Our last Walt Disney World vacation was just over a year ago. And leading up to that one year mark I was starting to get a little (okay, a lot) sad that we didn’t have a Disney trip planned for the near future.
And then my husband went and booked us a trip. Because he’s awesome and he knows that Disney World is my love language.
I’m resisting the urge to talk about Disney World all the time, and having two friends who are going super soon just makes me want to spend all day planning our Disney trip and blogging about Disney trips and putting together magical outfits for the tiny humans to wear in Disney.
The day RJ told me about our trip, I was making Dining Reservations online after the kids were in bed. Since you can do it 6 months ahead, and we were only four months out, I was already behind! We’re going to eat breakfast at Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios with the favorite Disney Junior characters, and I’m crossing my fingers they add Miles of Tomorrowland to the list.
Our last character dining experience was perfect. We ate breakfast at Chef Mickey’s the first day of our Disney trip. Emaline was 8 months old and Elijah was two and a half. Both great ages to do a character breakfast, although I’m not sure there’s really a bad age to do a character meal at Disney.
Here are a few things we learned from our first Disney World Character Dining experience with our tiny humans:
Face babies away from the action. Emaline was super interested in the characters. Since we went to breakfast before the park, this was her first experience with characters, so it could have gone either way. I was worried that she might get overwhelmed so we had her seated with her back to the dining area. That way she wasn’t super distracted from eating and I would be able to see when the characters were coming before she did. She loved it the whole experience.
As you can see in every single picture of her with a character, she could not take her eyes off them.
Try to get your toddler to eat before the characters come to your tables. Believe me, I am fully aware that toddlers can be unpredictable, especially when it comes to eating. Chef Mickey’s has a great breakfast buffet with fun things, like Mickey waffles, and a great variety of healthy options, like fruit and eggs. We took turns at the buffet and tried to get Eli to eat right away.
Choose a place your kids will love. I had character Dining experiences without children, so now that we have two tiny humans I’m going to take them to places that appropriately fit their ages. We picked Chef Mickey’s because of their love for Mickey Mouse. For our upcoming trip, we’re going with Hollywood & Vine because Emaline is all about Sofia and Doc, and Elijah still loves Jake.
On the other hand, I think my kids would have liked any experience with characters. I had no idea that Eli loved Pluto. He was seriously starstruck when he saw Pluto.
He stood and watched him go to each table before ours, and then was so shy when it was our turn to see him. (I’m glad we had him eat in the beginning, because he spent a lot of time observing the other families with the characters.)
Go for breakfast. Character dining is expensive, even with kids under 3 eating free. Breakfast is typically the cheapest option at the character dining restaurants. It can be pricey when you have to pay for older kids, but I feel like it is a necessary special Disney experience. Breakfast also is a perfect time because tiny humans are generally happier in the mornings, before the pre-nap meltdowns or the dinner time exhaustion. So I knew that it would be the most enjoyable time to dine with them.
Don’t force toddlers to interact. I am always trying to get a great picture, but some characters a toddler just doesn’t want to pose with or hug or even approach. And that’s okay. Our 2.5 year old didn’t want to hug Minnie or take a photo with her at Chef Mickey’s. He just held her hand and stared. When he saw her a couple days later in the Magic Kingdom, he hugged her and took pictures and talked to her. Toddlers are quite unpredictable…
Emaline, who was 8 months old, wanted to touch every character and didn’t ever look at the camera. But that didn’t stop us from posing for pictures.
Just enjoy it. I am the mom who is always stressed about my kids not eating enough, but sometimes you just have to let it go, and Disney is the perfect place for that. I have to keep reminding myself to just let them be little and to soak in every magical second in Disney.
Want to read more about things I’ve learned in our trips to the most magical place on earth? Here are some more related posts: My Tips for Doing Disney While Pregnant, Disney is Always a Good Idea, and Disney with an 18 month old.