When you’re on a Disney vacation, you have to eat, right?! But if you have a toddler or preschooler in your travel party, you may be unsure as to which dining locations are the most “toddler/preschooler” friendly. Well, today I want to share with you five of my recommendations for dining if you are traveling with a young child in your family.
1. Crystal Palace. This is located at the Magic Kingdom, on the left corner of Main Street USA as you round the walkway toward Adventureland. As soon as you enter the Crystal Palace, you feel like you are “outside” in the spring time. The decor is cheery-a lot of trees, greenery and skylights add to the “springtime” cheeriness of this restaurant. This location has reservations for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I feel like this is a toddler/preschooler friendly location because of the atmosphere, the buffet style dining, and the characters. There is a childhood whimsy associated with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and the rest of the 100 Acre Woods gang.
2. Garden Grill. The Garden Grill is in EPCOT’s Future World. This is a rotating restaurant, that will give you views of Living with the Land while you enjoy down home foods from the buffet. I think the slow rotation of the restaurant while you eat will give your young child fun views and keep them entertained. Also, the characters are typically Chip & Dale, Mickey Mouse, and Pluto. With only four characters appearing at this character meal, perhaps your little one won’t seem so overwhelmed.
3. Hollywood and Vine. Located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, your little one will likely have the time of his or her life with a breakfast or lunch reservation here. Disney Junior characters appear at this restaurant to sing and dance along with the kids in an upbeat, kid friendly environment. Special Agent Oso, the Little Einsteins, and Handy Manny are often here. I’d like to think they’d add Sofia the First to this location as well-I know my little princess would LOVE that! I recommend this for toddlers/preschoolers because they are more than likely familiar with many of the characters who appear at Hollywood and Vine. Meeting characters can be a little overwhelming, and it may not be so if they are being greeted by “familiar” faces.
4. Garden Grove. This location is at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel. Talk about a beautiful environment-you won’t even know you’re inside because of the park like setting. After all, there’s a 25 foot oak tree in the middle of the room! One unique aspect to the Garden Grove is their nightly themes for the buffet. If you check HERE, you’ll see that each night of the week there is a theme. That makes for easy reservation planning, and gives some heartier, unique options for the parents as well. I think this is a great location for dining with a youngster because only two characters appear during the meal, making it easy to manage and not overwhelming for your child.
5. Tusker House Restaurant. Spending the day at Animal Kingdom? Want to start it with a fun breakfast? Then you’ll want to check out Tusker House restaurant. Since this allows characters only at breakfast and lunch, it might be worth it to schedule a pre park opening ADR, or one close to park opening. This will allow you to take advantage of some great photos in an almost empty Animal Kingdom. This is a great way for your youngster to catch Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Goofy in one place. Since the characters visit tables one at a time, your child will be entertained while eating and waiting for the next character to appear.
What is your favorite Character Dining experience when you have a youngster traveling with you to Disney World? What tips to you have for other parents?