Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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Best Disney Restaurants for Kids Ages 5 and Under

OH!  Disney Dining…you keep us coming back for more and more and more!

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With 7 Disney trips under their belts, my kids have eaten at a ton of WDW restaurants, ranging from simple snacks to quick counter service to almost every character meal to fine dining at Victoria & Albert’s.  They have seen and eaten it all–and at all ages–from 8 months to 23 years old!

Disney does a great job of creating themed restaurants to serve all guests, kids and kids-at-heart.  Though almost all Walt Disney World restaurants offer a kid’s menu, some are obviously more geared towards the younger visitors.

My daughters and I chose the BEST kid restaurants based on kid-centered theming, characters, fun environments and kid-friendly (not just kid’s menu) food.

 

These are the BEST of the BEST table service restaurants for kids ages 5 and under.

For a list every character meal inside the Walt Disney World theme parks, click here.

Put these table service restaurants on your ‘Must-Do’ list!

Magic Kingdom:

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The Crystal Palace–Read all details and a review here

Cinderella’s Royal Table

Be Our Guest Restaurant–Read all details and a review here and avoid the West Wing dining room if your child is afraid of the dark, simulated thunder and lightening.

Tony’s Town Square Restaurant

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Epcot:

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Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Garden Grill Restaurant

 

Hollywood Studios:

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Hollywood & Vine

50’s Prime Time Café–Read all of the details and a review here.

 

Animal Kingdom:

Tusker House Restaurant

 

Disney Springs:

Rainforest Café–Avoid if your child is frightened by simulated thunder and loud noises.

T-REX–Avoid if your child is frightened by loud noises and large dinosaurs that move.

 

Resorts:

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1900 Park Fare–Read all details and a review here

Chef Mickey’s–Read all details and a review here

‘Ohana

Cape May Cafe

Whispering Canyon Café

 

Click here to learn all about the 2017 Disney Dining Plan.

Click here to learn how to plan a Walt Disney World vacation like a pro!

Click here to read about our favorite Disney buffet!

 

 

 

 

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The Best Breakfast, Lunch, Snack & Dinner At Disney’s Magic Kingdom

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My favorite theme park at Walt Disney World is the Magic Kingdom.  We spend at least half of our entire vacation inside that one park and I always leave wanting more!  Over the years, dining options inside Magic Kingdom have changed and evolved and my family and I have tried every single restaurant.

As I am working on writing full reviews for every table service restaurant (and some quick service ones, too!), I thought it might be helpful to create a quick list of the best meals we regularly enjoy inside the fabulous Magic Kingdom theme park.

Confused about the Disney Dining Plan?  Click here to learn everything you need to become a dining plan master!

Let me know what you think!

Favorite Breakfast:

Be Our Guest: Quick service, requires advanced dining reservations (ADR), order the Croque Madame, which is an open-faced ham sandwich topped with a fried egg, gruyere, and Béchamel or try the croissant doughnut.

Read a full review of Be Our guest here.

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Favorite Lunch:

Be Our Guest: Quick service, requires advanced dining reservations, order the French onion soup, braised pork Coq Au Vin Style and the Master’s cupcake.

Columbia Harbour House:  Quick service, try the lobster roll, vegetarian lighthouse sandwich or the fried fish plate.

The Friar’s Nook:  Quick service, order the pot roast mac-n-cheese

Favorite Snack:

Aloha Isle:  Pineapple Dole Whip cup (DUH)

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Food Kiosk Carts (Frozen Treats):  Mickey Ice Cream Bars

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Sleepy Hollow:  fresh fruit waffle sandwich with chocolate hazelnut spread and funnel cake

Favorite Dinner:

Be Our Guest:  Table service/character meal, requires ADR, order the roasted lamb chop, sautéed shrimp and scallops and The Grey Stuff

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Cinderella’s Royal Table: Table service (2 credits for dining plan), requires ADR, The menu changes, but this is one of our favorite dinners because of the experience.

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Favorite Buffet:

Crystal Palace:  Table service/character meal, requires ADR, large buffet, lots of options

To read a full review of The Crystal Palace, click here.

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Favorite Character Meal:

Cinderella’s Royal Table:  Princess character meal and it’s located inside Cinderella’s castle

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For a complete list of all character meals at Walt Disney World, click here.

Click here to read about our new favorite Disney Resort!


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Disney Character Dining (No Princesses)– A Quick List

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Character dining at Walt Disney World is a must for most families traveling with children.  It is also a great opportunity for people of all ages to meet and interact with favorite characters without standing in long lines.

Character dining can also be overwhelming and knowing which meals to book is confusing and daunting at first.

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My quick disclaimer:  If you only learn one thing from my blog posts, I hope it is the fact that Disney changes every day.  That is exactly why Disney is so popular–there is ALWAYS something new for junkies like me to experience!  It is also why I always say everything is subject to change.

