"When will Disney World reopen?" We are finally able to say the good news that…
Dining in Walt Disney World is definitely one of our favorite activities when we are on vacation, but the entire experience is changing with the parks and resorts reopening. Even if you’ve been to Disney World 100 times, dining here now is going to be a whole lot different!
Knowing all the changes coming to the Disney World restaurants will be vital so you can enjoy dining in this reopening phase. Right now, just figuring out which restaurants are open would be a big help!
(Updated 11/21/20) – Disney has announced that 3 more restaurants in the theme parks are reopening in the next couple of months.
Read more about these in the NEWS section of this post…
In this post, we are going to answer all your questions about Disney World restaurants during the initial reopening phase. We’ll cover all the new changes to the dining experience in general, including new safety measures for the restaurants that you will need to follow.
We’ll also go over how all types of restaurants are changing in Disney World, from character dining to quick service to private dining. It’s exciting to see all the new technology Disney is putting to good use to make these experiences possible right now.
Lots of the restaurants are going to be closed or have significantly reduced capacity during the reopening phase, we’ll tell you all the Disney World restaurants currently open or when they are reopening.
We’re shocked at all the dining-related perks that will not be available for a while like the Disney Dining Plan and the Free Dining promotion. Never before have we seen Disney take actions so drastic.
Try to remember, Disney is implementing these new guidelines for dining in cooperation with the CDC and other health authorities. If we want Disney World restaurants to stay back up and running again, we are going to have to follow what they tell us to do.
Not only are the guidelines changing, but Disney is also suspending quite a few dining experiences and not all restaurants will be available right away. Even the ones that are open and the restaurants will be limited in guest capacity and some of the popular menu items and dining features might not be there.
Before we get started, make sure to read our Guide to Walt Disney World Reopening for the latest updates and a look at how the rest of the resort is going to be different.
Here are some other posts about the reopening you should read before your vacation:
- How to Make Guest Park Reservations
- All the New Guidelines in Disney World
- How to Make Disney Dining Reservations Now
If you want the Latest Updates on the Disney World Reopening, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter. You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter
(NEWS) – 3 More Disney World Restaurants Reopening in November and December
Since July when the Disney World theme parks reopened, not all of the restaurants reopened right away, but they’ve been coming back little by little. Today Disney has announced that 3 more restaurants will be reopening in November and December.
The reopening restaurants are:
- Woody’s Lunch Box (November 25)
- The Crystal Palace (December 13)
- Tomorrowland Terrace (December 17)
Woody’s Lunch Box is the restaurant we’ve missed the most in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and it’s one of the best quick service dining options in the park. Expect it to serve the usual Toy Story-inspired treats when it returns on November 25th.
The Crystal Palace is reopening at Disney’s Magic Kingdom on December 13th, but it won’t bee a buffet for the time being. Instead, like other former buffet meals, it will serve food “family-style” meals with abundant portions.
Some of the entrees include crispy fried chicken with honey pot drizzle, fried cauliflower, and prime rib.
Also, keep in mind that Winnie the Pooh and his friends will NOT be visiting the Crystal Palace at this time, so still no characters for now.
On December 17th, the Tomorrowland Terrace will reopen at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. This quick service location will serve seafood such as lobster rolls, clam chowder, and baked salmon. It sounds like the menu that is normally located at the Columbia Harbor House.
Overall we are happy to see more dining options starting to come back. This makes sense since Disney is starting to increase park capacity, which means they will continue to need more dining locations.
Stay tuned for more restaurant reopenings soon…
(NEWS 10/5/20) – Characters Returning to Chef Mickey’s December 16th
Up to this point, almost all character meals have been closed in Walt Disney World since the reopening, including Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort. Today we got the great news that characters are coming back to Chef Mickey’s starting December 16, 2020, and they are bringing a new menu with them!
