Disney Dining Strategies in the Age of Coronavirus
Walt Disney World has changed quite a bit due to the pandemic. Sure, the magical moments remain plentiful, but Disney couldn’t run everything the same.
For starters, due to capacity limits, Advanced Dining Reservations rules include shorter booking windows, and the Disney Dining Plan is unavailable.
Plus, safety concerns come into play, as you may do things differently on your end on your next trip.
You’re probably wondering how to eat in the age of Coronavirus. Here are my thoughts.
Table Service Strategies
Sit-down meals come with some new considerations. For example, most character meals either remain closed or have dropped the buffet aspects.
Obviously, communal serving stations present nightmarish health risks. So, places like Akershus and Hollywood & Vine can’t operate like normal.
In fact, Disney currently offers a Relaxation Station inside Akershus.
Meanwhile, Chef Mickey’s has returned, but it doesn’t have any performing characters. Also, servers bring plates of food to your table.
What I’m saying is that the Disney you know isn’t quite the one available right now.
You must adapt, but you’ll discover some unique benefits in doing so. For instance, Advanced Dining Reservations windows don’t open until 60 days before your trip.
This is actually a very good thing, as Disney cleared the books of any prior restaurant reservations.
During your trip, you’ll enjoy a rare opportunity to dine at some of Walt Disney World’s most popular restaurants. Ordinarily, these places would book before you ever got a chance at them. However, Disney has limited the number of reservations available.
Counterintuitively, you have a better chance at booking Advanced Dining Reservations since you’ll face much less competition.
I would suggest making a list of all the places where you’ve always wanted to eat. This trip presents the best opportunity to turn those dreams into reality.
Table Service Considerations
The one decision you’ll face involves safety. Disney has implemented many new policies to protect you during the pandemic. However, you may still worry about a few aspects. After all, most Table Service restaurants feature indoor seating.
Many of you wouldn’t feel safe dining indoors at a restaurant in your neighborhood. So, the thought of doing it at Disney may not appeal to you.
I’ll add that many Orlando residents have stated that they feel safer at Disney restaurants than anywhere else in the city.
Still, you may have followed COVID-19 news and understand that plenty of mystery surrounds the spread of the disease indoors.
If so, you may prefer to prioritize Quick Service restaurants instead. I’ll discuss those in a moment.
New Table Service Policies
First, I will point out a couple of safety features you may not know.
Disney recently altered its policies to protect guests even more. You must pass a temperature check before you enter Disney hotel restaurants.
You also must pass this temperature test before going into any of the theme parks or Disney Springs.
So, Disney has created a firewall against guests showing one of the tell-tale signs of COVID-19, a fever.
Also, Disney has streamlined the seating process. When you arrive at your restaurant, you no longer need to check in with the host/hostess. In fact, Disney discourages that behavior.
Instead, you’ll find a QR code at the host stand. When you check this code on your phone, you can signal the restaurant that you’ve arrived.
Similarly, Disney has eliminated some of its classic restaurant menus. In their place, you’ll discover either a disposable menu or another QR code.
You’ll use one of these items to order, thereby reducing risk.
Many healthcare officials describe Disney’s safety practices at indoor restaurants as the gold standard.
Still, there’s no way to eliminate all chances of infection. Leaving your house to go anywhere comes with some risk right now.
Quick Service Confessions
I’m a Table Service restaurant guy as a rule. I love to sit down and relax at a Disney restaurant, taking my sweet time to savor a delicious multi-course meal.
However, I’ll take a different approach during my next trip. I’ll partake at Quick Service restaurants much more frequently.
You can guess the reason why. Many grab-and-go eateries at Walt Disney World feature outdoor seating.
I’m one of those people who hasn’t eaten at an indoor restaurant since early March. I was actually doing pretty well at Marvel trivia at a local place right when the world caught fire on March 11th.
Since I can’t cook, I eat out a lot. I mean several times a week.
So, I’ve changed a lot due to safety concerns.
While I’m willing to go to Walt Disney World since I’m that big a fan, I’ll still take steps to protect my health.
Quick Service Strategies
Specifically, I’m going to utilize Mobile Ordering virtually all the time.
I want to skip the lines as much as possible, and I prefer contactless payment, too.
With My Disney Experience, I can order a meal, pay for it, and pick up my order. Best of all, I’ll only interact with one person at most.
Disney introduced Mobile Ordering to improve efficiency at its Quick Service restaurants.
Admittedly, the company needed to take this step, as some places suffered from long lines and scattershot order accuracy.
I’m dubious that park officials intended to commit to a more significant split of Mobile Ordering meals vs. regular ones.
However, like with so many other industries, Coronavirus has escalated the speed with which change has occurred.
Many customers who have tried Mobile Ordering for the first time this summer will never go back.
The Benefits of Mobile Ordering
You should join this club. The best way to safeguard your health while dining is to use Mobile Ordering.
You’ll avoid crowds and excessive cast member interactions. Plus, you don’t have to tap your Magic Band or swap a credit card back and forth.
Had you even realized that your credit card is a high-touch item?
Dangers abound during the pandemic. If you can find a Mobile Ordering restaurant with available outdoor seating, you’ll sidestep most of them.
Plus, you’ll have a more efficient meal experience. You can signal the restaurant when you’re ready for the chef to prepare your meal.
Of course, Disney has introduced something new during the pandemic. Some of its most popular Quick Service restaurants employ booking windows now.
When you order at these places, you’ll select a 15- or 30-minute window to pick up your meal.
This measure is presumably short-term, but I suspect Disney may make it permanent if it improves restaurant revenue.
I’m the strongest supporter of Table Service restaurants in Disney fandom. Yet, even I appreciate the benefits of Mobile Ordering during the pandemic.
Okay, those are my thoughts on how to approach the pandemic. Do you agree or disagree with any of them? Let me know in the comments.