Disneyland character dining is a splurge-worthy combination of buffet feast with the best character interactions! Get the top tips on how to choose the right Disneyland character dining experience for your family. Read all the insider tips on where to find specific characters, birthday celebrations and taking photos to capture the magical memories.
What is Disneyland Character Dining?
For many families, meeting favorite Disney characters in person is a Disneyland vacation must-do. By participating in Disneyland character dining, guests can meet a good number of favorite Disney characters all in one place, along with indulging in an expansive buffet.
There are four Disneyland character dining experiences:
- Minnie and Friends: Breakfast in the Park
- Mickey’s Tales of Adventure
- Goofy’s Kitchen
- Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures
Naturally this experience comes at a higher-than-usual price so it may not be the best option for vacationers on a tight budget. Especially when guests can line up and meet n’ greet in the parks for the price of a park ticket.
But the Disneyland character dining options are a special combination of meal and personalized, fun experience. Many families plan on one or two of these meals during their Disney parks vacation.
Disneyland Character Dining Questions: Answered
- Are there ways to save money while Disneyland character dining?
- What about taking babies, toddlers and preschoolers?
- Which restaurant should we choose?
- Can you be guaranteed a specific character will be available?
- And what about the actual food – is it worth the extra cost to pay especially if you have dietary concerns in the family?
Find out if the magical experience makes up for the sticker shock with my complete guide to all four Disneyland character dining experiences.
Has the Disneyland Character Meal Changed?
At most of these Disneyland character dining locations, different characters visit each table. This could include posing for photos, autograph book signings and intimate interaction. In the past your family could be guaranteed a personal table-side appearance from each character. But that isn’t necessarily so anymore.
The character interactions have changed somewhat since Disneyland reopening. Some characters stay at the table for a short amount of time. At other restaurants, characters only parade through the room and do not pause in the dining area.
Despite the adjustments, Disneyland character dining is still a great way for families to get that Disney magic without having to use up their valuable park time waiting in long lines. The dining can be a more relaxing experience, combined with the great food of course!
How Much Do Disneyland Character Meals Cost?
Prices vary for each of the Disneyland character dining experiences, with children (usually) costing less than the adults. There is one exception to this and I’ll explain as you keep reading!
On average, expect to pay around $29 per child and around $49 per adult for breakfast. Sometimes more, sometimes less depending upon the location. Costs for brunch and dinner are more expensive than the earlier breakfast times.
It’s important to note that tax and gratuity are not included in the cost, so be sure to factor that additional charge into your dining budget.
Prices vary for each restaurant so I do recommend calling Disneyland Dining directly to get a firm answer on pricing when you make your reservation.
Fortunately you won’t need Disneyland tickets to enjoy most of these Disneyland character meal experiences. Only Minnie & Friends-Breakfast in the Park requires park admission. The rest of the character dining meals are held in the Disneyland resort hotels.
What Food is Offered at Disneyland Character Dining Experiences?
Each of the 4 character meals at the Disneyland Resort offer some similar items. Expect to find traditional American breakfast options in the morning. Guests can enjoy Mickey-shaped waffles, eggs and bacon at all the buffets. All four of the meals have some buffet style aspect, with guests self-serving or a cast member behind the counter serving dishes.
In addition to the regular offerings, look for some dishes that are unique to that particular restaurant. Each location will have their own specialties which I detail below in each section. Buffets are all-you-care-to-eat and a general menu is available on the Disneyland website for each restaurant.
Disneyland character dining is part self-serve and part table service. Your Host will take drink orders and handle refills at most locations. Coffee, juice, tea and soda is included in the price of your meal.
Some dining experiences offer add-on drink specials or alcohol at an additional cost. The only Disneyland character dining experience that doesn’t offer cocktails or alcohol is Minnie & Friends: Breakfast in the Park at Plaza Inn.
Must-Know Tips for Disneyland Character Dining with Kids
Not sure which meal to choose that’s best for your family? These prompts can help you decide:
- If the character’s name is in the title of the dining experience, they are guaranteed to be there for the meal (ie: Goofy will always be a featured character at Goofy’s Kitchen).