These new menu items at Chef Mickey’s are inspired by the characters’ favorite dishes and include:
Mickey’s “Celebration” Pancake, featuring whipped cream, celebration sprinkles, shimmering pixie dust and more.
Goofy’s Banana Bread French Toast combines unique flavors of banana bread baked in zesty orange-scented French toast batter, topped with Espresso-mascarpone cream, toasted bananas, and chocolate crumbles.
If you like savory at breakfast, then you’ll love the new “Loaded” Potato-Cheese Casserole topped with smoked bacon crumbles and chives.
There still won’t be a buffet at Chef Mickey’s, but the menu will be an all-you-can-eat family-style meal and include many other items too.
Though characters are returning to Chef Mickey’s, it still won’t be exactly like before when they came up to your tables for autographs and photos. The characters will come into the restaurant and greet guests from a distance, the same way they currently do at Topolino’s and at the Garden Grill.
Disney Advanced Dining Reservations open on October 17. They can be made 60 days in advance if you are staying at a Disney World Resort Hotel, and are based on availability.
Stay tuned for more soon.
What to Know Before You Go
While there are a tons of things we are going to go over in this post, here are the most important things to know about how dining and Disney World restaurants are changing during the reopening phase.
Safety Guidelines in Place – New safety requirements for guests are being included in all Disney World restaurants. These include increased cleaning and sanitation, face masks, contactless menus and more.
Using New Technology – In order to help with safety, Disney is using new technology in its restaurants including contactless menus, Mobile Ordering, Mobile Dine Check-In, and cashless payment.
Limited Dining Offerings – Not all restaurants will be open during the Disney World reopening phase. Restaurants will also have limited capacity with fewer reservations available.
Limited Experiences – Are you a big fan of character meals and dinner shows? Those are not going to be running during the reopening (for the most part). Other experiences like private and in-room dining are also being shelved.
Reservations Changed – All previous Disney World dining reservations made before May have been canceled and guests have to re-book all their restaurants for upcoming trips. New dining reservations are now available to all guests. Read more about dining reservations below.
Big Changes to Disney World Restaurants
Let’s break down some of the biggest changes to dining in Disney World you need to know about. These include reservations, decrease restaurant capacity and eliminating popular add-ons like the Disney Dining Plan.
Obviously, to comply with guest distancing, Disney could not keep normal restaurant capacity as it was before. Tables have to be spaced out a minimum of 6 feet from each other to give dining guests enough room.
All this results in less guests being able to dine in a given restaurant at one time. This could lead to reservations being more difficult to get, but we’re hoping the fact that the entire Walt Disney World Resort will have fewer guests will make up for fewer tables in the restaurants.
All table service restaurants in Walt Disney World now require a reservation before going. This is again to help Disney understand how to staff the restaurants and to not have guests showing up hoping to get in when restaurant attendance has been severely limited.
Making Disney Advanced Dining Reservations is now more important than ever and you won’t get to make as many decisions at the last minute. Finally, reservations are available for some Disney World Resort Hotel guests.
In-Park Dining Reservations
Because of Disney’s new park reservation system, this creates some new problems for dining at Disney World restaurants. If you want to eat at one of the table service restaurants in the theme parks, you will need a reservation, but a reservation to a restaurant doesn’t mean you automatically get access to the theme parks.
WHAT?? How does that work?
Entrance to the Disney theme parks will only be given to guests with a theme park reservation. Having only a dining reservation at a restaurant there will not get you in. You need both types.
That means booking your theme parks is going to be first priority for each day, and then from there, you can decide which restaurants you want to eat at.
Disney Dining Plan
For the foreseeable future, the popular Disney Dining Plan has been suspended. This came as a surprise since so many guests use the pre-paid dining plan when going to Disney World.
The decision to get rid of the dining plan is a consequence of limiting capacity in the restaurants and in the parks. Disney cannot guarantee guests will be able to use up all their purchased dining points if some restaurants are closed while others will be full. For that reason they decided to temporarily suspend the meal plans.
