If you have a little girl who is coconuts for Princesses - Where? How? Who? When? What?

Monday, September 16, 2013

If you are traveling with a little girl between the ages of two and eight, it is doubtful you have found a way to avoid the Disney Princesses. Being a huge Disney fan, I embraced the allure of far off places and big dresses early on and my daughter was well versed in all things Princess. She is now six and a half and I know that the timer is ticking on both her belief in their existence ("Mommy, do the Princesses REALLY live at Disney World? Are they just people dressed up?") and her enjoyment of their stories and skirts. Thankfully, Disney has added some pretty terrific Princesses into the mix with stories of independence, strength, and fortitude.

If you DO have a Princess fan traveling with you, it won't take long for you to see that they offer character meals with the Princesses. Getting one of these meals requires some planning and execution.

First things first.

Where can you dine with the Princesses?

Cinderella's Royal Table (CRT)

Dine IN the castle, overlooking Fantasyland. Princesses make appearances at all meals. Breakfast is traditional pre-plated family style, which is sure to fill your bellies for a head start on the park with very little need to stop for a snack before lunch. We like the caramel apple stuffed French toast. I haven't had lunch or dinner there, so can't really comment on those meals. Be advised, there is a scheduled refurbishment for winter 2015.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Located in Norway in the World Showcase at Epcot, this setting offers a similar experience for meeting the Princesses who like CRT, make appearances at all meals. We had dinner here on our trip in January 2014. I was a bit gun shy on introducing our kids to this style of food with an already very big dining distraction. OK, in all honesty, I didn't think the meal would appeal to my husband as much as the CRT meal and pleasing him is sometimes just as important.  The menu is not nearly as untraditional as you are imagining and has the addition of a "Taste of Norway" cold buffet offering traditional Scandinavian cold foods like meats, cheeses, and salads as a starter to your experience. My one criticism is that there is a side area off the main hall which detracts a bit from the experience of the meal if you happen to be seated there, as we were.

For our first trip with the kids, I made an ADR (Advance Dining Reservation) for the Princess Breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table the very first morning of our trip about three months BEFORE we even booked airfare. Meals start booking 180 days out and if you have specific things in mind, it behooves you to plan ahead and book early to avoid disappointment. Character meals do require prepayment with a credit card, but can be cancelled if your plans change. For us, a Princess Dining ADR seems to be the final step before we (and I mean I) dive full on into planning and making reservations and you know, general craziness.

Not only will your Princess delight in meeting the characters as she dips her bacon in maple syrup, but there is an added bonus to the Princess meal (beyond the photos with Cindy). Character meals at Magic Kingdom and other parks begin seating well before park opening, usually by an hour.

Check your Extra Magic Hours/EMH! If you are using this as a get ahead strategy, do not choose a day with EMH! You will be sitting down to eat while other guests head to Space Mountain.

If you have early risers (and even if you don't), book a breakfast as early as possible. You will gain early entry to the park, fill your belly while guests gather outside the gates, and as you wipe the corner of your mouth with your Royal napkin the park will open and you will already be beyond Main Street in Fantasyland.

Book those character meals as early as you can and if it is important to you, plan them in such a way that they can assist you in having a smooth and short wait at your first few attractions. Just as important as booking that breakfast is booking it for the right day. I'll show you how to tackle that mountain next time.

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