Tag: Disney World

Best Quick Service Meals at Disney World: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney Springs

Best Quick Service Meals at Disney World: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney Springs

Eating at quick service restaurants is practically a must when you go on a Disney World vacation. They’re relative cheap (in Disney terms), they offer a lot more variety than your basic “theme park food,” and since they don’t require reservations, you can easily work […]

Disney Fastpass: Secrets, Strategies, and Tiers

Disney Fastpass: Secrets, Strategies, and Tiers

Honestly, a part of me kinda miss the old days of FastPass at Disney World. I have fond memories of striding into the Magic Kingdom in September 2005 with my parents, husband, and two little girls all obediently following me, since I was the only […]

Disney World Character Meet and Greets: What to Ask and Funny Things to Say

Disney World Character Meet and Greets: What to Ask and Funny Things to Say

I remember our family’s very first trip to Disney World, when little two year old Becca gave Chip (or was it Dale?) a great big hug and just hung on, so content and peaceful that it looked like she never wanted to let go.

Then there was the time we met Goofy, and I wasn’t sure what he was doing at first … but it turned out that he was “kissing” me, and kept on doing it! I couldn’t stop laughing (or blushing).

Or another time we met Chip and Dale and I told them that I could tell who was who, because Chip had a chocolate chip on his nose and Dale didn’t. Dale hung his head sadly, which made me burst out laughing and tell him, “Oh, it’s okay, Dale! We still love you even though you don’t have a chocolate chip!”

Yup, character meet and greets can be some of the most fun and memorable parts of your Disney vacation. Like my friend Loraine says, “I can go on rides anywhere, but when I go to Disney World, I want to meet characters!”

I did some research and combined it with our own experiences to come up with 5 tips to make your Disney character meet and greets awesome:



1. Interact and Have Fun with the Characters

Yeah, we’ve done it too — get to the front of the line, awkwardly say hi to a creature who you know can’t speak a reply, wait for them to sign their autograph, then smile for the camera. Character meet and greet done.

Not that there’s anything really wrong with that … but it’s a lot much fun (and for them, too) if you get a little playful and come up with some ways to interact.

Things to say to Disney characters

If you get stuck for an idea, you can always compliment a character on his or her outfit. And if your child is meeting their favorite character (for Rachael, it was Donald Duck), be sure they tell the character that.

Disney character meet and greet with princess Aurora
Rachael talking to Princess Aurora while Rebecca gazes in admiration

Objects can be a good conversation starter as well. A little toy like one of these is great for children to show to characters to start a conversation. If your child is wearing a Mickey shirt or hat, they can show it to the character. I’ve heard that the characters are quite complimentary (and truly appreciative) when children give them a character drawing they’ve done.

This book is a fantastic conversation starter for meeting characters — AND a good way to collect autographs!
Disney Character meet and greet at Chef Mickey with Minnie Mouse
Fortunately, my son Ben has toy cars on him at all times

The DisBoards forums have some great threads where people share things they’ve said to Disney characters that got a fun response.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Tell Captain Hook, “Tick tock tick tock!” (or ask him where Mr. Smee is);
  • Ask Snow White what the dwarves are doing in the mine;
  • Ask Ariel what Sebastian or Flounder are up to;
  • Tell Prince John he’s the phony prince of England;
  • Ask Tigger for a bouncing lesson;
  • Ask Eeyore if he’s sure he hasn’t lost his tail;
  • Ask Buzz Lightyear if he’s had any run-ins with Zurg lately;
  • Act alarmed and tell Woody there’s a snake in his boot;
  • Call Chip and Dale gophers or rats (or call them by Alvin and Theodore;
  • Ask Donald Duck where Mickey Mouse is;
  • Tell the Mad Hatter that it’s your unbirthday;
  • Specifically ask the Mad Hatter for his “autograph” and see what he does;>/li>
  • Ask Mary Poppins to say “the word” with your child — or ask her to say it backwards;
  • Ask Minnie Mouse how many dresses she has (preferably if Mickey or a cast member is nearby;
  • Ask Minnie to strike her best diva poses for the camera;
  • Tell Mickey that Minnie was waiting for her ring, and he’d better hurry before Donald snatches her up;
  • Call Mushu a lizard or Meeko a badger;
  • Bark like a dog when you see Cruella;
  • Ask Pocahantas to tell you how she says hello
  • Tell Tinkerbell that she should be nicer to Wendybird.
  • Whoever the character is — TELL THEM “THANK YOU”!


