Disney Character Dining – Chef Mickey’s Versus Tusker House

Looking for a character dining experience at Walt Disney World?  Love Mickey, Minnie and the gang?  You have two choices:  Chef Mickey’s (Disney’s Contemporary Resort) and Tusker House (Disney’s Animal Kingdom).  Which one should you choose?  Both take one Table Service Credit on the Disney Dining Plan, both are similarly priced (Tusker House is slightly less expensive).  Both provide excellent character meet-n-greets with great photo ops.  Let me see if I can help you with a few pro’s and cons.Meeting Minnie at Chef Mickey's

Disney Character Dining – Chef Mickey’s Versus Tusker House

Chef Mickey’s Pros

Not in a Park – No park ticket required to meet the Fab Five in air-conditioned comfort.  Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto (dressed as chefs) make the rounds while you eat.  Because you don’t need park access, Chef Mickey’s is a very popular first and last day choice for many guests.

Easy to Reach from Magic Kingdom – Walk or grab the monorail!  Start the day with breakfast at Chef Mickey’s before heading to Magic Kingdom or take a break for a meal later in the day.

Pluto Fans Rejoice – If Pluto’s your favorite, Chef Mickey’s is a fantastic way to get a meet-n-greet with this lovable pooch.

Chef Mickey’s Cons

Very Basic Fare – Read:  Mediocre food.  Unfortunately, Chef Mickey’s popularity is more about the location and characters than the actual culinary choices.  If you’re picky and/or prefer pretty bland, meat-and-potatoes (or pasta) dishes, this may be a solid choice.  If you want more diversity in buffet choices with a few slightly more adventurous flavors, this is not the place for you.

Loud and Crowded – Big open spaces often full of screaming children.  It just seems crazy noisy to me all the time with lots of distractions.  Goes with the character-dining territory, I know, but Chef Mickey’s is extreme.

Tusker House Pros

Preferred by my Twitter Friends – In a recent Twitter poll I conducted with the simple question, “Which do you prefer?” and a choice between Chef Mickey’s and Tusker House, Tusker House won big (75% to 25%).

Convenient on an Animal Kingdom Day – Tusker House is a fun way to start the day and also a wonderful break for lunch or dinner.  Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy make the rounds dressed in their safari attire.

Delicious Flavors of Africa-inspired Dishes (plus plenty for less adventurous eaters).  I wanted to try everything, but had to settle for about a dozen different things to taste before I couldn’t eat another bite.  Our whole group of seven (included varying degrees of pickiness) walked away happy when we had breakfast at Tusker House one morning last year.

Daisy Fans Rejoice – She’s pretty special and if you want to meet her in a park, the lines are often very long (and cut off quickly).  In Tusker House, you’ll have her complete and undivided attention for a few minutes…very sweet!  I love her long eyelashes!

Tusker House Cons

Need a Park Ticket to Dine – Maybe because you have to enter Animal Kingdom to dine at Tusker House it makes it easier to get a reservation there than at Chef Mickey’s.  Seems to me demand is always higher at Chef Mickey’s.

Buffet Area gets Congested – This is basically due to nobody listening to instructions, but it happens anyway.  The hosts and hostesses explain up front that the design of the buffet is to encourage guests to walk up and help themselves to whatever looks delicious.  In reality, nobody does that, everyone forms lines.

Are you a fan of character dining?  Have you been to both Chef Mickey’s and Tusker House?  Which did you prefer?

 

 

Breakfast – Disney World Monorail Loop

On that rare (for us anyway) occasion that we aren’t planning to be at a Disney World park when it opens, we make time to enjoy a good breakfast.  Some of our favorite spots are near Magic Kingdom.

Breakfast – Disney World Monorail Loop

At the Contemporary – There are two places we favor:  Chef Mickey’s and the Contempo Café.  The breakfast buffet at Chef Mickey’s offers basic breakfast fare of all kinds.  Mickey Waffles, cereal, eggs, potatoes, pastries and more.  For a character dining experience, it’s a solid choice.  Meet the Fab Five and fuel up for the day.  We’ve booked Chef Mickey for our departure morning on more than one occasion – it was a great way to say farewell and end our vacation on a happy note.Meeting Minnie at Chef Mickey's

The Contempo Café is a quick service restaurant right next to Chef Mickey.  The menu‘s not huge, but for a decent price we can share the “Bounty Platter” and an order of cheesy grits (we love our grits in the South!) and be on our way.

At the Grand Floridian – Again, we’ve been pleased by two places.  One’s a sit-down restaurant and the other’s a quick service spot.  The Grand Floridian Café boasts a big, broad menu in a fancy, Victorian setting that’s still considered casual dining.  If our meal will be falling into the brunch-ish time frame, this is where we’ll eat.  We’ve found it easy to make a last-minute breakfast reservation no matter what time of the year we go.

At the Gasparilla Island Grill, the menu is very similar to the Contempo Café, but we’ll pass up the Bounty Platter here for a freshly prepared Croissant Sandwich…yum!  Note to other lovers of grits – don’t order them here.

At the Polynesian – There’s only one place for us and that’s Kona Café.  There are a couple of perfectly respectable quick service options at the Poly, but if we’re having breakfast at this resort, it’s going to be at Kona.  There’s lots to choose from – sweet, savory, lite, heavy – there’s something for everyone on this unique and delicious menu.  The Tonga Toast is legendary.    Added bonus for us – the grits here are the absolute best!

