What could be better than dining with your favorite Disney character? Dining with them dressed in unique outfits or costumes, that’s what!

santa_goofyMy husband and I first experienced Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine during the Christmas season last year. We LOVED it! Dressed in their Christmas best, we met and took photos with Mickey, Minnie, Daisy and Donald. While they didn’t sign autographs, you did receive a character autograph card with all of their signatures. What’s more, before you even were seated, a PhotoPass photographer was on-hand to take your picture with Santa Goofy in front of a holiday photo backdrop. The food was a nice variety of fresh salads, holiday favorites, soups, fun desserts and of course a selection just for those picky kiddos. That experience prompted us to book the Halloween version for our daughter’s 13th birthday. I’m sad to say we were a bit disappointed.

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The first difference I noticed was no longer did Goofy greet you and take a photo. The backdrop was still there, but no photo op. When I inquired, the Cast Member told me they found it too time consuming. The next change was now characters were signing autographs at the tables. While I am sure this made many people happy, I’m not one of them. I was expecting our little keepsake signature card, which they no longer give out and for characters to be able to swiftly meet, greet and take some  photos with their guests. Autographs take up quite a bit of time. We ended up spending much more time in the restaurant than we anticipated waiting to see each one. Mind you this worked out wonderfully because it was pouring rain, but had it not been, I would have been ready to leave and get on with our evening. Waiting is the nature of the character dining beast and I get that, but this experience was vastly different from how we previously experienced it and what I was expecting. PS, rumor has it that the autograph cards are coming back to this and many more Walt Disney World character dining experiences.

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The food selections, while named wonderfully with fun and creative Halloween themed titles, were just ok. Some things too salty and some too spicy. We did really enjoy the mushroom risotto and squash casserole. In fact I did request the recipe for the squash casserole it was so good! And bless them, they had pretzel rolls, I love a good pretzel roll! There were also quite a few seafood options, unfortunately we are land lubbers and were bummed the mac and cheese contained lobster. I’m sure many were ecstatic! Unlike the holiday menu for the Christmas meal, the desserts were the biggest disappointment. Nothing really special to mention and they were kind of sloppy looking. These were the best examples I could find to photograph. Maybe we just were dining with a rowdy, messy crowd. It happens.

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This experience is no fine-dining and I knew that going in, however, for the price they charge I think it fell short compared to other character experiences at a similar price point. At least the night we were there. Our server was slow to clear plates, in fact she didn’t until after we paid the bill which made the table very crowded and it took quite a long time to get our coffee. It was one of those nights where the automatically added gratuity bugged me a bit…and it never bugs me.

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We also made mention to her that we were celebrating a birthday. Now, I realize just about everyone is celebrating something at Disney World these days, but it truly was her birthday that day and we were looking to plus the evening a little bit more. In our experience over the years, they make a nice “big deal” out of it. Well, not this night. A birthday cupcake and card did come out, but as we were leaving our table for the night, we were standing and gathering our things. It’s a super cute card signed by all the characters and a nice memento. I’m so glad it made it’s way to us! She took a quick bite of the cupcake for luck and we were off into the storm.

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All on the positive side, the characters were amazing and responsive to the girls with Mickey making such a huge deal out of Hannah’s sharing the same birthday as the Magic Kingdom. Their Halloween costumes were simply adorable and if you aren’t heading to a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party during your visit and are on the Disney Dining Plan, this is a fantastic option to get in a little holiday fun. These girls had a blast, it was Mom and Dad who shelled out over $200 that were a bit more critical. 😉

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As we were leaving, the restaurant manager offered to take our photo in front of the Halloween backdrop which I thought was very nice and I am so appreciative! We didn’t ask or complain about anything, he simply dropped some magic on us. I really missed the PhotoPass photo op the most.

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This experience is a great use of a table service credit if you are on the Disney Dining plan and want photos with characters in unique costumes. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are truly expecting high-quality food, but if you like seafood, you will definitely be able to get your money’s worth at this buffet. We paid out of pocket which I think makes us examine the value with a bit more scrutiny. The girls enjoyed it, so we are glad we did it, but we won’t be back for Halloween unless we start reading some stellar reviews. Christmas was a delight, with a menu that appealed more to us than this one and we would certainly dine here again for that. I can always go for a traditional Christmas dinner!

 

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