Chef Mickey'sby Steve Russo, staff writer
What crosses your mind when someone mentions breakfast? Maybe you think of ladling dollops of pancake batter on to a griddle; or maybe it’s the sound or smell of bacon sizzling in a skillet; or possibly something as simple as a bowl of Special K or a piece of fresh fruit. If you’re like me, you may think about building your own Grand Slam at Denny’s for $6.99. So sue me: I like building things.
Whatever it is you do think of, what you probably don’t think about is spending $26 to have your eggs, juice, and coffee with two mice, two dogs, and a duck. However, if that sounds like something you’d like to do, welcome to breakfast at Chef Mickey’s!
I recently had breakfast with Mickey and the gang and thought it might be time to provide some insights into what Chef Mickey's is all about and whether it might be something you’d want to consider for you and yours. In short, the question I’ll try to answer for you is “Is it worth it?” While Chef Mickey’s is also open for a buffet dinner, I’ll focus this review on breakfast only—that’s where I have my experience. While this will be a review of sorts of the experience, it will not be a food review. The last thing I want to get into is the quality of the breakfast pizza, the pulp level in the orange juice, the crispness of the bacon or the freshness of the fruit.
First, let me offer some details. Chef Mickey’s is a restaurant located on the fourth floor concourse of the Contemporary Resort. How do you get there? If you have a car, and an Advanced Dining Reservation, drive. Be aware that you may be asked for your name and have your reservation validated by the parking guard. This is done to deter those cheap so-and-sos that try to park at the Contemporary so they can enter the Magic Kingdom without having to pay to park at the Transportation and Ticket Center. A pox on them!
If you don’t have a vehicle, the simplest way is to bus to the Magic Kingdom and then walk or ride the resort monorail to the Contemporary. Obviously, if you’re coming from another monorail resort (either the Grand Floridian or the Polynesian) simply ride the monorail. I guess you could also ride the monorail from Epcot to the TTC and there’s a boat from the Wilderness Lodge and… you see where this is going, don’t you? I’m pretty sure I’ve already written a column about Getting Around at Disney World so you can reference that if you need directions.
The restaurant is open and noisy. You’ll be aware of the goings-on as soon as get to the fourth floor—sooner if it happens to be a particularly bustling crowd in there—or you manage to arrive during singing / dancing / twirling your napkin time. Things can get downright boisterous then.
Breakfast at Chef Mickey’s is very popular so you will probably need to have an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR). You could certainly try for walk-up seating, and you might get lucky, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless travel there is not an issue. Otherwise, it’s a long way to go to be disappointed. Breakfast will currently set you back $26.62 for adults (that’s age 10 and up) and $13.99 for children aged 3-9. Like many buffets on property, these prices are apt to increase “seasonally”—during the more busy times of the year.
For that inflated price, you’ll get unlimited juice, milk and/or coffee (and other soft beverages) and the chance to fill and refill your breakfast plate at several buffet stations. The stations and items available include:
- A Premium Fruit Bar (Seasonal Melon and Fresh Fruit, Flavored Yogurts and more);
- Cereal Selections (Corn Flakes, Fruit Loops, Rice Krispies, Hot Oatmeal);
- Breakfast Specialties (Pluto's Cheese Blintz, Scrambled eggs, Three-cheese Omelet, Chef's Daily Omelet, Goofy's Vegetable Lasagna, Mickey Mouse Waffles, Bacon and Cheese Potatoes, Breakfast potatoes, Minnie's Breakfast Pizza, Powder-Sugar Dusted French Toast and Pancakes);
- Side Dishes (Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy, Sausage Links and Bacon, Tator Crisps, Cheese Potatoes);
- Pastries (Bagels, Chocolate Croissants, Muffins, Cinnamon Rolls, Rice Krispy Treats, Assorted Danish and more).
See anything you like?
Now there’s nothing wrong with the food here. In fact, some of it is very good, and I really appreciate the variety. I have a problem with most buffets, in that I tend to overeat at them, and Chef Mickey’s is no exception. A breakfast I really enjoy is eggs, sausage, home fried potatoes, and toast and I will have that here. The problem is that I also enjoy some fresh melon, cottage cheese, and yogurt—so I’ll also have a plate of that. Thankfully by then I’m too full to go near the Pastries section.
Something else I enjoy about Chef Mickey’s is the attentiveness of the servers. Whenever you return from a trip to the buffet, you can expect that any previous plates will have been quietly cleared away from your table. The wait staff is also excellent at keeping your beverages refilled. One of the things I truly enjoy is being able to get more than a single 4-ounce glass of orange juice with breakfast, and if you’re a coffee drinker they typically leave a full insulated carafe at your table—another nice touch.
So… it’s an overpriced breakfast with food and drink that’s pretty good, and unlimited. I’ll bet you’re still not sold. Let me walk you through the process. Assuming you’ve done your due diligence and secured an ADR, you should show up at Chef Mickey’s podium a few minutes before your seating time. A cast member there will check you in and offer you a pager with an admonition to stay nearby. I would also suggest you try to keep your party together for the next steps.
In a few minutes, your pager will vibrate and flash and you’ll be directed to the side where you and yours will pose with a statue of Chef Mickey. This is the “money shot” because, at some time during breakfast, someone will deliver a package of photos to your table, which you can purchase for $31.95. Yes, that’s $32 for photos of the people sitting across from you right now—likely the same folks you’ve been snapping photos of all morning. Still not sold, huh?
Here’s the reason you might overlook the inflated cost, additional noise and general mayhem of Chef Mickey’s: during breakfast, you will be visited at your table by the Fab Five. Who, you might ask, are the Fab Five? I’m not talking Paul, John, George, Ringo and… Pete Best. I’m talking the Disney Fab Five (or the previously mentioned two mice, two dogs and a duck): Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald and, the big cheese his own self, Mickey! They will take turns coming to your table and spend some quality time with you… dancing, posing for photos, signing autographs and having some fun interacting with you and yours.
Does that make it worth $26 for some scrambled eggs and sausage? Maybe not, but it does come closer. If you have children… wait… that doesn’t matter. If you have children, or even if you don’t, and you find yourself standing in lines in the theme parks for the purpose of a meet and greet with the characters, here’s a chance to get the same interactions, photos and autographs without waiting. Heck, without leaving your table.
Is it worth it? I know you’re expecting my typical non-committal answer of “It depends” or “It’s up to you." This time I’ll surprise you and say, “No. it isn’t worth it.” And I say that after having dined there twice. Here’s my reasoning… Would I ever pay $26, plus tax and tip, for breakfast? Not likely. It’s too easy to get a reasonable breakfast elsewhere, even (dare I say it?) on Disney property. I would say that maybe (and I emphasize the word “maybe”), the buffet breakfast is worth half the price of admission – let’s say $13. That means you’re paying $13 to have the characters come to your table. Is that worth $13? Again, in my opinion, it’s not.
You can argue with me here (and I expect a few of you to do just that.) It’s certainly a debatable stance. The next question would be “Would I do it again?” and the answer to that, as paradoxical as it seems, is “Yes”. I’m certain we’ll be back with our grandchildren, a few of whom haven’t yet been born, and we’ll take them to Chef Mickey’s because it’s loud, it’s fun, and it has good food— but mostly, it has the chance to meet up with the Fab Five. I know it won’t be worth the cost, but sometimes, that’s not the most important thing.