All guests who purchased the Disney Dining Plan for upcoming trips are getting refunded. At this point we still don’t know when the Disney Dining Plan is coming back, but it appears that it won’t be until later in 2021.
Disney’s extremely popular Free Dining promotion has also been suspended until further notice. Free Dining is essentially the same thing as the Disney Dining Plan, only it’s worked into the price of your room and you aren’t paying anything additional to add it on to your room.
So without the Disney Dining Plan running, Free Dining can’t happen either. No word yet on when it’s coming back, but rumors are that it too won’t be back until late 2021 at the earliest.
Even though there are a lot of upset Disney fans because of this move, there are other ways of saving money at Disney World and oftentimes waiting for a room only discount saves even more than Free Dining does.
Menus May Vary
As a result of having fewer people, it’s natural that menus don’t have to be quite as big as they normally are. During the opening period, Disney has warned that menus may vary from normal. There may be a reduced number of options with some regular choices missing from the list.
If you are hoping to eat your favorite dish when eating at a given restaurant, prepare for the possibility that it might not be there.
We hope this isn’t widespread because many restaurants in Disney World have dishes they are well-known for, and we come back time and time again for.
Safety Guidelines for Dining
Besides organizational changes to the Disney World restaurants, Disney has implemented new safety measures that are put in place to protect both guests and Cast Members. Get familiar with these, and the other guidelines for the theme parks as you’ll need to follow them on your trip.
It’s true that face masks are required throughout The Walt Disney World Resort, this includes in restaurants…to a degree. In some places in restaurants face coverings are required and in others no.
- Where they ARE Required – You’ll need to wear a face mask when you arrive at a restaurant, during the check-in procedure, visiting the restroom, and anytime you get up from your table and walk around.
- Where they are NOT Required – When you are at your table eating or drinking, face masks are not required.
Restaurant staff including waiters and chefs will always be wearing a face covering so as to not contaminate the food or guests.
To learn more, read our Guide to Face Masks at Disney World.
Disney is increasing the cleaning throughout the resort, restaurants included. All areas that are considered “high traffic” will get extra cleaning and sanitization including: tables, chairs, benches, doors, handles, restrooms, buttons, dining pagers, etc.
Expect to see sparkling clean tables like you’ve never seen before!
Anywhere in a Disney World dining location where you would normally serve yourself, a Disney Cast Member will be there to serve you instead. This keeps guests from touching too many things and potentially contaminating them for others.
This includes self-serve drinking fountains where a Cast Member will fill your drink for you. This will also be valid if and when buffets come back to Disney World.
We know guest temperature screening is required at the Disney Parks and Disney Springs, and now Disney World is also requiring temperature screenings at Table Service restaurants at the resort hotels. This makes sense since there are no screenings set up when you enter the hotel itself.
Temperature screenings are not required at in-park restaurants since guests are already screened at park entry.
Dining Experience Types
We know not all restaurants are reopening right away in Disney World, but there are also restrictions on full categories and types of dining experiences too. Here is the rundown:
Table Service Dining
Table Service restaurants are reopening but not all of them. The majority of restaurants opening first are Non-Signature restaurants, and for the most part limited to one per resort. If you are looking for a super elegant meal, you aren’t going to find one for the time being.
The ones that are open will have limited seating and fewer tables than normal to allow for spacing between guests.
Quick Service Dining
From what Disney has announced so far, a great majority of quick service restaurants are reopening during the initial phase. Capacity will be limited here too and guests encouraged to use the Mobile Ordering system.
Bars and Lounges
The lounges and bars were planning on being open in Disney World but that has hit a speed bump recently. The State of Florida has suspended the consumption of alcohol at bars throughout the state.
Bars are classified as establishments that make more than 50% of their income from the sale of alcohol. Restaurants can still serve alcohol, as long as sales from food make up the majority of their income.
