Walt Disney World has announced the return of fan-favorite restaurant ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Village Resort and unheralded gem Sebastian’s Bistro at Caribbean Beach. In this post, we’ll offer opening dates, Advance Dining Reservation timeframes, plus what else we can expect from WDW dining for the next few months.
We love to eat at Walt Disney World, and the reduced restaurant lineup and scaled back menus have been among our biggest post-reopening disappointments. Physical distancing started out as the big culprit there, both in terms of seating for guests in the dining rooms and for Cast Members in kitchens and behind the scenes.
As park attendance and hotel occupancy rates have increased since the start of summer, Advance Dining Reservations have become increasingly difficult to score. While physical distancing is no longer as much of an impediment to improved dining capacity, staffing shortages have become a bigger issue. Thankfully, Walt Disney World is starting to resolve these problems and we’re seeing more and more restaurants return. Here are details about the return of Sebastian’s Bistro and ‘Ohana…
Let’s start with Sebastian’s Bistro at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. This table service restaurant will open on June 24, with nightly walk-in availability through July 4, 2021. (Presumably that means via Walk-Up Waitlist in the My Disney Experience App.)
Advance Dining Reservations will be available for booking starting on June 10, 2021 for meals on and after July 5, 2021.
As a reminder, the Disney Skyliner gondolas stop at both Caribbean Beach and Riviera Resorts, and Sebastian’s Bistro is a short walk from either. (On a related note, see our Disney Skyliner Sip & Snack Strategy for a good time on your non-park day at Walt Disney World!)
If you’re unable to score ADRs in Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, are staying at Pop Century, Art of Animation, or just want to make the trek out to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, it’s a fun flight.
When Sebastian’s Bistro reopens, it will continue serving delicious tastes of the Caribbean, but via a new family-style meal at dinner. To my knowledge, this is the first time during the reopening that an a la carte menu has transitioned to family style.
This menu will get you started with Sebastian Bistro’s signature buttery house-baked pull-apart rolls, which are a personal favorite of ours. That will be followed by the Taste of the Caribbean platter, which includes oven-roasted citrus chicken, slow-cooked mojo pork with mango sambal, and grilled flank steak with mojito relish. The Taste of the Caribbean platter comes with sides of cilantro rice and beans, vegetable curry, and grilled broccolini. Coconut shrimp can also be ordered as an add-on to your meal. For dessert, Sebastian’s Bistro will serve the popular coconut-pineapple bread pudding.
If you gave me 25 guesses as to which Walt Disney World restaurant would reopen next, I wouldn’t have gotten this one right. Maybe on guess number 26. Maybe. (Eh, probably actually would’ve gone with the Diamond Horseshoe debuting a new abomination of a menu.)
Despite it being a relatively new venue, Sebastian’s Bistro never really caught on, and just when it was starting to see more traffic thanks to the Skyliner and Riviera Resort, the closure happened. Part of me feared that might be the final nail in its coffin. (I still fear the same for Spyglass Grill, and I really hope to be wrong about that!)
In any case, this comes as a colossal relief, as we absolutely love Sebastian’s Bistro (click here for our full review). While I feel like other family-style menus have been a downgrade or lateral move at best, I’m cautiously optimistic that the change here will be a net positive for both the restaurant and guests.
This could be just the shot in the arm Sebastian’s Bistro needs, making the restaurant more appealing and accessible to families. Personally, I am very much on board with the idea of unlimited pull-part rolls. Normally, it’s foolish to waste valuable stomach space on bread at an all you can eat restaurant, but I’ll have to make an exception here!
While I wouldn’t have gotten the first one right with 25 guesses, I would’ve gotten this next restaurant right with only a single guess. ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will be reopening on July 9, 2021 with Advance Dining Reservations going live on June 10, 2021.
‘Ohana will again offer its all-you-care-to-enjoy breakfast and dinner offerings when the table service restaurant reopens. Although Disney characters will not be hosting breakfast, a strolling musician will entertain guests for dinner. (As someone who cares exclusively about dinner at ‘Ohana, that right there sounds like a win!)