What NOT to say to Disney Characters

I probably don’t need to tell you this, but just a reminder, because unfortunately, it does happen:

Please don’t complain to the characters about how long the wait in line was, and please don’t start screaming and yelling if a character gets “pulled offstage” right before it’s your turn. I know it stinks when that happens, but they have strict rules about this that they have to stick to, and yelling at them isn’t going to help anybody.


Poses to Do with Disney Characters

I’m sorry to say that over the years, we’ve never come up with clever ideas for poses. And hey, that’s okay too! We still love the photos we have.

But if you like the idea of posing, here are some ideas from others who are more creative than I am:

* Curtsying with Minnie Mouse or Belle;
* Saluting or standing with hands on your hips with Buzz Lightyear;
* Patting your tummy with Winnie the Pooh;
* Asking Gaston to show off his muscle, then squeeze his biceps for the photo;
* Clasping your hands under your chin with Cinderella’s stepsisters;
* Kiss your favorite character or pretend to tell them a secret.


As a big fan of Monsters, inc, and particularly Mike Wazowski, I got a big kick out of this photo:

And this photo with Baloo from The Jungle Book is just adorable:


2. Decide What (if Anything) You Want to Collect Characters’ Autographs In.

There are two schools of thought on Disney autograph books. Most people get them because they make a fun souvenir and because kids are a little weird in that they love to almost obsessively keep track of and count their autographs as if it’s a type a scavenger hunt.

Other people see them as a waste of money and something that takes away from being able to actually interact with the characters (which we’ll get to more in a minute).

Walt Disney World Four Parks Mickey Mouse Official Autograph BookWalt Disney World Four Parks Mickey Mouse Official Autograph BookWalt Disney World Four Parks Mickey Mouse Official Autograph BookDisney Mickey Mouse and Friends Spiral Autograph Book - BlueDisney Mickey Mouse and Friends Spiral Autograph Book – BlueDisney Mickey Mouse and Friends Spiral Autograph Book - Blue2018 Walt Disney World Autographs and Photographs Book with Pen2018 Walt Disney World Autographs and Photographs Book with Pen2018 Walt Disney World Autographs and Photographs Book with PenDisney Princess 2 pc. Autograph Book SetDisney Princess 2 pc. Autograph Book SetDisney Princess 2 pc. Autograph Book Set


We always got the autograph albums for our girls, Rachael and Rebecca, but not for our son Ben, who had little to no interest in meeting the characters.

(Since my husband Robert ranks waiting in line in the Florida heat to meet an actor in a costume somewhere between silly and downright irritating, it worked out well. The two of them would go ride the Tomorrowland Speedway or something and catch up with us later.)

Disney Character Meet and Greet with Minnie Mouse
Rachael getting an autograph from Minnie Mouse

It’s worth noting that several months ago, my oldest daughter Rachael (pictured above with Minnie Mouse), who is now in high school, cleaned out the bookshelves in her bedroom and brought me a big pile of things to go to charity. I was stunned and sad to find the Disney autograph album from years ago in her pile.

Of course, I didn’t get rid of it, but put it on my own bookshelf. Who knows, maybe years from now she’ll stumble onto it again and it will bring back all kinds of great memories. (And she’ll say to me, “Oh wow, Mom … thanks for being so amazingly wise and not getting rid of that book. You’re the best Mom ever.” Well … maybe not, but we can dream.)

If you do decide to be like the majority of families and collect autographs, make sure you get the right kind of pen that is easy for characters to hold.

