If you have young children or even not so young children, a character meal can be great fun. It gives everyone the chance to interact with their favourite cartoon, television and movie characters with photo opportunities and the chance to get autographs whilst enjoying either a buffet style breakfast, lunch or evening dinner meal.
If you are celebrating an anniversary or a birthday, then a character meal can turn the day into a very special occasion.
The characters will all come to your table so you don't have all the hassle of queuing up as is often the case outside in the parks. Having had to stand through five performances of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to get all their signatures, take our word for it!
Disney is probably best known for character breakfasts and character meals but you can also have a character meal at other Central Florida theme parks like Universal Studios, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens as well as some Orlando hotels such as the Nickelodeon Suites Resort and the Hilton Orlando Resort in Downtown Disney.
Bear in mind that if you are going to a character meal inside one of the theme parks (as opposed to those in hotels), then you will also need to purchase a theme park admission ticket.
Character meals are very popular so it always advisable to make a reservation. Prices vary by restaurant but expect to pay around $15 to $20 per adult for a character breakfast buffet ($10 to $16 for children aged 3 to 9). Lunches and dinner time meals (if offered) will be more expensive, as much as $60 at the more exclusive venues like Cinderella's Royal Table Dinner.
If you wish to go to a character meal at one of the hotels, some operators offer a combined character meal with stretched limo transportation to and from the hotel.
Don't forget to keep your camera or video to hand for when the characters appear and if you have young children, buy them an autograph book as they will love to get autographs from their favourite characters.
Walt Disney World
At the Walt Disney World Resort you are spoilt for choice when it comes to character meals with over a dozen different venues including each of the four main theme parks plus quite a few of Disney’s own resort hotels.
Each character meal offers a different theme so if your children are mad on one particular Disney character, make sure you go to the right meal!
The Confisco Grille restaurant at Universal Islands of Adventure’s hosts a character breakfast a couple of mornings a week (Thursday through Sunday) including Spiderman and Cat in the Hat.
The Universal Resort hotels also offer character dining on selected evenings at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel (Wednesday and Saturday), the Portofino Bay Hotel (Friday) and the Hard Rock Hotel (Saturday).
As part of Universal's Grinchmas, there are also character dining experiences during the Christmas season.
During their Halloween celebrations, SeaWorld put on a character meal buffet called "Count Von Count Spooktacular Breakfast" with Count Von Count Elmo and his friends from Sesame Street at the Seafire Inn at the Waterfront.
At Busch Gardens as part of their new Sesame Street Safari of Fun, there is the buffet style "Dine with Elmo and Friends" breakfast or lunch.
Enjoy a great meal in the company of some of your favourite Sesame Street characters including Elmo, the Cookie Monster and Big Bird.
Nickelodeon Suites Resort
If your children like characters like Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents, then the Nickelodeon Suites Resort offer a character breakfast.
As an alternative to a character meal, Florida also offers a whole host of themed dinner shows, most of which are suitable for the whole family and a few for adults only. There are also the themed restaurants like Planet Hollywood and the Rainforest Cafe.