Monday, July 23, 2012

Character Dining at the Disneyland Resort

The Disneyland Resort currently hosts five Character Dining experiences; there's one at each park and hotel.  Each one provides a different experience, food offerings, characters, prices and availability.  And did you know there's only one place to find Mickey?

1. Plaza Inn Minnie and Friends Character Breakfast
Where: Plaza Inn on Main Street, Disneyland Park
Meals Offered: Breakfast only
Dining Setup: All you can eat buffet
Price: $23.99 for adults, $11.99 for kids 3-9, Free for 2 and under

Characters: Minnie Mouse, Chip and Dale, Captain Hook, Rafiki, Geppetto, Max, Fairy Godmother, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit, White Rabbit.  No princesses.

This is one of my favorite Character Dining spots because you will have lots of interaction with the characters.  Engaging with the characters has never been an issue and I've always felt satisfied with the price I paid and what I got for food and entertainment.  The characters here are very playful with kids and even have fun with each other!  Here, I witnessed Tigger busting out some karate moves on Winnie the Pooh.

Food-wise, they have mini Mickey waffles, make your own omelette, potatoes, eggs, sausage, biscuits, fruit, cereal, French toast, and a selection of muffins and pastries.

The best thing about the Plaza Inn is that you really don't need a reservation, unlike Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Resort.  I've come for breakfast during every peak season simply by walking in and not having to wait.  There's indoor and outdoor seating.  I prefer indoor because it's closer to the food!  Another nice plus is that kids get a balloon when you're checking in and everyone gets a button.  

2. Ariel's Grotto Princess Character Breakfast and Celebration
Where: Ariel's Grotto at Paradise Pier, California Adventure Park
Meals Offered: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Dining Setup: Breakfast: sit down dining.  Lunch/Dinner: 3-course sit down dining
Price: Breakfast Indoor$34.99 for adults, $18.99 for kids 3-9, Free for 2 and under.  Breakfast Outdoor$31.99 for adults, $17.99 for kids 3-9, Free for 2 and under.    Lunch/Dinner: $36.99 for adults, $18.99 for kids 3-9, Free for 2 and under.  

Characters: Ariel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Belle, Mulan, Jasmine.  No Rapunzel or Tiana.  Only 5 princesses during each meal.  Only Ariel is guaranteed.

If you have a little princess, then this is the character dining experience for you.  Ariel's Grotto is a beautiful restaurant with an under-the-sea theme and is on Paradise Pier.  When your name is called for your seating, everyone in your party will meet Ariel and have a photo taken before you get to your table.

Guests eating outdoors will eat on the pier in the shade, but sometimes it gets cold during the evenings.  A plus side to eating outdoors is that it's cheaper!  Don't worry, the princesses still visit everyone so you won't be missing anything.  On one visit, we met the BEST Cinderella ever.  She was so sweet with my shy daughter and really got her to open up.

If you have kids under 3, they can choose from a plate of spaghetti or mac n cheese for FREE.  That's right, they get an entire meal FREE.  It's one of the best perks about Ariel's Grotto that's hardly mentioned.

Free meal for kids under 3
The food here is spectacular and is home to the best garlic mashed potatoes I've ever had in my life.  You start with a trio platter of fruit, meats, and salad.  Then you get your entree followed by a dessert platter.  There's something for everyone.

3. Chip 'n Dale Critter Breakfast
Where: Storyteller's Cafe, Grand Californian Hotel
Meals Offered: Breakfast
Dining Setup: All you can eat buffet and order off the menu
Price: Buffet: $23.99 for adults, $11.99 for kids 3-9, Free for 2 and under

Characters: Chip and Dale, Meeko, Turk, Brer Bear, Koda, Kenai.

Character-wise, this one is hit and miss.  I personally feel there aren't enough characters to go around and if you're not with a Disney guru, you may not know all the characters.  I've seen time after time that other guests or members from my own party don't know who Koda or Kenai are.  I know the theme is that it's a critter breakfast, but they could add Pluto or Marie.  Meeko has been our favorite here since he's super playful and likes to play games with everyone.

Food-wise, this one is great!  Good service from Cast Members and I love the option of a buffet and ordering off the menu.  Sometimes I'm just not that hungry and don't want to pay the buffet price so it works out perfectly for me.  If you're a Mickey waffle fan, know that you can order the large waffle off the menu or if you opt for the buffet, you can get a place of fresh waffles from your Cast Member.  It's nice that you don't have to grab waffles from a heater if you go the buffet route.  Nothing beats fresh Mickey waffles!

4. Goofy's Kitchen
Where: Disneyland Hotel
Meals Offered: Brunch and Dinner
Dining Setup: All you can eat buffet
Price: Buffet: $23.99 for adults, $11.99 for kids 3-9, Free for 2 and under

Characters: Goofy, Baloo, Pluto, Mulan, Snow White, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Chip and Dale, more.

Located at the Disneyland Hotel, Goofy's Kitchen is open to everyone, you don't have to a be a guest of the hotel.  It's a popular spot, so I recommend making a reservation for your visit.  If you're looking to avoid the crowds, visit during an off hour like 2:00 for lunch.  

There are usually characters roaming around outside the restaurant which is a great teaser to get folks in the door.  When your party's name is called everyone gets a picture with Chef Goofy.  If you have kids who don't want characters to stop by the table, ask the Cast Member checking you in for a red balloon.  That signals the characters to not visit your table.  If your kid just wants a balloon, you can buy a pink or blue balloon for $1.50 (the same balloon you get free at Minnie and Friends Character Breakfast).