Sharpie 32701 Retractable Permanent Fine-Point MarkersSharpie 32701 Retractable Permanent Fine-Point MarkersSharpie 32701 Retractable Permanent Fine-Point Markers


And don’t feel limited to an autograph book. Some people like to have characters sign a special hat, t-shirt, or tote bag. Etsy has some great personalized Disney bags that work well for collecting autographs


Disney Youth Hat Kids Cap with Mickey or Minnie Mouse Ears (Minnie Pink)Disney Youth Hat Kids Cap with Mickey or Minnie Mouse Ears (Minnie Pink)Disney Youth Hat Kids Cap with Mickey or Minnie Mouse Ears (Minnie Pink)Disney Little Girls Princess Characters Cotton Baseball Cap, Pink, Age 4-7Disney Little Girls Princess Characters Cotton Baseball Cap, Pink, Age 4-7Disney Little Girls Princess Characters Cotton Baseball Cap, Pink, Age 4-7Disney Little Boys' Cars Lightning McQueen Cotton Baseball Cap, Red/Grey, Age 4-7Disney Little Boys’ Cars Lightning McQueen Cotton Baseball Cap, Red/Grey, Age 4-7Disney Little Boys' Cars Lightning McQueen Cotton Baseball Cap, Red/Grey, Age 4-7Disney Mickey Mouse Boys Baseball Cap with Removable Sunglasses [2013]Disney Mickey Mouse Boys Baseball Cap with Removable Sunglasses [2013]Disney Mickey Mouse Boys Baseball Cap with Removable Sunglasses [2013]



3. Prepare for long waits in line.

Depending on which character you’re meeting and what time of year it is, you could be standing on line for an hour or longer. The fine art of waiting in line at Disney World deserves a post all its own, but some ways you can make use of this time is to reapply sunscreen, play I Spy, or have one of the members of your family run over to snag cream cheese pretzels for everybody.

If you to be ultra-prepared, consider stocking up with a few little goodies to keep in your park bag:

Creativity Street Big Box of Chenille Stems, 150-Count, Assorted ColorsCreativity Street Big Box of Chenille Stems, 150-Count, Assorted ColorsCreativity Street Big Box of Chenille Stems, 150-Count, Assorted ColorsPlay-Doh Party Bag Dough (15 Count)Play-Doh Party Bag Dough (15 Count)Play-Doh Party Bag Dough (15 Count)SNInc. Neon Bubble Bottles - Pack of 24 Party BubblesSNInc. Neon Bubble Bottles – Pack of 24 Party BubblesSNInc. Neon Bubble Bottles - Pack of 24 Party Bubbles



4. Consider Scheduling a Character Meal.

Character meals are a fun and efficient way to get to meet a bunch of characters at once. The up side is that you get to sit in an air conditioned building and chow down while you wait, instead of just standing around sweating bullets. The down side is that they can be pretty expensive and you have to plan ahead (usually way ahead).

We’ve done Disney trips both with and without character meals. We were on a smaller budget on our very first Disney trip, back when the girls were 2 and 4 years old and Benjamin didn’t even exist yet, and didn’t schedule any character meals.

Honestly, we didn’t miss it. The girls were so thrilled with the simplest things about the trip, like swimming in the condo pool and eating Mickey Mouse ice cream bars, that it didn’t occur to them that they should be disappointed about “missing out” on anything.

But on future visits, we were lucky enough to get the free Disney Dining Plan, and did enjoy several character meals, including:

Would I recommend character meals? Yes — if it’s in your budget and you do your research.



5. Do Your Research and Plan Ahead (but not too much)

I have mixed feelings about this one.

On one hand, a trip to Disney World and being in the company of young children are two things that, even when done separately, require some planning if you don’t want to be miserable.

On the other hand, though, there’s a lot to be said for seeing characters that not only did you not schedule for, but that you weren’t even expecting to be there. (I squealed with delight when we saw Mary Poppins and two penguins at the Magic Kingdom one morning.)

We were also completely taken by surprise shortly after we arrived at Hollywood Studios for the first time ever, we were all completely surprised to see Leo and Annie from Little Einsteins.

Character Meet and Greet at Disney Hollywood Studios
Surprise — these guys live at Disney World too!

