I don’t think anyone would disagree that Covid really messed with a lot of what used to be “normal.” That also goes for changes that occurred when Walt Disney World reopened in July 2020. Character meals have always been a BIG deal and I know we were all anxious to know what these would look like, and probably most importantly to many people, if they would be “worth it.”
I made it a point to eat at two different character meals on my most recent trip so I could give the scoop on what the interaction, menus, and prices are like currently. I enjoyed breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace at Riviera Resort with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy, and dinner at Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy.
Here is what you need to know about character dining at the moment:
In a word: great! I was unsure of what this would be like since I was so used to characters coming to the table for hugs and autographs. Now, characters stand at a distance from your table and pose for distanced selfies. Honestly, other than not getting the hugs, I didn’t mind this change. Characters seemed to engage possibly even more with individual tables than in the past. I watched Daisy practice ballet moves with a young girl. Goofy was loving life and putting on a show for everyone. Minnie enjoyed showing off her dresses. And the big cheese himself, was as handsome and dapper as ever. I actually had one of the latest dinner reservations possible at Hollywood & Vine. Even at the end of the night, all the characters were happy to pose for selfies and on their own, and even came by my table multiple times to make sure I was still enjoying myself. There was no shortage of magic at these two meals.
Many of the returning character meals were once buffet or all-you-care-to-enjoy, so I was unsure if the food would match the price at these updated experiences. I was conflicted about what to order for breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace. Options included steak, quiche, salmon, and sausage hash. There were also waffles on the menu, so those caught my attention immediately! However, I knew that I would carb-crash early in the day if I went that route, and I definitely wanted this meal to stick with me for a while since it was pricey. I had barely started explaining my dilemma to my fantastic server, when he let me know that it was no problem to make multiple choices from the menu. I enjoyed waffles and also some protein to help me through the day at Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Problem solved and belly full!
Hollywood & Vine was one of the restaurants that made the change from buffet to a fixed three course meal. I began with salad and rolls. Then I chose my entree, and finished with a choice of dessert. I had it narrowed down to beef, pork loin, salmon, turkey, and pasta - so not very narrowed down at all! I decided on the turkey, and it was a Thanksgiving-style feast! I didn’t even bother asking about multiple selections here because it was so much food that I couldn’t finish - and I am an EATER!
Here is my only hesitation. Without the Disney Dining Plan, this will be a bit of a hit on the pocketbook. The breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace is currently $42 per adult and $27 per child, plus tax and gratuity. Dinner at Hollywood & Vine is currently $55 per adult and $36 per child, plus tax and gratuity. Those are steep prices when paying out of pocket, I do agree, but I felt they were absolutely worth doing at least once. I was stuffed after both meals and left with a smile on my face and dozens of new pictures in my camera roll.
All in all, I LOVED my character meals! If you are comfortable with the price tag, I think they were as fun as ever, and still a great way to take a break and enjoy some time with your favorite Disney pals!
NOTE: not all character meals have returned. Several locations that were formerly character meals have reopened without characters. Make sure to double check when booking your dining reservations or discuss with your travel agent.
If you are ready to start planning a trip to the magic and maybe even enjoy a meal surrounded by some familiar friends, CLICK HERE to get the ball rolling.