My party of 3 adults spent over $135 to dine with the Grinch at Universal Orlando, and we’d do it again despite some disappointments

I went with a group of adults to do special character dining at Universal Orlando.Jenna Clark

  • The Grinch & Friends breakfast is a character-dining experience at Universal Orlando.

  • The check-in process was long and annoying, but the themed offerings and food were great.

  • My party of 3 adults had to pay for park entry and $135 for our meal — we’d totally come back.

The Grinch & Friends character breakfast is located at Universal’s Islands of Adventure Park.

the grinch character breakfast podium

The character breakfast must be booked in advance.Jenna Clark

The restaurant only hosts this character-dining experience for breakfast on select mornings between November 12 and December 29.

I made my reservation for the buffet-style character dining online in October. Tickets cost about $42 per adult and $26 per child.

Since the character-dining experience is located inside the Seuss Landing portion of Universal’s Islands of Adventure Park, you also need to pay for admission to the theme park. One-day admission tickets start at $109. Luckily, I was able to use my annual pass.

We arrived at The Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous to check in for our reservation.

Writer outside of The Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous

The Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous is so colorful.Jenna Clark

Our reservation was for 10:30 am, but we arrived 10 minutes early just in case things were running behind. The last available reservation of the day was for 11 am

There was a long line of people waiting to be seated when we arrived. By 10:30 am the line didn’t seem to be moving much.

I expected minor delays, especially since this was one of the first days of the breakfast, but I was frustrated we weren’t given more updates and communication while waiting on the line.

There also wasn’t any seating or a covered waiting area, which was unfortunate when it started to drizzle.

We were seated about 20 minutes after our reservation.

long line for checking in to breakfast

We had to wait about 20 minutes to be seated after checking in with a team member.Jenna Clark

After a bit, two staff members made their way down the line of guests to ensure that they were all checked in and ready to go.

We panicked when they asked if we had our dining tickets because we didn’t realize they had to be physically printed out ahead of time. Luckily, a staff member was quickly able to print out our dining tickets using the confirmation code that was sent to my email.

We sat down at 10:50 am, 20 minutes after our reservation.

The restaurant looked like a Christmas wonderland with its décor.

holiday decor and lights in venue

There were tons of lights.Jenna Clark

I would live in this version of the restaurant if I could. I was obsessed with all of the decorated trees and garlands.

I also thought it was cute that the staff wore Santa Claus hats. It added to the aesthetics of the breakfast.

I was pleasantly surprised by how spacious our table was considering there were only three of us.

tables in grinch restaurant

Some of the tables were booths.Jenna Clark

I prefer a larger table when I go to restaurants, especially buffets, so that I’m able to comfortably spread out my plates and don’t feel so constrained.

Our table had six chairs so I kept my bag on one instead of leaving it dangling off of the back of my chair.

I think Universal nailed it with the themed buffet offerings.

grinch buffet displays

A lot of the food was Grinch green.Jenna Clark

I’ve attended several character-dining experiences across multiple theme parks, and I’d say this one was my favorite in terms of creativity regarding the food selection at the buffet.

There also seemed to be a carb for everyone, from waffles to pancakes to biscuits.

The foods even had fun names to go with the theme.

cindy lou hou pizza and green eggs

The food was so fun.Jenna Clark

From Cindy Lou Who’s Who hash to Mayor Augustus’s Green Eggs & Ham pizza (my favorite thing I tried) I was blown away by the creativity and Instagram-worth of the selections.

The Grinch Green pancakes were cute, too.

Although the buffet was mostly filled with holiday-themed foods, some lighter options were also available.

tray of food with croissants and green desserts

I tried a little bit of a few dishes.Jenna Clark

It was nice to see that the buffet contained some more health-conscious options like chia-seed pudding and overnight oats. The pudding was very delicious.

