Like many other experiences across Walt Disney World, dining has changed significantly during COVID-19. In addition to enhanced cleaning and physical distancing protocols, there are certain restaurants that have yet to reopen, or that have reopened with altered dining experiences. We’re hopeful that many of these will be back to normal in the months to come, but for now, here are some of the top dining experiences we’re missing the most at WDW.
1. Crystal Palace (with Characters)
One of my first meals at Walt Disney World was at Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace, and anyone with a soft spot for Winnie the Pooh is surely missing this all-you-can-eat dining experience. Buffets are practically impossible to enjoy safely during COVID-19, so they’ve all been closed or reimagined at Walt Disney World. Crystal Palace is currently open for dining with select family-style dishes. No characters and no buffet. We’re eager for the characters to return, even as a modified character dining experience like Chef Mickey’s for example.
2. Victoria & Albert’s
We sure miss this award-winning, world-class restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of dining here, you’ll know why! Whether it’s dinner among friends in the private dining space of the Queen Victoria Room, a gourmet 11-course feast while conversing with your chef as part of the Chef’s Table experience, or an expertly-prepared meal in the sophisticated Dining Room, a meal at Victoria and Albert’s is unforgettable.
3. Monsieur Paul
France is known for its culinary delights, so it makes sense that one of the dining experiences we’re missing most in Walt Disney World is the France pavilion’s fine dining restaurant, Monsieur Paul. With fabulous views of Epcot’s World Showcase, and classic French dishes reinvented for today’s guests, not to mention the perfect wine list, Monsieur Paul is the perfect place to experience both the food and culture of France.
4. Yachtsman Steakhouse
One of our favorite restaurants in a WDW resort setting, Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is a signature dining experience we’re missing right about now. With its casual yet elegant nautical décor, and its dry-aging room where you can watch cast members select your steak, we’ve never had a less than perfect experience – or bite – at this stellar steakhouse!
5. Restaurant Marrakesh
One of the most delightfully immersive dining experiences in Walt Disney World’s Epcot, Restaurant Marrakesh is unfortunately not currently available, and it’s sorely missed. For starters, the interior is breathtaking, with its soaring ceilings, ornate arches and hand-crafted mosaics covering nearly every surface. Guests can try an abundance of delicious Moroccan dishes and beverages, including mint tea service, Pan-seared Lamb Loin Medallions and Hummus-Rosemary Pancakes and Assorted Moroccan Baklavas. But the best part of a meal here is the entertainment; guests can enjoy live music from traditional Moroccan music, and even take part in a belly dancing lesson!
6. Tusker House Restaurant
Another casualty of the pandemic’s buffet closures, Animal Kingdom’s Tusker House is one of the dining experiences we’re missing most right now. We love the variety of African flavors at this restaurant, and the stunning marketplace vibe (picture those vibrant fabrics overhead, and hanging from balconies as if freshly laundered). And of course, we’re missing hangouts with Safari Donald Duck and his friends, who are always ready for their close-ups!
7. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining dining experience in all of Walt Disney World! We miss the wacky vaudeville hijinks of the Hoop-dee-Doo Revue, put on by the Pioneer Hall Players. The feast, featuring all the comfort food you could imagine, would be delicious enough on its own, but when accompanied by a full two hours of singing, dancing and riotous comedy, it’s downright irresistible – and sadly missed.
As far as breakfasts at Walt Disney World go, it’s hard to find a better overall experience than the Best Friends Breakfast at the Polynesian Resort’s ‘Ohana! It’s one of the dining experiences we miss most at WDW. We’re not sure what we miss more – the delectable tropical breakfast feast, the whimsical island theming, or the fun of meeting Lilo, Stitch and friends as they pose for photos and sign autographs.
9. California Grill (with Fireworks)
California Grill, at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, is happily currently open. But one of the most memorable dining experiences you can have at Walt Disney World, watching Magic Kingdom’s Nighttime Spectacular as you eat the wonderful cuisine at California Grill, is sadly currently unavailable. We’re missing it a lot, and looking forward to viewing the Happily Ever After fireworks from the restaurant in the future!