Even though the parks are back open, dining at Walt Disney World both looks and operates differently now.
And while many of the changes are behind-the-scenes and not something you may ever notice, there’s plenty of other things that are important for you to understand as you plan your trip.
Here’s what you need to know about how dining at Walt Disney works right now:
Are all the restaurants at Walt Disney World open?
Restaurant availability at Walt Disney World right now is fluid. And we do mean very fluid.
We have already seen lots of changes and updates to everything from restaurant hours to meal services and we’ve even seen some restaurants that were previously open close.
In fact, there’s been so many updates and changes that we’ve had to put all the information into a spreadsheet just to keep track of everything.
Because this spreadsheet is large we recommend you open in it a new tab so that you can see all the columns.
Doing that will allow you to filter by restaurant location, meal type, and other helpful information
Are restaurant hours the same?
In many instances the hours are not the same as what they were before or, in instances of restaurants in the parks, the hours may not even be the same as the park hours.
That is why we highly recommend you double check the restaurant hours before you make any plans.
You can do that in a couple of different ways:
My Disney Experience App
If you’re at Walt Disney World the My Disney Experience App is probably the easiest way to double check the hours for available restaurants.
Note: if you’re at home, it is probably easier to get the info directly from the Disney website, so if that’s your situation skip down to the next section for instructions on how to do that.
From the app, select the little “+” at the bottom of the screen:
From the next screen select either “Check Dining Availability” for Table Service options that are currently available OR “Order Food” for Quick Service options that are currently available.
Once you select a restaurant you’ll be able to see the hours it is open.
Here’s what that looks like for Quick Service:
And here’s what Table Service looks like:
Disney World website
We find using the official Disney World Dining website to be a bit easier when tracking down hours since it will show you everything, not just what is currently available at that moment.
After you navigate to the page linked above, you can search by a wide range of options (such as cuisine or dining experience), and if you’re looking for a specific restaurant you can do that, too.
Much like the app, once you select a specific restaurant you’ll see their available hours:
Do you still need reservations?
Yes! You do. Do not sleep on this step of the planning process.
The capacity for the parks has been limited, which may lead you to believe that it is easier to get reservations. But, the capacity for the restaurants has also been limited, so the super-competitive restaurants can still be tough to snag reservations for.
IMPORTANT: For park dining locations, guests need both a park reservation and valid admission and if you wish to dine at a resort, day hotel guests (those not staying overnight at a Disney hotel) will need a confirmed dining reservation.
60 day reservations
Unlike the “before times” when dining reservations were made at 180 days, dining reservations are now available to book online 60 days out starting at exactly 7 am EST.
If you are a resort guest, the process is similar to how things were before in that you’re able to make reservations for your arrival day plus up to 10 additional days.
If you are staying offsite you can only make your reservations at exactly 60 days out, so for multiple day trips you’ll need to do those one day at a time.
As we mentioned above, there are still some reservations that can be tricky to get.
With things changing so much it is challenging to give a definitive list of current hard-to-get reservations but in general, if there is somewhere you really want to dine, snag it right at 60 days out.
In addition, we also recommend you prioritize:
- Restaurants with characters (because they are few and far between right now)
- Anything that is newly reopened (because everybody will be scrambling to check it out)
- Dinner reservations at resorts (with the parks closing earlier than normal, many people are choosing to have dinner at their resorts)
See our Tips for Hard-to-Snag Dining Reservations for additional information.
If you are flexible, same-day reservations are sometimes available. Oftentimes the available restaurants aren’t the most popular, but they can still be good options if you’re looking for a Table Service meal.
One of our favorite places for same-day reservations is Disney Springs. Just make sure you check both the My Disney Experience and Open Table apps for a full list of your options since many of the restaurants there will show different availability between the 2.
Epcot is another place where you can frequently find same day reservations.
Walk-up and waitlists
One of the best things to come out of the reopening is the ability to join waitlists for some restaurants.
Not all restaurants offer this feature, but many do.
For a complete list of restaurants at Walt Disney World that offer a walk-up waitlist, check out the spreadsheet we shared above.
To access a waitlist follow these steps:
- Open up My Disney Experience, select the “+” at the bottom and select “Check Dining Availability”, then select “now”.
- You’ll see a list of restaurants that offer a waitlist. It is important to note that you can only join a waitlist once you are near the restaurant.
- You can select a restaurant to see the estimated wait.
How do I check-in for a reservation?
If you have a table service reservation, many (but not all!) of the restaurants now allow you to use the My Disney Experience app to check-in for that reservation online.
If you have push notifications turned on you’ll oftentimes receive a message that it is time to check-in. You can also go into the My Plans section of the app, navigate to your reservation, and start the process from there.
Note: only the lead person on the reservation will be the one with the ability to check-in on the app.
When you check-in you’ll be able to notify the staff of any allergies, celebrations, or accessibility needs.
At that time you’ll also let them know how many adults and children are dining. In some instances you can even add up to 1 additional guest.
How does Mobile Order work now?
Whenever possible, Disney is strongly encouraging guests to utilize Mobile Order. And, at some restaurants, Mobile Order will be your only option for dining at that restaurant.
The process is basically the same as before with the main differences apparent at pick-up.
To start the process, inside of the My Disney Experience select the “+” at the bottom of the screen and then tap “Order Food”.
Select your restaurant of choice and pick an arrival window.
Put together your order and check-out.