Click here to learn how to plan a Disney vacation like a pro!

Click here for the most important Disney information!

Click here to become a Disney Dining Plan master!

More character dining information is at the bottom of the post, so read it all my friends.

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***Here is a complete list of all Walt Disney World character meals (minus princesses)–for those who want to skip interactions with royalty.

I am going to make this as quick and painless as possible.  You are welcome.

{Restaurant name, location, the meals that offer characters, known characters that visit}

Character Dining, the quick list:

1900 Park Fare.  The Grand Floridian Resort.  Breakfast/Brunch:  Mary Poppins, Pooh, Tigger, Alice and the Mad Hatter.   Read a full review of this character meal here.

Be Our Guest.  Magic Kingdom.  Dinner:  The Beast.  Visit him inside the library on your way out after dinner.  Read a full review of this character meal here.

Cape May Café.  Disney’s Beach Club Resort.  Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast:  Minnie and friends.

Chef Mickey’s.  Contemporary Resort.  Breakfast, brunch and dinner:  Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto.  Read a full review of this character meal here.

Crystal Palace.  Magic Kingdom.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner:  Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet.  Read a full review of this character meal here.

Garden Grill.  Epcot, Future World.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner:  Chip-n-Dale, other characters. (Mickey and Pluto usually)

Garden Grove.  Walt Disney World Swan Hotel.  Dinner:  Any combination of Pluto, Goofy and Chip-n-Dale.  Good Morning Breakfast Events on Saturday and Sundays:  same characters.  Call for dates.

Ravello Restaurant.  Four Seasons Resort Orlando.  Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and Pals. Breakfast on Thursdays, Saturdays and some Tuesdays:  Goofy and Pals.

Hollywood & Vine.  Hollywood Studios.  Breakfast and Lunch:  Disney Junior characters, possibly Doc McStuffins, Sofia The First, Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Handy Manny.  Seasonal Dinner Dining:  Minnie and friends, Daisy, Donald and Goofy.

‘Ohana.  Polynesian Village Resort.  Breakfast:  Lilo and Stitch and possibly other friends.

Tusker House Restaurant.  Animal Kingdom.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner:  Safari Donald Duck and friends.

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Character shows and special events:

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.  Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.  Dinner Show:  Mickey, Minnie, and friends (Usually Goofy and Chip-n-Dale).

***Characters are always subject to change.  It is Disney’s prerogative.

 

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***Call Disney to verify any information.  To book advanced dining reservations, visit the Disney website, download the My Disney Experience (MDE) app or call 407-939-3463.

I HIGHLY recommend advanced dining reservations (ADR) for all of these character meals and experiences.

Remember:  Character meals ALWAYS cost more than regular table service meals.  You are paying for the time and interactions with the characters.  If you have children or if you love Disney like we do, book character dining!  It is soooooo much better than waiting in lines at the theme parks to meet your favorite movie figures and the character interactions aren’t as rushed.

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Extra hint:  While dining at character meals, the characters COME TO YOU.  There is a pattern all characters follow, visiting tables in a certain order.  Your party is free to enjoy the meal, as the characters make their way around the restaurant.  Every character will eventually get to your table.

If you have a concern, ask the wait-staff for assistance.  It is very much so frowned upon if you send your child over to a character during a character’s interaction with another table.  Wait your turn, my friend.  That is just good character dining etiquette. ***Be Our Guest is a little different.  The Beast is available after dinner on the way out of the restaurant.

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A theme park ticket is required for any character meals that take place inside a theme park.  If the restaurant is inside of a Disney resort hotel, you do not have to be a guest at that resort to make dining reservations and you do not need a theme park ticket.

If you have advanced dining reservations (which you most certainly should), and your character meal is at a restaurant inside of a resort, you can park your vehicle in complimentary self parking lots or use valet parking for $20-$25.

Character dining takes time.  Schedule at least 1 hour for travel to a character meal and at least 1.5-2 hours for dining.  If you are in a hurry to get to the theme parks or to catch an airplane, I do not recommend a character meal.

Click here to check out a super fun list of FREEEEEE things to do at Disney!

Click here to read about my obsession with rain ponchos!

Click here for a list of all princess dining available at Walt Disney World!

 


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A Review of Disney’s Crystal Palace

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The beautiful Crystal Palace restaurant

The Crystal Palace, inside Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park, is one of the most beloved and beautiful character dining experiences at Walt Disney World.

Capping out the very end of Main Street, U.S.A. and facing Cinderella’s castle, this unique restaurant was designed after the Crystal Palace originally built in 1851 for the Great Exhibition in London.

Colorful floral arrangements hang from the iron work and the carpet is an ornate pattern with soft pastels.  Intricate ceiling domes, large white arches, a plate glass atrium and commanding windows create a beautiful setting for a picture perfect character meal.  It is a gorgeous restaurant.

