Walt Disney World has just announced the reopening of a few fan-favorite restaurants at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios just in time for the Christmas 2020 season. In this post, we’ll offer dates and details, plus what else we can expect from WDW dining for the rest of 2020.
As you’re likely aware, Walt Disney World released a List of Open & Closed In-Park Restaurants back in July, shortly before the theme parks reopened. Since then, several other restaurants in the parks have reopened, and others have returned at the hotels by virtue of those welcoming back guests.
We love to eat at Walt Disney World, and the reduced restaurant lineup and scaled back menus were among the biggest post-reopening disappointments to us. On the plus side, finding fun snacks or a quick meal has gotten easier since Halloween season, and that’s going to be even more true starting Thanksgiving and running through Christmas, as even more dining options reopen at Walt Disney World…
In EPCOT, we’ve already started to see positive developments the last couple of weeks. A handful of locations were closed at first, then only open Friday through Sunday, and now are open daily.
Three such dining options are Kringla Bakeri og Kafe in the Norway Pavilion, Sommerfest in the Germany Pavilion, and Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the United Kingdom pavilion. Other snack spots and food booths will likely follow suit–we just haven’t been able to confirm those yet.
Additionally, Mitsukoshi USA (operators of dining in the Japan Pavilion) announced that Tokyo Dining will be open temporarily November 26 through November 29, 2020 with limited hours. Reservations are not available, as the restaurant will be walk-up only. We’ve seen Cast Members preparing the interior of Tokyo Dining for a while now, and it’s hard to imagine they’re doing all this work for only a 4 day run. More likely, it’ll return “seasonally” as long as there’s demand to sustain operations.
In addition to these restaurants returning to EPCOT, Walt Disney World has announced a few more favorites returning next week through mid-December 2020…
Let’s start with Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where most restaurants have already reopened. The next of those will occur with the reopening of a Toy Story Land fan-favorite.
Beginning November 25, 2020, Woody’s Lunch Box will be the perfect place to lasso that hunger with classic American fare, old-fashioned soda floats and other Toy Story-themed specialties.
Over in Magic Kingdom, and just in time for the holidays, two restaurants will once again offer great food and stunning views of the holiday décor, Cinderella Castle, and Main Street, U.S.A.
On December 17, 2020, more outdoor dining will debut at Magic Kingdom with the return of Tomorrowland Terrace, which has been used as a mask-free Relaxation Station up until now. Tomorrowland Terrace will feature a refreshed quick-service menu of seafood favorites, including lobster rolls, fried shrimp, and fried chicken.
This is the “sleeper news” of the whole announcement.
We’ve had the misfortune of sampling many menus at Tomorrowland Terrace over the years, as it’s a location we really want to love. The views of Cinderella Castle and atmosphere are great, but the food has usually disappointed.
The good news here is that this is almost certainly going to be a menu we enjoy. That’s because it’s likely at least part of the menu from Columbia Harbour House, which remains closed. (Columbia Harbour House is being used to better-accommodate backstage physical distancing.)
Columbia Harbour House has been one of our favorite counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World for ages, and although part of that is due to the tranquil upstairs seating area, the menu also plays a big role. Suffice to say, I’m excited to eat that Lobster Roll while enjoying a waterfront breeze and great view of Cinderella Castle!
Additionally, Tomorrowland Terrace is returning at a time when eating indoors is not ideal. In our view, the lack of open air dining options has been the biggest weakness of Walt Disney World’s reopening process. (See our List of the Best Outdoor Dining at Walt Disney World.)
To be sure, Walt Disney World has done a great job of ensuring physical distancing, appropriate table spacing, and health safety compliance at table service restaurants. In fact, Disney has gone above and beyond what’s required by Florida at this point, and we know a lot of people who have dined indoors at Walt Disney World and reported that “it felt safe.”
However, that doesn’t change the reality that indoor dining is an inherently higher-risk activity. (How restaurants “feel” when it comes to an airborne threat is not particularly conclusive.) With the weather getting nicer and cases spiking throughout the country, offering more outdoor dining–and nudging guests in that direction–right now seems to us like a fairly insignificant move that could dramatically cut transmission.
Our perspective is one of risk mitigation and harm reduction. Through that lens, we’ve been on board with Disney’s reopening plans, but have felt they could stand to improve when it comes to outdoor dining. Going forward, we really hope to see more of an emphasis on moving activities outside and improving ventilation, and less on hygiene theater. But we digress…
Finally, the Crystal Palace will reopen its doors on December 13, 2020. Unfortunately, Pooh and his friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood will be taking a break from greeting guests, meaning it will not be a modified character meal. (At least, not initially–keep in mind that fur characters have returned to other restaurants around Walt Disney World.)
Upon reopening, Crystal Palace will be offering a family-style dining experience. Begin with your dining experience with a seasonal salad and homestyle biscuits. Choose your entree from a pre-fixe menu including crispy fried chicken with honey pot drizzle, fire-roasted prime rib of beef or plant-based crispy-fried cauliflower. Top off the experience with a family-style dessert platter including seasonal fritters, hummingbird cake, and more. Advance Dining Reservations will open on December 1, 2020.
Ultimately, we also cannot help but view this news in conjunction with today’s earlier announcement that Park Hopping is Returning to Walt Disney World in 2021. Obviously, these are two very different topics, but they both are steps towards normalcy. Given that the stretch between Christmas and mid-January is huge for new vacation package bookings at Walt Disney World, we’re expecting more announcements of this sort in the next several weeks. Even if you don’t care about these particular locations, keep in mind that each restaurant that reopens helps a bit in restoring lost capacity and paving the way for the Disney Dining Plan to return.
What do you think of this news of restaurants reopening at EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom? Excited for these options? Think more restaurants returning paves the way for the Disney Dining Plan to come back? Planning on going to Walt Disney World this Christmas season? Think this will provide a nice shot in the arm for the parks? Does this have you optimistic for more dining to reopen at Walt Disney World? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!