So depending on your personality, maybe do some planning and leave some room for surprises. I would recommend, at the very least, scheduling time to see the one or two characters (or groups of characters) that your crew has it’s hearts set on to meet. And don’t forget that the My Disney Experience app — which is free — makes it easy to “plan on the fly,” so to speak.

My cheat sheet can help you with planning character meals:

Where to Find Characters at Disney World

In addition to meeting your favorite Disney friends at a character meal, there are places all over the parks where you can meet them. Be sure to check your My Disney Experience app, as the times and details can vary from day to day.

AllEars.net has a detailed “Characters at a Glance” chart for each Disney park. Here’s a quick list I put together from their charts:

Disney Characters at the Magic Kingdom

Princess Fairytale Hall — Cinderella, Rapunzel, Tiana, Elena of Avalor

Fantasyland — Anastasia & Drizella, Lady Tremaine, Fairy Godmother, Ariel, Gaston, Daisy & Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Peter Pan & Wendy, Winnie the Pooh & Tigger, Alice & the White Rabbit

Adventureland — Jasmine, Aladdin, Captain Jack

Town Hall Theater — “Magician” Mickey Mouse, Tinkerbell

Town Square — Mary Poppins, Snow White, Pluto, Marie (from The Aristocrats)


Disney Characters at Animal Kingdom

Donald’s Dino-Bash in DinoLand USA — Daisy & Donald Duck, Launchpad McQuack, Scrooge McDuck, Chip & Dale, Goofy, Pluto

Discovery Island — Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Pocahontas, Russell (from Up)

Rafiki’s Planet Watch — Rafiki, Jiminy Cricket, Doc McStuffins

In addition, you can meet Timon near Creature Comforts and see DeVine (if you look carefully) by the park Entrance, Oasis, or the pathway between Asia and Africa.


Disney Characters at Hollywood Studios

Great Movie Ride Courtyard — Daisy & Donald Duck, Chip & Dale, Goofy, Pluto, Minnie Mouse

Walt Disney Presents — Star-Lord, Baby Groot

Pixar Place — Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Green Army Men, Cruz Ramirez (from Cars 3)

Star Wars Launch Bay — Kylo Ren, Stormtroopers, Jawas, Greedo, BB-8, Chewbacca

Animation Courtyard — Sophia the First, Pluto, Doc McStuffins, Jake of the Neverland Pirates


Disney Characters at Epcot

Epcot Character Spot by Innoventions West — Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Joy & Sadness from Inside Out, Baymax from Big Hero 6

Legacy Plaza — Daisy Duck

World Showcase Ambassador Gazebo — Pluto

United Kingdom — Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh and Friends

Mexico — Donald Duck

France — Belle, Aurora

China — Mulan

Germany — Snow White

Morocco — Jasmine & Aladdin


I hope this post has given you some good ideas for your next Disney character meet and greets. I know I learned some new things I’m going to say to characters on our upcoming trip!
If you have any of your own suggestions or experiences you’d like to share, leave them below in the comments.



Are you and your kids planning to have some Disney character meet and greets on your Walk Disney World vacation? 

Whether you're meeting Mickey Mouse or face characters like Snow White and Elsa, you'll love these tips and tricks on autograph books, what to say to characters, and more!

The best tips for families about Disney character meet and greets, whether at a breakfast or dinner meal at a character restaurant or just out and about in the parks at Disney World or Disneyland. Includes funny things that kids can say to Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Chip and Dale, and other favorite characters to make the meeting awesome!
 Tips and Ideas for fun Disney character interactions at the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and other Disney World parks. Have an awesome meet and greet with your kids on your families' vacation! Includes pictures.
Disney Character Meet and Greet and Interaction Tips
5 Tips for an Awesome Character Meet and Greet at the Disney Parks
Includes funny disney character interactions, which characters are at magic kingdom, the best pen for disney autographs, and what to ask Tinkerbell at Disney
Disney world vacation tips -- how to have an awesome time meeting Disney characters with your kids

Disney Character Meet and Greet Tips

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The Most Overrated Disney World Restaurants (and where to go instead!)

The Most Overrated Disney World Restaurants (and where to go instead!)