Once inside, there's lots of food to choose from including Peanut Butter & Jelly pizza!  Yes, quite an interesting combination.  My personal favorite is the BBQ Chicken Pizza.

There's a buffet table with kids choices like hot dogs, chicken nuggets, little Mickey waffles, pizza, and macaroni.  Overall, there's a good selection of food but I feel that depending on where you're seated, your character experience will vary.  Once we sat near a walkway to the food buffet and had a lot of character interaction.  The next time we set in a booth near the entrance and hardly had any visits.  We had to actually flag down characters so my daughter could see them. 

5. Surf's Up Breakfast with Mickey
Where: Paradise Pier Hotel
Meals Offered: Breakfast
Dining Setup: All you can eat buffet
Price: Buffet: $25.99 for adults, $13.99 for kids 3-9, Free for 2 and under

Characters: Mickey, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, Chip and Dale.

This is the only character dining that features Mickey (in beach gear!).  If you happen to stay at the Paradise Pier Hotel, then you should take advantage of that and meet Mickey here.  Otherwise, the hotel is quite a walk from the parks and Downtown Disney.

Food-wise, it's a standard breakfast buffet selection but they do offer a few unique items: Banana Caramel French Toast, flat breads and smoothies!  

And if you're celebrating a birthday, they have a cute Mickey cupcake for the birthday girl/guy.  Oh, and the balloons here are free.

And there you have it!  The complete list of Character Dining experiences at the Disneyland Resort!  Which one is your favorite?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

SPECIAL EDITION Disneyland Scavenger Hunt: Main Street


I have to start this posting with a big thank you to everyone who 'Liked' the 400 Miles to Disneyland Facebook page and helped reach 50 'Likes'!!!!  

As a special thank you for reaching 50, here is a Special Edition Disneyland Scavenger Hunt for Main Street -- an entire hunt dedicated to Main Street.  Think you know every nook and crany?  Put yourself to the test!


Monday, July 9, 2012

50 Likes = Special Edition Scavenger Hunt

I just took a look at my Facebook 'Likes' count and I'm at 47 this morning.  

Help me reach 50 and I'll post a Special Edition Scavenger Hunt for Main Street.  

This is dedicated Scavenger Hunt for Disneyland's Main Street, USA testing your eagle eye for every nook and cranny.

Come on and 'Like' 400 Miles to Disneyland on Facebook.  :-)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Beware the Disneyland Photo Bombers!

Family photographers, beware!  Photo bombers have been identified at Disneyland.  Before you snap that would-be-special photo, you need to do a quick surveillance of the area.

Photo bombers (PB) come in all shapes and sizes.  Refer to your field guide below.

PB #1: The solo girl on the bridge.  They make it their point to ruin a couple's engagement photo.

PB #2: The husband.  He says he loves you.  But he still manages to ruin this cute girls-only photo when you told him to stay out.  And he did it with a churro in each hand.

PB #3: The brother.  You always knew your little brother was a trouble maker.

PB #4: The annoying guy in front of you.  Let me tell you a story on this one.  My husband, his sister and I were planning out a great Splash Mountain photo by pretending we were on our phones.  We said I'd lean left, his sister would lean right, and my husband would lean left.  That way we'd all be in the picture.  But we didn't count the annoying guy in front of us to sit standing tall like he was at an interview trying to show off how straight he could sit.  His face isn't even reacting to the drop!  Is he even awake?!  When we saw our pictures, the guy even said, "Oh how funny, look how they were pretending to be on their phones." but didn't apologize for photo bombing it!  If I ever seen him again, I will photo bomb his photos X2!

PB #5: Your cousin.  You try to take a birthday picture of your husband only to have your cousin drop her face in it.  Be sure to do a 360 view to make sure no one's going to jump out.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Disneyland Rituals

Welcome to those of you joining me from Can Do It Mom AKA Mouse Fan Diane and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the final stop on our Magical Blogorail.

July Topic: What are your Disney rituals?

Gosh, when it comes to Disneyland I feel like I have so many!  Here's a run down of my top 5...

1. Take a photo on the castle bridge where my husband proposed to me.  I started this tradition when we brought my daughter for her first trip and it's something I just kept going and she can see how much she's grown in between trips.  

2. Eat a clam chowder bowl in New Orleans Square.  No Disneyland trip is complete unless I get my chowder.  It's the best in the entire world.  Seriously.

3. Explore Tarzan's Treehouse.  This is one of my daughter's favorite attractions and she loves going up and down the treehouse.  If she could, she'd stay there all day.

4. Have breakfast at Carnation Cafe.  I like me some Mickey waffles.

5. Search for new and rare Vinylmations.  I'm not a Vinylmation collector but my husband is.  And since he only joins our Disneyland trips 1-2 times a year, I always keep my eye out for him on anything that's new and rare.

Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Peach this month. We will be back in August with an all new theme. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stopalong the way and want to reboard:

Final Stop ~ 400 Miles to Disneyland (You are here)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 2012: Monthly Disneyland Photo Scavenger Hunt List

The July Scavenger Hunt list is here...and updated with Cars Land and Buena Vista Street finds!

This month's hunt has a snap shot of the item you're tasked to find in each land. Once you find it, snap a photo with it as proof that you found it.  Don't forget to click the image to enlarge and print.


Need to find the rules to the Photo Scavenger Hunt? Visit the tab at the top of this blog for a printable Rules page.

Print out your list and go hunting for the items on your next Disneyland/California Adventure visit. If you’re stuck on something, let me know and I’ll be happy to provide a clue.

Good luck and have fun!
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