 

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Piglet at The Crystal Palace

Most guests visit The Crystal Palace not for its beauty, but for the character interaction.  Friends from the Hundred Acre Wood draw in the crowds and the sweet characters never disappoint.

 

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Winnie the Pooh at The Crystal Palace

 

My family and I have eaten at The Crystal Palace countless times and each visit, we interact with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore. (Though remember, characters are always subject to change.)

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Eeyore–2009

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Eeyore–2009

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Eeyore–2011

 

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Eeyore–2014

Eeyore is my favorite.  Obviously.

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Breakfast, lunch and dinner are traditional American-style buffet character meals. The characters have always been Pooh and friends.

Breakfast hours are 8:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Lunch hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Dinner hours are 3:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

 

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Tigger at The Crystal Palace

 

The all-you-can-eat buffet price ($35-$59.99) varies according to season and crowd levels.  The menu offerings change and rotate often.

Breakfast is the expected American fare like pancakes and waffles, seasonal fruit, pastries, cereals and an omelet station.

Lunch and dinner are very similar and offer traditional items such as salads, soups, carved meats, breads, fish, chicken, vegetables and desserts.  There are always kid options like pizza, chicken fingers, French fries and mac-n-cheese.

The large buffet makes this a good option for those with dietary restrictions, limited palates and allergies.

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Occasionally near the entrance, there are beautiful floral statues made with the most interesting flowers–in the form of the characters, of course!

 

The tables in the dining room are placed very close together and because this is a popular character meal, it can be crowded and chaotic at times.  The children are often invited to participate in an impromptu parade around the dining room, which is fun and hectic all at once.

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Parade dancing around the dining room

As with all character dining experiences, advanced dining reservations are necessary.

Even with advanced dining reservations, check in with the hostess desk and expect to wait outside to be called for your table.  On multiple occasions, we have waited well past our reservation time.

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Waiting outside–2011

 

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Waiting outside–2014

Historically, the service has been very, very slow.  Consider this dining experience a chance to rest and relax.

The adorable characters help make the excessive waiting worthwhile.

 

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Quick family review for The Crystal Palace:

If you or your kiddos love The Hundred Acre Wood characters, this is a must-do during a day at Magic Kingdom.  It is the perfect opportunity to get some cute pictures, coveted autographs and snuggly character hugs.

The food is mediocre and takes a backseat to the character interactions.  Don’t book this restaurant if you are in a hurry.

It is an unanimous vote from my family:  The Crystal Palace is a must-do if you love Pooh and his cuddly friends, but the food is not the reason to visit.

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Final Family Crystal Palace Suggestion:

My daughters suggest this restaurant for Pooh loving guests and families with young children.  It is fun!

My husband suggests you skip this character meal.  The Crystal Palace is his least favorite Disney restaurant.  It is too crowded, too loud and the food is not worth the money.

I suggest you give The Crystal Palace a chance and try it at least once if you love Winnie the Pooh and friends.

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Friend-to-Friend, I want you to know:

I highly, highly, highly recommend advanced dining reservations (ADR).  Yes, booking meals 180 days before you plan to eat is crazy, but do it.  Just.  Do.  It.

Traveling to The Crystal Palace is pretty straight forward.  It is inside the Magic Kingdom, so use whatever mode of transportation gets you to the front gates.  If you are staying on property, Disney transportation to the Magic Kingdom can be by bus, boat or monorail, depending on your resort location.  If you are not sure of the best route, ask the front desk or concierge.

If you are traveling to the Magic Kingdom from another theme park, take a bus to any of the monorail resorts (The Grand Floridian, Polynesian Village, or Contemporary) and then ride the monorail over to Magic Kingdom.

Parking is available at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) and the monorail travels from there to the Magic Kingdom.  Parking is free if you are staying at a Disney resort.  Otherwise, parking is $20 per day.

Because The Crystal Palace is inside the Magic Kingdom, a theme park ticket is required.

Remember:  Character meals ALWAYS cost more than regular table service meals.  You are paying for the time and interactions with the characters.  If you have children or if you love Disney like we do, book character dining!  It is soooooo much better than waiting in lines at the theme parks to meet your favorite movie figures and the character interactions aren’t as rushed.

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Extra hint:  While dining at character meals, the characters COME TO YOU.  There is a pattern all characters follow, visiting tables in a certain order.  Your party is free to enjoy the meal, as the characters make their way around the restaurant.  Every character will eventually get to your table.

If you have a concern, ask the wait-staff for assistance.  It is very much so frowned upon if you send your child over to a character during a character’s interaction with another table.  Wait your turn, my friend.  That is just good character dining etiquette.

Character dining takes time.  Schedule at least 1 hour for travel to a character meal and at least 1.5-2.5 hours for dining.  If you are in a hurry to use a Fast Pass or to catch an airplane, I do not recommend a character meal.

For a list of all character meals at Disney, click here.

Are you looking for a character meal with Mickey and his friends? Click here.