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.
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.
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!
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?