Restaurant Spotlight Before & After: Goofy’s Kitchen

Today, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite places to eat in the Disneyland Resort – that also happened to be a terrific place to meet Disney characters… until it was changed last year. And I’m going to talk about what those changes mean for whether I still think this is one of the best places to enjoy a meal at this Resort.

This chef is no dog in the kitchen! He really knows how to cook up some good chow!

This chef is no dog in the kitchen! He really knows how to cook up some good chow!

I first visited the Goofy’s Kitchen breakfast buffet at the Disneyland Hotel a few years ago after a character-loving friend of mine had praised it as a great character location.

But I’d had another friend recommend the buffet here a long time before that for one special reason: peanut butter & jelly pizza!

Yeah, I know – it’s another one of those wrinkle-your-nose WHAT?! kind of things that it turns out is even better than it sounds. (I believe there is also a mac ‘n cheese pizza option but frankly, I just can’t get past the PB&J version to make room for that too – but every occasion, I think – next time!) Basically it’s peanut butter and jelly swirled on a warm pizza crust. And it’s glorious. This buffet is worth trying for this dish alone. My friend was absolutely right on that one!

But as far as the entertainment side of things, well, my character-seeking friend was also absolutely correct – this place was awesome for Meet & Greets as there was always a wide sampling of different types of characters, along with the regulars.

And the regulars were:

  • Chef Goofy
  • Pluto
  • Chip
  • Dale

But other characters I also managed to meet here during different meals included:

  • Alice
  • Baloo
  • Cinderella
  • Gepetto
  • Jasmine
  • Mulan
  • Peter Pan
Was Jasmine a showstopper here or what?

Was Jasmine a showstopper here or what?

The characters would make the rounds from table to table, posing for pictures, signing autographs, playing around with the guests and making for a very fun time!

Whereas Peter Pan made a different… but equally awesome impression on the guests!

Whereas Peter Pan made a different… but equally awesome impression!

Until October 2014. Which is when Goofy’s Kitchen seemed to have been taken over by the management of Chef Mickey’s from Disney’s Contemporary Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort.

And there was a reason I never felt the need to book a reservation there – or for almost any other location where the characters who appear at the meals are common ones who are readily available in the parks on any given day…

When this changeover happened, Goofy’s Kitchen went from being a freeform character meal featuring an always changing roster of “guest” characters to a set roster of ONLY:

  • Chef Goofy
  • Pluto
  • Chip
  • Dale
  • Minnie Mouse

Not only are these very common characters in all of the parks, but instead of having unique interactions due to the different characters who would appear, after this point, the same characters would at set intervals perform a march through the restaurant to the tune of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” in between their table visits. Guests were invited to twirl their napkins above their heads during this musical interlude. I’m fairly certain that it’s the same routine (or a variation thereof) that happens at Chef Mickey’s. So why would I need to do both? And frankly, I wasn’t really interested in Chef Mickey’s in the first place as it just seemed… generic. So to me (and my character-loving friend), Goofy’s Kitchen became a real loss for the character side since it would now be the exact same experience every time you visited.

Minnie Mouse in her post-changeover Goofy’s Kitchen outfit.

Minnie Mouse in her post-changeover Goofy’s Kitchen outfit.

Which meant that Goofy’s Kitchen went from being my go-to place to celebrate any occasion from birthdays to guests’ first visits – to someplace I felt like I never needed to go back to again. And this was very frustrating for me as I really loved this location. Not just for the great food – which was overall a terrific selection of every kind of breakfast food imaginable (including Mickey Mouse waffles and pancakes of course!) as well as a huge dessert bar and soft-serve ice cream station with toppings – but for the “never know what you’re going to get” excitement of waiting to see which characters you would encounter this time.

With the changeover, you knew exactly what you would experience – characters you could find any day in either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park – a repetitive march-along and napkin-twirling – and the food. So admittedly, I haven’t been back to my former favorite since the beginning of the year, because I was very disappointed in what it had turned into – which was as I’d feared, generic.

So recently, missing the experience of a fun, unexpected character meal, I decided to try one I’d never been to before and had heard mixed things about – the Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park at Plaza Inn in Disneyland Park. I say mixed because I’d heard the smaller food selection was just okay (whereas I really loved the food at Goofy’s and could eat till I was ready to burst) and that while there was a great selection of unpredictable character visits, that the experience there left something to be desired.

But it had been too long since my last Goofy’s visit and I decided to try Minnie’s. And all I’m going to say about it is: I never even got to sample the food choices there because I had such a poor experience all around that I left after a short while, asked for and received a refund, and would not return there again despite the good range of characters present. Your circumstances may vary, but I cannot personally recommend it.

Which brings me back to… Goofy’s Kitchen. Which I have been missing. And while I know it will never be what it was – a character cornucopia – those who are there are still delightful to deal with (even if they are always the same ones). I can pretty much guarantee at any character meal anywhere that Chip ‘n Dale’s antics will ALWAYS be able to make me smile. Plus… the food… and that peanut butter & jelly pizza!

Those chipmunks are always clowning around! In this case, being unable to find the correct way to wear my friend’s jacket and settling for – a nose-warmer!

Those chipmunks are always clowning around! In this case, being unable to find the correct way to wear my friend’s jacket and settling for – a nose-warmer!

So, despite the not-insignificant cost of this meal, and the serious reduction of the character appearances here, and the “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” napkin-twirling march which may start to get on my nerves after the third time or so… I think I’m ready to go “home” to Goofy’s Kitchen.

If Disney won’t make this experience different for the guests each time, I guess it’s up to me to find (or make) some magic here myself!

So save me a slice of that pizza, Chef Goofy, and I’ll see ya real soon!  (Though maybe just not quite as often!)

Have you eaten at Goofy’s Kitchen either before or after the character changes? What did you think of the experience?

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