A big part of planning your Disney vacation is choosing the best places to eat. But which restaurants are really the best — and which are mostly just hype? For as much as it costs to eat at Disney World — and even if you’re […]

Walt Disney World Free Dining Dates and Tips

Walt Disney World Free Dining Dates and Tips

Every year since 2009, Walt Disney World has offered a “Free Dining” package for specific dates in the fall and early winter. It is always a very popular promotion that my family has taken advantage of in the past and plan to do again in […]

Disney Dining Plan Prices and Tips

Disney Dining Plan Prices and Tips

Planning a vacation to Disney World is a strange thing. It often requires that someone (probably you, since you are the one reading this) needs to take on a part-time job of learning complicated details of things thing that are relatively simple in Real Life.

Such as eating.

Depending on where you are in your Disney-planning journey, and whether or not you’ve been ever been to Disney World before, your head may be spinning trying to figure what a “Disney Dining Plan” is, what it does and does not include, what it costs, and whether or not you should even consider getting one.

Well, hold on to your mouse ears, because we’re going to cover all that and hopefully answer all — or at least most — of your questions. (If there’s anything I didn’t address, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to add it.)


So What is the Disney Dining Plan, anyway?

The Disney Dining Plan is a prepaid meal package that was introduced in 2005, but which has had multiple changes and (of course) has gotten more complex over the years. The idea is that not only is it more convenient, but it will save you money. (We’ll talk about whether or not that is actually true in a moment.)

The plans can only be purchased as part of a Magic Your Way Vacation Package. This means that if you want to save money by buying discounted park tickets and staying off-site, you cannot also get the Dining Plan.

However, Disney Vacation Club members staying on points can add on the Disney Dining Plan if they wish, even if they don’t purchase their park tickets through Disney.

The Dining Plan gives you a certain amount of different types of credits, which are stored in your MagicBand (which are very awesome, by the way). After a snack or meal purchase, you get a receipt indicating how many credits you have left.

The credits include the cost of tax, but do not include tips for table service restaurants.


Epcot snacks
Pistachio Bundt Cake at the 22nd Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in 2017. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

Disney Dining Plan Credits and What They Mean

Table Service meal — This is any meal that you need to make an Advance Dining Reservation for, including buffets and most every character meal. It consists of an entree, dessert, and beverage. You can choose to substitute a side salad, cup of soup, or fruit plate for the dessert.

Counter Service Meal — This is basically a meal where you don’t have a waiter come to your table and you don’t get reservations. It includes to an entree and side (often referred to as a “combo meal” and a beverage, which again, can be alcoholic. It used to include a dessert, but no longer does.
You can also choose to purchase three snacks (see below) all at once and use that a “counter service meal credit.”

Snack — This includes any single serving side at either a snack cart or a counter service restaurant. Some examples are bottled water (which is a stupid use of a snack credit), a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar (which is a pretty good use), or a Berry Cream Puff at the Kringla Bakeri og Cafe in Norway (which is an excellent use).


Signature Retaurants — To make things even more confusing, there are certain restaurants, generally the more upscale and less kid-friendly ones, that count as two table service meal credits.

Signature restaurants include California Grill in the Contemporary Resort, Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom, and Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot, among others. Disney’s Dining Plan website can give you more details about which restaurant counts as which (in addition to more information about the Dining Plan in general.)

In addition, dinner shows, such as the Hoop De Doo Musical Revue in Fort Wilderness or Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at the Polynesian, also each count as two table service meals.

Generally speaking, using two table service credits for one Signature Restaurant is not considered to be a wise choice, at least not if you’re trying to get the most value out of the plan.

Now that we know what each credit gets you, let’s move on.

Epcot dining
Spam Hash at the 22nd Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in 2017. The (Matt Stroshane, photographer)


The 3 Different Disney Dining Plans and Their Prices

The following prices and details of the Disney Dining Plan are valid for arrivals between January 1 through December 31, 2018. It includes what each person gets per each night of their stay (except for the mug, which you get one of for the entire stay.)