As someone with a big sweet tooth, I thought the buffet had an impressive variety of desserts.

cookie treat for max in buffet

There were a few sweet options at the buffet.Jenna Clark

I wasn’t expecting there to be so many dessert offerings at a breakfast buffet so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how many sweet treats the buffet had including spice cake and the Cookie Treat for Max.

My favorite was the Grinch cookie.

green grinch cookies on plate

A lot of desserts were green.Jenna Clark

All of the desserts were so fun and aesthetically pleasing. I really appreciate the attention to detail in the colors, names and displays.

Although the Grinch popcorn bucket was cute, I thought it was a bit tacky to sell it during breakfast.

employee selling grinch popcorn buckets

The popcorn buckets were cute but felt out of place.Jenna Clark

Although I understand merchandise sales are an important part of a business, I thought it was a poor taste to have someone walking around the restaurant selling buckets while people were trying to enjoy their meals.

We had wonderful interactions meeting some of the Whos and the other Who-ville friends.

a Who in the grinch restaurant under blue lights

A Who in the restaurant.Jenna Clark

We were able to take photos with four Whos and I was pleasantly surprised by how long they stayed at our table and interacted with us considering we were a party with no children.

This was my first time meeting the Whos and I thought they were so much fun to banter with.

As an adult who enjoyed interacting with the characters, I was happy to feel so included.

The lighting in the venue was a bit varied and sporadic, so I’d recommend using the flash on your camera when taking photos.

We met Sam-I-Am during the breakfast but Thing 1 and Thing 2 didn’t come to our table.

the writer with sam i am

Sam-I-Am was fun to engage with.Jenna Clark

I got to take a photo with Sam-I-Am but it appeared Thing 1 and Thing 2 skipped our table.

I was disappointed because, as a twin, I especially like those characters.

When I asked a team member about it, he said that you are not guaranteed to meet all of the characters during breakfast — you either meet Sam-I-Am or Thing 1 and Thing 2. I don’t really agree with this system and I wish it had been more clearly stated ahead of time because it caused us (and likely some other guests) confusion and disappointment.

Luckily, the Grinch was able to help us meet Thing 1 and Thing 2.

writer and her sister with things 1 and 2

We got to meet them only by asking the Grinch.Jenna Clark

When I told the Grinch that my party had been looking forward to meeting Thing 1 and Thing 2, he had an attendant bring them over.

We really appreciate this kind gesture, but I still feel bad for the guests who missed the chance to meet Thing 1 and Thing 2.

I was really looking forward to seeing the Grinch so I was disappointed that the interaction felt rushed.

writer selfie with the grinch

The Grinch seemed liked he was being rushed.Jenna Clark

Although the Grinch was very nice to me and my party, I was disappointed by the length of the interaction. He seemed to spend more time with other groups, plus we’d paid to meet him.

When he finally got around to our table at 11:50 am, an hour after we were seated, it appeared that all of the characters were set to leave at noon.

Although the performer did his best to make the most of the situation, I felt like he was being rushed as there were several entertainment hosts hovering over him and providing that “time’s-a-ticking” feel.

I don’t think that my party and the last remaining tables should have had to have an abbreviated interaction with the Grinch — the breakfast’s namesake character — because we were seated nearly half an hour later than expected by no real fault of our own.

We had even arrived at the restaurant early and were on time for our reservation.

Despite a few hiccups, I think the character breakfast is worth a try if you’re at Universal’s Islands of Adventure Park during the holiday season.

writer with tray of food

Keep in mind the cost of the breakfast doesn’t include admission into the park.Jenna Clark

As someone who enjoys interacting with characters and eating themed treats, this experience is definitely worth the $45.

For three adults the total came to about $135, not including what we paid to get into the park. Since I paid for the meal upon booking the reservation in October, there was no additional cost once we got to the restaurant. I also didn’t pay extra for theme-park admission because of my annual pass.

I’ll definitely plan to attend this event again next year, but I’ll shoot for an earlier time slot in hopes I’ll get more time with the characters even if the breakfast is running behind.

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