If you have a Disney World vacation planned for 2021, there are a few key things you should know. There are still many changes and modifications in place since the parks began their phased reopening in the summer of last year, and many of those changes have to do with dining.
Table Service dining still looks and feels a little different than what you’re likely used to, so let’s outline some of the major differences and what you can expect next time you sit down to eat in Disney World!
Not every dining location is open.
Over a year since the closures first began, there are still a number of dining locations across Disney World that have yet to reopen. Some of these locations are fan favorites, like ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. As of this writing, ‘Ohana has yet to announce any reopening plans.
If you have a favorite restaurant in Disney World, be sure to check ahead of your vacation to see whether or not it is open. While the majority of Table Service restaurants have reopened, that doesn’t mean every single one is available.
Your phone is a big part of your dining experience now.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek commented this year that technology will continue to play a prevalent role in the guest experience. When it comes to Table Service dining in Disney World, you may be surprised to see just how important it will be to have a phone when it’s time to eat.
Many Disney World restaurants use Mobile Dine Check-In, which allows guests to virtually begin their dining experience, either through My Disney Experience or via QR code in the restaurant’s lobby. There’s also Mobile Dine Walk-Up Waitlist, which gives guests the opportunity to view which Table Service restaurants have walk-up availability that day. This feature is also available through My Disney Experience.
Once you are sat down at your table, the technology doesn’t end! One of the new health and safety features implemented at Disney World are digital menus that you read by scanning a QR code at your table. So make sure someone’s phone has a healthy charge before you dine! (If you need or want a physical menu, be sure to ask!)
Make sure you’re up-to-date on current face mask policies.
Face mask policies are expected to remain in place at Disney World through 2021, so be prepared before you travel! Pack extra face masks and be aware of Disney World’s guidelines. When it comes to dining, there are some new changes in 2021 that you’ll need to keep in mind.
Guests are being asked to keep their face masks on until their food or drinks arrive. This policy is in line with Disney’s other current policy of mandating that guests be stationary and physically distanced in order to eat or drink.
As with many of your local restaurants, you are also asked to wear face masks whenever you are not seated at your table. So if you get up to go to the restroom or you need to walk outside for whatever reason, make sure your face mask isn’t far!
Character dining is still looking pretty different
Finally, we wanted to quickly revisit the subject of character dining. If this is a big component of your Disney World vacations, there are some big changes you’ll need to know about.
Many of Disney World’s character dining locations are open and still offer characters — but in a modified fashion. Characters will not approach individual tables for photos and autographs. Instead, they will roam around the restaurant and may stop to pose for physically distanced selfies with guests.
Some restaurants have more limited character offerings than they have in the past. For example, at Cinderella’s Royal Table, only Cinderella will come out to greet guests (again, from a safe physical distance).
Other character dining locations have yet to reopen at this time, including Tusker House, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, and ‘Ohana. In addition, Crystal Palace has reopened, but as of this writing they are not including characters.
We hope this list was helpful in painting a fuller picture of what you can expect when you dine at Disney World in 2021. Disney has not shared how long these policies will remain in effect, but we will keep you up-to-date on the latest health and safety guidelines and we will share any and all new information!
What is your all-time favorite restaurant in Disney World? Let us know in the comments below!
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