Quick Service Disney Dining Plan

2 counter-service meals
2 snacks
A refillable drink mug (my kids get really excited about this part)
Adult: $52.50
Child ages 3-9: $21.74

The Standard Dining Plan (aka “The Disney Dining Plan”)

This includes, per person:
1 counter service meal
1 table service meal
2 snacks
A refillable drink mug
Adult: $75.49
Child ages 3-9: $25.75

Deluxe Disney Dining Plan

3 meals at your choice of either counter service restaurants or table service restaurants per night
2 snacks
A refillable drink mug
Adult: $116.25
Child ages 3-9: $39.99
[Note: This is the “regular” price for the Deluxe Dining Plan. Apparently it can cost even more during peak seasons.]

Epcot International Festival of the Arts 'Pop Eats!' Food Studio
Almond Frangiapane Cake from the Pop Eats!’ Food Studio during the Epcot International Festival of the Arts . (Disney)

Other Facts about the Dining Plan:

* I already mentioned this earlier, but as a former waitress I want to remind you that tips are not included in the plan and that 18-20% tipping is suggested. An 18% gratuity is automatically included to parties of 6 or more.

* Everyone in your family has to be on the same plan and stay on it for the entire stay. There’s no mixing and matching.

* At counter service meals, kids can either choose from the children’s or adult menu.

* On the Deluxe Dining Plan only, kids can choose adult meals at table service restaurants.

* Starting in 2018, there are more beverage options than there used to be on the meal plan. It used to be limited to only milk, juice, soda, coffee, tea, etc. Now you can also choose milkshakes, smoothies, hot chocolate, cappucinos, and even certain alcoholic drinks.

* You can use your meals whenever you want, meaning they are not rationed out daily. For example, if you were staying for 5 nights, you could eat 10 snacks on your first day if for someone reason you really wanted to.


Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks
Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks in Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Disney)


Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth It?

Ah, the question we’ve all been waiting for? Does the Disney Dining Plan save money?

Officially, the answer is, “It depends.”

My personal answer is “No.”

Personally, I would not even consider getting the Disney Disning Plan except during their Free Dining dates.

Here’s the thing about the Dining Plan: No matter how much money you supposedly “save,” it isn’t a good value unless you really wanted that food in the first place.

For example, I rarely drink beverages other than water. I just prefer it. One of my daughters is the same way. (And the other is definitely not.)

So for the two of us to get sodas and milkshakes throughout our vacation is not really a “value,” even if we’re getting them at a discounted price. Yes, I’m “saving money,” but it’s on something I don’t want or care about in the first place.

By the same token, I don’t need or want dessert at every table service meal, and we certainly don’t need every person in our family to get their own dessert at every meal. Even if I were to substitute my dessert for a salad, it’s still going to be more food than I need, at least some of the time.

So yeah, you could say, “Wow, look at all this food we’re getting at a discount!” But the real question is, Did we really want all this food?

And if the answer is “No,” then you’re better off not getting the Dining Plan.

[Now during the Free Disney Dining promo in the fall and winter, the rules change a little bit, and I’ll writing another post in a few days to discuss how that works.]


If you’re still debating whether or not the Disney Dining Plan is right for your family, there’s a way to get the perfect answer, although it is slightly time-consuming and requires Doing Math.

Step back and think for a moment about what your family really wants, food-wise, during the vacation. Do you hope to eat at a lot of buffets? Do you want one meal at somewhere more upscale, like California Grill? Do you plan on buying ice cream for everybody, every day? Are character meals important to your family, and if so, which ones and how many?

Then dig a little deeper. Look at the menus for the restaurants you’re planning to go to and make a reasonable guess as to what everyone might order. Sodas for everybody at every meal? One dessert for the family to share?

There are no right or wrong answers, of course. This is your vacation.

When you’ve made some decisions that seem reasonably accurate to you, total everything up and compare that total to what it would cost for your family to purchase the Dining Plan.

And there’s your answer.

