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Things are very different at Disney World right now. There are no fireworks shows, no character greetings as we know them, no fast passes, and no buffets. However, my family is still going there this summer after our vacation last summer was cancelled due to Covid-19. And, we plan to have a blast on the rides regardless of all the changes!
Usually, I look forward to the restaurants at Disney World. The atmosphere and food are hard to beat. But this time, I’m lowering my expectations when it comes to dining at Disney World.
Changes that Affect our Dining Plans
While guests used to have the ability to make dining reservations six months prior, dining reservations now open up at 60 days prior. According to several fan chat boards, this change actually makes it harder to get reservations. At 6 months out, some people had not yet booked their trips to Disney, so there was less competition for dining reservations. But at 60 days out, more people have their plans in place. Combined with lower capacity in restaurants due to social distancing, getting reservations for the most popular restaurants will be challenging.
In addition, fewer restaurants are open, and the menus are more limited than in the past. My family’s very favorite character meal, breakfast at ‘Ohana with Lilo and Stitch, is not happening. Disney’s Polynesian Resort isn’t fully opening until July, so ‘Ohana restaurant is not open during our trip.
Chef Mickey’s and the Crystal Palace no longer have buffets. Winnie the Pooh and friends are no longer roaming the Crystal Palace. The highly anticipated Space 200 restaurant, which was originally slated to open in 2019, has no opening date in sight.
On the plus side, some counter-service restaurants are now taking mobile orders. And, my family will have our own kitchen since we rented a DVC villa for our stay. Since the parks have reduced hours, we may eat more dinners in our villa than during previous trips.
Dining Priorities for This Visit
My first priority is to secure a reservation at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant in Hollywood Studios. In my opinion, this is the most themed restaurant in the parks. Guests sit in actual cars in a dark drive-in movie theater setting. The food is nothing to write home about, but it’s less expensive than other restaurants. See this review for more details. Sci-Fi Dine-In is a very popular restaurant, so I may have to stalk the website continually to have a chance at snatching a reservation.
Since we are staying at Disney’s Beach Club Villas, of course we will have to snag a reservation at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. We have eaten there before, and the sundaes are to die for. Although we likely won’t order the kitchen sink, we will save room for a smaller sundae.
My husband and I would like to eat dinner at Chefs de France in Epcot by ourselves. We ate there on a trip a long time ago when we got engaged, and we honeymooned in France. We haven’t been back there together as a couple since our engagement trip. My 17-year-old will be in charge of our younger kids while we enjoy a date night.
I’m not as passionate about other dining reservations, but I like to have an indoor lunch every day in the parks to escape the heat. I’m still considering the Crystal Palace for Magic Kingdom, even without the characters. We may splurge on the Garden Grill restaurant in Epcot, which still has distanced characters roaming. The entire restaurant rotates in a circle! And for Animal Kingdom, we will plan to eat at Yak & Yeti. I ate there with my kids a few years ago. The food was decent and the decorations were fantastic.
What About Character Meals?
As you can see, my dining reservation plan is very light on character meals. Right now, Disney World only has four on-site character meals:
- Garden Grill at Epcot (lunch and dinner only)
- Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios
- Topolino’s Terrace at Riviera Resort (breakfast only)
- Chef Mickey’s at Contemporary Resort (breakfast only)
To be honest, now that my kids are older, character dining is not as big of a priority for them. They are all about the rides. And since my youngest is now 10, she is charged as an adult at these prix fixe menus. For the five of us, a character meal costs around $250. I’m tempted to book Topolino’s Terrace after reading Harmony’s recent rave review, but the price does give me pause.
What are your favorite restaurants at Disney World? Would you splurge on character meals if the characters can no longer come to your table?
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.