Character meals are a fun way to meet your favorite characters and have a good meal, but they can also be overwhelming and expensive, leaving you feeling, well, less than magical. Just like everything else in Disney World, you need a game plan. Nothing complicated, just a few tips to get make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Here’s five ways to do just that:
5. Go early. Not only will you save money because breakfast is the least expensive meal of the day, but younger kids are usually at their best in the morning before the afternoon crankies have set in. They’ll also look a lot neater in pictures if they haven’t been running around the parks for hours beforehand.
4. Make your reservations as far in advance as possible to get your top choices. That means calling at 180-days out. It seems crazy to first-timers, but the most popular restaurants will fill up the first week they’re available for booking. If you’re unable to get a desired location, don’t fret. Instead, start checking a few days prior to your trip. Disney’s new cancellation policy means that even the most popular locations may open up 24 to 48 hours prior. Just be flexible about times.
3. If you miss a character, don’t sit there and be disappointed. Instead, let one of the cast members know and they’ll make sure you get a chance to meet the character you missed.
2. This probably sounds obvious, but make sure everyone is eating! Often, kids are too distracted to eat and with all the excitement, you might not notice until you’re getting ready to leave. Make sure little ones fill up as well as have fun.
1. This one doesn’t have anything to do with the meal itself, but it’s a trick all Disney World vets love. You know all those great pictures you see of families in front of Cinderella Castle with virtually no one around them? Here’s how that happens.
Schedule your Magic Kingdom character meal an hour before park opening. Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Royal Table open up for reservations 55 minutes prior to rope drop (except on Extra Magic Mornings). This means if you get an 8:05 reservation for Crystal Palace, you can get into the park as early as 7:45 and walk up an empty Main Street. Stop in front of the castle for pictures and then head over the Crystal Palace (or Cinderella’s Royal Table) and check in.
You’ll be done before rope drop and close to Fantasyland, which allows you to run over to Peter Pan and get your first fast pass of the day and take in some rides before the crowds get heavy. Just remember that during Extra Magic Hours you won’t get this free hour, so make sure you know the park schedule before you pick your day.