Character Meals: Vol. 1 – Cinderella’s Royal Table

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It can be argued that the number one reason to travel to a Disney park is to meet the characters that you love (of course anything can be argued, even if it’s flat wrong…but I digress).  One of the best methods of getting some alone time with Mickey and the gang is a character meal.  In the upcoming months I plan on writing a series of reviews covering most of the character meals available at Walt Disney World.  Following my upcoming trip I will have eaten at 2/3 of the available character meals in calendar year 2011 (what can I say, my daughter loves characters and I love meals).

My goal with this series is to give you a good overall impression of each of these dining experiences (and a healthy dose of snarky comments, of course).  Today I am starting at the top, with the most sought after (and therefore, most expensive) character meal:  Cinderella’s Royal Table.

Atmosphere

I’m starting with this because, in my opinion, this is much of the reason to splurge for this meal.  If you are unaware, this meal is held in the second floor dining room in Cinderella’s Castle, which is a huge advantage because who doesn’t love to eat in a castle (unless you’re in the dungeon).  At one point a few years ago, Cinderella’s Royal Table was next to impossible to book.  You had to call at exactly 7 a.m. exactly 90 days prior to your visit and I believe you had to employ some sort of voodoo doctor in order to get a reservation.  Nowadays the characters have been added to all mealtimes (previously it was only breakfast) and the price  has increased (try not to be too shocked), which has effectively calmed down the demand ever so slightly.

There are actually two stages you will encounter upon walking into the restaurant.

The Cinderella greeting area...and all the people waiting

The first is a greeting room in which you’ll find Cinderella herself (and this is the only time you see her).  The good news is that the greeting room is wonderfully decorated with shields and exposed beams to look very much like a castle’s great room.  The bad news is that it’s hard to envision yourself in a storybook castle because of all the other people crammed in there waiting to meet and get a picture with Cinderella.

Stage two is acceptance…oh, I mean the dining room (acceptance comes after you see your credit card bill).  The dining room is one level above the greeting room and to get there you go up a wonderful spiral staircase which opens into a vaulted, regal dining area.  The restaurant itself is fairly small with windows overlooking Fantasyland, and the overall impression definitely gives you the feeling of eating in a castle (well, at least a fake castle).

Characters

The meal that I attended was graced by Belle, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Ariel (Little Mermaid), and Snow White.  As I mentioned, Cinderella only takes pictures in the beginning, she does not come to the dining room (I’m pretty sure she thinks she’s better than you).  As always, the ladies were kind, gracious, and extremely pleasant.  Even though my daughter generally just stares blankly at “face” characters, they all did their best to involve her.

One other advantage to the small size and round-ish shape of the dining room is that the princesses seem to pass by very often.  Even times they don’t stop to chat they seem to always be walking by and waving or saying hi.  Of course, if you’re actually trying to eat and yet constantly taking pictures, you can end up with a fair amount of bacon grease on your camera…what, just me?

I do have a one character complaint, but the complaint is with costuming.  Belle is wearing her “peasant” blue dress with a white apron during the meal while all the other ladies are wearing their fancy gowns.  Not to go all Seinfeld on you, but what’s the deal with that?

Food

We ate breakfast in the castle, which is still the most popular meal judging by the quickness at which reservations disappear.  Throughout Walt Disney World breakfast is the safest, and therefore least interesting, meal.  I would estimate that 102% (+/- 3% margin of error) of restaurants serve the same breakfast.

I will say that the breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table is slightly more interesting than most because it is not a buffet and the presentation attempts to be a little fancy (with mixed results).  The downside is that there are only a few different choices.   In addition to the standard bacon, eggs, and sausage plate, you also have the options of either French toast or granola.  Like most breakfasts in the parks nothing we ate was fantastic, but it was not offensive either (I’m really selling it, right?  Sorry, I’m kind of a food snob).

Odds, Ends, and Details

Okay, let’s finally get the dirty business out of the way; the price.  According to AllEars.net, Cinderella’s Royal Table will set you back the following for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (adult/child):  $44.80/$29.86, $48.54/$31.11, and $54.76/$33.60. Yes, that’s per person, although the prices do include photos with Cinderella, so you’ve got that going for you.

