Happy Who-lidays from the Universal Orlando Resort. The holiday festivities have officially started at Universal Orlando, bringing back many of our favorite traditions, including the Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast. This year, the event has a lot of major changes, including a price increase from last year. Tickets were $41.99 each last year and have increased to $58.99 each this year. Is it worth it? Join us as we take a trip to Islands of Adventure for the Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast.
Guests with tickets for the Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast can find a separate entrance into Islands of Adventure at the exit of the park. Signs lead guests to the exit, where they can skip the crowds at the main entrance and scan their admission for Islands of Adventure to enter the park. Team Members will be checking for a valid breakfast reservation before allowing you to enter here.
We were directed to the rentals counter to get our ticket printed and headed right over to Confisco Grille to check it. There was no wait to get in and we were quickly taken to our table. Typically, the event is held inside Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-Pendous in Seuss Landing, but the restaurant is currently closed for refurbishment. Instead of Seuss Landing, the event is being held at Confisco Grille in Port of Entry this year.
The next big change to the event is the menu. Traditionally, this breakfast is an all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet in Circus McGurkus, but has been modified this year. Guests can select one entree from the menu and “Little Whos” can choose 3 items to make up their plate.
In addition to coffee, tea, and juice, you can also get the Grinch Punch for your beverage. The Grinch punch is made up of green apple, lime, and pineapple juices.
The table gets a small plate for a starter. There are small croissants, blueberry mini muffins, and a bowl of fruit.
Our table decided to order different entrees and share a bit of each. Martha May’s Chicken and Waffles is southern fried chicken, Belgian waffles, whipped honey butter, hot honey drizzle, fresh berries, and powdered sugar. The chicken was good, but the waffles were drenched in sweet, buttery goodness. There was some magic going on with all of the flavors. Apparently, Martha May is an amazing chef in addition to being decorator of the year.
Max’s Smoked Brisket Skillet Hash is house smoked brisket, poached eggs, crispy potatoes, poblano peppers, and sriracha Hollandaise sauce. Our brisket was very fatty and tough, making it difficult to enjoy the entire dish. The sriracha Hollandaise makes up for everything, though. That distinct flavor stands out and pairs surprisingly well with the Hollandaise. Please send us the recipe for this sauce. The eggs might not be our idea of poached, but they were delicious and cooked well. If the brisket had been better, this would have been a perfect dish.
Mayor Augustus’ Biscuits and Gravy is a house made buttermilk biscuit with sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, and roasted potatoes. This was a simple, yet solid choice. This might be one of the most basic options on the menu, but we enjoyed everything here.
For dessert, the table is brought a plate with Grinch Cookies, Max’s Chocolate Bones, and Grinch’s Heart Red Velvet Cake Pops. If you haven’t had a Grinch Cookie before, they will change your life.
These chocolate max bone cookies are a nice treat, too!
The Whos roam around the dining room while guests are eating breakfast. The atmosphere is very light and the Whos tend to break out into song pretty frequently.
They wander around the room freely and interact with guests. Who doesn’t love a Who?
The Grinch is kept separately in the Backwater Bar area, so guests can get a photo with him as they exit the restaurant. When your server brings you dessert, you will be given a card to show on your way out to get in line for the Grinch.
The Grinch has his own area in Backwater Bar and a Team Member will punch a heart into your card when you get in line. This area has a few trees for a backdrop and is very well lit. The Grinch, as always, will make sure your time is memorable.
Overall, the experience was pleasant, but we personally wouldn’t do it again. There’s a lot missing from the experience this year, and a lot of it is due to the refurbishment in Circus McGurkus. Confisco Grille is smaller and lacks the crazy vibes of Circus McGurkus. There’s no Seuss holiday music, other than the singing Whos. The decor is also very minimal. Our server was wonderful and when he welcomed us, he told us this year we are visiting the Grinch’s cave instead of Who-ville. Since the Grinch is still learning to appreciate Christmas, there is very little decor inside his cave. We can appreciate this themed explanation.
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride passes through Circus McGurkus, adding noise and chaos to the restaurant that Confisco Grille just can’t match. If you enjoy a quiet meal, you might appreciate the calm atmosphere of Confisco Grille this year, but for us, it felt off.
With the Grinch separated from the Whos and guests in the dining area, there’s another element that’s missing from the experience. We enjoy watching the Grinch interact with other families and the Whos, which is missing from this experience. Listening to the Grinch as he talks to other guests is one of the best parts of the experience, but it’s lost when he’s secluded in another room. You’re really having breakfast with the Whos and getting a Grinch photo as a bonus.
Speaking of getting a Grinch photo, this year’s ticket didn’t even include a digital download of your photo with the Grinch. In our experience, usually a digital download is included with the price of these character dining experiences, but not this time. It’s not that it’s necessary, since you can take as many photos with your own camera as you want, but it does seem to be one little thing taken away from the experience, despite the price increase this year.
The biggest change, other than location, is the fact that this meal has become a single plated entree instead of a buffet. Not everyone enjoys buffet-style dining, so some people may see this as a positive change since your food is served hot and fresh, directly to you. The all-you-care-to-enjoy lineup of breakfast items last year could have justified the price increase, but one entree is disappointing. This really should have been a family-style meal with skillets brought out for the entire table.
We enjoyed most of the food and would really love to see Confisco Grille become a breakfast spot even after the holidays. With so many guests rope dropping Islands of Adventure in the morning, it would be nice to have another breakfast option. The spicy hollandaise sauce on the poached eggs was absolutely phenomenal and the Belgian waffles were incredible. Breakfast should really come a permanent addition to Confisco Grille.
Last year, we loved the Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast and went multiple times. This year, we really can’t justify the price. But, there are several benefits to booking this breakfast.
The Grinch meet and greet in Seuss Landing is using a standby queue only this year. Wait times in the last 2 days have been between 120-180 minutes. If you’re not looking to spend your time waiting in line for the meet and greet in Seuss Landing, this might be worth it to you. The interaction with the Grinch here doesn’t feel as rushed and has much better lighting for photos. For a family photo, the breakfast is expensive, but it does guarantee you will get to meet the Grinch with minimal wait.
The breakfast starts early, which allows you to enter the park and skip the long lines to get in. This is another nice perk to booking this experience.
The Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast is available on select days, with times from 7:00 am to 9:15 am. Tickets are $58.99 for adults and $32.99 for kids ages 3-9. Theme park admission is not included, but is required. If you’re interested in the Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast, be sure to make a reservation before they’re gone.