Would love some dining advice

I’m trying to wrap my mind around our upcoming Disney trip which is our (hopefully) final reschedule of what was originally supposed to be an April 2020 trip.

My original plan included the dining plan and lots of character meals and that doesn’t make as much sense anymore given the change in character interactions and the fact that it’s all out of pocket now with no dining plan. It just makes it harder to swallow that cost when I’m paying it every day of the trip vs months in advance and then “forgetting” about it. We also had 2 kids under 2 with us that I’d planned on packing pouches for and letting them take nibbles off of the adult plates and that’s no longer an option with 2 almost 4 year olds.

We’re also taking our camper to Fort Wilderness instead of staying at one of the more traditional resorts, so it will be easier to pack things like snacks and breakfasts, though I’m not at all against having those in and around the parks if there are some can’t miss experiences.

I would still love to do at least one character meal that includes Mickey/Minnie and maybe one with some princesses. Other than that I’m very unsure of where to start. So tell me, what would you recommend to a first time family of 5 as can’t miss dining experiences? No one is a picky eater.

Our days look like this–

Sunday- arrival day, probably early evening. It will be the end of 2 long days of driving, so if there’s a relaxing dinner that’s easy to get to from Fort Wilderness I’d be into that or we may cook for ourselves that night.

Monday- Magic Kingdom, early arrival, early departure

Tuesday- Hollywood Studios, I have one kid who is obsessed with R2D2 thanks to a McDonalds toy last fall, but otherwise doesn’t know much about Star Wars–I’d planned on skipping Batuu altogether until that development, so maybe we could eat there and find her something with her robot that’s not so easy to misplace.

Wednesday- Magic Kingdom, late arrival, late departure. If we see any fireworks, it will be this day, but I’m not sure my kids will make it

Thursday- Animal Kingdom-

Friday- Epcot, I’m hoping we can find something to impress my husband on this day. He’s a Disney skeptic and I want to leave him with the best possible impression so he’ll come back with us again.

Saturday- departure day. Could squeeze in a breakfast maybe

Y’all are the experts so I’m eager to hear what you’d do in my shoes!

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Topolino’s character breakfast! We went there with our 10 month old and 2 year old and they had a blast. Mickie, Minnie, Daisy, and Donald show up. Great value for character dining. Really good food. We did it on our departure day, and we’re doing that again in a few weeks. I can’t say enough good things about it.

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We also did Garden Grill for character dining and weren’t as impressed. Everything was mediocre. Nothing was bad, but nothing really stood out either. Plus the distanced characters were sort of hard to see for our littles, since they walk around behind the tables, but 4 year olds are taller, so it might not be as big a deal

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The “classic” character meal would be Chef Mickey’s - I’ve never been there but everything I’ve heard about it has been less than great. As opposed to Topolino’s, which seems to be universally beloved! You could do an 8/8:30 reservation on your Epcot day, since Epcot opens late, and then Skyliner over to Epcot.

On the Friday, maybe drinks and a snack at the Space 220 lounge? Again I haven’t been but we’ve got reservations for our upcoming trip and it looks SO cool - might also be a hit with your R2 loving kid. Depending on how much money you want to throw at the R2 craze you could also do Droid Depot at Hollywood Studios!

Also this doesn’t really fall under any of the categories on your list but Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom is one of my favourites - the actual restaurant is so charming, it’s such a great atmosphere, and Winnie the Pool and friends are delightful.

Oh, the sky liner would be fun for them! Do strollers fit in that?

And I’m not ready to lean into Star Wars as hard a droid depot yet :joy:…I was thinking like something stuffed.

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Strollers definitely fit in the skyliner! Our kids loved it. So much fun

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We have our long-postponed trip-of-a-lifetime DW trip coming up. I think dining for once-in-a-blue-moon people is quite different than 1+ times a year people. Like you, our dining plans changed considerably. Also, there just aren’t as many character meals as before. Also, the quality/selection is reported to have dropped considerably. For example, I had been looking forward to Liberty Tree Tavern, but we are skipping it now.

For Mickie and Friends, we are doing Toppolino’s breakfast on our arrival day which is a non-park day. The matching day for you is Departure Day. In addition to being more loved than Chef Mickey’s, I liked that it was outside the parks so we don’t waste park time. We can take our time eating and enjoying the characters. Also, on our last vacation, DD decided she loves steak and the Topo. breakfast has steak. She’s never been a huge protein fan, so we happily feed her steak. You might consider a leading reservation because Topo’s is so loved.

There isn’t much for Princess dining. Only option is a distant wave from Cinderella at CRT. Because it is in the castle, I went ahead and got a breakfast there. The lunch/dinner menu looked very unappealing.

I also made Crystal Palace ADR’s in case the characters return, but will cancel if they don’t. DD is a huge Tigger fan.

Other ADR’s. Oga’s to please the husband. Artist Pointe dinner (another character meal) on a rest day. Biergarten because I love German food. This is on a two-week trip, so really not many ADR’s.

Hoped for ADR’s: Hoop Dee Doo Revue (not open yet), Space 220 Lounge (missed out when it opened)

To impress your husband, Can you swing the price of the Wild African Trek? If so, read the review thread on it here. I haven’t been yet, but I am so excited.