One other thing that I should mention is that little ones get a special gift, which is either a wand or a sword (yes, they arm your children…watch your eyes).  Periodically the lights will sparkle and the enchanted (recorded) voice of the Fairy Godmother will ask the kids to wave their wand/sword and do something (make a wish maybe…sorry, I took this time to shove food in my face, so I don’t remember what the shtick was).

I hope she's summoning enough money to pay for this meal

Final Thoughts

One major advantage to eating in the castle (especially early in the morning) is that it takes a minimum amount of time away from park touring.  Being right in the middle of the park allows you to walk right out of the castle and right into Fantasyland which cuts way down on transportation time.  When you like to tour as efficiently (i.e. neurotically) as I do that can help a lot.

As a total experience, I thought eating in Cinderella’s Castle was a very good one, although not a cheap one.  Whether or not it is worth the money probably depends a lot on how much you can spend and how much you or your children like the princesses.  If you need a meal…if no one else can help…and if you can find it…maybe you can eat at…Cinderella’s Royal Table (yeah, it’s a A-Team joke…did anyone get that?).

As always, I welcome your comments, concerns, scorn, and personal insults.  Thanks for reading!

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Posted on July 25, 2011

37 Responses to “Character Meals: Vol. 1 – Cinderella’s Royal Table”

  • What is the best way to get reservations at Cinderella’s table? I know a few years ago we tried calling, 180 days in advance, and couldn’t get anything. Has that gotten any better?

    • For the most part, it is easier to get ADRs for Cinderella’s Royal Table, although breakfast is still harder than lunch or dinner. The easiest method is to use the online reservations system, which allows bookings starting at 6am Eastern Time(phone lines don’t open until 7).

      Of course, if you want lunch or dinner and are willing to eat a off times, you can get an ADR much closer than 180 days. For example, I just randomly checked for August 3rd (next week) and found an opening for 4 at 2:35pm.

    • My advice is to just keep trying. As Brian said, the online booking is probably the best way to go and easiest to see if you can snag an ADR. Just keep checking everyday, you never know when someone might and an opening could be available.

    • I was able to get reservations for Cinderella’s royal table online less than 3 weeks ahead of time! I kept checking during our week for reservations and they still had several a day so I didn’t feel a rush. I used TouringPlans as a guideline for which days to go to which parks and then made my reservations! We’ll be dining there next Saturday for the first time and are anxious to try it! It will be on the morning of our last full day and hope that it will be a perfect bookend for our trip! :)

    • Definitely keep checking online! A reservation popped up the other day for 10:10 a.m. during our stay. People are constantly changing their reservations around and you may get lucky if you keep checking!

  • While I agree the atmosphere is wonderful, we’ve had two dinners at Cinderella’s table, and the food was pretty awful both times. Even the pizza for the kids was bad. A real shame, especially given what they charge for the meal.

    • I didn’t care for the food either, we had lunch the last time we were there. For the price we paid, I thought it should have been better than that. Since my daughter isn’t into the princesses anymore, it won’t be a place that we will return to.

  • I really enjoy lunch at CRT. I think “Major Domo’s Favorite Pie” is one of the best meals you can find at WDW.

  • Re Belle’s dress. I’ve read elsewhere that her ball gown doesn’t fit between the tables.

  • We had the breakfast experience two weeks ago. I agree with most of your comments. The breakfast food while nothing extraordinary was good none-the-less. The tray of crossants, cinimon rolls, and chocolate muffins were very tasty. It should also be noted while not a buffet, they will bring you more of anything you want. Also while the price is high, you are paying for the experience. For most people this isn’t something you are going to do every visit and every visit could be years apart. It is not often you are going to get to be on the inside of the castle.

    • Agreed. We signed up for this one purely because I’ve always wanted to see the inside of the castle.

      While I appreciate the efforts of the authors of sites like this, I often wonder how much their perspective (as someone who goes several times a year) affects the relevance of the advice to those of us that only go every 4-5 years.

    • Another thing to note on the “all you can eat” aspect of it is that you can start out with one of the three breakfast choices, and then pick and choose from any of them for your seconds (and thirds). I always finish off my breakfast with the granola parfait (sp?)

