Character Dining is a great way to save time on vacation. You get to skip long lines to meet beloved characters in a much more comfortable setting. Here’s our list to get the most out of your dining experience.
The Do’s of Character Dining
- Do try to get reservations before park open. Character dining opens up between 7 and 7 30 in the morning. A whole 90 minutes before park open. This is great for a few reasons. You get your character time in before any of the rides are open. Also a lot of the time people don’t want to get up early on vacation so this can allow for some extra time with characters. Usually you will get out of the restaurant right before rope drop if you had an early reservation. With the restaurants being located deep in the parks you are usually close to major attractions that normally have long wait times. An example is Frozen Ever After at Epcot, if you have an early reservation atAkershush you can immediately hop on Frozen after breakfast without a line, or at the least a very short wait.
- Be careful in picking which meal you want to do. Character dining is very expensive so make sure you are spending your money where it will mean the most to your family. Love the Hundred Acre Woods Characters? Then make sure to dine at Crystal Palace. Want to see the characters in unique outfits? Then we would recommend Tusker House at Animal Kingdom Park or Garden Grill at Epcot.
- Have a plan of attack! I kid you not sometimes character dining can get hectic. Every parent rightfully will think there kid is the most important and deserves all the time in the world with the characters. Keep in mind that the Mouse is on a schedule! Most of the time you will only get one to two minutes tops with the characters (there are exceptions for larger groups). Make sure to have everything out that you want them to sign. Also and this is a big one make sure everyone who will be taking pictures is seated where it’s easy for them to get up. Because we do character dining for Kaitlyn’s enjoyment we make sure she doesn’t leave the table at any point. Usually I will go and get everyone a plate while Adolfo stays with her and sets up our camera equipment.
- Do not book Character Dining at popular times to eat. Whatever you do don’t book a five o’clock dinner. This is for a few reasons. For starters it’s packed and you will probably end up waiting for half an hour for you table. Most character dining is buffet style and the closer you go to a popular meal time the longer it takes you to eat. The buffet will be swarmed and while Disney does there best they will run out of some dishes and you’ll have to wait for them to replenish it or find something else. We recommend doing a Linner (late lunch, early dinner, around 3) You also end up having less time with Characters when the restaurant is slammed.
- Don’t book fastpasses near your meal time. Character dining has huge variations in how long the meal will take. We’ve spent anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 and a half hours. There is no way to know where you will fall in the character rotation. We’ve shown up and met half of the characters and then had to wait another hour for the other set of character to come back around to say hello. I always recommend a 90 minute minimum between your reservation and the next fastpass. I usually do two hours just to be safe.
- Don’t go all the way across Walt Disney World just to eat. Plan your meals to fit into your schedule. Disney transportation is slow. It doesn’t make sense to book a character meal at Epcot on a Magic Kingdom day. I know this sounds very common sense but I hear about people doing it all the time. You could easily waste three hours changing parks or traveling to another resort, eating, and trying to make your way back to the park where all your fast passes are.