The parks at Walt Disney World reopened in mid-July, and fans couldn’t be happier. But part of Disney’s being able to reopen is based on the resort’s ability to have procedures and protocols put in place to keep Cast Members and Guests as safe as possible. Disney World has implemented a brand-new system for making reservations in the parks, a new way of entering the parks (temperature screenings and everyone six feet apart), and a new way of dining. Dining at Disney World has always been fun, and that hasn’t changed. But it’s important to know what has changed about dining at Disney so you’re best prepared for your next trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Dining Changes You Need To Be Aware of at Walt Disney World
7. Dining reservations are a little different.
Before COVID-19, dining reservations could be made at restaurants at Walt Disney World up to 180 days in advance. Now that the parks have reopened, the window for reservations have been shortened—by about 4 months. At this time, you’ll only be able to make reservations 60 days in advance. Be sure to have in mind the restaurants at which you’d like to eat and try to make your reservations as soon as possible within this new window.
6. Some restaurants are not in operation.
Though the parks have reopened, part of that “phased reopening” means that some restaurants are not open to Guests at this time. A few examples are Woody’s Lunch Box at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Casey’s Corner and Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom. For the latest updates about which restaurants are open and which ones are not in operation, visit Disney World’s official website before your trip.
5. Some dining experiences are modified.
Because of the pandemic, Walt Disney World is taking extra steps to ensure the health and safety of Guests and Cast Members, and part of those extra steps extend to character dining experiences. For example, Garden Grill at Epcot’s Land Pavilion is currently in operation, but instead of being able to meet Mickey, Minnie and all the gang when they visit at your table, you’ll see Chip ‘n’ Dale from several feet away. Not all characters are available at all times, and characters are particularly good about maintaining physical distance.
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4. Check-in is different too.
The way in which Guests check-in for a dining reservation has changed a bit as well. Now, instead of approaching the host stand to check-in, you’ll simply check-in via the My Disney Experience app. In fact, the app alerts you when it’s time to check-in for your dining experience. Simply complete the check-in via the app, letting the restaurant know how many are in your party and whether you have any special requests, such as dietary restrictions or food allergies. Then, moments later, you’ll receive a text on your cell phone, letting you know your table is ready.
3. About those face coverings . . .
By now you probably know that face coverings are required everywhere on Disney World property for Guests ages 2 and older. The only exception is for Guests who are actively eating and drinking while stationary and physical distanced. That’s great for dining at Disney. Just remember to wear your mask or face covering until you are seated at your table.
2. Buffets look a bit different too.
Some of Disney World’s dining experiences revolve around a buffet of all kinds of amazing food. But during this pandemic, those buffets are a bit different—but who doesn’t like a buffet right at their own table? That’s right. For example, Biergarten Restaurant in the Germany pavilion at Epcot is usually an all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet. Now that the parks have reopened, the restaurant operates a little differently. Instead of Guests walking to the buffet and filling their plates, servers bring platters of food to the table. And it’s still all you want to enjoy, so if that first platter of schnitzel and sauerkraut wasn’t enough, all you have to do is ask for another one!
1. No more menus.
You’ll remember that pre-COVID-19, most restaurants had menus on the tables—with the exception of buffets. But in the parks now, restaurants only offer a sheet of paper with a QR code. Simply scan the code with your phone, and the menu for that restaurant will pop up so you can view the venue’s offerings.