Character dining is big at Disney and for good reason; you are killing several birds with one stone and maximizing your time in the resort. You get character meets, Disney Magic, entertainment, and full bellies all at the same time. What is more, a lot of the different Character meals are outside the parks and open to all so you don’t need to waste precious park time dining. All the Disneyland Character meals are really fun family entertainment, however, some are better than others.
In this article, we run through all the different Character meal options at Disneyland California and rate them in terms of experience, food quality, and price to bring you the BEST Character dining in Disneyland California.
Best Character Dining in Disneyland Resort
There are a total of 5 options in the resort covering breakfast, brunch, and dinner. 4 of the options a located in the Dinsey Hotels with one basic character buffet in each of the three hotels. The 4th Hotel option is an ultra Premium Princess Experience located in the Napa Rose Signature Restaurant. The 5th and final option is inside Disneyland Park itself which requires Park entry to visit, but most people coming to Anaheim and wanting a Disney character meal will have a park ticket and reservation as well.
Each meal features a buffet of some type, with most covering breakfast and brunch with just a single option for dinner with the characters (Goofys Kitchen). The food is largely the same apart from the Princess meal so try and look past that. If you don’t want a buffet of Waffles, Pancakes, Frech Toast Eggs Bacon, and Sausage, then Character meals are probably not for you! So let’s take a look at the list and show you which Charachetr Dining options are the best!
5 – Disney’s PCH Grill – Donald Duck’s Seaside Breakfast/Brunch – Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel
PRICE: Breakfast $39 Adults $23 kids – Brunch(Fri-Sun, 11:30-1:00) $42 Adults $23 kids – Prices Vary with Season and Holidays.
Included – Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Sitting right at the bottom of the pile is the PCH Grill, but don’t take this as a huge slating of the meal. The first 3 are all very similar experiences and almost as good as each other, only slight differences in the meals result in our ranking order. In all honesty, the best way to decide which you choose would be to visit the one in the hotel you are staying in, assuming you are staying in a Disney hotel. The bottom three on our list all have similar menus and similar experiences, only the top two differ significantly, that said let’s look at what you can expect at the PCH Grill:
The menu is basic American buffet fare, so, bacon sausage, eggs, etc. There is Smoked Slamon, Omelets, a Selection of pastries and muffins, and some pretty amazing chocolate stuffed french toast. And of course, there are Mickey Waffles and Minnie Pancakes it would not be a Disney Breakfast without them.
Characters are limited to 4 per session, Donald and Daisy Duck, Stitch, and either Mickey or Minnie. This is pretty disappointing but the restaurant is really compact and the time you do get with the characters is really high-quality interactions. You can head up to Donald’s surf shack for a photo while Daisy and Stitch come around the tables while you eat. You may even get the chance to get up for a dance if the mood strikes Donald!
It is just about our least favorite but it’s still a really fun experience. We can only really suggest it if you are already in the Paradise Pier hotel. It is not worth heading over for.
4 – Goofy’s Kitchen – Disneyland Hotel
Included – Non-Alcoholic Drinks
PRICE: Breakfast $44 Adults $26 Kids – Dinner $48 Adults $27 Kids – Prices Vary with Season and Holidays.
Goofy’s Kitchen just pips the PCH Grill, but there is not a lot in it. One reason is we prefer the Disneyland Hotel over Paradise Pier and this is the only Buffet where Characters appear for dinner. Making this a great choice for that first evening before you hit the parks.
The breakfast menu is very similar to the PCH Grill, Storytellers Cafe, and Plaza Inn but being Goofy’s Kitchen there can be some out-there things on the menu, usually in the guise of interesting Pizza Toppings, such as Goofy’s signature peanut butter and jelly pizza!
Desserts feature heavily on the menu, especially considering this is breakfast, making this buffet really popular with kids…or adults with a sweet tooth… mentioning no names! There is also a good selection of cocktails, which are not included but are available to purchase. Bellini’s, Bloody Marys, Mimosas, etc, are all available to give your day in the park a kick!
This is the only Character meal available in the evening. The dinner menu is simple buffet food, except carving stations, Pasta, Pizza (again off the wall toppings to be expected) Hotdogs, Fish, Veggies, more great desserts, and a DIY Yoghurt station(also available at breakfast). There is also Gooferoni and cheese!
Characters are typically Minnie, Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale, and of course Goofy. The Buffet is quite large and time with characters quite brief apart from Goofy who you can join in his kitchen for a photo op! Just remember if your little ones are going to be scared of characters, Goofy is highly likely to be the one who sets them off!
We honestly feel bad having this as 4th on our list, as it is a really fun meal with some different and interesting dining options. It’s a great option the others are just slightly better and more unique!
3 – Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast and Brunch Storytellers Cafe – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
PRICE: Breakfast $44 Adults $26 Kids – Brunch(Daily) $46 Adults $26 kids – Prices Vary with Season and Holidays.
Included – Non-Alcoholic Drinks
The Storyteller Cafe is our top pick for a standard buffet inside the resort hotels. Nestled inside the splendid Grand Californian Hotel, The Storytellers Cafe is a grand woodcutters-style hall. High Ceilings, rich wooden fixtures, and an air of an easier better life of yesteryear. The setting is certainly more upmarket than the other hotel buffets.
The menu tries to continue this slightly upmarket theme, befitting of the elevated status of the Grand Californian. That said, the food is only really marginally better than the others. The menu is similar and those expecting a huge hike in quality simply as you are in the flagship hotel will be disappointed. The presentation is much improved but that is about the extent of it. This is not really a bad thing, Even the basic buffets at the other hotels are pretty decent, it’s not fine dining and is obviously overpriced but these are one-off experiences.
Brunch starts after breakfast and offers a more lunchtime experience with items such as Pasta, Pizza, Carvery meats, Sliders, etc, along with the regular breakfast items. The offerings are pretty random and switch up a lot but you can always get something less breakfasty for your lunch, this is a great option for a lazy morning on your leaving day.
Characters meets and greets are a little different here with Mickey and Minnie appearing in 19th century Explorer garb which gives a completely unique experience, you can also expect some critter characters, Chip and Dale along with Raccoons and Bears regularly make an appearance at the tables.
Overall while we have ranked the three Hotel Character Buffets, really none of them are worth leaving your hotel for, we would just visit the buffet in our hotel of choice as the options are so closely matched. Of course, you may not be staying in a Disney Hotel (although you are still free to visit the character meals) or looking for something a bit different, in which case our top 2 choices do mix things up quite a bit!
2 – Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park – Plaza Inn – Disneyland Park
PRICE: $34 for adults and $19 for kids (ages 3 to 9)
Included – Non-Alcoholic Drinks
This is the only Character meal inside the actual Disneyland Park and the only one that requires Themepark Entry. The problem with that is while all the other experiences can be enjoyed outside your precious theme park time, this one may cut into your ride time. Unless you can grab a super early reservation and rush through your meal to be out into the park before rope drop, you are going to lose some park time. So it best be a good experience as a trade-off!
Fortunately, it is. In fact, it is an absolute corker of a character meal, one of the best of any Disney Resort. While the food is not much greater than the standard fare the atmosphere and character interaction are far superior to the other Character meals. You never know who will appear, and your only guarantee is there will be a lot of characters, more than any other meal.
The cast members also seem to be on a real high at this meal and there is a real buzz about the place as the characters interact and have fun with all the guests. As we said you get a lot of characters, eight per meal, sometimes more, and the variety is crazy, Goofey, Donald, and Mickey often join Minnie and we have seen Pooh, Eeyore, Chip and Dale, Timon, and even Rafiki, expect the unexpected and you could get some really rare sightings!
Price-wise it is also the cheapest of all character meals, we think this is because the price is offset by the Park entrance price, but the meal is a good $10 per person cheaper than other meals.
The menu is the least attractive of all the meals, most have some sort of standout item whereas the Plaza inn’s offering is fairly standard Breakfast items. The restaurant itself is wonderful, one of the first fining locations built in the park, rumored to be Walt’s favorite place to eat (although it has changed a lot since then), and a really wonderful place to dine. It is a beautiful Victorian-era establishment with high ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and stain glass windows. You even get your own dedicated park entrance so you can avoid the crazy sentence queues at the main gate. Combine this with the huge number of hyper characters and it’s an easy choice as one of our favorite ever-character meals. It would take a lot to top it…However.
1 – Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures – Napa Rose – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
PRICE: Ala Carte $125 for adults and kids over 2!
Included – Adults – Glass of Bubbly on Arrival, Tote sack, and Truffles – Kids – souvenir autograph book and a pen, crown necklace, or a shield and sword set
This wonderful Princess Character meal is easily our favorite in the resort, in fact, it may be our favorite Disney Dining experience in ANY Disney resort. Of course, at £125 per person, including kids over 2, it really has to be! This is a monumentally expensive Character meal!
Set in the Napa Rose Restaurant, which in itself is an incredible experience, The character interactions are personal and of the highest quality, and the meal is a completely different level to the standard buffet fare churned out in the regular buffets.
The meal is a three-course banquet, that is partially served at your table, Starting with a bread service followed by a starter selection plate with several small bites of items such as Lobster Crostini, Magic Carpet Parfet, Banana and Nutella Crepe, Sandwiches and Beignets, It is quite a selection and well more than a mouthful!
The next stop is the Buffet, where, we are back to the standard Buffet fare, this is a bit of a letdown as we really wanted to get away from Disney buffet food for $125! That said, it isn’t really Breakfast at Disney without Mickey Waffles! The Final Course is another served selection plate, this time it is an exquisite selection of french patisseries, Cake Pops, Mini-Tarts, Strawberry and cotton candy Parfait, Macarons, and peanut butter mousse with a chocolate feather.
You really do get a lot of food, and most of it is really delicious, however, it is not even close to $125 worth of food. As a Gastronomic experience, it’s hideously overpriced, but that is not the point of the meal. The selling point is the experience and this is first-rate with a ton of quality time with the princesses.
You start off with a Princess greeting, and then there will be 3 or 4 princesses on rotation around the restaurant while you dine, after which there is an outside area where you get to read stories with Belle or hear a tale from Pocahontas and partake in an activity such as martial arts with Mulan. and finally, you will receive a personal farewell from a princess.
Overall the experience is amazing, it is one of the finest Disney character meals out there and the relaxed pace means you can be with the princesses for over 2 hours easily, time with the princesses is intimate and personal, and your kids will absolutely love the meal.
However, you just can’t get away from that cost, with tip included a family of 4 will easily drop $600, which is an astonishing amount for a slightly above-average meal with some GREAT princess interaction. Also, let’s be honest, without wanting to start a Gender Bias war, Boys are not going to be too enthralled with seeing Princesses, it is definitely a more girl-orientated experience. Of course, we don’t want to prejudge, and the experience is suitable for all, but if your kid likes playing in the dirt, and is into aliens and dinosaurs, Princesses probably won’t do much for them!
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures is easily the best experience though, and just like all the finer things in life, you need to pay for them. The saving grace is the cheapest option, on our list is nipping at the heals of the princess breakfast and is such a close second if you just can’t bear to drop $125 on this you will not be disappointed with Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park, it is a fantastic meal.
While the hotel meals are fine, they are nowhere near the level of the Princess breakfast and Minnie & friends and we really only recommend them for convenience. Simply pick the one in your hotel.
Have Your Say
Which is your favorite Character meal? Which have you tried and which are you looking forward to giving a go? Have you splashed out on the Princess Breakfast? Was it worth it? or was it a big, expensive letdown? Let us know in the comments below. We know service and experience at character dining can vary quite a bit so we would love to hear any comments you have on a bad experience you have had. But also the good, these meals can really make or break a trip to the resort so we love hearing from you.
Any Questions? just fire away in the comments.