What does this mean for Disney World?
- Technically, Bars can still remain open, and alcohol can even be sold, but it cannot be consumed on the premises. If the bars sell alcohol in sealed take-away cups, they can still sell it
- Disney has chosen to close some of the Disney Springs bars for the time being, while others are still serving guests, just not alcohol.
Here is a list of bars in Disney Springs that are now closed:
- Dockside Margaritas
- Various pop-up bars throughout Disney Springs
Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar was closed at one point due to this new rule, but they are now open, just without serving alcohol.
The most popular bar in Walt Disney World, Oga’s Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has also gone back and forth between open and closed. As of now, Oga’s Cantina is open, but again, only non-alcoholic beverages are being served and it is an extremely limited menu.
The state of Florida has not put an ending date on the order at this time, so we don’t know when it is going to end.
So far Disney is temporarily suspending character dining in Walt Disney World. One of the best parts of a character meal is when they come around and take pictures with you at your table, but because of the guest distancing policy this is not currently possible.
There are a couple of character dining meals that will be running during the first phase of the reopening. So far we know:
- Topolino’s Character Breakfast – Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Garden Grill – The Land Pavilion, EPCOT
Both character meals will be modified experience where the characters pass by but don’t hug, sign autographs or take pictures with the guests. The spaces are large enough where the characters will be able to walk by and greet guests from a distance.
No word yet when the other character dining meals will reopen.
Dinner shows like the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue and Spirit of Aloha will not be running when Disney World reopens. Our guess is that they are a higher cost than normal restaurants and require full attendance to turn a profit. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to reopen dinner shows until they can fit more people.
It’s obvious that due to the current health crisis, a buffet-style restaurant cannot be allowed for the time being. Buffets obviously are germ-fests since anyone can go right up to the food and handle it if they like, and so far, no buffets are open in Disney World.
So what is happening to all the buffet restaurants in Disney World then? It looks like for the time being they are changing into “Family-style” restaurants instead, at least the ones reopening.
Some of the restaurants that are normally buffets and that have now moved over to the “Family-style” designation are Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort and Biergarten in EPCOT’s Germany pavilion, and The Crystal Palace at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
If you aren’t familiar with family-style meals, it’s where waiters come around to each table course by course and the guests share large portions of food. Think of something like Ohana’ at the Polynesian Resort.
These family’style meals are still all-you-can-eat, so come with an appetite. We are hoping other popular locations like Tusker House will adobt the same system eventually.
In the end, it may just be too complicated, and might be best to wait until things return closer to normal to reopen buffets.
Private Dining / In-Room Dining
Since Disney World reopened, there have been no Private Dining experiences or In-Room dining. I’m not sure the logic behind this one as it would seem that fewer guests taking up valuable tables in the restaurants would be an ideal situation.
It’s probably to just simplify things for the time being and we’ll see these experiences slowly start to come back in time.
(Update): In-Room Dining is now available at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, so this may start to be available at other Disney World hotels shortly.
Which Disney World Restaurants Are Open?
One of the hardest part of dining in Disney World now is figuring out which restaurants are open and that you can actually go to.
Disney is reopening the restaurants in phases and doing it group by group. Disney has warned guests already that they’ll have to be patient and that some dining experiences will not be open during their next trip.
Which restaurants are open? Here are some lists, broken down by location at Disney Springs, the Resorts and Theme Parks.
Disney has just released a full list of all the restaurants reopening in the theme parks when they reopen on July 11 and July 15.
Restaurants are reopening in phases, and a good number of quick service and table service restaurants will be open with the parks. As the crowds come back so will more restaurants.
Can I Eat in a Park Restaurant Without a Theme Park Reservation?
No you can’t. Just having a dining reservation to a restaurant in one of the theme parks, does not give you access to that theme park. If you want to eat in one of those restaurants you will need to have both a Park Reservation AND a Dining Reservation.