- The characters that appear at each experience may vary, and it may be different from day to day. I’ve listed the characters seen during recent visits. This may change by the time of your visit (so don’t make your children any promises!).
- On occasion, you might miss a character if you leave the table when going back to the buffet. If a character has not stopped by your table before the end of your meal, make sure to mention to a cast member so they can arrange a visit.
- Consider booking a Disneyland character dining experience at one of the hotels on an off-park day. This will allow for a more leisurely experience when you don’t feel pressed to get back into the parks. Making a reservation on an arrival or departure day is ideal.
- Three of the Disneyland character dining experiences take place at a Disneyland Resort Hotel. You do not need to be a hotel guest to dine here and no special ticket is required. Read the sections below to know which meals are located where.
Capturing the Best Photographs at Disneyland Character Dining Locations
When Minnie sits down to color next to your daughter, you don’t want to be caught stuffing your face with waffles! Yes, the Disneyland character dining experiences have buffets so you should still eat. But you’re paying the premium price for this meal to get those personal character greetings. So be sure you’re able to capture those moments!
If you’re able to choose your seating, opt for outdoor dining versus inside. For indoor only locations, request a table near the windows for optimal lighting.
I’ve included photography tips specific to each location below so be sure to read each section. Here are a few additional ideas –
Goofy’s Kitchen, Minnie and Friends – Breakfast in the Park and Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures will include a pre-dining Disney PhotoPass image. Guests will pose with a specific character before being seated. The image taken by the photographer will be complimentary and added to your Disneyland app.
Mickey’s Tales of Adventure breakfast buffet does not offer any pre-dining photo experience.
Disney PhotoPass photographers do not take photos in the dining room. There won’t be anyone to take photos of your family during the meal (ie: no character handlers or Disney PhotoPass photographers). You’ll be on your own, snapping selfies and taking photos of your kids yourself. Make a request of the guests at the next table to take a picture of your entire family.
Disneyland Character Dining with Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers
There are definitely pros and cons to Disneyland character dining with kids. These insider tips will help you understand how Disneyland character dining works with young children:
- Kids 2 years old and under are completely free.
- When making your dining reservation, do include your under-3 year old in the number of people in your group. You won’t be charged for the child, but the Host will make sure there is space at the table for a high chair.
- You can serve babies and toddlers their own plate from the buffet for free if they have not yet celebrated their third birthday.
- If you order anything outside of the included menu for your under-3 year old, the cost will be added to your bill. Examples would be beverages like smoothies or mocktails.
- Strollers must remain outside the restaurant.
- Is your little one terrified of the characters? Then a full meal with character interaction probably isn’t for your family on this trip! You certainly don’t want to hear your kiddo screaming each time Pluto saunters by (and neither do the other families around you!) Consider saving the extra cost of Disneyland character dining on this Disney vacation and plan it for a future visit.
Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet
- Location: Storytellers Café at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
- Theme: Rustic California with an adventurous spin. Mickey Mouse and Minnie are dressed for an outdoor adventure in khaki vests, hats and hiking boots.
- Meal: Breakfast or Brunch
- Seating: Indoor only, with a combination of tables and chairs or booth seating.
- No Park Ticket Needed
- Parking: Complimentary 3-hour parking at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa (either self-parking or valet) with Disneyland character dining validation.
Characters You Might See: Mickey Mouse is guaranteed to make an appearance. Also seen may be Minnie Mouse, Chip ‘n Dale and Pluto.
Best For: Foodies. The quality of food at Storyteller’s Café is arguably some of the best with unique choices like chilaquiles and matcha green tea sauce.
The breakfast buffet has some great offerings, including Mickey waffles, loaded breakfast potatoes and pastries. There’s also an omelet station for eggs made fresh to order.
But it’s the brunch buffet that really shines, when heartier luncheon options are added in. If you can swing the late breakfast, this is your best option for character experience and great food. While my daughter snacked on muffins, I was at the carving station. My plate is loaded up with freshly carved prime rib, mashed potatoes and green beans.
Save plenty of room for dessert because there are lots of great mini-treats you’ll want to indulge in. The sweets are in a smaller portion size which encourages guests to try a little bit of everything! The warm bread pudding is a can’t miss.
