During our visit to Disney World last October, out first with our kids, I insisted we do at least one Character Dining Experience. There are so many to choose from at varying locations, times, price ranges, I decided to pick one in a location I knew well. Fort Wilderness, my childhood Disney stomping grounds, offers a fun outdoor character dining experience with Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.
Travelling to Mickey’s Backyard BBQ will require you to either drive to Reception Outpost at Fort Wilderness and get on the internal bus system, or take Disney transportation, either bus or boat depending on your location and transfer on to the Fort Wilderness internal bus system. You cannot park your car right at the dinner location.
Walking through Fort Wilderness was so nostalgic for me. Every corner had a memory from my childhood, camping in our family RV with my parents and grandma. Walking though Settlement Outpost store remind me of my brother and I spending hours looking over all the souvenirs we wanted and trying to decide which one to get at the end of our trip and of my grandma buying us the candy sticks and trying to narrow down all the flavours to one or two.
Fort Wilderness has such a calming and mellow vibe that you can’t find anywhere else in Disney. It’s truly magical.
Walking past Crockets Tavern, you will come upon the Fort Wilderness Pavilion where the BBQ is held. There is a small ticket kiosk where your dinner tickets will be scanned (We had ours printed upon check-in at our Disney hotel) and you make your way to the open air pavilion building. We arrived about 30 minutes early which was a tough wait for our 4 year old, but it was worth it because we got great seats close to the action.
It is worth noting that you cannot rush the pavilion and grab any old seat! You will be escorted by a cast member to your seats. There is 2 tiers of seating so you can pay a little extra to be right up front. Honestly, since it’s a BBQ and dance, every seat is just fine if you plan on getting up and dancing with the characters.
My biggest tip is this. Get your seat and get your food ASAP. Especially if you have small kids who are going to go bonkers for Mickey and the gang. The second characters walk in, your kid will have no time for food! So load up and pig out while you can because when the characters come out, it’s like Beatlemania in there.
The food was pretty good with lots to go around. Don’t be shy, just load your plate and enjoy it while you wait for the show to begin. Did I mention beer, wine and sangria are included??
After the band opens the show, the characters make their way in, our Penny was off like a shot dancing and interacting with the characters. I will never forget the look on her face of pure joy and excitement when she laid eyes on them for the first time! The character interaction was great and she was really excited to tell me that she danced with Minnie and Mickey.
When the characters move to the outside of the pavilion and the rope trick performer comes out, that is a good time to make your way to meet and have your picture with one of the characters.
Penny loved the rope tricks and we watched longer than I thought we would so we asked her to pick who she wanted to meet. From Mickey, Minnie, Goody, Chip and Dale, she wanted to meet Goofy and Chip and Dale.
We followed up our exciting meet and greet with dessert, Mickey bar for Penny and strawberry shortcake for the grown ups. After all that food and dancing, Penny was so obviously tired. We lined up for pictures with Minnie and Mickey on our way out and the poor girl was falling asleep on her feet! She decided that since she got to dance with Minnie and Mickey, it would be ok to head back to the hotel instead.
This was our very first character dining experience ever and we loved it! This was a real get up and move around kind of meal which was great for kids but a little hectic for adults. The look on our daughters face was totally worth it in the end. It was also so wonderful to go back to Fort Wilderness and have all of those memories for vacations past come flooding back. Next Disney vacation we will be Fort Wilderness campers ourselves and I couldn’t be more excited!
For our next visit we are looking forward to trying something different like Chef Mickey’s or Tusker House and bringing our son along too as he will be old enough to really take it in. What is your favourite Disney Character Dining experience? If you attended Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, did you enjoy it?
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