Magic Kingdom – (Now Open)
- Aloha Isle
- Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies
- Be Our Guest Restaurant
- Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
- The Crystal Palace (Dec 13th)
- The Friar’s Nook
- Gaston’s Tavern
- Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
- Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen
- Liberty Square Market
- Liberty Tree Tavern
- The Lunching Pad
- Main Street Bakery
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
- Pinocchio Village Haus
- The Plaza Restaurant
- Sleepy Hollow
- Storybook Treats
- Sunshine Tree Terrace
- Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant (Dec 17th)
- Tony’s Town Square Restaurant
- The Diamond Horseshoe
- Casey’s Corner
- Cheshire Cafe
- Columbia Harbor House
- Cool Ship
- Golden Oak Outpost
- Plaza Ice Cream Parlor
- Prince Eric’s Village Market
- Tortuga Tavern
- Westward Ho
Animal Kingdom – (Now Open)
- Anandapur Ice Cream Truck
- Creature Comforts
- Dawa Bar
- Dino-Bite Snacks
- Flame Tree Barbecue
- Harambe Fruit Market
- Harmabe Market (Opening Nov 14)
- Isle of Java
- Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
- Mr. Kamal’s
- Nomad Lounge
- Pongu Pongu
- Rainforest Cafe
- Satu’li Canteen
- Tamu Tamu Refreshments
- Thirsty River Bar & Trek Snacks
- Tiffins Restaurant
- Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafes
- Yak & Yeti Restaurant
Not Currently Open:
- Caravan Road
- Dino Diner
- Eight Spoon Cafe
- Kusafiri Coffe Shop & Bakery
- Restaurantasaurus Burger & Sundaes
- The Smiling Crocodile
- Terra Treats
- Tusker House Restaurant
- Warung Outpost
EPCOT – (Now Open)
- Biergarten Restaurant
- Chefs de France
- Choza de Margarita
- Coral Reef Restaurant
- Crepes des Chefs de France
- Fife & Drum Tavern
- Funnel Cake
- Garden Grill Restaurant
- Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
- Joy of Tea
- Kabuki Café
- Katsura Grill
- Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe
- L’Artisan des Glaces
- La Cantina de San Angel
- La Cava de Tequila
- La Hacienda de San Angel
- Joy of Tea
- The Land Cart
- Le Cellier Steakhouse
- Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie
- Les Vins des Chefs de France
- Lotus Blossom Cafe
- Popcorn in Canada
- Refreshment Outpost
- Refreshment Port
- Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue
- Rose & Crown Dining Room
- Rose & Crown Pub
- San Angel Inn Restaurante
- Spice Road Table
- Sunshine Seasons
- Teppan Edo
- Traveler’s Café
- Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar
- Tutto Italia Ristorante
- UK Beer Cart
- Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria
- Yorkshire County Fish Shop (Only on Weekends)
Not Currently Open:
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
- Block & Hans
- Cool Wash
- Monsieur Paul
- Nine Dragons
- Restaurant Marrakesh
- Space 220 – Coming Soon
- Tangierine Café
- Tokyo Dining
Hollywood Studios – (Now Open)
- 50’s Prime Time Café
- ABC Commissary
- Anaheim Produce
- Backlot Express
- BaseLine Tap House
- Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo
- Hollywood & Vine
- The Hollywood Brown Derby
- The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge
- Hollywood Scoops
- Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
- Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
- Milk Stand
- Oga’s Cantina
- Peevy’s Polar Pipeline
- Ronto Roasters
- Rosie’s All-American Café
- Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant
- Sunshine Day Bar
- The Trolley Car Café
- Woody’s Lunch Box (Nov 25th)
Not Currently Open:
- Catalina Eddie’s
- Dockside Diner
- Epic Eats
- Fairfax Fare
- Kat Saka’s Kettle
- KRNR The Rock Station
- Neighborhood Bakery
- Tune-In Lounge
Disney Springs was the very first part of Walt Disney World to reopen and therefore got a head start on dining. Most of the restaurants have reopened already with only a couple still missing.
