Review - Revisiting the Reopened Character Dining at Topolino's Terrace at Disney's Riviera Resort
Basically when it comes to hanging out with the characters at Disney, our family is all about it! Tallulah is such a fan and we love that every single character experience is uniquely different, even if you've visited that character 100 times. It brings such a fun element of surprise to any Disney day. Since character interactions look very different in the parks right now, of course for safety reasons that I'm thankful are in place, we decided to book a reservation at the first (and our favorite) character dining to open on Disney property to celebrate Tallulah's 2nd birthday.
When I say this is our favorite character dining on property, I'm not kidding, it has been bar none the absolute best character dining offering at Disney World. When we went prior to the closure, I seriously had only stellar things to say about the experience. You can read more about that experience in this blog post. The food was insanely good, the views are spectacular, the characters had the sweetest interactions and the tables are beautifully spaced out which makes for a very peaceful and enjoyable character dining experience.
In today's review I'm not here to bash anything. I know every industry is dealing with test and adjust periods right now as we all transition back, and Disney's character dining is working out those kinks too. I just want to paint an honest picture of our experience so you and your family can know what to expect and be best prepared for your adventure (whether you choose to take that adventure now or later). So without further ado, here are a few key takeaways from our latest Topolino's Terrace reopening adventure.
1) The menu was very different and the price increased (by a few dollars, but still, it's increased) - I don't know about you, but when a restaurant charges $40ish dollars per entree at breakfast, expecting the food to be fantastic doesn’t seem like an unrealistic expectation. That price point makes me think they’re very proud of their offerings. When we visited prior to the closure, this was absolutely the case. Since you pay per person vs an a la carte menu here, you can choose whatever entree you want from the list of offerings and everything is the same base price. The steak on the original menu was amazing and the other entree options like their quiche and the vegan scramble were also unique and yummy. Plus every table is served festive and fresh pastries before your entree arrives.
When we returned after the restaurant's reopening, the steak was quietly removed from the menu, and the waffles we ordered tasted very off. So much so that we stuck to mainly munching on the pastries and some bacon for our meal. ($80 for a few pastries and some bacon didn't feel too great, but we were there for Tallulah’s birthday and seeing her smile from being celebrated was worth it.)
Our server was fantastic and he had similar sentiments about our favorite entree, the steak and polenta, being off of the menu. He assured us that they're working to bring it back. I want to give the team there the benefit of the doubt since they had only reopened a month or so before we visited, but from a customer service standpoint, it seemed odd to increase the price while offering a limited menu and having those limited items not up to par. Tallulah on the other hand LOVED her little Mickey Mouse waffle dippers.
It was served on this adorable palette where she could essentially dip and paint the plate with the colored dipping sauces.
Plus, since they found out it was her birthday, they brought her a little madeleine with the restaurant logo in chocolate, which was a lovely little touch.
2) The characters took a lap (or sometimes two) around the dining area while waving and then quickly left - This part bummed us out the most. I understand that the characters can't come more than six feet from the guests, but I came in with the expectation they would just stand 6+ feet away from your table (which is definitely doable in this space) and let you take some pics and interact with them that way. We timed their lap because it seemed really quick, and each set was at most 5 minutes.
The saddest part of it all was that the characters seemed to just be going through the motions and appeared bummed to not be able to engage, which broke my heart (photos don‘t for that vibe justice). It seemed like they were directed to not respond to engagement most of the time which was definitely different.
There was a loss of energy and it sadly took away some of the magic. Mickey did sweetly stop for a moment for the birthday girl as he was heading out. I'm very thankful for that moment. It meant a lot to all of us :)
I have to say, it was nice to be able to see characters in close proximity though and get a few waves in for sure. Thankfully where we were seated they did a little entrance wave so I was even able to take some pseudo-posed pics from there, but a lot of the tables wouldn’t be able to see even that from their location.
3) The relaxed vibe was gone - As I mentioned before, the vibe in that restaurant is the jam, usually. This time, with the characters doing these quick laps, they play the same couple of bars of music per character for each of those five minute sets and it's a very high energy tune that gets pretty repetitive after a few moments.
Everything just felt rushed which was the opposite of how it felt in the past. It used to feel like a very European-paced meal before which we love when we visit, so we can enjoy every minute. Unfortunately that pacing wasn't really an option on our most recent visit. However, if you haven't visited Topolino's Terrace before the closure, and you're familiar with other character dining's pacing, it may not bother you as much, because the vibe feels more like Chef Mickey's.
All in all, we had a nice family adventure mainly because Tallulah had a lovely time, and she was who we were there to celebrate! We were just bummed that so many elements of the experience have changed. Our fantastic server brought Tallulah a sweet little signed postcard of the characters in their outfits to take home which was a very sweet touch :)
I have no doubt in my mind that this restaurant will be back to it's highest ranking character dining status in our books soon, I would just advise waiting until a few more of the kinks are worked out :)
What's your favorite character dining location on property? I'd love to hear in the comments section below.
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