I would go over to Wilderness Lodge if you are chilling and eat at Whispering Canyon. Then MK is tough for food. I suppose it depends on where in the US you are coming from. Liberty Tree is pretty good. I live in the South so it is kind of normal fare. Magic Kingdom is our least favorite park for food versus the other parks. BOG and CRT are ok if you want something to be more special as far as ambiance. Food is kind of “eh”. I would recommend Topolino’s for the character breakfast. The Riviera is great and you can get a very nice breakfast with a super view along with some relatively up close and personal time with the characters as they rotate. Tusker House would be a fun meal and character breakfast at AK. Several good choices there for lunch like Y&Y, Flame Tree, SC, etc… EPCOT has Space220 which might be impressive to your DH. I am going in March but it seems like a good one to try. But food is really good there. We are big Le Cellier fans if you want a really nice dinner and also love San Angel, a good pizza at Via Napoli or just trolling the food stands if you want something less formal. I think this probably echoes what the others have said as well. Batuu will be fun and the Ronto Roasters are pretty good really for breakfast if you want something quick. Sci-Fi is fun for the kids with good American Fare which is popular.

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If Cape May at BC brings back characters I would recommend for breakfast or dinner

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Ok, I think I’ve definitely decided on Topolino’s for our character breakfast—likely Friday morning before we go to Epcot. DH said he would really like to try to eat at California Grill—we had planned it for a little “date night” on our original trip when we were taking grandmas that could stay with the kids. We are not bringing them this time so we’ll try it with the girls—pray for us :laughing:. I really sold that one hard last time because I wanted to go and I guess I did a great job because it’s still in his mind as must do. I’d love to do that Monday, but I imagine I’ll have to take what I can get there.

Will also keep Whispering Canyon in mind for our arrival night, but BBQ outside of Texas is always very hit or miss for me and I’d hate to start the week with a miss.

I don’t have to actually book these for another 6 weeks so the potential to change my mind is high!

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Fellow Texan here. Even the best BBQ you’ve had outside of Texas, was it any better than a run-of-the-mill Texas BBQ? Do you think Whispering Canyon will be even that good?
(Burnt Ends is the exception to my no-BBQ outside of Texas rule)

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Sadly Crystal Palace’s characters haven’t returned yet.
I’m blaming Heffalumps

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Coming from another BBQ intensive state I can say I don’t think WCC is good BBQ. Sure it’s edible and the serving is so large you’ll definitely fill up, but it’s not great.

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We felt WCC was good, not great. But there are definitely better BBQ places for sure. For us, WCC was more about ambiance. We were sat out on this indoor patio area, so isolated from most of the others, which made it feel more romantic.

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As littles my kids loved loved Garden Grill in Epcot. You get a ton of character interaction in there when characters can touch at least. They liked Sci Fi in DHS and DD loved Pooh for a very long time so if Pooh is back then Crystal Palace in MK. In AK they loved and still love Rainforest Cafe. So much so DH and I ate at Tiffins while the teens ate at Rainforest. In DS TRex has a neat dinosaur dig area if it’s operating in Covid. BOG is also really neat but expensive in MK.

Space 220 has excellent food. I’m not sure the theming is great for almost 4s but I liked that meal a lot. I’d still pick GG for littles though over Space 220. I think Biergarten is a good choice too with the Oompah band and kid friendly food. My kids have always liked the Teppan Edo tepanyaki tables too.

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My granddaughters really enjoyed Hollywood and Vine for lunch at HS. I thought the food was pretty good. We enjoyed lunch at CRT. Be Our Guest was a big hit with the 5 year old. The then 2.5 year old fell asleep on her father’s shoulder.
I found Chef Mickey’s to be a disappointment.
Biergarten in May 2021 was nowhere near as good as it was in October 2019. Food was just ok, service was not the best, we had to leave the restaurant to use a bathroom. We had loved this restaurant and had gone in with high hopes.
Garden Grill was fine. The character interaction was fantastic.
Both girls ate really well at Mama Melrose and at Via Napoli.

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Was this when it was family style? I think it is back to buffet now. I hate family-style. Was the quality of food lower?

Yes, it was family style. Quality was probably the same. Not so many options to choose from. If it goes back to buffet, we might try again.

Just double-checked because my memory can be fuzzy, Biergarten moved back to buffet last fall.

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First off, I’m surprised that nobody has commented about the name TacoBelle being fkn awesome!

My simple suggestion is to temper your expectations about the food, and you’ll hopefully be pleasantly surprised. If you’re from Texas, and you are a BBQ fan - don’t go seeking out good BBQ in WDW. I can almost predict the sighs of disappointment, and I’m truly not even kidding. Romanticizing the abundance of all of these great foods in the most magical place on earth - don’t get caught up in that, you might be setting yourself up for a big letdown. I’m just being real with you. My advice would be to research the hell out of unique themed dining experiences for splurges here and there, and to plan each of your meals so there’s no guesswork of, “where should we go” when everyone is hangry. Research menus of restaurants where you think you’d like to go, and cross reference by asking here, or checking sites like DFB or AllEars - both of them have done extensive research and have tons of videos and honest opinions of what is trash and what is great, and everything inbetween. Lots of ppl here would love to give you honest opinions about restaurants in general, and even specific dishes. I generally plan by honing down to the best choices for restaurants for where I will be at a time when we’ll want a meal, taking into account the previous meal and snacks, and times to schedule the meal at an “off” time to avoid crowds. HTH - You will have a blast, and hopefully some great food!

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