List of Disney Springs Restaurants currently open:
- Amorette’s Patisserie
- The Basket at Wine Bar George
- B.B. Wolf’s Sausage Co.
- Blaze Fast-Fired Pizza
- The BOATHOUSE
- Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’
- Chicken Guy!
- City Works Eatery & Pour House
- Coca-Cola Store Rooftop Beverage Bar
- Cookies of Dublin
- D-Luxe Burger (Mobile Order Only)
- The Daily Poutine
- Disney Food Trucks
- Dockside Margaritas
- Earl of Sandwich
- The Edison
- Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC
- Enzo’s Hideaway
- The Front Porch
- Frontera Cocina
- The Ganachery
- Ghiradelli Soda Fountain and Soda Shop
- House of Blues
- Jaleo by José Andrés
- Jock Linsey’s Hanger Bar
- Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company
- Joffrey’s Handcrafted Smoothies Kiosk
- Lava Lounge at Rainforest Cafe
- Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante
- Marketplace Snacks
- Morimoto Asia
- Morimoto Asia Street Food
- Paradiso 37, Taste of the Americas
- Pizza Ponte
- Planet Hollywood
- The Polite Pig
- Raglan Road
- Rainforest Cafe
- Splitsville Luxury Lanes
- Sprinkles Cupcakes
- STK Orlando
- Starbucks (Marketplace)
- Starbucks (West Side – Outdoor seating only)
- Sunshine Churros (Both Marketplace and West Side locations)
- Terralina Crafted Italian
- Vivoli il Gelato
- Wetzel’s Pretzels (Both Marketplace and West Side locations)
- Wine Bar George
- Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill
Get a full tour and the latest updates in our post on Disney Springs Reopening.
Just because some of the Disney World resorts are reopening, doesn’t mean all the restaurants in those resorts are reopening too. So far the list is pretty limited and pretty much eliminates all signature dining and character dining locations (Topolino’s being the lone exception for both).
Here is the current list of resort restaurants Currently Open:
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- California Grill
- Chef Mickey’s (No character meals – Breakfast Only)
- Contempo Cafe
- Cove Bar
- The Sand Bar
- The Wave
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Maji Pool Bar
- Sanaa Lounge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House
- Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar
Disney’s Beach Club & Villas
- Beaches and Cream
- Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar & Grill (Bar Only)
- Martha’s Vineyard
Disney’s BoardWalk Resort & Villas
- BoardWalk Bakery
- Leaping Horse Libations
- Pizza Window
- Trattoria al Forno
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Banana Cabana
- Centertown Market
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- Barcelona Lounge
- Dahlia Lounge
- Rix Sports Bar & Grill
- Siestas Cantina
- Three Bridges Bar & Grill
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
- Crocket’s Tavern
- Meadow Snack Bar
- P&J’s Southern Takeout
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Villas
- Beaches Pool Bar & Grill
- Enchanted Rose
- Gasparilla Island Grill
- Grand Floridian Cafe
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Good’s Food to Go
- Gurgling Suitcase
- Olivia’s Cafe
Disney’s Polynesian Polynesian Village Resort
- Barefoot Pool Bar
- Capt. Cook’s
- Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Deli
- Kona Cafe
- Pineapple Lanai
- Tambu Lounge
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Everything POP Shopping & Dining
- Petals Pool Bar
Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Bar Riva
- Le Petit Cafe
- Primo Piatto
- Topolino’s Terrace (Modified Character Meal)
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
- The Artist’s Palette
- Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Cafe
- The Paddock Grill
- On the Rocks Pool Bar
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Geyser Point Bar & Grill
- Roaring Fork
- Whispering Canyon Cafe
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- Ale & Compass Restaurant
- Ale & Compass Lounge
- The Market at Ale & Compass
Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Hotels
- Garden Grove
- Il Mulino
- Il Mulino Lounge
- Java Bar
- Kimonos Lounge
- Shula’s Lounge
- Shula’s Steak House
- Splash Pool Bar and Grill
- Todd English’s bluezoo
As more dining locations open in the resorts we’ll add them to the list.
