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View Full Version : Free DDP-Too Much Character Dining??


brilliance2
05-19-2007, 02:39 PM
Hi there!

We are taking our soon-to-be 2 year old son to Disney for the 1st time in September. We are going for 4 nights and 5 park days on the free dining plan.

I made ADR for a character dining for 4 days. 1 Dinner, 1 breakfast and 2 lunches. Do you think that is too much for a 2 year old? I know they are all buffets that we booked and I thought it would be fun, as my son never sits for more than 40 minutes at dinner, this would give him something to watch.

But now I am worried...

Perpetually stressed,
Natalie

MichiganMomto4
05-19-2007, 02:49 PM
As long as he's not afraid of the characters, I think it will be fine. And even if he's shy up close, character meals are good because they can get a good look at the characters while they are at other tables without getting too up close and personal with them themselves.

When we took my almost 2 year old in 2004, she was very upset when every meal was NOT a character interaction :rotfl: We ate at Kona Cafe and she kept saying, "Where Pooh? Where Mickey?"

JimMIA
05-19-2007, 03:11 PM
First of all, welcome to the DIS!

Are 4 character meals too many for a 2 year-old? Obviously, the answer depends on your son, not on me. I don't think 4 is too many -- I don't think 10 is too many. But I think you have to evaluate that question in terms of a) what your son will enjoy and remember from his Disney trip (and that's a LOT more than you think!), and what you're doing for the rest of the time.

Based on our experiences with DD5-going-on-25 when she was almost 3 and on her first trip, I'd say there are two factors to consider.

One is your son's comfort level with characters to begin with. How scary is Goofy now, really? The answer? To a two year-old, Goofy can be damn scary! He scared the pants off DD at Chef Mickey's, which was our first-ever character meal. Fortunately, we had to wait for a table (Goofy was at the entrance), and she calmed down.

Even more fortunately, the first characters to come to our table were Chip & Dale and they stole her heart. By the end of the meal, she was dancing in the aisles with Minnie, and had a wonderful time...but it was a stressful start.

I'd remember that human characters (especially beautiful princesses) are less threatening than character-characters, and that Chip is a lot less threatening than Shreck for a little person. The little guy is going to enjoy Pooh and Piglet much more than Haunted Mansion.

The other factor has to do with the basic physiology and psychology of two year-olds. They are built closer to the ground than we are, they therefore see many things we don't see, and objects are a LOT bigger to them than they are to us.

WDW is a LOT of stims for a little kid. When we walking down Main Street, we're wondering where the bathrooms are. They are being bombarded with an endless stream of stimuli -- sounds, smells, colors, movement, people, characters, balloons, photographers, horses, people bumping their stroller, looking around and not seeing Daddy or Mommy, etc, etc, etc. That endless battering wears them out, as you will find if you experience the "Monorail Meltdown" at the end of a long day. Most of us have been there, and it's not a happy place.

That overwhelming pool of stimuli is the environment that character meals -- and rides, and meals, and trips to the bathroom, and standing in line, and being lost, and being hungry -- occur in.

Is four character meals too much? No; I don't think so. Can you wear the kid out and ensure that they have the worst time of their lives without ANY character meals? Oh YEAH!

The key, IMHO, is not how many things you do, but how you accommodate the little person's needs. Start early, take a long break in the middle of the day for pool and/or naps, and you'll be fine. Drive the little weakling from dawn to midnight because you're determined to earn your WDW Commando medal? You'll pay. Oh, how you'll pay!

DizneeMommy
05-19-2007, 03:17 PM
We're taking our kids in June for their first trip, and out of 6 days in the parks, we have 4 character meals, plus Whispering Canyon and Sci-Fi. I wanted them to enjoy our meals, plus this way they get to meet lots of characters WITHOUT STANDING IN LINES!! :thumbsup2

Chelley00
05-19-2007, 04:30 PM
We did a ton of character meals last year since it was our first trip. We had 2 days out of 8 that were non-character, and at those meals our 4 year old kept asking who was going to come sign her book, and our almost 2 year old kept yelling "Meemee" (Mickey) DS did freak out just a little at Chef Mickey's when we walked in, but the characters were great at interacting from a distance when they noticed he was uncomfortable, and by the end of dinner, he was giving 5 to Chip and pinching Mickey's nose.

We're doing the majority of our meals as character meals again. I figure I can eat food anywhere, but we can't eat food with Disney characters anywhere else.

penjen
05-19-2007, 08:02 PM
We had 2 out of 10 meals as character meals last year (Chef Mickey's and Crystal Palace). My DS had just turned 3. I think for us, 2 of these meals were enough. DS had just as much fun at the regular restaurants. He actually couldn't have cared about the characters and since we took him to Chef Mickeys the first night, after the first 3 nights he was charactered out. He didn't care to see Mickey anymore :sad1:

This year we are only doing two character meals out of 11. I'm sure it will be enough for him.

brilliance2
05-20-2007, 05:42 AM
Thank you so much for all your input. I will keep with my 4 out of 5 day character dining plan.

If my son goes bananas I will make changes! Like may of you have said- I can eat anywhere without characters, but where else can I have to opportunity to eat with them each day??

You are the best!!!

