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by The Fancy Free Diva

When my family makes its yearly pilgrimage to Walt Disney World, we travel in the company of at least three royal princesses: my two nieces and my daughter. Being princesses themselves, they love to visit the other royalty at the Disney Parks, so we are regular visitors at Akershus and Cinderella’s Royal Table. However, Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare in Disney’s Grand Floridian is, by far, one of our absolute favorite character dining experiences.

Tip: This dining experience requires reservations, and I strongly recommend booking 180 days ahead, especially given the popularity of the recent live-action film version of this story.

Featuring an all-you-care-to-eat buffet that has enough selections to please even the pickiest of eaters, including soup and salads, sushi and steak, and the Grand Floridian’s classically charming, carousel-themed atmosphere, the dinner itself is lovely. We usually travel with a party of 9, ranging in ages from 2 months to 61 years on our last trip, and everyone, even the vegetarians among us, was pleased with the food offerings.

My husband's plate from the all-you-care-to-eat buffet.

My husband’s plate from the all-you-care-to-eat buffet.

However, despite the deliciousness of the food, the character interactions are really what make this dining experience top-notch. While the characters are, of course, subject to change, dinner features Cinderella and her Prince Charming as the regal hosts celebrating their marriage. This is one of the few opportunities outside of a parade to see this princess and her prince side by side. The prince is very charming, and Cinderella is very sweet, but the not-to-miss characters are really Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, Lady Tremaine, and the stepsisters themselves. They have been invited to this dinner, too, and their sassy antics entertain children and adults alike.

Fancy Free Daughter with Cinderella

Fancy Free Daughter with Cinderella

Fancy Free Daughter being charmed by Prince Charming.

Fancy Free Daughter being charmed by Prince Charming

Because the stepsisters are “bad girls,” as my three-year-old calls them, she was a little nervous to meet them, saying she was afraid they might be mean to her like they were to Cinderella. Even though they didn’t try to force my daughter or my nieces to do any chores, their gossipy comments about how they wish they had married the prince instead of Cinderella and their jokes about how the shoe really did fit, but their stockings were too thick, elicited laughter all around. Lady Tremaine’s haughty attitude was spot-on from the animated classic, and she had perfected that look-down-her-nose stare in a way that (hilariously) put my husband and brother-in-law in their place.

Drizella shows some attitude

Drizella shows some attitude

The best part of the evening, though, was when my daughter confronted Anastasia, telling her that “she needs to make better choices.” The look on Anastasia’s face was priceless before she flounced away.

Tip: It helps to prepare young children for character meet-and-greets ahead of time.  Check out this Disney Diva article for some ideas about how to get your little ones ready.

Outraged Anastasia

Outraged Anastasia

Tip: All of these characters will sign autographs, so be sure to have your autograph books ready ahead of time.  You’ll also want to scope out where the characters are in the restaurant before you journey up to the buffet again.  If one of the characters is only two tables away, you may want to wait to get seconds!

These characters really make an effort to give each table some personalized attention, and some of the characters visited our table more than once as they made their way around the floor. Cinderella and her prince are very gracious hosts, and the prince was very gallant to the young princesses in our party, bowing and calling them “my lady.” Cinderella gave them some lovely princess advice about working hard and wishing, and she was really very sweet, but the stepmother and stepsisters are truly the stars of this show. Their mannerisms and attitude will entertain old and young alike, and I daresay even the most jaded and electronically-obsessed teenagers would be entertained as well. Truly, this is a character dining experience that will give everyone in your party a happy ending.

You can book this dining experience by calling 407-WDW-DINE.  Prices range from $30-$60 per adult, and the cost is 1 table service credit if you’re using the Disney Dining Plan.