Find out how the entire hotel experience is changing now in our post on Staying at a Disney World Hotel During Reopening.
Technology is playing a big part in keeping guests safe in Disney World right now and has made reopening possible. Here are some of the most important ways Disney is using technology right now during the reopening phase:
My Disney Experience
Make sure you have the My Disney Experience app installed and updated on your mobile phone before you head to Walt Disney World. You’re going to need this app more now than ever with all the virtual queues, online check-in and other digital services which will be vital to having a wonderful experience on your trip.
If you want to eat at a quick service restaurant in Disney World when it reopens, Disney’s Mobile Ordering service is the best way to do that.
It allows you to order your food ahead of time from your mobile device at the quick service dining location of choice. Choose all your food options, make substitutions, and place you order. Then when you are in the area, pick up your food without having to wait at all in line!
With Disney concentrating on enforcing distancing between guests, it’s a great solution to the normal lines for food. For a more detailed look, read our post on Disney’s Mobile Ordering – The Complete Guide.
Mobile Dine Check-In
Normally, before being seated at a Disney World restaurant, you check-in at the host stand at the entrance to the restaurant. When Disney World reopens, that will no longer be the case and guests will get sent directly to their tables.
How does that happen? Disney’s Mobile Dine Check-In app.
When you arrive at the restaurant you will scan a QR code that will check-in you and your party to your reservation. When your table is ready, you will be notified and directed where to go.
Learn more about how this new technology works and in which restaurants it will be available in our post on Disney’s Mobile Dine Check-In app.
One of the cooler uses of technology in Disney restaurants are the contactless menus. This eliminates the need for a traditional paper menu.
At quick service restaurants, the menus will be displayed for guests to easily see on signage. At table service restaurants a QR code will be on the table that guests can scan with their mobile phones. Once scanned the full restaurant menu comes right onto your phone.
Cashless forms of payment have been accepted in Walt Disney World for a while, but now Disney is going to be strongly recommending guests use them during their stay instead of cash.
Some of the contactless payment types include:
- Credit Cards
- Debit Cards
- Disney Gift Cards
- E-Wallets (Apple Pay, Android Pay, etc)
These will minimize contact with the cashiers and help avoid the spreading of germs. My only question is how will they avoid guests typing in a passcode while paying with a MagicBand?
Figuring out your dining reservations is always one of the biggest things to do when visiting Walt Disney World and that doesn’t change after the reopening. Here are the biggest things to know about restaurant reservations:
- New Disney World restaurant reservations are now available to book for all guests.
- Guests can now make new reservations starting 60 days from their hotel arrival date or desired dining date.
- Reservations are available Online, on the My Disney Experience app or by Phone.
- Dining reservations are necessary for anyone wanting to dine at a table service restaurant (In the parks or resorts).
- Existing dining reservations which were booked prior to May 28 have been canceled.
- The booking window has been changed from 180 Days to 60 Days before the dining date. 60+10 rule applies to Walt Disney World Resort guests.
What Happened to Reservations Before May 28?
All existing dining reservations made before May 28 have been canceled from the system and you no longer have them. You will need to make new advanced dining reservations for any restaurants you want to go to.
When Can I Make New Dining Reservations and How?
New Disney World dining reservations are available for all guests starting 60 days from their hotel arrival date or dining date. They are no longer limited to just Walt Disney World Resort guests but available to everyone.
- Restaurant reservations can be made Online on the Computer or using My Disney Experience (Starts at 6 am daily).
- Phone reservations start daily at 7 am.
