Enjoyable! Dining at Disney World has always been enjoyable. It’s one of our favorite past times. Whether it’s sitting down for a great steak dinner at Le Cellier or popping in for a quick bite at Satuli Canteen, we love eating our way around Disney World. With all the changes due to COVID, we wondered how dining at Disney World would differ, and most of all if it would still be our favorite past times. The dinner bell is ringing, looks like it’s time to eat!
Say hello to your new best Disney friend, My Disney Experience. More now than ever before, My Disney Experience is vital in enjoying dining at Disney World. Almost every dining experience both in the parks and the resorts will use My Disney Experience in some way. There are three key things to know when it comes to food and My Disney Experience, Advanced Dining Reservations, Mobile Ordering, and the Walk-Up List. We’ll dive deeper into each of these areas.
When Disney World reopened one of the big changes to dining was when your window for making sit down reservations opened up. The timing shifted from 180-days in advance to 60-days. In the DVC Duo house, this was a huge win. We have a hard enough time figuring out what we’re going to eat tomorrow, let alone 180-days from now. All your advanced dining reservations can be made through My Disney Experience. It’s definitely worth checking back on a regular basis, as reservations are popping up all the time. Additionally, restaurants around Disney World continue to reopen. For example, Todd English’s Blue Zoo and Shula’s Steakhouse reopened during our trip.
Our biggest recommendation is to become familiar with the My Disney Experience app, as well as, make sure you have the latest version. If you do not have a smartphone while you’re in the parks or resorts, don’t worry, Disney has cast members will be able to assist you.
Mobile ordering has been a favorite of ours for a while. When it comes to quick-service dining at Disney World it has more or less become a requirement. For all the quick service locations within the parks and most of the locations at the resorts, cast members directed us to use My Disney Experience to mobile order. Overall, the service worked flawlessly. Many times our food was ready within 10 to15 minutes of placing our order. The only gotcha we had was forgetting to click the “we’re here prepare our order” button a couple of times. What can we say, we were distracted. Those cavalcades are so darn cute!
What we enjoyed the most about how Disney has changed up the quick service process is the seating. Right now, only guests with a mobile order that is ready are allowed to sit. That’s right, no more saving tables. We never had any issue finding a table and most of the time a cast member pointed us in a direction where multiple tables were available. We observed the cast members cleaning every table the moment a party departed in preparation for the next guests. The only time we saw a hick-up with the process was at Pecos Bills Tall Tale Inn & Cafe in the Magic Kingdom. From what we could tell many guests were lining up outside the entrance to pick-up their order before it was ready. If you see this happening, we recommend walking up to the cast member by the entrance and letting them know your order is ready. Many times we were let right in to pick up our food.
The one thing we found challenging about mobile ordering being the only option at the quick-service locations in the parks is that you had to mobile order everything. Yes, even a bottle of water, as many of the snack carts are currently closed. But, we fully understand why Disney is doing this and it’s a very small thing that didn’t impact our experience at all.
It should be noted if you’ve set-up charging privileges to your room that mobile order does not show up. Instead, it goes directly to the card associated with your My Disney Experience account. You can use gift cards and other forms of payment like Apple Pay with mobile ordering.
Sit Down Restaurants
Got your smartphone? Good, we’re going need to again. Arriving at a Disney sit down restaurant is a little different these days. Advanced Dining Reservations at the restaurants are required for dining (most of the time). Outside of every dining location is a sign with a QR code to scan. This instructs you to scan the code to begin the check-in process for the restaurant. The other option for checking in for your dining reservation is through your My Disney Experience app. You’re able to check-in up to 20 minutes before your reservation time. We found using the app worked best, as we could check in from anywhere in the park, and then when our table was ready we received a text message. Especially, since waiting within the restaurant lobby area is currently not an option.
Similar to arriving at the park, arriving at the restaurant a cast member took our temperature before we were sat. Once seated you are able to remove your face-covering, but asked to put it back on if you need to step away from the table for any reason. Some guests kept their face-covering on until food arrived and others choose to remove it right away, it’s all about what you’re comfortable with. On the table was another QR code to scan for the menu. Additionally, we found many of the restaurants had specials, for example, The Wave had their infamous bacon and eggs dish. If you need the allergy menu just ask the server and they’ll bring out a paper menu for you.
Overall we found the sit-down dining at Disney World very enjoyable. Needless to say, the food was on point. While many of the menus were more limited, the chefs were putting out fantastic dishes. Entering the dining room we could tell the host/hostess always made a concerted effort to bring guests to their tables in a way that best kept with physical distancing. All the tables were at least six apart, with many further. This created a great overall dining experience, as many of the dining rooms were quieter than normal. The one thing that took a moment to get used to was the servers wearing face-shields. After the first time, it became the norm for us. It was a little challenging to hear them at moments as the shield would dampen their voice, but it never bothered us.
The Walk-Up list
Do you know how we said you need an advance dining reservation most of the time? While, dining at Disney World is a little different right now, in the best way possible. Previously, it was near impossible to get a table at a Disney World restaurant with a reservation. Now, it’s definitely possible. Many of the restaurants have a walk-up list you’re able to join. You can join the waitlist through the My Disney Experience app (you have to be within 0.2 miles). Or, if there is a host stand you can ask the cast members to be added to the list.
Let’s just say we took advance of this new option. From a dining perspective, this is something we hope Disney keeps. Many times we would call an audible and dine at a different restaurant than we originally planned. We were even able to get a table (bar seat) via the walk-up list for California Grill.
The one thing we noticed is if the walk-up list is showing full via My Disney Experience it doesn’t always mean that it’s full. We found asking the host stand worked best. According to a couple of cast members, they are still working through everything with the My Disney Experience version of the waitlist feature.
Still one of our favorite past times! Right now could be one of the best times for dining at Disney World. With the parks closing early, we were able to enjoy fantastic meals every night. Additionally, with the lower number of guests, the Disney chefs are definitely showing off their skills. The one thing we wish was different was the ability to enjoy in-park dining at a different park than where we had a park reservation. If there was a way for dining only park hopping, that would be wonderful. With so many great restaurants in Epcot, we found ourselves many times wishing we could head over for dinner. On the plus side, we had the opportunity to try out many of the resort sit down restaurants, and definitely found some new favorites!
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