Arguably the sole selling point of this large double-floored restaurant, located at the Lake Disney end of the resort’s entertainment district, the Disney Characters will make their final appearance on 28th March 2017.
Instead, it directs guests to dine with the characters at Inventions, Auberge de Cendrillon and a new Plaza Gardens Restaurant buffet breakfast. This presents the smallest list of Character Dining opportunities in recent times.
However, the day after Café Mickey sees its last visits from Mickey and the gang, characters will instead to return to six Disney Hotels as an added perk — no dinner cheque required.
But what does this mean for the Café Mickey experience?
The restaurant is a popular choice to enjoy a meal, especially for families with young children, but with its largely unexciting American-Italian menu and otherwise fairly bland interior, the place has little raison d’être beyond the character interaction.
Last year, the menu was changed to a standard set menu of two or three courses, currently starting at €35.99. There will surely be no justification for continuing at these kinds of prices without the premium guests are willing to pay for characters.
Remove the distraction of characters and the design of the restaurant is also poor, showing its age in the early-2000s décor. From the outside, it’s an ugly hodge-podge of styles with various poor additions such as a cheap canopy extension to what once was a sleeker, minimalist building.
Beginning life as Los Angeles Bar & Grill in the Frank Gehry-designed Festival Disney, the restaurant made it to 2001 before being repurposed into Café Mickey in early 2002.
Removing the characters from this location will likely be part of Disney’s constant drive to ensure they remain a prized feature, appearing only in the correct kinds of environments.
Having them meet diners at Café Mickey means they’re viewable to non-paying visitors outside the restaurant, and could take away some of the excitement of seeing them in the parks themselves. By offering character meals in a resort entertainment district, the venue was quite unique in the world of Disney resorts; something probably not seen as a good thing under The Walt Disney Company’s new tighter control.
Whether the restaurant can survive at all without its namesake is another thing…