Those who want a mimosa, Bloody Mary or raspberry champagne (or other specialty drink) may indulge for an additional cost.
Must-Know Tips for Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet
Storyteller’s Café is located at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which is connected to the Disney California Adventure theme park. The hotel’s side entrance is near Grizzly River Run ride. It’s easy to leave the theme park and walk just a few minutes to Mickey’s Tales of Adventure inside Storyteller’s Café.
Seating at Mickey’s Tales of Adventure is all indoors and the lighting is very dim in certain locations. Taking photos in the low light can be a challenge here. Unfortunately there are no Disney PhotoPass photographers here, so have a camera that works well with minimal lighting.
Formerly called the Chip ‘n Dale Critter Breakfast, Mickey’s Tales of Adventure character meal offers both a breakfast or brunch, with reservation times as late as 1:30 p.m.
It’s important to note that Storytellers Cafe also offers a dinner buffet but characters do not appear. Mickey’s Tales of Adventure buffet only takes place during the breakfast and brunch hours.
Minnie and Friends – Breakfast in the Park
- Location: Plaza Inn, at the end of Main Street U.S.A, Disneyland Park
- Theme: Classic Victorian style, offering both indoor and outdoor seating. Characters are dressed as usual without special theming.
- Meal: Breakfast buffet only, including biscuits & gravy, French toast and made-to-order omelets.
- Seating: Indoor and outdoor, mostly tables and chairs. Some bench seating along the walls available.
- Park Ticket Required
- Parking: No complimentary parking provided; guests must park in a Disneyland theme park parking lot.
Characters You Might See: Minnie Mouse will always be seen here. Also seen may be Captain Hook, Chip ‘n Dale and Pluto.
Best For: Character Seekers. This Disneyland character dining experience is a great place for capturing a high number of autographs and taking photos.
Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park has always been known for its quirky mix of characters. Fairy Godmother would conduct a meet n’ greet alongside Rafiki from The Lion King. Pinocchio and Honest John bumped elbows with Tigger and Eeyore. The sheer number of characters, many of whom aren’t usually seen in the parks, was awesome.
While the quantity of characters has been reduced in recent past, the chance of seeing rare characters here still happens. During a 2022 breakfast, in addition to meeting with Daisy Duck, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh, we also met Perla, one of the mice from Cinderella.
Must-Know Tips: Minnie and Friends – Breakfast in the Park
A valid Disneyland Park ticket is required to dine at Minnie and Friends, as the Plaza Inn is located inside the park. This means you’ll be using up part of your park day to dine here.
If your reservation time lands around park opening time, look for the sign above the gate that reads, “Character Breakfast”. You and your guests will be admitted (with park tickets in hand) into the park to meet your reservation time.
This meal is best booked for a mid-morning time, which allows you to rope drop at Disneyland! Take advantage of the lighter crowds in the first two hours of Disneyland park opening. Hit the rides for a few hours, then stop for breakfast at Minnie and Friends around 10 a.m. and you’ll have the best of both worlds!
Your party will meet Minnie Mouse at the beginning of your meal for a photo. The PhotoPass photographer will use their camera but can also shoot a picture with your own camera. The complimentary Disney PhotoPass image will be added to your Disneyland app.
Consider requesting an outdoor seat for the best photo lighting when taking photos with your own camera. The interior of the restaurant is more dimly lit.
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures
- Location: Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
- Theme: Upscale and elegant personalized experiences with several Disney princesses
- Meal: Breakfast only; this three-course meal offers a higher food quality than any other Disneyland character dining. The meal includes cold appetizers and hot buffet dishes. Creative desserts are brought to the table and served family style.
- Seating: Indoor only, mostly tables and chairs. Some bench seating available.
- No Park Ticket Needed
- Parking: Complimentary 5-hour valet parking at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa with Disneyland character dining validation.
- Price: $125 per person plus tax (aged 3 and up); Annual Passholder discount
Characters You Might See: There is no guaranteed princess at this meal, though prior guests have seen Ariel, Tiana, Pocahontas, Rapunzel, Mulan and Belle.
Some of the characters greet diners at the table while other princesses offer an “enchanting experience”. This could include a story read by Belle or a warrior pose lesson with Mulan. Experiences during your visit may vary.
