View Full Version : character meals with 3 and 1 yr old

01-14-2010, 11:49 AM
Which character meals (restaurants) would you suggest for a 3 and 1 year old? I am wondering if it is worth doing at this age?

01-14-2010, 12:01 PM
We took our 18 month to Crystal Palace. He loves Disney characters, but seeing them up close caused hysterics. However he did enjoy them from a distance and they are moving about and parading along frequently which he still liked.

The other advantage of Crystal Palace is early admission into Magic Kingdom. Made for great pictures with no crowds, stroller rental is open early as well, and allows you to get a good start to the day as you are slightly ahead of the crowds for a bit.

01-14-2010, 12:09 PM
We did 3 character meals on our last visit (a year ago). DD is(was?) terrified of the regular characters, but it was helpful to see them in the character meals because she loves to see them from a far, but 5-10 feet close to us is just too much. :) We have video of her being all "oh, it's Eeyore! I want Eeyore to come here! AHHHH!" :) They are REALLY great, though, because we'd just ask them to come around from behind and we'd distract DD and have her smile us, so we have all these cute photos of her cheesing with Pooh or Piglet behind her (Crystal Palace was the best for the behind-her shots). One meal, we did the Princess Storybook dining in Epcot and that was GREAT!!! She still wasn't old enough to really want to talk to them much (although I think now at 3 she will want to a little more), but she just loved it all. I'd totally recommend a meal like that! Also, by our last day, we ate at Tusker House with Donald's breakfast thing and she actually started smiling at the characters! DD still didn't want hugs, but it was good to see her warming up a bit.

This time, we're doing more character meals, half with "regular" characters and half with "face" characters (princesses, etc). Hopefully that'll be a good average. I'm hoping our 10 month old will be okay with all of them, but you never know... some kids love them, some kids hate them. Our DD is still afraid of our local Chickfila cow, so I'm pretty sure she'll still not be a big fan of the regular characters, but maybe warm up a little bit more? We'll see! If it turns out that anything is NOT fun for them, just ask the characters to not come by, but if they do like it, it's totally fun.

01-14-2010, 12:16 PM
You might want to consider a restaurant that serves the food family style. When my son was 3 (he's now 14) we took him to several character meals. The ones we had the best success with were 'Ohana and Garden Grill. We didn't experience the chaos of a buffet and there were other things to keep the kids entertained while they waited for the characters. Rotating restaurant at the Garden Grill and coconut races at Ohana.

We will be taking our almost one year old daughter for her first WDW trip next month and we've lined up four character meals for the trip. I'm crossing my fingers that she will take after her brother and will not be scared of the characters, but you just never know!

Have a great trip! :goodvibes

mcqueen n' sally
01-14-2010, 12:41 PM
we've done the breakfast at cape may for the last 3 years.. from when DS was 2.5 and DD was 1 until last year at 4.5 and almost 3...
we really like that breakfast... lots of food options at the buffet, easy to get a reservation and pretty good character interaction... and i think it was less expensive too...

that said, on our next trip in may we are going to do breakfast in Cinderella's castle instead bc DD will be almost 4 and is obsessed with princesses (i just hope DS is satisfied with his sword and forgives us for surrounding him with princesses!)

have fun no matter what you decide!

01-14-2010, 12:56 PM
Personally I love character meals w/little ones for a few reasons-

1st -they are usually EXTREMLY NOISY, so if the little one acts up, no one will notice...
2nd- Even if they are terrified of the characters, they will still sit in Highchair and just watch them... which keeps them busy while you can eat..

I try and book as many character meals as humanly possible on Disney vacation, much more relaxing w/little ones than trying to take them someplace quite...

Foods not great at buffets, but we are really not picky eaters so anything will pretty much do.

I say go for it.

01-14-2010, 02:01 PM
The other reason to do a buffet based character meal (are any of them not) is your under 3 child is free.

01-14-2010, 02:04 PM
I'd say Crytal Palace, Cape May, and Ohana... the atmosphere is a lot slower the Chef Mickey's.

01-14-2010, 02:07 PM
thanks for your comments! If you are on the dining plan, are character meals included? Do you have to pay extra on top of dining plan??:wizard:

01-14-2010, 02:11 PM
Go to the WDW website and download the current brochure edition of the dining plan. It has a list of all the restaurants that have agreed to take DP.

01-14-2010, 03:43 PM
thanks for your comments! If you are on the dining plan, are character meals included? Do you have to pay extra on top of dining plan??:wizard:

Definitely! Check the brochure for each restaurant you're considering to be certain, but we haven't come across one we wanted to do that wasn't on the dining plan. That's why we do a lot... the dining plan gives us table service options anyway, so we figure that if we're going to sit down for a meal, we might as well have characters with us! :) For our 6 TS meals coming up next week, 1 will not be a character meal (we're trying Coral Reef this time), the others will. :woohoo: We also try to stick to many buffets and family-style meals as we can just because our girls are both still free.:cool1:

01-14-2010, 04:28 PM
Depends on if your 3 year old likes characters. My DD adored character meals at both 2 years 10 months (her 1st WDW trip), and again on our 2 trips when she was 3. When she was 2, her absolute favorite was the Princess meal at Akershus. Before that, she was a Cinderella nut, but wasn't yet crazy about any of the other Princesses. After that meal our lives became all Princess all the time.

01-15-2010, 09:21 AM
My DDs were 3.5 and 18 months and they loved Hollywood & Vine breakfast (Little Einsteins, their fav.) and Chef Mickey's, again for breakfast. They had fun and it sure beats waiting in line to meet the characters!

01-15-2010, 09:27 AM
I loved doing character meals with DS before he turned 3 since he was FREE! Really helped out our budget. Plus, then we could avoid most of the character meet n greets in the parks since he already saw those characters. Saved lots of time! My DS was never afraid of the characters at the meals, but sometimes at the meet n greets he got a bit intimidated. Our favorite meals with him as a toddler were Hollywood & Vine breakfast and Crystal Palace.

01-15-2010, 01:12 PM
We were at Disney in November and started our trip with breakfast at Crystal Palace. The kids enjoyed seeing the characters but we did not have pictures made with all of the characters. We were there for over an hour and all of the Characters had not made it to our table when the kids wouldn't sit still any longer. I was disappointed by this because you pay alot for the experience of eating with the characters. We may have just been there on an off day but thought I would throw this out there incase this is the rule not the exception.

The other character meals we did was the Princess Storybook Breakfast in Epcot. This was great! The princesses were amazing. Great interaction. We saw all four or five princesses in the first thirty minutes - and the princesses spent time with us unlike at Crystal Palace. We also went to Chef Mickey's for dinner. The food was good and the interaction with characters was good. Our best character meal was Cinderellas Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare. The food was amazing. Interaction with the characters was great. Loved the step-mother and step-sisters.