Natalie

txmomto1
05-20-2007, 12:21 PM
We took our son, then 3 for the first time in January, and our character meals where the most enjoyable. He was entertained, and enjoyed the variety of foods offered. We did 2 then, CP and Donald's in AK

So with our trip in September, during free dining we are doing 5 character meals. Garden Grill, Crystal Palace, Donald's, Playhouse at MGM, and Liberty Tree Tavern.

PiperPizzaz
05-21-2007, 09:56 AM
My Ds is very shy around people. He loves the characters but, not the face characters. I really think about 3 characters meals is my limit because, with a really little one it is a lot of work. You can't just eat your food. You have to keep stopping and playing when the characters come over. It is fun, but 3 would be enough for me.

There are other fun places with stuff to look at.
Sci-fi dine in
Coral Reef
San Angel Inn
Rainforest Cafe
umm that is all I can think of right now, but I am sure there are more.

dzorn
05-21-2007, 08:04 PM
I've got seven planned.
CM
Ohana
Donald
cape May
CP
Lt
Castle

I'd rather eat with the characters than have to wait in those lines. DD is autistic and anything to avoid a line.

Denise in MI

pixiedust_in_ak
05-22-2007, 12:03 PM
First of all, welcome to the DIS!

Are 4 character meals too many for a 2 year-old? Obviously, the answer depends on your son, not on me. I don't think 4 is too many -- I don't think 10 is too many. But I think you have to evaluate that question in terms of a) what your son will enjoy and remember from his Disney trip (and that's a LOT more than you think!), and what you're doing for the rest of the time.

Based on our experiences with DD5-going-on-25 when she was almost 3 and on her first trip, I'd say there are two factors to consider.

One is your son's comfort level with characters to begin with. How scary is Goofy now, really? The answer? To a two year-old, Goofy can be damn scary! He scared the pants off DD at Chef Mickey's, which was our first-ever character meal. Fortunately, we had to wait for a table (Goofy was at the entrance), and she calmed down.

Even more fortunately, the first characters to come to our table were Chip & Dale and they stole her heart. By the end of the meal, she was dancing in the aisles with Minnie, and had a wonderful time...but it was a stressful start.

I'd remember that human characters (especially beautiful princesses) are less threatening than character-characters, and that Chip is a lot less threatening than Shreck for a little person. The little guy is going to enjoy Pooh and Piglet much more than Haunted Mansion.

The other factor has to do with the basic physiology and psychology of two year-olds. They are built closer to the ground than we are, they therefore see many things we don't see, and objects are a LOT bigger to them than they are to us.

WDW is a LOT of stims for a little kid. When we walking down Main Street, we're wondering where the bathrooms are. They are being bombarded with an endless stream of stimuli -- sounds, smells, colors, movement, people, characters, balloons, photographers, horses, people bumping their stroller, looking around and not seeing Daddy or Mommy, etc, etc, etc. That endless battering wears them out, as you will find if you experience the "Monorail Meltdown" at the end of a long day. Most of us have been there, and it's not a happy place.

That overwhelming pool of stimuli is the environment that character meals -- and rides, and meals, and trips to the bathroom, and standing in line, and being lost, and being hungry -- occur in.

Is four character meals too much? No; I don't think so. Can you wear the kid out and ensure that they have the worst time of their lives without ANY character meals? Oh YEAH!

The key, IMHO, is not how many things you do, but how you accommodate the little person's needs. Start early, take a long break in the middle of the day for pool and/or naps, and you'll be fine. Drive the little weakling from dawn to midnight because you're determined to earn your WDW Commando medal? You'll pay. Oh, how you'll pay!

Perfectly said! Your approach to the parks and stimuli is what matters!

jcemom
05-22-2007, 05:32 PM
Of our 12 TS meals we're doing 8 character meals. Personally, *I* think it's too many, LOL. However, my DD 4 isn't really good at sitting through long meals when there's nothing to entertain her. It was kind of tough to choose so many TS meals keeping her fidgetiness in mind. So, character meals it is.

We're doing:

Akershus
Crystal Palace
Hollywood & Vine
Cinderella's Gala Feast
Chef Mickey's
'Ohana
Mickey's Backyard BBQ
Liberty Tree Tavern

Wish me luck. :rotfl:

We normally only do 3 or 4 TS meals per trip. However, free DDP this year so I guess we'll bite the bullet and eat away, LOL.

NHBelle
05-23-2007, 07:12 AM
This is a tough one. The great thing about buffets is you don't have to wait for food. My kids love to get there and eat right away, they don't understand having to wait for food. The only thing that could go wrong is that you 2 year old may be afraid of the characters. All 3 of my children were terrified of characters at that age. They would scream in terror and hide under the table, which did not make for a pleasant dining experience. Unfortunatley you will have no idea how he/she will react until you arrive. No matter what it will be fine, you just may have to do some consoling that's all.

DISNEYNY
05-23-2007, 07:57 AM
I love character meals too. We are doing 3 out of 8 meals. They only draw back for me with the character meals is that I feel under a little pressure. You have to watch for the characters and be sure not to be in the buffet line when they come around so you don't miss any. Then you stop eating several times to take pictures and get the books signed. I do love it, but I also enjoy having some regular table service where you can just sit and relax too.

mom2my3kids
05-23-2007, 09:16 AM
We have 2 character dinners scheduled, liberty tree and crystal palace. I am sure if he liked characters then he will love them.