Best For: Sophisticated princess-lovers. While boys are welcome of course, this is a girl-power celebration (not a prince in site). The Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures meal is going to be well-loved by kids (and adults) who get into the Disney magic, will enjoy the interactions and can get through the 2-3 hour experience.
Children attending this breakfast may enjoy dressing up as their favorite characters. Use this guide for where to buy the best Disney princess dresses.
Is the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures Worth the Cost?
The cost of Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures is going to be prohibitive for some families. This meal is priced the same for every guest, aged 3 and up. $125 for each person, plus tax and gratuity. There is no discounted children’s pricing.
Adults who can appreciate the glamorous details, delectable foods and upscale atmosphere will enjoy this meal. This is not an outright replacement of the now gone Ariel’s Grotto (which was located in Disney California Adventure park). But it is a definite upgrade of the Disneyland character dining experience.
Of all the Disneyland character dining meals, this is one of the ultimate Disneyland splurges. It’s not just the food (which is indulgent and creative). And it’s not just the character meet n’ greets (which are personal and sweet). But there are interactive experiences between the guests and princesses that won’t be replicated elsewhere.
Also each guest will receive a parting gift. The actual present received may vary but in the past children received an autograph book and pen. Upon leaving, kids may receive a Swarovski crystal necklace, doll or play sword (all have been given in the past, no assurance of what will be available during your visit).
Adults receive a complimentary glass of champagne or sparkling apple cider before the meal. It’s also been noted that some adults receive a box of specialty chocolates inside of a drawstring bag when leaving.
Must-Know Tips for Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures
Guests should set aside several hours to properly experience Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures. Because of the added special experiences, the length of time needed should be 2-3 hours. Keep this in mind if you are intending to take antsy toddlers or younger children who will want to eat and run.
Children under the age of 3 may join your group at no additional charge. However, only paying guests will receive the parting gift so keep this in mind when bringing toddlers.
If you simply cannot indulge in all the desserts, request to have the treats boxed up to-go.
This is the only Disneyland character dining experience I’ve not dined at myself. For more tips on this restaurant, my friend Jessica of The Happiest Blog on Earth share about the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure.
Want More Disneyland Princess Experiences?
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures is not available every day. This Disneyland character dining experience is open Thursday through Monday between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 am.
If your trip dates fall outside this experience or the cost is too excessive, there are more ways to interact with Disney princesses. Read these additional tips to meet Disney Princesses at Disneyland Resort.
Breakfast and Dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen
- Location: Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel
- Theme: Bright, colorful and quirky, with a kitchen theme.
- Meal: Breakfast and Dinner (Goofy’s Kitchen is the only Disneyland character experience that offers dinner).
- Seating: Indoor only, with a combination of tables and chairs or booth seating.
- No Park Ticket Needed
- Parking: Complimentary 3-hour parking at the Disneyland Hotel (either self-parking or valet) with Disneyland character dining validation.
Characters You Might See: Goofy is the host of this meal, so he’s guaranteed. Guests will either meet Goofy or Mickey when first entering (dressed in a chef’s outfit). Minnie, Chip and Dale and Pluto have also been spotted here. This character meal is not unlike the similarly named Chef Mickey’s at Walt Disney World.
Best For: Big appetites. Chef Goofy has been cooking up a TON of different foods in his kitchen, especially for dinner! Guests should not have any problem finding something they like to eat on this expansive buffet with five stations.
There’s a “kid’s buffet” with childhood favorites like chicken nuggets and mac n’ cheese. If adults see something on the kid’s buffet, they’re welcome to help themselves. The creative pizzas are popular and aren’t just for kids. Try the sweet peanut butter & jelly pizza or the savory macaroni & cheese pizza!
There are tons of salad choices, freshly carved meats and seafood, and lots of veggies and fresh fruit options. The soft serve yogurt area with toppings is a hit. There’s even a ton of desserts available during the breakfast hours.
Must-Know Tips: Goofy’s Kitchen
Goofy’s Kitchen waiting area is large and kid-friendly. There’s also lots to explore in the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel. Consider arriving early to let kids take a photo op in the vintage Autopia car or to watch classic cartoons in a designated quiet room.
