doraBefore last weekend, we had been to exactly one character dining experience in the past seven years of theme park adventures and frankly it wasn’t a fabulous experience.  We don’t have fond memories of the event for several reasons!  The food was good but my kids were not impressed with the characters.  That is why I was wary when I first found out that we had a voucher for the character breakfast at Nicktoons Café in the Nickelodeon Suites Resort.  

For the day or two leading up to the breakfast, I mentioned the fact that we were going to have breakfast with Dora, SpongeBob and their friends.  They didn’t seem too concerned but whenever we saw a character around the Nick Hotel, my kids turned and headed the opposite direction.  I was a little worried!

On the morning of the breakfast, we arrived to see Patrick (from SpongeBob) taking pictures with fans.  Neither of my kids wanted to take a picture so poor Patrick had to pose by himself!  We were seated, ordered our drinks and headed to the buffet.  I was pleasantly surprised by the number of choices available.  There were SpongeBob shaped waffles, pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, cook to order omelets, fruit and more.  There was plenty for my children to choose from and everyone was stuffed when the meal was over.  Even though it was a buffet (which we readily avoid), we were all happy with our food.

Throughout the breakfast the characters do a dance, wander around the tables, and take pictures with guests.  After watching other kids, my daughter warmed up a little and was able to give Dora (one of her favorite characters) a big hug and a high five. My son? Not so much, but that is okay.  He was willing to stand with me and his sister to snap a quick picture with SpongeBob as we left the restaurant. 

Now that I have had a much better experience at a character meal, I can say that they are definitely worth the money IF your children love to meet the characters.  My daughter was thrilled with meeting Dora and she chose nothing but Dora shows for the next few days.  Here are a few pros and cons that we will take into consideration if we book another character dining experience.

Pros

Character meals are an easy way to meet the characters.  For the most part, characters wander from table to table and you don’t have to wait in ridiculous lines in the hot sun.

Though the meals are sometimes buffets, I have enjoyed the food at both character meals we attended and have been told the food was great at other character meals.

By attending a character meal, it is my opinion that I get a free pass when we walk around the theme parks.  I don’t have to wait in line to meet the characters when I could be waiting in line for one of our favorite rides!

Cons

A lot of character meals are buffets so if you don’t like buffets, you will probably want to check how the food is served ahead of time.

You must book most character dining experiences in advance (sometimes long before your trip) so it limits your schedule.

Character dining experiences usually cost more than a meal without the character experience.  Be ready to spend the money. 

Tell us in the comments what you think of character dining experiences.

Jennifer Close writes about her adventures on her family travel blog, Two Kids and a Map, and writes about exploring Pensacola at Pensacola with Kids.  

Thank you to the Nick Hotel and LEGOLAND Florida for hosting me.  As always, my opinions are my own and not influenced by any outside sources (except maybe my kids!).