As I have mentioned in previous entries, my oldest son, is living with Fragile X Syndrome.  A genetic condition that causes intellectual disability, behavioral and learning challenges.   Even my “typically” developing children have struggled with some behavioral challenges while visiting Walt Disney World.  Although the parks are amazing, there are so many amazing dining options throughout the property.  Character and/or themed dining is often as exciting as visiting the parks!

Character dining offers an opportunity to have a meet and greet with characters without the long lines, nor the pressure of someone waiting in line behind you!  In many locations, the characters circulate table to table to ensure you have 1 on 1 time with them!  In our many trips, although we love the different locations and themes, often times we found the locations didn’t work for my family.  I won’t go into all of the various challenges we have had, but we learned quickly what really did work well for us!  If we are seeking a character meal now, we look to the locations that serve the food family style!  It allows all of us to remain at the table.  It limits all of the movement and constant transitions which only create chaos for my son.  I will now reveal my list of preferred character dining below.

Honorable mention:

Cape May Café – Beach Club Breakfast :  Although this is a standard buffet, the pace and atmosphere is very relaxing.  If we perhaps missed a character while we were up, the cast members were very observant and made sure they made their way back around to us.

1900 Park Fare –Grand Floridian Breakfast/Dinner:  This is also a standard buffet, but like the above location, is not such a vast space and feels much more intimate.  How can it not be when you are having breakfast with Mary Poppins, its practically perfect  in every way.

Preferred locations:

Garden Grill – Epcot:  Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast is available for Breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Our favorite is the breakfast!  The cinnamon buns that kick off the meal are delicious.  Chip ‘n Dale are joined by various other characters.  This is the only dining location that the dining room ROTATES!!!  It goes slowly that you don’t notice the motion, but you will notice the change in scenery!!

Whispering Canyon – Wilderness Lodge:  Although this doesn’t involve the typical Disney characters, you will definitely encounter some “characters” who are a part of the service team!   Be prepared for some silly jokes and puns.  The all you can eat skillet is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  There is also a full menu to order from and…..drumroll please…….BOTTOMLESS SHAKES!!! Although we know sitting in the main area of the dining room would be incredibly difficult for my son to endure, we often ask to be seated back in a more quiet area.  It allows us to be a part of the fun, without being in the middle!

Top of the list:

Ohana – Polynesian Breakfast: Who doesn’t love having breakfast with Lilo, Stitch and friends??  This is also another location that serves the meal family style, our most preferred method!  The kids are invited up to dance around the restaurant with the characters as well as the characters stopping at each table too!  As you enjoy your favorite items, be sure to ask the server for refills!

There are dozens of other amazing dining locations, but I have featured the locations that we enjoy most!!!  Make sure when you visit your favorite character location you have your autograph book and your camera out and ready for the next character encounter!

What character dining are you most looking forward to on your next trip?

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist