So here is my “take” on, The Character Dining experience: just do it. It is true that there are a lot of opportunities for you to meet characters while you are out and about in the park. The draw here is that you will not have to wait in a long and crowded line to see the princesses. Now when you are at Disneyland they have an area where they rotate through the princesses throughout the day, this area is called the Princess Fantasy Faire. It usually takes 45-60 minutes to wait in this line and you will meet and have your photo taken with 3 different princesses. The last time my daughter and I went we saw Cinderella, Aurora, and Ariel.
Now here is the rub, because the line is so long they really rush you through. I always kind of feel like we’re intruding and that they don’t feel like it is necessary for them to take their time with us because we are both adults.
This is the beauty of the character meal! You get to sit and eat while you are waiting for the character. In the case of Ariel’s Grotto when you first get there and tell them the name on your reservation, you will then be escorted down the stairs into the dining area. At this point you get your photo taken with Ariel. This is a professional photo and they will print it and bring it around for you to purchase during your meal. The cost is $35.00 on top of whatever you are paying for your meal. But, don’t worry they allow you to take a picture with your camera too. They were really awesome!
Diva Tip: I STRONGLY recommend a reservation you can make these up 60 days in advance. If you want to make a reservation for Ariel’s Grotto click here.
They will then take you to your table and they will take your order. The food here is a little fancier than your typical theme park food. You won’t be eating a burger here. I liked the food here better than at Goofy’s Kitchen and that is because I felt like I got what I paid for food wise. It was an actual meal (now don’t get me wrong I loved Goofy’s Kitchen too). It is just really nice to sit down for a meal.
Diva Tip: My family is considered to be all adults when we are at Disney, which is a lot more expensive- $40 per person for adults ages 10+, children 9 and under are $20. This is a pricy meal, but while we were there we got to meet 5 princesses starting with Ariel, Tiana, Aurora, Belle, and Cinderella. They rotate through the restaurant and stop at each table to chat, sign autographs, and take a photo. I did notice that the princesses still take more time with the younger children, but they were friendly and more than happy to pose for a photo. They all took the time to wish my daughter a happy birthday and that helped to make her day more special.
I was going to recommend meals, but the menu has changed since we went in July 2013. When we went they had an antipasto platter with a seafood salad that was to die for and the tri-tip was amazing! They also had a variety of desserts and they were all delicious!
I like going to character dining because I would much rather spend my time enjoying the other attractions in the park and by doing this I can kill two birds with one stone. By taking my time to eat at a restaurant we get a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of the park and we get to meet 5 princesses which you could easily wait two hours to see in the normal park. I see it as a win win.
Diva Tip: I definitely recommend what you feel would work best for your family. What are your needs? Does your child have a hard time with lines? Do you? Will you need make yourself take that time to relax and unwind and have a good sit while enjoying a good meal? Can you afford $40.00 per person? Do you have enough time to do everything you want to do in the parks? Would combining meeting characters and eating help you get more done? Everyone will have different answers. Just do what is best for you. But the answer for this diva is a resounding heck yes let’s do it!