Space 220 Restaurant is one of the most highly-anticipated new additions at Walt Disney World, opening in Epcot’s Mission Space pavilion. This post covers everything you need to know–plus new construction photos, the latest on when Space 220 will open, concept art, and answers to some frequently asked questions about this upcoming WDW table service dining option. (Updated October 15, 2020.)
Let’s start with the Space 220 Restaurant’s opening date, as this has become a common reader questions for the last year. Originally, Walt Disney World announced that Space 220 would open by the holiday season last year. Once it became obvious that construction was far behind schedule, Disney quietly reworded the opening timeframe to “this winter.” That was all pre-closure
Following the reopening, Walt Disney World has been pretty silent about Space 220 Restaurant, and there is currently no official opening date or even season when this new Epcot eatery will debut. Delaware North and Patina Group, the parent company and operator of Space 220, have provided a more specific timeframe…
While Space 220 Restaurant is not owned or operated by Walt Disney World, Patina Group is a longtime Disney partner. The company operates many other restaurants at Walt Disney World, including in Epcot and Disney Springs. Prior to Walt Disney World closing, multiple job listings were posted for “Mission Control” to the Delaware North/Patina Group website for Space 220 Restaurant.
These job listings included Restaurant Manager, Sous Chef, Cook, Runner & Busser, Cook, and more. However, all of these unfilled positions have been removed from the website. At present, there are several jobs for Patina Group in Florida listed–but none for Space 220 Restaurant.
At this point, we have no reason to believe Space 220 Restaurant will open anytime soon. Construction delays were an ongoing and persistent issue with Space 220 prior to the parks closing, and work was paused during the closure. Even though construction long ago resumed and has now mostly wrapped up, Space 220 Restaurant is still several months away from opening.
Physical work is no longer the main barrier to Space 220 Restaurant’s blast off. As touched upon above, there’s the issue of hiring and training staff. Beyond that, there’s the viability of the restaurant while operating at reduced capacity. Even though Florida Lifted All Capacity Caps on Restaurants & More, Walt Disney World is still following CDC guidelines for physical distancing.
This means that about half of all tables remain unfilled, and will for the foreseeable future. With restaurant margins being razor thin–even with Walt Disney World’s inflated price points–operating at a significantly reduced capacity is not exactly desirable for a third party.
It’s one thing for an established location that was already open prior to March. Those have fixed costs, so even though they’re operating at a loss right now, it’s less of a loss than if they remained closed. It’s another entirely for a new location, which does not have all of those fixed costs and is better off waiting to start up its operations.
In short, our new expectation for a best-case scenario on the opening date of Space 220 is last year’s original “this winter” goal–but keep in mind that “this winter” ends March 20, 2021. While crowds have picked up as of Fall 2020 and will continue to grow leading into the holiday season, we highly doubt Space 220 Restaurant will open in 2020.
Insider Scott Gustin is reporting something similar, posting that March 2021 is the internal target for the restaurant’s debut. He was the first to report about Space 220’s past woes, including construction delays and broken glass “observation” panels that had to be reordered. March 2021 strikes us as a reasonable goal–right as Spring Break and Easter crowds descend upon Walt Disney World and hopefully right around the time physical distancing requirements are relaxed.
We will be paying close attention to Space 220 Restaurant news & rumors until we find out something. We will send out an email the moment an opening date is released and Advance Dining Reservations open. This is going to be a hot ticket ADR, so we recommend signing up for our free email newsletter so you can receive a notification when Space 220 reservations go live!
On the Space 220 Restaurant employment site, job descriptions are introduced with the following on-theme pitch: “Mission Control invites you to join the crew at Space 220 for an expedition like no other. The planets have aligned for you to be a part of the latest cutting-edge and out-of-this-world restaurant.”
“Help ensure a smooth departure as guests blast off to enter the International Space Station suspended 220 miles above the Earth’s surface and assist in delivering an unmatched intergalactic dining experience. With stellar views and gourmet menu offerings, Space 220 is truly ‘The Height of Dining.'”
The actual description of the dining experience sounds equally immersive. To begin the voyage at Space 220 Restaurant, guests will board a special space elevator that will ascend to the stars. Along the way, viewports will give you an aerial view of Epcot as you travel high above the planet. Upon your arrival, guests will enjoy a celestial panorama from the space station, with the ability to peer out and enjoy amazing daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up.
If the concept art is accurate, Space 220 will have tiered seating, making it like Coral Reef, but in outer space. Rather than windows into an aquarium, there will be screens and projection technology simulating outer space. (Sorry to ruin the “magic,” but it’s not actually 220 miles up. The actual building is like 3 stories high and doesn’t have windows.)
Space 220 will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner–which is good news because being open for most (all?) of the day should help meet demand. At Space 220 Restaurant, guests will dine from a menu featuring modern American cuisine, more than 1,000 bottles of the world’s finest wines, and a wide selection of craft beer.
We’d love to see a menu similar to Catal, one of Patina Group’s underrated Disneyland Resort restaurants. (If we’re dreaming, pizzas like those served at Via Napoli would be nice…and loaded fries like at the Edison…and…)
While Walt Disney World has not officially announced as much, we expect that Space 220 Restaurant will participate in the Disney Dining Plan. Currently, the restaurant’s webpage states “Dining Plans Not Accepted.” This is simply boilerplate/placeholder language that, as we’ve previously noted, is often not accurate.
Our expectation is that it’ll begin as a one-credit table service restaurant. While the concept is novel and demand is sure to be sky-high at first, nothing about Space 220 says “2-credit Signature Dining experience.” Of course, popularity is a huge key to what’s “worth” two credits, and we’ve seen both Be Our Guest Restaurant and Le Cellier both make that jump. Over time, the same could happen here.
In terms of its location within Epcot, Space 220 Restaurant is an extension of the Mission: Space pavilion, tucked away between that and Test Track on a backstage plot of land. Conceptually and story-wise, the restaurant is supposed to look similar to Seattle’s Space Needle, but at a much higher elevation.
In reality, Space 220 Restaurant is a nondescript green show-building (above) that’s tucked away mostly from guest view. It’s only visible while riding Test Track or in that area–but not from Mission: Space.
Those dining at the restaurant will enter through the reworked extended queue of Mission: Space. Some modifications have been observed in this area for the last couple of months, and we’d expect signage to soon be installed off to the side of Mission: Space.
Again, this is reminiscent of Coral Reef, which has its entrance tucked away off to the side of the Seas pavilion. The difference here is that Space 220 Restaurant is in a newly-constructed, windowless building and not part of the existing Mission: Space building.
Overall, we’re really excited for Space 220 Restaurant. Well-designed, immersive environments is what differentiates Walt Disney World dining from its real world counterparts, and this could instantly be one of WDW’s best themed restaurants. We’re hopeful that this lives up to the concept art and backstory to deliver a guest experience that suspends disbelief.
On top of that, the food at Space 220 Restaurant could actually be good thanks to the partnership with Patina Group. While we love Walt Disney World’s themed restaurants, many of those venues coast on the setting and deliver subpar meals. There’s a solid chance the setting and menu will both be well-executed at Space 220, making this a rare Walt Disney World restaurant that excels at both. Our fingers are crossed!
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Are you excited for the Space 220 Restaurant at Epcot? Does the concept of Coral Reef…but in outer space…appeal to you, or will you wait and see how the menu looks? Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts or opening date prediction? 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!