  • by Stephanie Onofrio on July 25, 2011, at 8:29 am EDT

    I have not dined at CRT with my 2 year old yet, but me and my husband did go sans child once. It was very enjoyable. Cape May, to me, has way better food, but I really like the fact that they give you swords (which me and my husband used to poke each other through out the day) and wands (to hit each other with). And the picture came out pretty good. I’d pay for it again.

  • We had a lot of ADRs on our last trip to WDW and one of them was Cinderella’s Royal Table for breakfast. I have to say, it is pricey but I *really* enjoyed the french toast. It was by far the best breakfast I had in the park.

    Plus the extra attention from the princesses seemed longer than at the Princess Storybook Breakfast. Our son was made “Prince of the Day” when we came into the Castle that morning, so I don’t know if the princesses spent more time with him because of that or if it was a normal length of time. Honestly, it’s a place I wouldn’t hesitate to go back for breakfast. Good food, good service, and great experience with the princesses – I couldn’t have asked for more :)

  • I haven’t been to Cindy’s in 2 years, but will be there in about 6 weeks for dinner. Can’t wait to try the new menu! While I don’t care for characters, my 58-year old mother loves them (go figure). So she’s trilled! Also, if you have a TiW card, Cindy’s is not such a bad deal. After my TiW discount, dinner was only $46 per person. For a 3 course meal, beverages, and “entertainment” included, that’s not a bad deal at all.

  • All I have to say is- thank goodness I have a son! (at least when it comes to this character meal and its $$$). My 5-year old boy says “mommy, I don’t DO princesses” whenever the issue of one comes up. Whew! Because the Pooh and Friends meal at Crystal Palace was awesome! Of course, if Disney ever woke up and smelled the money, they’d make a fortune (and I’d go broke) at an “Eat with McQueen and Mater at Flo’s” meal at DHS!

  • by Debbie from Chicago on July 25, 2011, at 5:04 pm EDT

    What I have found over the last few years, having a now almost 6 year old is that the character meals are the best for not having to stand in those terrible outside lines to get pictures and autographs. I try to do a handful of character meals over our trips, Cinderella’s Royal Table is a must. Even if the food is mediocre I don’t care, my daughter is entertained, I get to eat. Bottom line for us. I get the dining plan, which when we first started was a little more worth it, but the prices keep going up and now not so much.

    • by Debbie from Chicago on July 25, 2011, at 5:09 pm EDT

      By the way, we’ve always done the lunch and love the pot pie. Also, if you go to the first seating for lunch and probably the other meals, your daughter my get chosen to lead the crowd as the honorary princess of the day. My daughter was chosen 2 years ago. Since Cinderella is now at dinner we are trying that this year.

  • I haven’t dined at the Castle yet, but my husband and I hope to take our son and daughter in the near future (btw, I checked online a few weeks ago for an upcoming trip in November and had no problem with availability for breakfast, lunch or dinner). Brian, I have to say that your writing style is hilarious and very enjoyable to read…I appreciate the info and the humor!!

  • Don’t forget the wishing star! (It is involved with the fairy godmother shtick). You can see it on the table by Brian’s daughter in the last picture. My daughter loves hers. Every once in a while she will say, “Where is my wishing star. I need to make a wish.”

  • We had a late breakfast on my daughter’s 6th birthday. It was magical; the food was fine and DD was enchanted. Totally worth the $$

  • Thank you so much for the review. My mother and I ate at CRT for dinner a few years ago and loved it. I’m now taking my 2.5 year old DD and DH for breakfast in a few weeks. We will be going during free dining time and reservations were difficult to get and I only started making ADRs 6 weeks in advance. My advice is if you do not see availability on the web call 407-wdw-dine. They were able to locate a 10am breakfast. They also found us a reservation at Mickey’s BBQ that I could not locate on the web.