Is the Disney Dining Plan worth it

Is the Disney Dining Plan worth it
2018 Disney Dining Plan Prices & Tips
2018 Disney Dining Plan Tips and Tricks
2018 Disney Dining Plan tips and pros and cons
8 Fun Disney Countdown Calendars and Activities

8 Fun Disney Countdown Calendars and Activities

Originally this post was going to be called “Ways to get your kids excited about your Disney trip,” which is sort of funny, if you think about it. As if most kids are sitting around lethargically complaining that they have to go to Disney World, […]

6 Personalized Walt Disney Autograph Books that Kids Will Love

6 Personalized Walt Disney Autograph Books that Kids Will Love

The very first time we went to Disney World as a family, I debated whether we should spring for an autograph book. After all, if you think about it (although I usually try not to), it’s really just an employee in a suit who has […]

Tusker House Restaurant Review

Tusker House Restaurant Review

“The best meal I have ever had at Disney World,” my eye doctor told me a couple years ago, “was breakfast at the Tusker House restaurant in Animal Kingdom.”

Well, she should know. This is a woman in her mid-thirties who has been to Disney World at least once a year since childhood, she’d told me, which adds up to … well, a lot of visits to Disney restaurants.

Earlier this year my two daughters were eager to go back to Disney, while my son and my husband didn’t particularly care one way or the other. Since we didn’t have the money at the time for all five of us to go, we split up one week in September — the guys drove to the next state to relatives, while we girls went to Disney, just the three of us.

(This is highly recommended, by the way, especially if you have a family like ours, where the “Disney desires” are a little off-balance. It made the trip extra special for it to be “just the girls” and managing three people’s desires, energy levels, hunger, and other annoyances is much easier than juggling five.)

While planning the trip, I remember my eye doctor’s wise words and made a Tusker House breakfast our number one priority when making dining reservations.



The Tusker House Restaurant

The Tusker House character meal buffet is located in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom, sort of in-between Festival of the Lion King (which we’ve never seen) and Kilimanjaro Safari (which we’ve ridden multiple times and enjoyed very much.)

The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Is is themed to look and feel like a Harambe marketplace, and there were, in fact, cast members performing on African drums outside the restaurant as made our way in.

The one downside I would say about the restaurant was that it had a “dark and busy” feel to it. Obviously that’s somewhat by design, but for that reason I felt a little more cramped and didn’t enjoy the environment quite as much as, say, the buffet at The Crystal Palace.

The actual food at Tusker House, however, was much better than it was at The Crystal Palace. I guess there’s always a trade-off.


Tusker House Breakfast Menu

Not surprisingly, the food has an African influence, so it was more varied and unique than your typical breakfast, but without being bizarre or incredibly spicy. In addition, a fair amount of the food — maybe one third to one half — is “plain old American” type food, like Mickey Mouse waffles and basic fresh fruit, so there should be something (or multiple somethings) for everybody.

Tusker House restaurant review
Rachael’s plate — eggs, basmati rice, and blintzes with fruit topping[

I absolutely loved the Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole, the Sweet Plantains, and the Banana-Cinnamon Banana Pudding (oh my gosh, that was good!). I also really enjoyed the Basmati Rice with Lemon Cinnamon and Cardamon.

The girls particularly loved the scrambled eggs (I don’t know if there was something particularly “African” about the eggs, but Rachael thought they were amazingly good) and the Cheese Blintzes which came with an optional cherry or apple topping.

The meal also comes with something called Jungle Juice, which was a combination of orange, guava, and passion fruit juice that we loved. It was very thick and sweet in a natural-fruity way. One of the girls — I won’t say which one — chugged two full glasses pretty quickly because she loved it so much. I wouldn’t recommend this, as it made her feel a little sick afterwards. So consider that your Java Juice Warning.


Tusker House Jungle Juice Recipe


Tusker House Characters

Donald Duck at Tusker House restaurant character meal
The three of us with “Safari Donald”

The Tusker House is home to Mickey, Goofy, and both Donald and Daisy Duck, all dressed in safari outfits, which is a nice touch. There aren’t a whole lot of places in Disney World where you can find Daisy Duck (the entrance to Epcot is one of the other spots), so that’s a fun treat in itself.

I admit that I’m a sucker for meeting the characters at Disney World, getting full-out giddy like I’m still a kid. I personally prefer the characters like this that are “animals” (ie, Mickey Mouse) as opposed to “people” (ie Cinderella).