Once you arrive to the restaurant, you can hit that “I’m here” button and they’ll get started making your order. When it is done, you’ll be notified via the app with information on where to pick it up.
Important note: The number of spots for Mobile Order are limited and some Quick Service locations see their Mobile Order spots fill up fast. We recommend you go ahead and snag a spot early (before meal times).
2 additional important things to note:
- To help with physical distancing, you won’t be allowed to enter a restaurant until you receive a text that your order is ready.
- Your food is NOT prepared until you push the “I’m here” button, so you may have a little bit of a wait once you push it. We notice this more at the resort Quick Service restaurants than we do the park restaurants.
Mobile order payment and discounts
When it comes to payment, you’ll have a few options.
First you can use the credit card that is attached to your account. In addition you can also use Apple Pay, a Disney Gift Card, or even a Disney Reward Card for payment.
As for discounts, at this time only Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Member discounts can be applied to Mobile Orders. The discount should automatically be applied if your membership is linked to your accounts.
Keep in mind that not every restaurant offers discounts, but having the discount applied automatically definitely takes a bit of the hassle out of the process (and it is something that we wish they could do more of!).
Can you mobile order at Table Service restaurants?
Guess what? Disney is rolling out the option to mobile order at Table Service restaurants now!
This is a brand-new feature that is currently only available at a few of the resort Table Service restaurants: Ale & Compass (Yacht Club), Kona Cafe (Polynesian), Olivia’s Cafe (Old Key West), Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge), The Wave (The Contemporary), and Three Bridges Bar & Grill (Coronado Springs).
We don’t expect that they’ll be doing the same for any of the in-park Table Service restaurants.
It works exactly the same as what you find at the Quick Service locations and with the offerings expanding it should hopefully provide an easy meal option for guests.
How is dining at Disney World different now?
Just like the theme parks being a different experience with no FastPass+, enforced social distancing, capacity limits, and some experiences being unavailable, dining at Disney is different than it used to be, too.
One of the most noticeable differences is that several restaurants are currently closed. This includes restaurants at the parks, in Disney Springs, and at the resorts.
Some of the closed restaurants, such as Akershus, are being utilized for other purposes.
Others, such as buffets, aren’t operating because the method for serving the meal doesn’t make sense right now. And there are some restaurants that aren’t operating because there just isn’t enough demand for it.
In addition to some favorite dining locations being closed, the overall experience of what it is like to dine at a Disney restaurant right now is different than what it used to be.
Dining locations have reduced capacity. This means that sometimes it is harder to get reservations than it otherwise would be. It also means, though, that you can expect to not be sitting as close to guests as you would have been in the “before times” and that the restaurants overall are quieter.
Tables at both quick service and table service locations have been marked as not available to ensure guests get at least 6 feet of distance between them and the people seated at tables around them.
Guests are also required to wear masks when not seated at their table and actively eating or drinking. This doesn’t mean it isn’t okay to take your mask off once you’re in your chair or booth, you just shouldn’t expect to not be wearing one until you’re comfortably seated at your table.
Another major difference is that almost any food service area that was once self-serve (or had shared-service areas) is now either closed or modified.
For instance, the condiment/toppings bars at Pecos Bill and Cosmic Rays at Magic Kingdom have either been closed or modified to only hold pre-packaged individual servings of items.
And the same can be found at all quick service locations where condiments used to be available via pumps.
Refillable items such as popcorn buckets at the parks and refillable mugs at the resorts are still available.
However, refills are now provided in single-use disposable containers instead of the refillable vessel originally provided.
Buffets have also been either closed altogether or modified to a family-style experience where servers bring shareable portions to each table that can be replenished upon request.
Are the menus the same?
Disney isn’t just implementing safety measures for guests, it has implemented new safety policies and procedures for employees, too.
And, some of those new procedures and policies have made it necessary to change some of the menus slightly.
Whenever possible, Disney has tried to keep fan-favorites but you may find that some things are missing, at least for the time being.
If that is a concern, you can always check the menus on the Disney World website or in the My Disney Experience app to confirm what is currently available.
Do restaurants offer outdoor dining?
The science shows that outdoor dining is safer than your indoor options.
In the past, we sought out indoor restaurants to escape the heat, humidity, and frequent rain showers found in Florida.
But now we try to select outdoor dining options whenever we can just to be as safe as possible.
Read more about your outdoor dining options at Walt Disney World.
Can I dine at a resort without a reservation?
Yes and no.
Not a simple answer, right?
If you want to dine at a resort you are not staying at, you should plan to have a reservation. Guests not staying at a Disney World resort are required to have a dining reservation to dine at a resort.
However, guests that are staying overnight at any Disney resort hotel are able to dine at other Disney World resorts without a reservation but it is still recommended that even on-site resort guests have a reservation in order to guarantee admittance to a resort for dining.
And, keep in mind that walk-up availability at Table Service restaurants is limited so you may only have Quick Service options to select from if you choose to head to a resort without a reservation.
What about the Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan has been suspended indefinitely. Hopefully, at some point in the future it will return.
The dining plan was popular because it allowed guests to prepay for most of their food and helped people plan for and budget dining while on trips.
But, just because the dining plan isn’t currently available doesn’t mean you can’t dine or eat as if you were on the Disney Dining Plan. We’ve created a handy guide to help budget for food at Disney without using the Disney Dining Plan.
Sunday 3rd of October 2021
What a great spreadsheet!.. Please keep it updated - and add the date changes made. I am recommending this to various friends to help plot out where to eat, etc.