We opted to visit MEF over Pinnewala because we wanted a more intimate and authentic experience. But it was a lot more touristy than we expected and felt like we were being quickly shuffled through about three stations. The first station is where you can pet a young elephant, second stations is where you can bathe an elephant and the third station is where you ride an elephant. Each time you come in contact with an elephant and mahout, you are asked for money (gets tiring, especially since their website claims they do not encourage this type of tipping that is apparently common at Pinnewala). If we handed over less than 100 rupiah, we received looks of disgust. It is a good opportunity to get upclose and personal with an elephant, but the whole experience felt very manufactured for us. Given that the only alternative is Pennewala, I would still recommend visiting MEF, but perhaps adjust your expectations. Cost was 2000/pp and hopefully some of that fee actually goes to elephant conservation as claimed.
If you own or manage The Millennium Elephant Foundation, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.