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 info about this upcoming WDW table service dining option. (Updated February 27, 2021.)
Let’s start with the Space 220 Restaurant’s opening date, as this has become a common reader questions for the last couple of years. Originally, Walt Disney World announced that Space 220 would open by the holiday season two years ago. Once it became obvious that construction was far behind schedule, Disney quietly reworded the opening timeframe to “this winter.” That was all pre-closure.
In the nearly 9 months since reopening, Walt Disney World has been mostly silent about Space 220 Restaurant. There have been a couple of teasers for what’s coming this year, and Space 220 has been featured in those, but 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 started to prepare for the restaurant’s debut…
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” for Space 220 Restaurant.
Those listings were all removed from the website around the time of the closure last year. While it’s possible some of those were filled, it seems highly unlikely. That would mean Patina hired for a restaurant not opening for (at least) a year while undergoing layoffs at other restaurants that were operational at the time.
However, there’s some good news on this front. After months of nothing, a new job popped up on the Delaware North careers website for Space 220 Restaurant in February 2021. This listing is for an Executive Pastry Chef, who would develop and maintain the pastry and dessert menu for Space 220 Restaurant, as well as hiring and training the pastry team (among many other responsibilities).
While this listing is a step forward, it also confirms what we’ve suspected for a while: Space 220 Restaurant is not opening anytime soon. Once hired, the Executive Pastry Chef will need to craft that menu, then hire and train their team members. None of that is instantaneous–it’s a process that will take several months. It’s also one that will presumably play out with other executive chef and leadership positions.
While construction delays were an ongoing and persistent issue with Space 220 prior to the parks closing, work long ago resumed and is believed to be finished. The entrance and marquee have both been installed, and are simply covered up with temporary wood boxes (see above photo).
Physical work is no longer the main barrier to Space 220 Restaurant’s blast off. Beyond the matter of hiring and training Cast Members to work at Space 220, there’s the viability of the restaurant while operating at reduced capacity. Even though Florida Fully Reopened and Lifted Capacity Caps months ago, Walt Disney World is still maintaining physical distancing in restaurants and only seated ~50% of normal capacity.
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.
While there were rumors months ago of a March 2021 opening for Space 220 Restaurant, that’s now unlikely. Our new expectation for a best-case scenario on the opening date of Space 220 is the start of summer season–towards the end of May 2021. The worst case scenario would be October 2021. The actual opening date likely will hinge upon when Walt Disney World opts to increase restaurant capacity and relax physical distancing rules. With vaccine rollout going well and cases dropping, that could happen in the near future.
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 (once that returns). 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? When do you expect Space 220 Restaurant will open? Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts? 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!