Many of you may know that recently Disneyland Paris changed their character breakfast offering from Cafe Mickey to Plaza Gardens, I was lucky enough to be offered a friends spot on their reservation during my recent trip for the 25th so I thought it was a good time to right up my thoughts on the experience.
Please do bear in mind these are only my opinions based on the experience I had on this one visit!
Our booking was for Thursday March 13th and was for the first sitting which starts at 8:15, there is a second sitting at 9:45 and you can book in advance up to 2 days before using the normal reservations line. Or you can pay in full to add it to your booking when you book your trip through Disney or a travel agent. Breakfast was €35 per person and this makes it the cheapest of the character dining experiences on offer at Disneyland Paris.
I made it to the park for just after 8 am on the Thursday and managed to spot Kelly and Clare just outside the entrance so we walked over to Plaza Gardens together, there was already a small queue forming for this mornings breakfast so we decided to get straight in the queue to get the table and our friends could join us as they arrived. With the breakfast you have to pay on entry before you are seated, which isn’t so easy when you’re in a large group, especially if the majority of the group isn’t there yet.
In the end we decided that I would pay for the full table and then we would sort it out between us individually afterwards. Before long we were seated in the conservatory area nearest the Discovery arcade and before long our friends had joined us.
The breakfast is a buffet and has a mix of both hot and cold options, which was a nice change from the continental offering at my hotel. I felt like there was more choice available than the old Cafe Mickey offering and was able to pick up things like Pancakes and crepes as well as the standard Bacon, Sausages, cereals and toast. There was also a selection of Hot drinks and fruit juices available.
For me the only issue with Character meals being a buffet is knowing when to leave your table! Of course this is no different than its predecessor but there definitely is a trick to knowing when to leave and when to stay sat. In an ideal scenario I would recommend aiming to get to fantasia gardens a few mins before 8 so that you’re one of the first to enter the parks if you’re on the 8:15 sitting, head straight to the restaurant to ensure you are one of the first to be seated and this should give you a good chance to get up to the buffet before the characters have arrived.
Once the characters come in they seem to split into 2 groups of 3 and take half the restaurant each, as we were sat in one of the further corners from the main entrance this did give us a bit of extra time to get over to the buffet and back before the characters began to reach us.
The first set of characters to meet us were Mickey, Uncle Scrooge and Daisy Duck, they were all great and spent a fair amount of time with our group and were happy to do pictures and autographs, in particular Daisy was a stand out meet for me she spent what felt like a lot of time with us and the interaction was really good especially with my Duffy and Shellie.
After the characters have been round the first half of the restaurant they pop out for a quick comfort break and then swap sides to meet the other half of the restaurant, this unfortunately is where things went a bit wrong for us.
The second set of three characters was Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger, I was particularly excited to meet Piglet and for me this was one of the main factors in deciding to try the new breakfast as he was the only Winnie the Pooh character that does meets in DLP I hadn’t managed to meet yet.
Eeyore came over first and was brilliant, he took pictures and did autographs, and I was getting really excited for Piglet to reach our table. Tigger was next to visit us, but I can only describe this meet as the most puzzling and uncharacteristic thing I have ever experienced at Disneyland Paris. To me, when I think of Tigger I think of him as being happy, bouncy, full of energy. Unfortunately the Tigger that came to visit us was pretty much the exact opposite, he wasn’t bouncy or fun, he wasn’t interested in signing autographs or even really posing for photos, we even had to grab him to come back after he tried to leave before meeting half of our table.
This was so disappointing, and really left us feeling quite puzzled, the restaurant was as far as we could tell fully booked, but all the characters up till now had given 100%, we were a big group but we tried to be pretty organised and get up for photos etc quickly, I can appreciate there’s a time restraint to get round all the tables, but it really felt like Tigger couldn’t be bothered with us.
Of course this just left Piglet to visit us, and although it wasn’t quite as bad as the Tigger situation, Piglet was clearly in a rush too, encouraging us to take one group photo rather than individual/smaller group pics, and making watch gestures at us to move a little quicker. This was a bit disappointing overall but didn’t entirely ruin getting to meet him, even if it wasn’t how i pictured my first meet to be.
I’m since told by cast members and friends of cast members that Piglet isn’t supposed to sign at breakfast, and this may explain why he was trying to rush us, however there was nothing to say we shouldn’t be asking and he could have refused. As you are seated there is a small card on the table with instructions for character dining, basic things like explaining that the characters come to you etc, I would suggest if characters aren’t to sign at breakfast this should be added in as I wouldn’t have asked if I’d known he wasn’t supposed to sign.
Overall I enjoyed my first experience of Plaza Gardens, the food was nice and there was a good selection, the bigger buffet counters in Plaza gardens made it easier to get up and get food without waiting too long, and the location meant there wasn’t a constant stream of people walking past and staring in at you while you were eating, which was definitely a plus over Cafe Mickey.
My only issue would be that either the sittings need to be longer to allow the characters to comfortably get round all the tables, or that they need to not book out the whole of the restaurant as the characters clearly weren’t able to get round all of the tables and give a consistent high level of interaction which you would expect for the cost, I’m sure the characters are no happier leaving people disappointed than we are being disappointed. In my opinion a 3rd sitting and not to fill the restaurant for each sitting would be an ideal resolution.
Would I try Plaza Gardens breakfast again? It might surprise you to hear that I do intend to go back and try again, it’s still a fairly new offering and hopefully if people continue to provide feedback changes can be made to improve, I do however think that character dining experiences are better for smaller groups so if I booked again I would ask for 2 bookings of 4/5 and ask to be seated near each other.
Have you done breakfast since it moved, what did you think?