If one visits Disney, there are certain activities one must do. The most important of these is the Character breakfast (or meal). As one quickly discovers, children love to either 1. collect autographs from the characters or 2. give them a hug (while their parents snap shots or the Disney photographers do).
The easiest way (and the one that involves the least amount of time standing in lines) is to book a Character meal. They are themed, the food is generally of a high character, and the experience is both relaxing and relatively inexpensive while allowing everyone to enjoy meeting and posing with the characters in a calm atmosphere. We hadn't realized this until last year at Anaheim when I had read something about it and done a stand-by at Minnie's breakfast (Thing1 was in a Minnie phase then). She adored it, so we have continued. In California, the Minnie breakfast was great. In Florida, the Pooh breakfast at the Crystal Palace was great fun and the food at the buffet was great.
We had wanted to do a meal at Cinderella's Castle (which has been re-modelled to have a functioning meal area and also to have a sleeping suite which is open only to winners of a "Dream" at the moment) but the wait list for that is long: the opportunity to book a meal opens exactly 6 months in advance, books within 4-5 hours of opening, and is the only character meal that actually requires advance payment (which is refundable if cancelled 24 or more hours in advance). So, when we had planned this vacation with the no-shows, we had actually booked 18 spaces. There were some happy familes out there when we released 14 spaces the week before the seating, I'm sure! And Disney did indeed credit our card within a day or two.
The girls went in costume, as did all the children that we saw. A picture with Cinderella is part of the package but Thing2 did no posing this trip: she would cry when a character approached and the wave enthusiastically and call out "Bye-bye" when they left. After the picture, we were seated upstairs and had table service as the Princesses entered and did the rounds of the tables. The girls were given Magic Wands as part of the experience while boys were given swords: it's interesting to see the development of gender expectation in Thing1 as she chose the wands rather than the swords, but then proceeded to have a sword fight with Thing2 while brandishing wand.
Here Cinderella, after having a photo op with Thing1, is graciously greeting Thing2, who was too wary of the situation to pose.
All of the Princesses did a walk through during the meal and stopped to "meet and greet". Snow White is a partiular favorite of both the girls.
Of course, the food is not an integral part of these character breakfasts (for the children. For myself, the food quality was quite good.) For Things 1 and 2 the souvenir Magic Wand was the take away.
After the meal, Cinderella met the Prince for the parade.