TIP: Remember the booking window has changed to 60 Days before your desired dining date (60+10 for WDW Resort guests). This might result in some restaurants becoming harder to book so make sure to be online at 6:00 am sharp to make reservations.
You Need Reservations for Table Service Restaurants
Whether going to a table service restaurant in a resort hotel or in the theme parks, you will need a dining reservation first. No walk-ins will be accepted at this time.
Remember, a Dining Reservation in a theme park restaurant however, doesn’t give you automatic access to the theme park. You need a separate park reservation and a dining reservation in that case.
For a better look at how dining reservations work during the reopening phase, read our Guide to Restaurant Reservations in Disney World.
Disney Dining Plan Cancellations & Refunds
With all the reservation cancellations and suspending the Disney Dining Plans you are probably wondering about refunds for previously booked experiences and packages.
- There will be no cancellation fees or no-show fees for reservations affected by the closure or reopening.
- Any pre-paid dining experiences and reservations will be fully and automatically refunded to the guest in the original form of payment.
- All pre-paid Disney Dining Plan packages will be given a refund for the total amount paid.
- Guest who have booked a package with the Free Dining offer will also get a refund for the money paid and the opportunity to re-book a package with a 35% room discount.
Canceled Dining Events
For the moment, Disney has also canceled all special dining events and experiences. Here is the current list of canceled dining events:
- Afternoon Tea at the Garden View Tea Room
- Cake Decorating Experience at Amorette’s Patisserie
- Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night
- Dine with an Animal Specialist
- Dining with an Imagineer – Cítricos
- Dining with an Imagineer – The Hollywood Brown Derby
- Disney Early Morning Magic – Fantasyland
- Epcot Forever Dining Package
- Fantasmic! Dessert & VIP Viewing Experience
- Fantasmic! Dining Package
- Ferrytale Fireworks: A Sparkling Dessert Cruise
- Festival of the Lion King Signature Dining Package
- Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace
- Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing
- Frozen Ever After Dessert Party
- Highway in the Sky Dine Around
- Jiko Wine Tasting
- Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage
- Rivers of Light Dessert Party
- Rivers of Light Dining Package
- Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience
- Sense of Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Signature Celebration at Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Taste of Magic Kingdom Park VIP Tour
- Tiffins Talks
- Victoria & Albert’s Chef’s Table Dinner
- Wanyama Safari
- Wonderland Tea Party at 1900 Park Fare
“We understand how much excitement, thought and time goes into planning your visits to Walt Disney World Resort and realize some of these changes may be disappointing. Please know we will be here to help you, as our Cast remains focused on delivering magical experiences and incredible storytelling for everyone who visits.”
No reopening dates have been given for these canceled events and tours. Disney will continue to monitor the situation and reopen them when possible.
How Long Will These Changes Last?
Unfortunately, at this time we don’t know how long these changes to dining in Disney World will go on for. At this point, if you want to go to Disney World, you are going to have to follow these new policies and procedures.
These changes will last through the “reopening phase” in Walt Disney World. Just how long of a period the reopening phase is, we still don’t know. It will be however long is necessary according to government and health officials to protect the guests and safely run the parks.
Though we don’t have an exact date when dining in Walt Disney World will go back to normal again, we are pretty sure it will be a while still. Our guess is at least through the rest of 2020 if not longer.
If that doesn’t fit with your idea of a Disney vacation, you will probably want to push your trip off until some of these guidelines are not needed anymore. Check out our post on Visiting Disney World in 2020 vs. 2021 for more information on which is the right decision for you.
I want to know what you think about the changes to dining in Disney World…
- Which change affects you the most?
- What has been your experience so far since restaurants reopened?
Let us know in the comments section below!
If you enjoyed this article, as always I appreciate it if you’d share it with others via social media. I work hard at making this website into a useful resource for you and your family to plan your visit to the Disney Parks and I hope it can help you! Thanks 🙂