“Remember our visit to Disney World in 1984 when we went to the character breakfast and Goofy picked him up, chair and all?” Whenever someone in my family recalls that memory of the hilarious interaction between Goofy and my brother, who was six at the time, we smile and laugh. It’s one of our most vivid memories of that trip we took more than thirty years ago.
Memories like that are one big reason why I love character dining. We made more memories with that I expect we’ll treasure for three decades to come when my family went to the character breakfast at the Plaza Inn in Disneyland.
Last month we traveled to Southern California and met up with my cousins at Disneyland. There were seven of us, with kids in elementary, middle and high school. Disney magic made it a fun experience for all of us.
Let’s start with my favorite part: the characters.
If you love characters, this is a great Disney dining experience. We saw more characters than I ever have at any other Disney meal. After seeing Minnie outside, we saw Chip, Dale, Captain Hook, Max, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and Eeyore during our meal. And the interaction was great. It wasn’t rushed and felt meaningful.
For example, the Fairy Godmother offered my daughter advice about prom and dating in general. She was spot on when she said, “Don’t fall for a man who is distracted by shoes, find one who is more interested in your mind than what you have on.” You can tell she meant business, and let’s hope my teen was as taken with her directives as I clearly was.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask if you haven’t had a visit from a character.
Winnie the Pooh was around but hadn’t visited our table after an hour. We were starting to see repeat characters and figured out that they were covering different sections of the restaurant, not the entire restaurant. Rafiki was there but we didn’t get to see him. That was fine – no disrespect to Rafiki, of course, we like him, but Winnie the Pooh is one of my very favorites. I was losing hope that we’d see him as we had finished eating and it was time to go. My husband asked a cast member and Winnie the Pooh made his way to us just a few short minutes later.
As you can tell, I was pretty happy about that.
Even better was that we told Pooh that I was going to be a contestant on Jeopardy! the following day, and he kept rubbing my head and then gesturing from his, as if he was giving me all the knowledge he had, presumably about honey. It’s something that my family has done at least once a week for almost two months now. I suspect it will have the longevity of other Disney character meal interactions.
For some reason, my teen is a huge fan of Captain Hook. She was happy to see him, and he played around with her and my husband quite a bit. He also seemed very pleased to see my cousin, who is as tall as he is.
Even Max, a character we don’t know quite as well, charmed us all to pieces when he sat down and “ate” with us. My youngest cousin was happy to pass him a napkin and whatever else he wished.
The breakfast offerings were solid. Eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, fruit, baked goods – standard and tasty, though not amazing.
Tip: What was pretty amazing was the banana caramel sauce available to go with the classic Mickey waffles.
The sauce is pretty legendary and although I was a bit suspicious, I tried it. I’m so glad I did. It’s delicious. It obscures the waffles a bit, though, so here’s a peak at them plain:
The buffet served our purposes nicely – a decent array of options that were fresh and many of them were healthy. Tweens and teens eat a lot, so a buffet is often a good choice. Hangry adolescents at a theme park are not my idea of fun companions. Frankly, hangry adults aren’t great, either. After a big breakfast, that wasn’t a problem and it lasted us well into the day.
We did not have breakfast reservations upon arrival in Disneyland. Our travel plans changed due to a flight delay, and when we were waiting for Tomorrowland to open, Chip and Dale and a few other characters were standing in the outdoor dining area at the Plaza Inn waving at guests.
I am a sucker for characters. After waving back and realizing we had a few more minutes to wait, I busted out my phone and headed to the Disneyland app to see if they had any reservations available for the following day.
I don’t know if the Fairy Godmother waved her wand, but lo and behold, they did!
Tip: Last-minute reservations can sometimes be available.
I grabbed them. Then I asked my 6 relatives how they felt about that. Lucky for me, they were on board.
When you arrive, check in outside the restaurant and you are shown in to have a photo done with Minnie Mouse and your whole group. Then you proceed to a hostess stand and are taken to your table. It was all very efficient.
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