Just over a year ago I was fortunate enough to stay at Disney's Beach Club. Prior to this trip, my only other deluxe resort experience had been at Polynesian Village. It was a tough act to follow, because the relaxing vibe and brightly colored resort won my heart over. Disney's Beach Club is somewhat similar to Disney's Grand Floridian Resort; but on a much smaller scale. It's also not as stuffy as Grand Floridian in that it has a decisive relax and intimate feel to it. If you're visiting Disney World during Food & Wine or Flower & Garden and traveling with kids, this is a great resort to stay at. Disney's Yacht Club feels more appropriate for couples or groups with older kids with it's more upscale and elegant design. However, Beach Club is certainly great for little ones especially because of Minnie's Beach Bash Breakfast at Cape May Cafe.
Just last month, I enjoyed Disney's Beach Club for the second time and revisited Cape May Cafe for breakfast. Specifically to report back on those interested in character meals near Epcot. So let's begin with first impressions. This buffet restaurant is tucked away on the right when you enter the lobby of the resort. You'll certainly find it when you start to get the not-so-subtle smell of seafood. At night, this restaurant is a seafood buffet without characters. But even in the early morning hours, each time I visit, I am hit with that seafood smell right away. I won't lie to you, it's off putting and while the rest of the experience gets better, I can never shake this off. Once you sit down and start eating, it will disappear slightly. I don't find it to be so strong that I'm sick to my stomach or can't eat, but nonetheless it's never a great first impression.
On the flip side, both times I've dined here for breakfast the restaurant has been deserted. This could be that on this recent visit, I was at the parks a week or so after the start of the new year. Crowds were exceptionally thin. I won't suggest that it's easy to just do a walk-up without a reservation at this restaurant, but if it's a lighter time in the year, you may be able to. Either way, getting a reservation here seems easy enough, even at the last minute.
The dining room is dotted with charming, turn-of-the-century beach decor. The columns are wrapped with croquet mallets, beach chairs are hung from the walls and there are brightly colored murals around the dining room. There's also some cool sand castles incased in glass. The space is very open. In fact, an open hallway that connects Beach Club to Yacht Club encompasses the outside of the restaurant. It's very easy to get a peak of this restaurant from the outside. Despite this being an open dining room, it still feels rather intimate inside Cape May Cafe. Breakfast felt like a well-paced inviting experience but still full of fun when the characters come by. Which brings me to my next point...
Cape May Cafe's breakfast buffet features Donald, Goofy and of course Minnie, who's the main hostess. It is slightly odd that you don't get Mickey Mouse here seeing that you almost get the fab five. This could perhaps be the reason this restaurant gets overlooked a lot. On this specific occasion I did get to meet Daisy, but she seems to be inconsistent. As I was dining and enjoying my food, I wasn't disappointed really by this omission of the main mouse. My niece still had fun meeting some of her favorite characters. But then I got to thinking. If you eat breakfast here on a morning you're planning to head to Epcot, you can make a stop at the character spot to meet Mickey. But then again, that location features Goofy and Minnie as well. It seems redundant to do both. I like to book character meals to skip over meeting them that day in the parks and save time and Fastpass+ reservations for something else. This is especially challenging at Epcot in that the Character Spot competes with Soarin' Around the World and Test Track in its tier one category. I don't have any easy solution for you on this problem. I guess it depends on what park you visit that day and your wider vacation plans. It's just worth noting and prepping you kids with. I guess the answer is to just meet Mickey somewhere else on a different day of your vacation.
Let's next move on to the food. When you first enter the restaurant, you'll pass the pastries counter. There is a nice collection of cinnamon rolls, danishes, muffins and croissants to name a few. The main buffet itself is located smack in the center of the room. It's a rather large, square buffet that you can easily enter from all sides and browse the food. This makes the flow of traffic easier than other buffets I've experienced. I never found myself waiting in a line per se. You of course have your typical breakfast items; Mickey waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. But then I discovered classic breakfast items with an interesting twist. There are standard pancakes, but I loved the pancakes doused in peaches and cream. It was a unique, sweet upgrade to standard flapjacks and appropriately themed to the hotel.
I also discovered an alternative to the regular scrambled eggs, with the goat cheese and pepper scrambled eggs casserole. If you prefer you eggs a specific way, there's also a chef on standby at the omelet station. At first I though the lineup was pretty basic. But as I circled the buffet and read the labels more closely, I kept finding interesting items that are some of my favorites and haven't seen at Disney buffets. Like chorizo, or breakfast potatoes with chorizo! The grilled asparagus with hollandaise sauce was a nice treat and there was even a carved meats station for those of you who enjoy steak and eggs for breakfast. Like most buffets there is a fresh fruit and yogurt section, but you'll also find bagels accompanied by smoked salmon and capers. All in all, now that I've experienced all the breakfast buffets in the Epcot area, I can say that this buffet offers the most range of them all.
The only other downside I had with this buffet, dawned on me on this specific visit to the restaurant. I've come to the conclusion that I am not a huge fan of the character meals where you go up and get your food yourself. I prefer being served family-style. I know it sounds lazy, but it's because you can easily get stressed out with timing characters arriving to your table with getting up for food. Wether or not this is a challenge really depends on the day you visit and where characters are at the moment you sit down. It's luck of the draw really. But as the family photographer, it gets tricky when you try to keep the little one patient as they spot Donald across the room and get excited. Or when you sit down after a visit to the buffet and Goofy suddenly pops out of a corner and you have to get your camera ready. I guess you sacrifice convenience for range in this particular case.
Now comes the bill. I always hate the sting I get when the check comes at these character meals. But surprisingly, Cape May Cafe is not a huge expense. In Disney terms. On this particular day, breakfast was priced at $38 for the adults and $23 for kids 3-9. If you're an Annual Passholder like I am, this restaurant does offer your 10% dining discount. Bringing the the prices down slightly to about $35 and $22 respectively. If you're a family of four the total will just pass the $100 mark. Which isn't too bad at Disney World. If you're on the Disney Dining Plan this counts as 1 table service credit. Given the out-of-pocket price of this meal, that's a pretty good use of a meal credit. In fact all character meals are a good use of the Dining Plan. Other meals like the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway are an even better use of the plan, but Cape May Cafe is still a good choice when it comes to value.
All in all, both this second visit to Cape May Cafe and the first were consistent. The range of food items is great. Disney chefs do put a spin on typical breakfast fare, and both visits included different food items. And I enjoy that with the lighter fare, I didn't leave the restaurant feeling too full that I had to be rolled out. Having more options means I can make better choices. But I still left full and content. On the downside, you will notice the distinct smell of seafood lingering from dinner the night before. The absence of Mickey Mouse could also be a dealbreaker from some guests. However, there are two good aspects about Cape May Cafe. First of all, the price is pretty good. One of the more affordable character meals around Walt Disney World. The cheapest in this area is still Bon Voyage Breakfast inside Trattoria al Forno at the BoardWalk. However that is not a buffet. Cape May Cafe pricing could be on par with Garden Grill in the Land, but sometimes I've experienced Beach Club's breakfast at a cheaper price and again there's more range here.
Finally, even though Mickey doesn't appear at this restaurant, this could be a good alternative to Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary. Minnie's Beach Bash Breakfast is certainly more mellow and quieter than the premiere character meal. Not to mention the price of Chef Mickey's at breakfast will hover around $48 for the adults. Breakfast at Cape May Cafe is really convenient if you're staying in the Crescent Lake area and looking for a character breakfast that won't break the bank. But more importantly, this experience offers a wider range of food that exceeds your typical breakfast menu at Disney.