We’ve been to three different character meals with Mickey Mouse and his friends — Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort, Garden Grill at Epcot, and Tusker House in Animal Kingdom.

Of the three, Tusker House had the best food by far. I would say that Garden Grill and Tusker House are tied for best environment, depending on how your personal feelings about buffets, rotating restaurants, and African marketplaces.



Mickey Mouse at Tusker House restaurant in Animal Kingdom
The girls with “Safari Mickey”


If you want to have a little bit of your own “safari outfit” yourself, then check out this Mickey safari iron-on that can be personalized with your name.

Safari Mickey Animal Kingdom T-shirt
Personalized “Safari Mickey” T-shirt


Or you can even get your own safari hat to match Mickey’s!


Mickey Mouse Animal Safari Hat
Mickey Mouse Animal Safari Hat


I don’t know if this is typical, but it took us an awfully long time to get to see the characters, especially compared with our other character meals that week. I think we had all finished eating and still hadn’t seen anybody, or even see any sign of them heading our way. This wasn’t a big problem, but it could have been if we had been on a tight schedule.

One thing worth noting for any character meal: When Daisy Duck came to our table, one of my daughters was in the bathroom. (She was the one who was not feeling well after OD-ing on Java Juice. I told Daisy to go on to the next table while we waited, but my daughter was gone for a while and by that time Daisy was in another part of the restaurant.

When we were leaving, I explained the situation to our server and they had us come wait in an area near the entrance until they could get Daisy to make a special visit with us. (That’s why we’re all in front of a blank wall in that photo.)

So just keep in mind that if you miss a character for some reason, you can still flag them down — as long as you don’t mind waiting for a few extra minutes.

Tusker House character breakfast buffet with Daisy Duck
We still got to see Daisy Duck!



Lunch and Dinner Menu at The Tusker House

I compared the Tusker House lunch menu with their dinner menu, and they are identical. However, the cost of lunch at Tusker House is less than dinner, so if you’re paying out of pocket as opposed to using the Disney Dining plan, it might be smart to eat a late lunch.)

Dinner and lunch menu items include basmati rice and curry chicken, whole salmon, roasted chicken, roasted pork, fresh breads and pita, tabouli and hummus dips, fruit chutney, and fruit salad.

For the kids (although I suppose adults are allowed to eat them too) are mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, corn dog nuggets, and various deli meats and cheeses.

There are also a few alcoholic beverages, including draft or bottled beer, African Margaritas, and Sugar Cane Mojitos. And if you haven’t already heard, one of the changes to the 2018 Disney Dining Plan is that alcoholic beverages are now allowed.

They also, of course, have several non-alcoholic beverages, including not just sodas, but also

We had lunch there previously and I remember liking it a lot, but that was before I was blogging and doing things like taking photos of my meal, so I don’t remember many details. I do remember really liking the plantains and banana bread pudding.


The Prices at Tusker House

Breakfast — $30 (child $18)
Lunch — $38 (child $23)
Dinner — $42 (child $25)

Tusker House is less expensive than some of the other character meals at Disney World. As a point of comparison, the cost of breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table — if you’re lucky enough to get a reservation — is between $45-$65 for adults.

Of course, I personally was not paying much attention to how much it cost at the time because we were there during Free Dining dates.

You could reasonably argue that the Tusker House breakfast is a bad choice if you’re on the Free Dining Plan, because you could eat someone else more expensive for no additional cost. However, our family tends to just eat Wherever We Want to Eat when we go to Disney World and not worry too much about things like that.


So while the Tusker House isn’t perfect (the noise and slowness of the characters’ arrival were the main downsides), the food is excellent and it’s a great way to meet multiple “classic” Disney characters.

What characters are at the Tusker House in Animal Kingdom? Find out in this Disney World Tusker House character breakfast review. Plus the best time to go to Tusker House, the Tusker House breakfast price, and and Tusker House breakfast vs dinner

Tusker House Breakfast Review character meal in Animal Kingdom

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Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

About a week before our trip, I realized that we still had another Table Service meal on our Dining Plan that was unaccounted for. I knew that I didn’t want to eat at yet another restaurant in one of the parks, and I was pleasantly […]