If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World Resort, you’re probably wondering what to expect. After all, even if you’ve been before, there’s a lot that has changed. Of course, these differences don’t change the fact that Disney is a magical and exciting place, but they might change how you plan your trip, as well as how you tour the parks. Therefore, its nice to know what to expect going in. Some of the biggest changes we’ve seen revolve around dining. For this reason, we’re going to use this article to point out these changes in order to help you plan and prepare accordingly.
Let’s start by discussing reservations. Clearly, reservations are something you’ll want to think about long before you even step foot in a park. Therefore, it makes sense to discuss this topic first and make sure you know what you need to know before your reservation window opens up.
- 60-Day Dining Reservations: There was once a time when guests could make a Disney dining reservation a full six months in advance. This is no longer the case. Now each person’s booking window opens only 60 days in advance.
- Onsite Guest Reservation Loophole: Those staying onsite have a small advantage when it comes to dining reservations. While they do still have to wait until 60 days before the start of their trip to make their reservations, they are able to make reservations for their entire trip of up to 10 days on the day that booking window opens. This means that if they are taking a 10-day trip, they actually get to book 70 days out for the last day of their trip, giving them a huge leg up when it comes to snagging popular reservations.
- Reservations Required at Hotels: It used to be that as long as the restaurant had seating available, a person could walk into any of the Disney Resort Hotels and dine without an issue. These days, all guests must have a dining reservation in order to enter a Disney Hotel that is not their own.
2. Modified Offerings
In addition to changes in how the dining reservation system works, there are also some in-restaurant modifications you will definitely want to know about.
- Fewer Character Meals: Currently, there are very few character meals being offered. These include options such as Chef Mickey’s, Tusker House, Topolino’s Terrace, Garden Grill, and Hollywood and Vine.
- Modified Character Dining: Even those restaurants mentioned above aren’t offering their usual character dining experiences. Instead of characters approaching tables, they are simply walking through and waving, stopping only for the occasional (and quick) socially distanced photo.
- No More Buffets: Buffets are not currently being offered on Disney property. This makes sense—after all, a buffet seems like the perfect place for germs to be spread. Nevertheless, it is a bit sad.
- No Dinner Shows: Dinner shows are also temporarily suspended. While we all love to enjoy some good entertainment while dining, you have to admit that having actors singing into a packed room probably isn’t the best idea right now.
- Reduced Hours: Another thing to note is that some restaurants have reduced hours at the moment. For this reason, we recommend checking the hours of any eatery you plan to visit in order to ensure it’ll be available to you when you’re ready to eat.
- Limited Menus: We should also mention the fact that some restaurants are currently working with a limited menu. Therefore, it might be a good idea to make sure you’re going to be able to grab that favorite treat before making your dining reservations.
3. Preventative Measures
Finally, we are going to touch on some of the preventative measures Disney is taking in their restaurants in order to keep guests and Cast Members healthy.
- Different Menus: Many restaurants are offering single-use paper menus or digital menus rather than their typical reusable booklets. This cuts off yet another avenue for germs to be spread between guests.
- Enhanced Cleaning: As is the case with most places these days, Disney has also upped their expectations in terms of cleaning. Tables and chairs must be wiped down very regularly, and other parts of the restaurant are kept spotless.
- Distanced Seating: In order to maintain social distancing, Disney has rearranged some tables and closed others. This means there is less seating available, and you may have to wait a bit longer to be seated.
- Masks Required: Guests are required to wear masks in all common areas indoors while on Disney property. This includes restaurants. You may of course remove your mask when you are seated, but otherwise, you will be asked to mask up at all times.
- Cashless Payment Preferred: Last but not least, we should point out that the folks at Disney much prefer cashless forms of payment at this time. Paying with your MagicBand is usually a good bet, as it keeps contact to a minimum.