The History of Character Dining at Walt Disney World

Character dining has been at the Walt Disney World Resort since 1977. The first character meal was located at Coconino Cove at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This meal was only available as a brunch on Sunday mornings. Reservations were not required at that time. Fast forward a few years to 1984, there were only 3 locations that hosted Disney Characters for breakfast. The Polynesian Village hosted Minnie’s Menehune, The Contemporary at the Terrace Cafe, and at the Village Restaurant in the Rainforest location we know today in Disney’s Springs. In 1989 the Village Character dining was named Chef Mickey’s and later in 1996 moved to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Reservations were required.

In just 2019, Character dining was all over the Walt Disney World Resort and expanded beyond breakfast to lunch and dinners, special meals, and even brunch at times. Reservations were required and would begin booking 180 days before arrival. It most certainly has become one of the most popular parts of a Disney Vacation. It really depends on who you talk to as to which one is the crowd favorite. Chef Mickey’s still ranks pretty high, but having a meal in Cinderella Castle isn’t too shabby either.

In late 2020 after Walt Disney World would safely reopen during the pandemic, Character dining made an appearance at Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera for breakfast. Guests were so excited to sing along and wave as their favorite characters appeared. Soon other locations followed. Now you can go to the Garden Grill in Epcot, Chef MIckey’s at the Contemporary, Hollywood, and Vine at Hollywood Studios, Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom, and Ravello’s at the Four Seasons.

Due to social distancing and safety restrictions, your Character dining experience has changed, but the magic of their appearance certainly did not fade. During the Holiday Season 2020, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy dressed up in their holiday fashions at Disney’s Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios. The characters danced, waved, stood at a safe distance behind children for pictures, and addressed each table with cheer. The meal was partially served family-style, and each could choose their entree. Chef Mickey’s introduced Mickey and the gang in mid-December to dance their way through your meal. The buffet has been replaced with menu items, but you don’t lack for food! Just as delicious as ever.

Character dining will always be a favorite experience for families. Although all of them haven’t fully opened yet, there still is a chance you can snatch a reservation for your family. Reservations are currently being booked 60 days out on your My Disney Experience. If you don’t get in before you arrive at the resort, you can try on your mobile device during your stay.

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