I’ve mentioned before on the podcast that my son has a . . . conflicted relationship with theme park characters. He will watch them from afar with fascination, but doesn’t want to get anywhere near any costumed character (except for Stitch). In planning for the Universal part of our trip, I stumbled upon an article on TouringPlans.com talking about a new character breakfast at Jake’s American Café, featuring the minions from Despicable Me. Both kids are big Despicable Me fans, so as soon as I saw that there was a Despicable Me character breakfast – conveniently located right there in our hotel – I found a way to innocently ask Jon if he might want to have breakfast with a minion some day. He was excited at the prospect, so I went to book Breakfast with the Minions.
Where: Jake’s Café American at the Royal Pacific Hotel
When: Sunday mornings only
Price: $26.99/adult; $14.99/child
Food: Breakfast fare with a tropical flair, from both a buffet and a table service menu is included in the price.
The Minions were great. They interacted well with the kids and spent a lot of time at each table (which was fairly easy as the restaurant was probably only about 1/3 full for most of our breakfast). Mikaela had a lot of fun toying with the Minions with a banana from the buffet. And the food that we ordered from the menu was very good. Fresh squeezed juice was terrific, my omelette was perfectly cooked, and both Miriam and the kids enjoyed the Polynesian pancakes.
The whole experience was colored by a general sense of disorganization and confusion on the part of the employees at Jake’s and the characters and character handlers. Service was incredibly slow, despite the restaurant being largely empty. Our waiter – the same one we’d had a dinner the night before – not only didn’t remember us (which is fine, I really didn’t expect him to) but consistently called us by the wrong names, despite making a point of reading our name from the check-in slip. It took much too long for the characters to start coming out, and when they did finally come out there didn’t seem to be any pattern to their movements. They did spend a good amount of time at each table and interacted well with the children, but it was impossible to predict when they were going to make it to your table.
The buffet offerings were disappointing. There was some good fresh fruit, but the rest of the buffet consisted of rather unappetizing breakfast pastries and a couple of kinds of cereal. There was SUPPOSED to be a cool pancake making machine. But they never got it working. My daughter waited to order off the menu, because she was looking forward to making her own pancakes – but finally ordered after three assurances that the machines as fixed, only to discover when she went up to try and make them that it still didn’t work. Finally, and probably my most significant complaint, is that I reserved and paid for what was being advertised at the time as a Minions breakfast. But the first characters to come out – and for quite a while the only characters to come out – were a couple of rabbits from the movie Hop.
While the characters themselves did a decent job of interacting with Mikaela, of course Jonathan wanted nothing to do with them. And the fact that they came out first pretty much ruined any chance of character interaction on his part. He hid under the table, rather than allow one the rabbits to touch his arm. And while I was finally able to coax him out to see the Minions, his excitement to meet them was completely gone. And when the Minions came by the table, despite Mikaela’s fun interaction with them, Jon wouldn’t let them get anywhere near him. Had I known our breakfast was going to start with Hop characters, I never would have booked it.
Overall, the character meal at Jake’s Café American is a decent experience, with some pretty good food at a reasonable price for a character meal. But it was not up to the standards we’ve come to expect across the way at Disney, and you should be prepared that the characters who show up may not be the characters you expected when you booked.