How about you?  Do you make time for resort breakfasts at Disney World?  Which ones are your favorite?

Disney World Arrival Day

Oh, the possibilities! The World is your oyster! What to do first? What will that Disney World arrival day bring? Let’s talk about the options, shall we?

Arriving the day before you want to use your park tickets – We’ve been fans of this in the past and I want to emphasize that time spent outside the four Disney World parks is not time wasted! Here are my top three recommendations…Raglan-Road-Irish-Dancers

  1. Disney Springs is full of wonderful places to shop and eat! And NO ticket required! Personally, We LOVE Raglan Road for that first night’s dinner…great food, music and entertainment. Just walking around the expanded Disney Springs is interesting and fun. Usually there’s live music and entertainment plus plenty of shopping and those magical Disney details to get you feeling all relaxed and vacation-ish right away.RM-Fort-Wilderness-Pool1
  2. Explore and relax at your resort. Swimming and other outdoor activities are great options. Staying on Disney property? Shopping, dining, pin trading even – all excellent choices. Some resorts offer outdoor movies and S’mores-making too! Think about it, you grab dinner and find a lounge chair in front of an outdoor movie screen to enjoy one of your favorite Disney movies before turning in…looking forward to kicking off the rest of your vacation the next day!Good Morning at the Grand Floridian
  3. Wander the World! Get the lay of the land at your own resort and then go exploring! Take a bus from non-monorail resorts to Magic Kingdom, then hop the monorail and check out the sights, shops, and grounds of the three resorts along the route. Make advance dining reservations (ADRs) for a character meal at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary or 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian. At the Polynesian Village Resort, you can’t go wrong with dinner at the super-popular ‘Ohana.1900 Park Fare / Drizella and Anastasia

If you’re headed for the parks, make some FastPass+ choices in advance and consider booking an in-park dinner to make that first day even more special. We used to make Magic Kingdom our first stop on every visit and back in the day, Cinderella’s Royal Table was our dinner choice. What could be more magical than eating in Cinderella Castle? The view is spectacular! Each park offers plenty of rides and restaurants to choose from – take your pick and kick off your vacation with tons of fun! If your family can make it into the later evening hours, end that first night with a show like Fantasmic in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Illuminations in Epcot, or Wishes in Magic Kingdom.RM-HalloWishes

Whether you arrive early or late, with first day park plans or not, there’s always a way to begin your Walt Disney World vacation in a special way!

What are your favorite first day activities? Do you have any traditions?

 

 

Chef Mickey’s Character Dining Review

Happy Saturday, Disney Friends!  Let’s talk character dining today!  When our kids were little, Chef Mickey’s was a must-do for every visit to Walt Disney World and I’ve recommended this fun chance to meet the Fab Five many times over the years.  Nick’s opinion of Chef Mickey’s is a little different than mine.  I welcome all views and opinions here and now you can hear about Chef Mickey’s from someone who prefers to enjoy his character dining experiences elsewhere.  What I want to know is this – How about YOU?  Are you a fan of Chef Mickey’s or do you favor a different restaurant?

Chef Mickey’s Character Dining Review

By: Nick

I’ve eaten at Chef Mickey’s twice in the last several years. Once with our Godson, Flynn, back in 2009, and just a couple of months ago with our friends Kandi and John and their kids Jazzlyn and Grayson.

 Me, Jazzlyn, Barbie, Kandi, Grayson, and John

I’m going to just come out and say it. It’s my least favorite buffet in Walt Disney World.

It’s not bad, but I have some issues.

Let’s look at the good first. The Fab Five, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Goofy, are here, and that is truly awesome!

 None of our Minnie Pics came out well!

They come around often and spend quality time with each table. Periodically, there is even an opportunity for kids and adults to cut loose with the characters!

The not so great?
The layout of the restaurant, which is located in the Contemporary Resort, is just odd.

Somehow, both times we’ve eaten here, we have been put up in an upper corner. This past time, it was a very dark corner.

There really shouldn’t be any dark corners in a character buffet, in my opinion.

Then, there is the food. It’s not bad, I just don’t feel it’s on par with other Disney buffets, with the exception of the desserts.

There are a variety of salads and a soup du jour, as well as sushi and pick and peel shrimp.

There is Mac and Cheese, Chicken nuggets, pasta and meatballs.

Some of the better items were the small individual dishes, such as the Braised Beef. The Lemon Pepper Chicken was pretty good also.

There are a few other seafood selections as well as BBQ ribs.

The carving station included turkey and beef.

The desserts include a variety of cakes, cream puffs, and cookies, as well as ice cream.

I can see why this would be a top priority for kids with the Fab Five, but I don’t recommend this buffet when there are so many other better character dining options, such as Crystal Palace and Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast at the Garden Grill.

Don’t miss any of Nick’s Disney adventures!  Follow along at the Disney Musings Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest. You can listen to Nick, our friend Dave and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about…well, you can probably guess.

Headed to Walt Disney World in 2016? The Disney Exchange Podcast will be having a meet-up in February during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend! Details will be available on The Disney Exchange’s Facebook Page and also on Twitter. We’d love to see you there!!!