    • To JULIE!!!
      Dont do Mickeys BBQ, its too hot, too crowded and too unorganized. My family and I went last year in May, I love love love everything Disney…I didnt love the bbq…we arrived very early to stand on a mass of people, it wasnt a line, just a huge mass taking up a blacktop entry way that wound around the entrance to the pavillion…it was very hot..there were people “cutting” in front with wagons full of children, when we finally got to the front we were directed to the very outside row on the far right of the stage (facing the stage), the beer was warm as was the wine (I dont drink but many people around me were complaining)…we couldnt by any stretch of the neck see what was happening on the floor stage and only caught glimpses of the raised stage entertainment…the food was bbq food, hot dogs and such, definately not worth the cost and travel time to get there…Oh, and when the characters do come out they stand in the squares painted on the floor, we THOUGHT we were at least lucky in that we were at the end of the table, so we would be near a character, NOT SO…we were near them, and the THRONGS of children and adults jockeying for a spot, a picture, a chance to dance .. well, we were bumped nudged and elbowed for the duration of our extremly hot meal…they dont have fans or any type of air circulation that I noticed…sorry if Im rambling…but I recommend the Hoop Dee doo ten fold over the bbq if you can get it.

  • I was underwhelmed by the breakfast menu and figured if i’m spending $50(+/-) then I’d prefer the dinner menu. I agree with trying for ADRs – when i first booked, 6 weeks in advance, the only time slot open for the whole week I was going to be at WDW was 9:30pm. not the easiest, as my 3 kids are young still (5,4, and 1). I kept trying and last week (2 weeks before trip), saw a 4pm and 8pm slot open up, along with a breakfast slot. I nabbed the 4pm and am quite happy, though truth be told, i still keep looking – in case i can get something around 5-6pm….

  • by scott gunerman on December 11, 2011, at 10:32 pm EDT

    Is Cinderella at the castle for the dinner meal?

  • Yes, she is there, you meet her beforehand, in the “lobby” for a picture….then you go upstairs to dine and she does not make an appearence there (at least she didnt last time I was there)

    • by Scott Gunerman on December 12, 2011, at 10:08 pm EDT

      Thank you Dawn…are there any other characters roaming around during dinner? For that amount of cash I would hope so…let me know!

      • Oh sure!..all the princess’ are there, the fairy god mother makes an appearence and the kids get little blue plastic wands or boys get swords…they do a little “show” .. its alot of fun I think..the food isnt really worth the money, but I do it every time I go (if I can get reservations) so I must really find it to be worth it…Ü ENJOY!!! oh, and dont forget you get the picture that they take at the entrance included in the price you pay…so all in all I think its a pretty good deal Ü definatley very cool

  • I’m entertaining the idea of eating here on our upcoming trip to WDW. My husband and I live in Arizona and are Premium Annual Passholders at DL, but this will be our first trip to WDW. We love the walk-through in Sleeping Beauty Castle and were really disappointed to find that there isn’t one in Cinderella Castle (or at least that we could find any info on – please correct me if I’m wrong!). It’s just the two of us (no kids), though, and I don’t know if the atmosphere would be worth the price for us.

  • I have two sons – 4 and 9 – no daughters. We’ve been to WDW 6 times, and have eaten at Cinderella’s every time. Even though it seems like the best place to take little girls, I find that the princesses pay extra attention to the ‘princes’. My 9 year old loves it that Jasmine always gives him a kiss on his cheek and calls him handsome. One time my niece was with us and got a little jealous that the boys seemed to get more attention than she did! If you have boys, don’t let it stop you from dining with the princesses! I don’t care who you are, there’s something magical about eating in the castle!

  • I have eaten at the castle and it was a great experience. We have always been on the deluxe dining plan and truly when every meal is a credit this one was not worth double. The kids wanted to go back and I asked them if it was worth twice as much to go and they said no. Ironically, it is more worth it if you are paying cash. Both Akershus and 1900 are awesome princess experiences and you can do both for the credits of the castle. They are not much cheaper though and adding the photo package to 1900 is going to make the cost even closer if paying cash.

  • We dined at Cinderella’s castle for Breakfast this past September and the breakfast menu was divine! They had lobster crepes, steak and eggs, eggs benedict, french toast, and your standard eggs, bacon, and sausage. they brought out pastries and biscuits and toasts too! the best breakfast we had in the parks by far!!