatively small servings for the price; can be tricker to get to if you’re not staying on the Disney Skyliner
  • Tips: This is a great character breakfast option for people staying at Pop Century, Art of Animation, or Caribbean Beach since you can take the Skyliner, which starts running as early as Topolino’s reservations begin. Be sure to tell the Cast Members working the Skyliner that you have a dining reservation.

Topolino’s Terrace offers a character breakfast with a European flair, featuring a rooftop view at Disney’s Riviera Resort – and it is an abslute treat.

Guests can savor à la carte dishes while enjoying interactions with Disney characters in some of the best costumes at WDW.

It’s a sophisticated yet playful dining experience that blends gourmet cuisine with the joy of character meet-and-greets, and since this isn’t a buffet, it also feels less hectic.

Reservations here can be tricky to get, so if you want to dine here, be sure to make this a top priority when your window opens up.

What is the best character meal at Disney World?

While we love the experience you can find at many of the character meals, Garden Grill at Epcot is still our favorite.

Not only can you get delicious food here, but the rotating restaurant is fun for both adults and kids, and the characters are adorable.

Plus, it isn’t a buffet, which we typically prefer simply because it makes for a more relaxing meal.

What is the best character breakfast?

When it comes to breakfast at Disney World, our absolute favorite is Topolino’s Terrace. The characters here are so freaking cute. Love the uniqueness of the costumes and the theming.

We also love that this restaurant is accessible via the Skyliner, which makes it a great option for guests staying at Pop Century, Art of Animation, and Disney’s Caribbean Beach resorts.

More on why we love both Garden Grill and Topolino’s Terrace above, where we list out the pros and cons to all character meals.

How to book a character meal at Disney World

As you can imagine, character meals are very popular and many on the list below are some of the most difficult reservations to get in all of Walt Disney World.

If you want to dine with the characters you’ll definitely want to plan on making your Advanced Dining Reservations at that 60 day mark right when the booking window opens which is typically around 5:45 a.m. EST.

We have lots more advice for maximizing your chances of getting exactly what you want in our How to snag hard-to-get Disney World dining reservations post. 

Good Morning Breakfast at Ravello (Located offsite at the Four Seasons Resort)

Goofy Ravello
  • Location: Four Seasons Resort
  • Character meals available: breakfast
  • Available: Saturdays
  • Average Price: Adult $40 / Child $20
  • On the Disney Dining Plan? No
  • Buffet? No. Prix-fixe menu.
  • Breakfast menu

Characters (can vary): Goofy, Mickey Mouse, and Minnie 

Pros: Convenient for guests staying at the resort, beautiful setting, and food is great

Cons: Feels rushed, character portion lacking compared to other character meals available

Tips: Only make a reservation here if you’re staying at the Four Seasons Resort, otherwise it’s not necessarily worth it.

When to schedule Disney World character dining meals

Trying to decide the best time to schedule a character meal?

Because character meals are a fun experience that (in our opinion) shouldn’t be rushed, we recommend you choose days and times when you can relax and fully enjoy it.

One great option for that is to book your character meals on non-park days. Just make sure you pick restaurants that are located at one of the resort hotels (and not a theme park) so that you don’t have to use a park ticket for entry.

Ohana with Mickey

Another great time for character meals may be your arrival and departure days.

Lots of people don’t like to waste a park ticket on their travel days, but they still want some of that Disney magic, and character meals are a great way to do just that. 

Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to (or from) the airport if you’re flying. 

If you opt to dine with the characters on a day you’ll be visiting one of the theme parks, we highly recommend you book your dining in the park where you’ll be (or at a nearby resort) to save transportation time. 

Can the characters sign autographs?

Yes! characters can sign autographs at character meals. Cast Members will just ask that you have your autograph book out and ready.

chef mickey's pluto hug

How long do character meals take?

You’ll want to budget about 90 minutes (plus travel time) for your meal.

That gives you time to check in, be seated, and then time to eat and see all the characters without racing through anything.

Mickey Topolinos Terrace

It may take less time than that, but for planning purposes, 90 minutes is a good rule of thumb.

In a hurry? If eating at a fixed-price meal, ask for your check as soon as you sit down, so you can pay and then leave as soon as you’re finished eating.

What about character breakfasts?

Character meals for breakfasts are a popular way to start a day, but here are some things to keep in mind:

  • If you want to maximize your park touring, you’ll definitely want to have the earliest reservation possible (which on most days is around 8:00 a.m.).
  • Park hours can (and do) change, which means that pre-park opening breakfast might wind up not being before the park opens, which can throw off your touring plans for the entire day.
  • Breakfasts are generally the least expensive character meals, so while they aren’t always a good value on the Disney Dining Plan (when available), they are a great way to save a few bucks if you’re planning to pay for your meal out-of-pocket.
  • Some character breakfasts put you in a good position to be at the front of the line for a popular nearby attraction, so that is something to consider as well. 

VIDEO: Disney Character Meals you DON’T Need a Park Ticket For

What about PhotoPass photographers?

We’ve slowly started to see PhotoPass photographers returning to character meals.