A DisneyPhoto pass photographer will take several shots of your group before being seated. These images, including some with a themed border like the photo below, will be added to your Disneyland app. The PhotoPass images are included with the cost of the meal and do not cost extra.
During the meal, music is played over the speakers and the characters march through the dining room, encouraging guests to clap along and wave their napkins. Goofy’s Kitchen is a loud and raucous atmosphere.
Goofy’s Kitchen has not returned to the previous character interaction. Characters simply dance past guest tables. You might be able to grab a fast photo, like my daughter did (she literally stood in front of the characters to make them stop!) The characters do not pause long enough for autographs or conversations.
All seating is indoors so request a table near a window for the best photo lighting. But with the low lighting and fast moving characters, don’t expect to get high quality images.
CLOSED – Donald Duck’s Seaside Breakfast
This surf-themed character breakfast formerly took place at Disney’s PCH Grill at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. With the change of Paradise Pier Hotel into the Pixar Pier, Donald Duck’s Seaside Breakfast has been closed. No replacement character dining experience has been revealed yet.
Do I Need Advance Dining Reservations?
Advance Dining Reservations are a must. Check availability on the Disneyland website, through the Disneyland app or call (714) 781-3463, up to 60 days before your visit.
I can’t get a reservation! MouseDining is your best bet for locking in those high demand Disneyland character dining reservations.
For most guests, their free program is adequate. But for hard-to-get reservations, I recommend upgrading your account for additional features, which include instant text messages to grab reservations. This is how their system works:
- Open the MouseDisney website to search the restaurant you want to dine at.
- Add in your dates to see if a reservation is available.
- If everything is booked, simply set up an alert with more details including meal, preferred time, and party size.
- MouseDining will email you when a reservation comes available!
What about a walk up wait list? While it’s easy to join a walk-up queue for some Disneyland restaurants in the Disneyland app, character dining likely won’t be available. Reservations are usually fully booked. Here’s how to join a walk up waiting list, when available:
- Scan the QR code posted outside the select restaurant.
- Use the Disneyland app to add your group to the wait list.
- When a table becomes available, you’ll receive a push notification to return to the restaurant for seating.
For special occasions, including birthdays, a Disneyland character dining meal can’t be topped. If someone in your group is celebrating a birthday, mention this when making your dining reservation and again when checking in for your meal. Here are a few ways to observe a birthday.
Birthday Cupcake & Button (complimentary) – The staff will often treat the birthday guest to a special surprise. At Goofy’s Kitchen, my daughter was escorted to the dining room table by Mickey and Minnie, received a personalized button, a cupcake with a candle and was sung “Happy Birthday” at the table.
I can’t guarantee this will happen on your visit, but if you mention the birthday at check-in, you might receive a little pixie dust magic too!
Birthday Cake (for an extra cost) – Order a specialty cake to be served at Disneyland restaurants. Choose to have the Mouse Ears personalized with either “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations” (or left blank).
One cake serves between 4-6 people and is offered in either chocolate or white chocolate. These cakes must be ordered at least 3 days in advance, by calling (714) 781-DINE.
This article includes more ways to celebrate a birthday at the Disneyland theme parks and around the Disneyland resort.
Other Things to Know About Booking Disneyland Character Dining
Dietary Concerns – Food intolerance? Let this be known when booking your reservation and remind the Host when arriving at the restaurant. The Chef will guide you around the buffet and explain what is safe to eat.
The Chef may also explain additional options including gluten or dairy free and vegan choices. There may be the option for specially prepared meals for specific dietary issues. For more details read this article on how to find healthy food at Disneyland.
Parking – I’ve noted above about parking during the character meals. Guests will be charged after the initial allotted hours so plan to move your car to Downtown Disney District parking lot if you plan to explore the area more after your meal.
If you’ll be going into the parks after your meal, you’ll need to move your car into one of the main theme park parking lots.
Collector’s Button – Each guest receives a souvenir button at each Disneyland character dining location. Hosts usually hand out these pins upon entering. If you haven’t received it, request your gift at the hostess stand when exiting.