Walt Disney World has released new “Know Before You Go” information and policies for its resort hotel restaurants. In this post, we’ll share the latest news and offer commentary about what this means for dining at WDW in the near future, including ADRs, character meal changes, and more. (Updated July 27, 2020.)
Note that some of this info was previously part of our Walt Disney World “Know Before You Go” Resort Info page. However, as Disney continues to release new details about the dining and resort experiences, we felt it made sense to break them out into separate posts (as is the case on Disney’s website) for organization and clarity.
The first thing you need to know before you go to a Walt Disney World restaurant is the rules about what you’ll need to bring. The big one is that face masks for each guest age 2 and up must be worn in all public areas of the restaurant—including while entering and exiting—and can be removed while eating or drinking.
You’ll also need a confirmed dining reservation if you’re a visitor who is not staying overnight at the resort. Resort guests are also strongly encouraged to making ADRs. It’s also highly recommended to have the latest version of the My Disney Experience app on your mobile device, with location services enabled and cashless or contactless forms of payment.
‘Enhanced technology’ will be utilized to maximize your vacation time with family and friends—and minimize your contact with others. This will include increased use of the Mobile Order Service, cashless payments, and scannable codes for select Restaurant Menus. (This means that at a table-service restaurant, you can use your own mobile device to scan a code for access to the digital menu.)
Let’s discuss all of the changes…
Select table service restaurants at Walt Disney World will utilize Mobile Check-in via the My Disney Experience app. This system is exactly what it sounds like–guests use the app to bypass the staffed check-in podium.
When your check-in window arrives, you’ll receive a push notification prompting you to check in via the app. Or, you can begin the check-in process by scanning a QR code located in the restaurant’s lobby. There’s no need to visit the host stand to check in.
From the push notification or QR code, you’ll be able to check in for your reservation—and confirm your arrival time and party details. Once your table is ready, you’ll be notified to proceed to a specified location.
We’ve used Mobile Check-in a few times since the resort restaurants reopened and it has been…fine. Most of the time, the check-in kiosk has no line, no other guests around it, and a plexiglass barrier up (see above). So we’re just standing there using our phones to check-in when we could do the same thing faster by walking up to it.
Restaurant Health Screenings
A new policy as of July 28, 2020 is that guests dining in table-service restaurants at Walt Disney World resort hotels will undergo a temperature screening prior to entering the location.
As with Disney Springs and the theme parks at Walt Disney World, which also require temperature screenings before entry, anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 F or above will be directed to an additional re-screening. Those with temperatures 100.4 F or above will not be allowed entry; those in their party will not be allowed entry either.
This change was just announced and has yet to be implemented, so it’s unclear whether the resorts themselves will have temperature screening tents outside their front entrances (like the parks) run by AdventHealth, or if a Cast Member will conduct the check at the restaurant itself. We’ll keep you posted.
Advance Dining Reservations
Previously, Walt Disney World cancelled all reservations, including Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs). Going forward, Disney has shifted from a 180-day booking window to a 60-day booking window for dining and experience bookings going forward to allow guests to make their plans closer to their visits.
ADRs for theme parks have now reopened and can be made and modified via the My Disney Experience app. That’s the route we recommend, as it’s significantly faster and more efficient than calling. If you’d prefer, you can also contact the Disney Reservation Center at (407) 824-1391 to check availability and make reservations.
Resort Restaurant List
Here’s the resort by resort list of restaurants that are reopening at Walt Disney World:
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village
Kidani Breakfast at Sanaa
Maji Pool Bar
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
Beaches and Cream Soda Shop
Beach Club Marketplace
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Trattoria al Forno (this excludes Character Dining, which is temporarily unavailable)
Leaping Horse Libations
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Contemporary Resort & Bay Lake Tower
Chef Mickey’s (this excludes Character Dining, which is temporarily unavailable)
The Wave… of American Flavors
The Wave Lounge
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
P&J’s Southern Takeout
Meadow Snack Bar
Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Grand Floridian Cafe
Gasparilla Island Grill
Beaches Pool Bar & Grill
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Good’s Food to Go
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
Barefoot Pool Bar
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Everything POP Shopping & Dining
Petals Pool Bar
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera (please note that the Character Dining experience will be modified)
Le Petit Café
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
The Artist’s Palette
The Paddock Grill
On the Rocks Pool Bar
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Whispering Canyon Cafe
Geyser Point Bar & Grill
During this unprecedented period, some of Walt Disney World’s cancellation and payment policies have been modified:
All pre-paid dining and experience reservations impacted by the closure will be automatically refunded.
Reservations made at locations impacted by the closure will not be charged a cancellation or no-show fee.
Disney Dining Plans are temporarily cancelled. If you have an existing resort package with a Disney Dining Plan, your reservation will be updated to reflect the removal of the dining plan from your package. The package price will be adjusted accordingly, and you will receive a refund if you have already paid in full or a reduction in amount due if you have not yet made final payment.
Other Dining Changes
Additional changes to Walt Disney World dining experiences include:
Menu items may vary. For specific menu information, check the restaurant’s online menu when the restaurant reopens.
Character Dining will not be offered during the initial reopening, with the exception of a modified Character Dining experience at Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera.
Dinner shows will not be offered during the initial reopening.
Dining locations will be limited in capacity. Some locations will remain temporarily closed.
Private dining and in-room delivery will not be offered during the initial reopening window.
Mobile order service will be offered at select quick-service dining locations throughout the Walt Disney World theme parks (when open), Disney Springs and select Disney Resort hotels.
It’ll be interesting to see whether other restaurants that offered character dining experiences open in modified form, or without characters entirely as the phased reopening continues. Some of these venues previously hosted ‘regular’ meals (in the case of Artist Point, in the not so distant past) and could easily be converted to standard dining.
Another interesting tidbit is that it does not appear that visitors will be allowed into resorts without dining reservations. This might seem like a colossal change, but Walt Disney World has been trending in this direction for the last couple of years. Trying to park at a resort to go to a lounge or see Christmas decorations can be nearly impossible, and security will routinely turn visitors away if they do not have ADRs.
Our expectation is that this is simply a codification of that informal policy, and not something more. Meaning that guests staying at the BoardWalk Villas probably are not going to be stopped from walking around Crescent Lake to Beach Club Villas, but guests staying at Kidani Village likely won’t be able to drive over to Disney’s Riviera Resort for drinks at Bar Riva.
Ultimately, a lot of these new policies are not seismic changes. While they’re billed as temporary, some undoubtedly will become permanent. Specifically, Mobile Check-In and Scannable Menus come to mind that front, as both are the sort of automation (like Mobile Ordering) that could potentially reduce labor costs will also making for a smoother and more efficient guest experience. Other modifications here, like the suspension of character dining, undoubtedly will be temporary. We’ll keep you updated as more changes are announced by Walt Disney World!
What do you think about these WDW dining changes? Any you view as positive or negative? Do you have plans to visit Walt Disney World this summer or fall, or have you cancelled? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!