After taking the monorail to the Contemporary, exit and turn right. There's an escalator that will take you to the level that includes Chef Mickey's and other shopping endeavors. If you have a stroller, the elevator is in the middle of the monorail queue and an attendant will direct you.
After going down the escalator, turn right. . . go past the elevators and take another right. This will take you past The Wave and right to the Chef Mickey's check in desk. While you wait for your table, enjoy the view of Bay Lake.
As soon as your table is ready, you and your party will get your photo taken. See photo below. These photos can be purchased and a sales person will come to your table part way through your meal to see if you are interested. The package consists of a large photo and 4 small photos which come in an attractive, and recently re-done, folder for about $32.00. After purchasing, you can then have the photos added to your PHOTOPASS account at any PHOTOPASS location. Click here to read more about Disney's PHOTOPASS.
When the photo taking is complete you will be whisked to your table and a server will come shortly to take your drink order. Now, I usually don't recommend specific menu items, but I HIGHLY recommend the pomegranate lemonade. YUMMY! Then it is off to the buffet.
Now remember, this is character dining, so you want to time your trips to the buffet so as not to miss a character coming to your table. You can sort of eye spy them and you ask your server their route through the restaurant so you get an idea of when they might be coming. Miss a character and you may be waiting another 90 minutes for them to return! So have your cameras and autograph books ready! It is also a good idea to put children on the outer edge of the table so that they can easily interact with and take photos with the characters without going around people at the table.
Whether you are eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Chef Mickey's the buffet will begin at both ends with breads, soups, salads coming first and hot foods next. The buffet lines merge at the carving station which usually has two different meats to choose from (or have both!) There is also a portion of the buffet for children--the counter is lower, the foods are shaped like Mickey Mouse, and anyone can eat from the children's buffet and vice versa. I just like the Mickey shaped foods!
Chef Mickey's has 5 characters that visit your table. This is even more than the character meal at OHANA's, but who's counting? The characters include Pluto, as seen above, Minnie, Mickey--it's his restaurant of course, Goofy, and Donald. All characters appear in chef's clothing or some version of chef's clothing.
Chef Mickey's can get loud! Very loud! About every 30 minutes or so, a special celebration song will be played and everyone is invited to join along. This means waving and swinging your napkin in the air over your head. When we were last there, we grabbed our napkins and started waving as soon as the music came on (see what Disney conditioning can do!) and the people at the table next to us looked at us in amazement. First timers! They soon got into the act when they saw others waving their napkins frantically including the characters. It is all good, clean, Disney fun!
Depending on your table location, you can view the monorail entering and exiting the Contemporary overhead, which is just magical! And, we love the hidden Mickey's. . . check out the hidden Mickey on the back of the chair in the photo above.
Who's the number 1 duck? Donald of course, and the number 1 vote for best character meal for us is Chef Mickey's. We have been there 6 times and plan to return.
On another note, while we were waiting for our table, the boy wondered ahead a bit. Pretty soon he was being recognized by a family that we traveled with last summer on our Adventures by Disney vacation in Arizona and Utah. They recognized the boy and said that his parents would be nearby wearing matching shirts. We were! And, that family is going on another Adventures by Disney vacation this summer in Italy. I know they will have a great time and it is just another example of it's a small world!