Here’s where you can find them:

  • Story Book Dining at Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge)
  • Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary Resort)
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)

Several other restaurants (like Tusker House) used to also have a photo op; however, there are no PhotoPass photographers there currently.

You don’t get a physical copy of the photo, but it will be added to your PhotoPass account and will be available to download – and the photos taken are included with Memory Maker, too.

Also – there are no PhotoPass photographers at the tables themselves, so you’ll need to be ready with your own camera or phone if you want your picture taken.

PhotoPass pic at Signature Celebration

Buffet – yay or nay?

As you go through the pros and cons of all the character meals above, you’ll find that lots of them are buffets.

Buffets are great for picky eaters, and the nice thing about Disney World buffets is that they all have a section of kid-friendly options like mac and cheese and Mickey Waffles. However, kids are also welcome to eat from any of the food stations available.

The downside to buffets is that they are often a bit loud and if the number of kids in your group outnumbers the adults, getting everybody’s plates filled in a timely manner can be tricky

If buffets aren’t your thing, Disney does have character meals that serve food family style (like Garden Grill) or ones where you order off a menu and the food is brought to your table (like Cinderella’s Royal Table) so keep your preference in mind when making your selections.

How do you get to character meals?

You’ve booked a character meal, but have you thought about how you’ll get there?

Some places can be trickier to get to than others, so make sure you check out the information below you’ll need to make it to your reservation on time.

Transportation to early morning character meals at Disney World

The only time we ever recommend breakfast is if it’s before the parks open (if you eat any later, you end up eating during prime park touring time), but it’s confusing to understand how to get to the dining reservations.

Although Disney will often tell you that transportation begins 1 hour before the parks open, there are earlier options for people with early dining reservations (and those who want to rope drop).

Here’s what’s available for early morning transportation at Disney World:


While we used to recommend arriving at the bus stop 60 to 75 minutes before Early Entry begins, after testing the timing out many times, we now recommend 90 minutes. That 90-minute window is especially important if you:

  • want to be on the first bus (which we recommend), or
  • if you are staying at a large resort like Art of Animation, Pop Century, or the All-Stars, or
  • if you are staying at a resort with multiple internal stops, like Caribbean Beach or Coronado Springs.

Expect the first bus of the day to arrive between 1 hour to 75 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry starts. The goal is to be on the first bus of the day, and the lines for the buses will get very long, very fast. Arriving 90 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry will get you to the front of the pack, and likely on that first bus.


For the Disney Skyliner, aim for 75 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry begins if you don’t have to transfer, and 90 minutes if you do. Both the Hollywood Studios and Epcot lines start up about 1 hour before Early Entry begins.


Plan to get to your monorail stop about 60-75 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry. For reference, the Resort Monorail Loop goes:

  • Transportation and Ticket Center
  • Polynesian Resort
  • Grand Floridian Resort
  • Magic Kingdom
  • Contemporary Resort


If traveling by boat, 60-75 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry is probably good.


Walking? You’ll have it the easiest!

Guests that walk are typically allowed to line up at the tapstiles around 60 minutes before the park opens for Early Theme Park Entry. If you want to be at the front of the pack of the walkers, plan to arrive ahead of that. (If you arrive before they begin allowing people to line up at the tapstiles, you’ll be held back by security.)


When traveling by car, plan to arrive at the parking lot entrance about 70 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry. If the parking lot booths are not open at that time, you should be able to just wait for them to officially open up. But, don’t show up too early because they may not let you wait for the booths to open and instead will force you to turn around and come back closer to opening.

Want to learn more about Disney World buses, boats, monorail, and more?

Take a look at these handy posts for even more information on how to get around Walt Disney World.

Are character meals a good value on the Disney Dining Plan?

You can now add the Disney Dining Plan to Walt Disney World vacation packages.

If you end up doing several character meals, the Disney Dining Plan might make a lot of sense. Review our post on maximizing Disney Dining Plan credits to see which restaurants offer the best value.

Which character meals remain closed?

Although most character meals returned after the closures in 2020, there are a few meals and experiences that remain closed:

Garden Grove (Open, but not currently a character meal)

  • Location: Swan hotel

This non-buffet character meal was one of our least favorites. When it was running, it was available only on Saturday and Sundays and the food just wasn’t that great. As for characters, you could see Goofy, Pluto, Chip, and Dale and since it wasn’t ever very busy here, it was relatively easy to get reservations.

Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno (Open, but not currently a character meal)

bon voyage breakfast
  • Location: Disney’s Boardwalk

This was a hugely popular character breakfast that has yet to return. Located at Disney’s Boardwalk, this was the only character meal where you could meet princesses AND their princes (Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel, and Flynn Rider) – together!

Perfectly Princess Tea Party (Not currently available)

One of 2 special tea parties that were once available to book, this one was a whole event that included the child receiving a doll, tiara, bracelet, rose, scrapbook plus food and entertainment (boys receive a crown and plush bear).

Wonderland Tea Party (Not currently available)

  • Location: Grand Floridian Resort

This tea party was a 1-hour experience that included a visit from Alice and the Mad Hatter.


Will you be doing any character meals at Disney World for your trip? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.