For breakfast, start with pineapple-coconut breakfast bread, followed by Stitch and Mickey Mouse waffles, then skillets with ham, sausage, and breakfast potatoes.
The ‘Ohana dinner menu features all-you-care-to-enjoy platters of grilled beef steak, roasted chicken, sausage, and island shrimp casserole served with fried rice and roasted broccolini. ‘Ohana pot stickers, crispy soy chicken wings, and the signature ‘Ohana bread pudding served warm with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream are back!
I’m excited for ‘Ohana…but not nearly as excited as I am for Sebastian’s Bistro. I know that’s almost certainly an unpopular opinion, and it’s likely in large part because the return of ‘Ohana in July or August was an inevitability, whereas Sebastian’s Bistro feels like it’s coming out of left field.
Also, if I’m admitting to my unpopular opinions, I think ‘Ohana is a little bit overrated. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but not the end-all, be-all that some Walt Disney World fans have made it out to be. Some of the new menu choices (looking at you, shrimp casserole!) strike me as a tad questionable, while some of the omissions (noodles?!) are also dubious.
With all of that said, you better believe we’ll be making Advance Dining Reservations ASAP for ‘Ohana! I am very eager to revisit it and (hopefully) be proven wrong in calling it overrated. There’s literally nothing I love more than eating delicious food that also forces me to eat crow, figuratively.
Speaking of which, expect Advance Dining Reservations to book up quickly for ‘Ohana (probably less so for Sebastian’s Bistro). Due to physical distancing and the reduced capacity that entails, staffing shortages, and the immense popularity of ‘Ohana, you’ll definitely want to be online right when ADRs drop on Thursday.
On the topic of physical distancing and staffing shortages, earlier this week we covered how Walt Disney World tweaked its physical distancing verbiage to allow for the relaxation of table spacing in restaurants. In that, we noted how another party was seated at a table directly adjacent to us, no more than a couple of feet away at Geyser Point.
We subsequently dined at Whispering Canyon Cafe, and it was a very different story there. Above is a photo of the main dining room during our breakfast; as you can probably see, most tables are marked with the “not available” signs. We believe this is a result of staffing shortages rather one Wilderness Lodge restaurant not getting the memo.
Presumably, more tables will be brought online as soon as staffing allows for it. This goes not just for Whispering Canyon Cafe, but for restaurants all around Walt Disney World. (We’ve observed many tables still being marked as unavailable at numerous locations around the parks & resorts since this weekend; the only one at which we’ve dined is Whispering Canyon Cafe.)
Until the restaurants have sufficient Cast Members to seat more guests, the optics of having signs on the tables indicating they’ve been taken out of commission in the name of your health and safety is better than nothing at all. Removing the signage and telling walk-up guests the restaurant is “fully booked” when it’s plainly visible that over half the tables are empty might be a bad look.
In this same release about the triumphant return of Sebastian’s Bistro and ‘Ohana, Walt Disney World announced that BoardWalk Ice Cream Shop…exists, I guess.
Normally, I would just skip over that part, but I just walked between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT in 92º heat for no particular purpose and just so happened to take a photo of BoardWalk Ice Cream Shop along the way. Now I have an excuse to share that photo, and feel slightly vindicated in my dumb decision to walk while Sarah took the Skyliner. Okay, not really–but it’s “important” for us to occasionally race to see which mode of transportation performs better. 😉
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What do you think of this news of restaurants reopening at Disney’s Polynesian Village and Caribbean Beach Resorts? Excited for the return of Sebastian’s Bistro and ‘Ohana? Thoughts on the new menu options at either or both? Disappointed that more isn’t returning for earlier in Summer 2021? Hoping for more ‘restored normalcy’ announcements in the near future? Planning on going to Walt Disney World this summer, or holding off until the start of the 50th Anniversary celebration? Does this have you optimistic or pessimistic 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!