Welcome to Top Five Tuesday. Each week we’ll have a different DisDad give their top 5 on a variety of Disney subjects, ranging from dining, to rides, to Club Cool beverages… Hopefully we’ll be able to learn a little bit more about some of these subjects, but more importantly learn a little bit more about our fellow DisDads. I’ll be kicking it off with my and DW’s Top Five Character Dining Restaurants. Our rules were simple; #1: Only rate restaurants we’ve been to during a Character Dining time, and #2: Rate each on a scale of 1-5 for food selection/quality and 1-5 on Character experience/ambiance. We then ranked our top 5 from lowest total points to most. So here’s our list;

#5 Garden Grove Dinner: 4.5 Dining, 2 Character Experience, Total 6.5. The Garden Grove actually got our highest score on food alone. They have an extensive buffet, with options you wouldn’t normally find in a buffet. Unfortunately, the character experience got our lowest score. They only had 2 characters (Goofy and Pluto), and while they were very accesible, it just didn’t measure up to the others. We also thought we were going to get Timon and Rafiki (D loves the Lion King, so this was going to be great), but found out upon arriving that they were only available 2 nights a week (Peanut Butter & Beverly!). The location (Swan) also wasn’t ideal, and the restaurant had no real Disney theming.

#4 Tusker House Breakfast: 3 D, 4 CE, Total 7. Tusker House is great for a character experience. It has four of the big five Characters (Micky, Donald, Daisy, Goofy) and a fun interactive “parade” the kids can join in on every half an hour or so. The only downside is that they seem to rush the characters from table to table a bit. The food is standard breakfast buffet, plenty of eggs, tater-tots, muffins, etc. but nothing fancy. A great option for younger kids, especially if you need a sit-down break from Animal Kingdom in the AM.

#3 Cinderella’s Royal Table Dinner: 4 D, 3.5 CE, Total 7.5. The dining options are few, but were very well prepared at our last dinner there, and the deserts were terrific. This gets a 3.5 for character experience on the strength of the ambience. Cinderella was the only character available on our visit, and was m.i.a for most of the meal (which was actually preferable for me, as this was before DD was with us!), but eating in the castle in that setting was great.

#2 Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Breakfast: 3.5 D, 4.5 CE, Total 8. DD absolutely loved this one. The setting is great, and they had all of (I think) the princesses available for DD to talk to and take pictures with. The food was standard breakfast fair, and while it was all you can eat, it was served family style by the wait staff as requested, rather than being all out in front of you at a buffet. The food was tasty, but I prefer the buffet option. (Full disclosure, this rates high based on DD’s love of the princesses, anyone with boys who like the pirates may not enjoy as much!)

#1 Chef Mickeys Breakfast/Dinner: 4 D, 5 CE, Total 9. The whole family’s favorite by far. The buffet fair has always been very good at each of our meals, with a lot of options. The dessert choices are great as well. The character experience has always been incredible. All of the big characters (Micky, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto on our trips) and they seem to take extra time to pal around with the kids and make the experience even more memorable. We have more pictures of DD in full on laughing hysterics and smiles at this restaurant than any other, by far. And most importantly, they allow you to take the whole bacon tray back to your table with you, rather than make repeated trips… 😉

So that’s our list. Agree/Disagree/Hate it? Let me know below!

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