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best epcot character meal

Best Walt Disney World Character Meal in Epcot

Everyone loves a character meal at Disney. Even if you have teens, you know deep down they love it when a princess comes over to your table, regardless of the look on their face. A Disney World character meal can be one of the memories you are your kids may think back on for years. In Epcot, while there are more restaurants than at any other Disney theme park, there is a real lack of character meals, with only 2 offerings!

So you are fully aware of the character meal options in Epcot, here are they are:

  • The Garden Grill Restaurant (Land Pavilion) – Breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast features your best chipmunk friends Chip and Dale, along with their friends farmer Mickey and Pluto.
  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Norway Pavilion) – Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Princess Storybook Dining features your favorite Disney princesses, including Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Princess Aurora, Ariel and Mary Poppins, though most likely not all of those princesses will be in attendance, they have busy schedules after all.
  • Cape May Cafe (Beach Club) – Breakfast only. I am including this on the list for you since the Beach Club is a short walk or boat ride away from the International Gateway in Epcot, so while not in Epcot, it is an option for most families visiting the park. Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast features Minnie and friends, including Mickey of course, as well as Goofy and others. A great way to see your favorite Disney characters in their beach attire.

Well, there you go! So many options, but which one is the best?

The Dis/dom choice for best Disney World Character Meal in Epcot?

princess storybook dining epcot

This one really isn’t close. While I really like the uniqueness of the Garden Grill, which rotates and gives you a view of Living with the Lane (my favorite Epcot ride), I think the Princess Storybook Dining in Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is a much better option for most people, including families with boys.

  1. Princesses come to your table! What could be better than having Snow White or Cinderella come to your table to talk to you? You get plenty of photo opportunities with all the princesses.
  2. Castle Akershus is beautiful inside, just a fantastic building, a great place to eat your meal.
  3. While Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom is wonderful, if you happen to be on the Disney dining plan, it is also 2 table service credits per person, while the Princess Storybook Dining meals are only 1 per person, so basically half the price! Why pay twice as much to see Cinderella?
  4. New foods! Remember, this is the Norway pavilion, so you get a little bit of Norway with each meal. For lunch and dinner, the entrees are Norway themed. Don’t worry, you aren’t going to get stuck with a plate of pickled herring (unless you really want that), but you do get to choose Traditional Kjøttkake and Svinekotelett. Don’t worry, the princesses speak Norwegian and can translate for you. If you are a little afraid of trying new foods, stick with breakfast, you still get a little Norwegian starter, but the rest of the food is pretty traditional American fare.
  5. It is right next to the new Frozen ride, Frozen Ever After. While neither of the Frozen princesses appear at Princess Storybook Dining (yet), they are both just a short walk away. Please note, the Frozen Ever After attraction has not yet opened, but should open sometime in May, 2016.

What is your favorite Disney World character meal in Epcot?

Best quick-service restaurant in Epcot

Best Quick-Service Restaurant in Epcot

The Quick Service restaurants at Walt Disney World are the backbone of the dining options at Disney. Just about everyone in the park eats at one or more of them each day. In every other Disney theme park there are 5 – 7 options to choose from, but most offer very similar choices, such as hamburgers and fries. But in Epcot, there are quite a few additional options available, which makes choosing the best one even more difficult. With so many great options, it is really hard to narrow it down and decide which is the best quick-service restaurant in Epcot.

With the World Showcase area of Epcot, just about each “country” has their own quick-service restaurant, providing a wide variety of dining option for you to choose from. While I have my favorites, I make it a point to eat at others in the park, since they are usually quite a bit better than the quick-service places in the other parks. Since there are so many great options, I am actually going to include my top three quick-service restaurants for you:

  1. Katsura Grill – Japan Pavilion, Epcot: This is a bit of a strange choice, as the food at Katsura is decent, it earns its place in the top three due to its atmosphere. There isn’t anywhere in Epcot as serene as the Kasura Grill patio. I could spend a few hours there just relaxing. The lunch choices include sushi, udon, curry and teriyaki, usually a few options are available of each of those. I am a big fan of the chicken cutlet curry. My one downside of the Katsura Grill is the dessert options. They just seem like an afterthought. Green tea cheesecake or ice cream. A decent dessert could push Katsura Grill into the top 2, maybe.
  2. Tangierine Cafe – Morocco Pavilion, Epcot: Tangierine Cafe is my default Epcot quick-service restaurant, and has been for years and years. I have been known to skip out of free lunches at Disney meetings to run over to Epcot just to pay for lunch here. Not only is the food delicious, the restaurant is rarely busy, and I also think you get your best bang for your buck here too, whether paying with cash or using a dining plan credit. The Shawarma Chicken and Lamb Platter is a fantastic mixture of chicken and lamb with hummus, tabouleh, and tangierine couscous salad. My mouth is watering just typing that. While this may sound a bit too adventurous for some, trust me, the food is just fantastic. Again, the dessert is an after though which I rarely eat. They only offer baklava, and from what I remember, it isn’t even for sale, it is only available as a dessert if you are on the dining plans.
  3. Sunshine Seasons – Land Pavilion, Epcot: While the atmosphere at Sunshine Seasons is lacking, it is still my top choice for best quick-service restaurant in Epcot. Located in the Land pavilion, seating is in the open area of the building, surrounded by the entrances to Living with the Land and Soarin’, so there tend to be a lot of people around and plenty of noise. However, the food options make up for the lack of a decent dining area. Sunshine Seasons features several different “stations”, each offering a different type of food, and all of it is fantastic! You can choose from grilled salmon to spicy fish tacos to cuban sandwiches to stir-fry, all in one restaurant. This is heaven for a family of choosy eaters. Not to mention the kids meals are not the standard chicken nuggets and hamburgers, but you have options like salmon or a chicken leg. Really nice for kids who may be sick of the one option they like that happens to appears on every quick-service menu. Oh, did I mention the desserts? Sunshine Seasons is only rivaled by Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie in the France Pavilion when it comes to desserts. The Key Lime Tart is my favorite, but so many other options are equally awesome.

Sunshine Seasons Epcot

Well, there you go, my top three. However, please note, there are plenty of other decent options in Epcot in addition to these three. Hankering for some fish and chips? The Yorkshire County Fish Shop has great ones for you, but that is all they serve. La Cantina de San Angel has a fantastic outdoor seating area with great views of the World Showcase. The aforementioned Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie in the France Pavilion has great sandwiches and some of the best desserts in all of Walt Disney World.

Venture out, Epcot is a great place to find something for lunch or dinner that you might not get to eat at home.

Is the Disney World Quick-Service Dining Plan Worth It?

With the price increase of the Disney Dining plans yesterday, now is a good time to look at the Quick-Service dining plan, and whether it is worth it or not. Walt Disney World offers three different dining plans for guests who book a Magic Your Way package that includes your Disney resort and theme park passes. You can opt for no dining plan at all as well, though most people go with one of the three plans.

The Quick-Service dining plan is the least expensive of the three plans, and includes two quick-service meals plus one snack per person per night, plus a resort refillable mug for each person. Quick-service meals are typically akin to fast food, so hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, etc. You walk up to the counter to order your food and take it to a table to eat. A meal includes an entree, side, dessert and drink, and can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner inside or outside of the theme parks.

Currently, the cost for the quick-service dining plan is $44.13 for adults and $19.04 for children (3 – 9 years old) per night of your stay. You must purchase a plan for your entire stay, and everyone in your party must purchase the same dining plan, or no plan at all.

Let’s look at an average day for one adult and one child. That would cost $63.17, and include two quick-service meals for each person plus 2 snacks. We will leave the refillable mug out of the equation, as that only amounts to a dollar or two per night, depending on how long you stay.

Our family is going to get lunch and dinner in the parks, plus an afternoon snack. Let’s say they are in Epcot and pick these meals:

  • Lunch at Tangierine Cafe – Morocco – Adult lunch of Chicken and Lamb Shawarma Platter ($14,99), dessert ($3.99) and bottled water ($2.75). Child lunch of chicken nuggets ($8.99).  With tax, you get a lunch total of about $32.75.
  • Snack – Two Mickey Ice Cream Bars ($4.25 each). With tax, a total price of about $9.00.
  • Dinner at The Electric Umbrella – Adult dinner of French Dip Burger ($10.99), a chocolate cupcake for dessert ($4.59) and Pineapple-Coconut Slushy for a drink ($3.99). Child dinner of Macaroni and Cheese ($5.99) and a brownie for dessert ($4.19). With tax, a total price of about $31.75.

So, for the two meals and a snack I get a rough total price of about $73,00. About $10 more than what they paid for the dining plan. But is the quick-service dining plan worth it?

Quick-Service Dining Plan PROS

  • With the example above, you do save money.
  • The biggest benefit I try to explain to my clients is that with all the dining plans, everything is prepaid and budgeted, so you just show up and eat, no need to worry about the cost of meals, how much money to bring or trying to order the cheapest thing on the menu just to save money. Just enjoy, that is the idea of going to Disney World, isn’t it?

Quick-Service Dining Plan CONS

  • While you do save money with the example, it really isn’t a ton of money.
  • While the example is accurate, you may not necessarily order like that if you don’t have the dining plan. Not everyone has a dessert with lunch or dinner, so you end up ordering things that you may not normally include in your meal, negating the savings.

So, is it worth it? My suggestion to all my clients who are considering the quick-service dining plan is: If you plan on dining this way at the parks, then yes, go for it. It may not save you a ton of money, but the peace of mind has value too. If you are planning on mixing a few table service meals in there as well, then this may not be the right plan for you.