While all of Disney World’s reopened restaurants now feature similar health and safety measures, such as distanced tables, QR code menus, and increased sanitization, a few dining locations have really stood out to us as examples of the BEST of Disney World dining post-closures. Some may offer outdoor dining, while others may be rare character interaction opportunities, but in our minds, a few deserve a shout out.
If you have a trip to Disney World coming up and you’re looking for some table service ideas, we have ten restaurants that we think you should consider! Depending on your travel party’s preferences or level of comfort, each of these locations has at least one great thing going for them in a reopened World!
Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ — Disney Springs
We have always been fond of Homecomin’ since it first opened in Disney Springs, but these days we have even MORE to love with the new Shine Bar & Social! This extension of Homecomin’ opened up shortly after Disney Springs’ grand reopening earlier this year.
For those of you who aren’t quite ready to dine indoors, both Homecomin’ and Shine Bar Social offer outdoor seating. It doesn’t hurt that the food here is downright delightful. Southern home cookin’ and great drinks? Sign us up.
Kona Cafe — Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
With the non-Disney Vacation Side portion of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort closed for guests until summer 2021, folks are going to be looking for their Poly fix! And with no ‘Ohana, Spirit of Aloha, or Trader Sam’s until further notice…what’s a Disney World foodie to do?!
The answer: TONGA TOAST at Kona Cafe! The other answer: OHANA WINGS AT KONA CAFE!!! Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Kona Cafe has come to our rescue with not only being a great table service option at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, but a not-so-secret way to STILL get some of our favorite dishes while we wait for the other restaurants to reopen.
Keep in mind that the monorail station at the Polynesian is closed temporarily! If you are looking to dine at Kona Cafe, you’ll need to drive yourself or in a rideshare, take a bus over from a park or Disney Springs, take the monorail to the Grand Floridian and walk to the Polynesian, take a boat from Magic Kingdom if they are currently running, or go to the Transportation & Ticket Center and walk to the Polynesian. So you still have lots of ways to get there!
Looking for even MORE dining options at the Polynesian? Captain Cook’s is also open as an alternate option with outdoor seating available (AND they serve Tonga Toast at breakfast cheaper than up at Kona Cafe!). Tambu Lounge is also open, so while you can’t get those iconic drinks at Trader Sam’s, you CAN get a Lapu Lapu in a pineapple!
Nomad Lounge — Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Years after it first opened, Nomad Lounge is still a hidden gem within Animal Kingdom. In a park that doesn’t have nearly as many table service options as the others, Nomad Lounge is a shining beacon of wonderful drinks, a relaxing environment, and some yummy eats. Best part? No Advance Dining Reservation required and we rarely, if ever, have a wait to sit down here!
Nomad Lounge features the all-important outdoor seating, which is key for many guests looking to stay safe while visiting Disney World this year (The CDC still recommends dining in open-air whenever possible). On top of that, you can order a few items from the neighboring signature restaurant Tiffins, including their wonderful Bread Service and, more recently, their Lobster Mac and Cheese.
Oh, and another great thing about Nomad Lounge? They serve AWESOME churros (which frankly is not as easy to say in Disney World as it is in Disneyland). Plus most of their drinks are top-notch as well. We’ve had great experiences with the food and drinks here.
If you want more outdoor dining options in Animal Kingdom, we cannot recommend Satu’li Canteen enough. Its food rivals that of most of the table service dining at Animal Kingdom for a fraction of the price!
Wine Bar George — Disney Springs
We simply love Wine Bar George. It has some serious down-to-earth vibes while still being a very nice place to eat (not to mention that Master Sommelier George Miliotes is just about the best guy around!).
The food here is DE-LI-CIOUS, and they also have a knock-out brunch menu! The Basket is a great on-the-go alternative (since Wine Bar George tends to work at a slower pace, for all the right reasons) if you prefer to find your own distanced spot and eat your food away from others.
Why do we love Wine Bar George NOW as much as we did pre-closure? They have outdoor patio seating! So there’s no need to worry about dealing with indoor dining if that isn’t your cup of tea (or glass of wine) these days. We’ve visited Wine Bar George a number of times since reopening and still have just as wonderful things to say about this location. The food, drinks, and service are top-notch.
Sanaa — Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Sanaa has always been one of our personal favorite restaurants in Disney World for several reasons. First, let’s start with the obvious: the food here is the bomb dot com. From their signature Bread Service to their tasty Butter Chicken, Sanaa rarely disappoints.
Second, there are the incredible views of the savanna at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. That means that you don’t even need a theme park ticket to Animal Kingdom to see some of the animals! With Disney’s new Park Pass Reservation System as an additional requirement to enter the parks, lunch at Sanaa can take a whole lot of hassle out of your trip if all you really want is to check out some animals and eat some amazing food. As you can see, they can get RIGHT up on your table (through the glass, of course!).
Perhaps one of the best ways Sanaa has taken their service to the next level post-closure is by utilizing the new Table Service To Go feature on My Disney Experience. That’s right my friends, you can get Sanaa’s Bread Service along with their other incredible menu items TO GO! If you aren’t super down with dining at a restaurant these days, you can still enjoy some of the best food on property anywhere you like!
Topolino’s Terrace — Disney’s Riviera Resort
Topolino’s Terrance is one of the few places on property at this time where you can experience character dining AND a great meal (AND see spectacular panoramic views of Disney World!).
Want a socially distanced selfie with Mickey Mouse? Topolino’s Terrace is one of the few places you can spot Mickey outside of a theme park as of this writing. That list is slowly but surely growing (you can also see him in cute vacation attire at Ravello Italian Restaurant in the Four Seasons on property, and soon he’ll be back greeting guests at Chef Mickey’s).
Topolino’s Terrace is also a great way to plan your day around the shortened hours at the parks. Lately, EPCOT has been opening pretty late (even as late as 11AM or 12PM in some cases!). So, grab breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace, then hop on the Skyliner to EPCOT with plenty of time to spare!
Garden Grill — EPCOT
The food at Garden Grill is served family-style. While buffets are currently on hold for the time being, this has always been a preferred way of being served in our book. There’s no hassle getting up and down from a table, and the food is still all-you-care-to-eat! Plus, when characters come around, no scrambling to get your food (and family) back to the table in time from the buffet to snap a pic!
This is a SOLID choice if you’re traveling with little kids and looking for a character dining experience in a reopened Disney World while you’re in the parks (show us a mac and cheese-loving kid who wouldn’t love some mac topped with itty bitty Goldfish crackers like it’s served here!).
Even socially distanced, you still get loads of character time here. We waved and snapped distanced selfies with Pluto, Mickey, Chip, and Dale multiple times over the course of our meal. While there are other experiences currently available (one of which we’ll get to in a moment), Garden Grill DELIVERS when it comes to quality food at a reasonable price where you can say “hello” from afar to some characters!
Le Cellier — EPCOT
Le Cellier has truly stood the test of time when it comes to fan-favorite eats in EPCOT. If you’re looking for top-notch dining, this has been a solid choice for years. However, if you’ve been looking for a reason to head BACK to Le Cellier, now is a great time during Disney World’s phased reopening.
Why is that, you ask? Physically distanced tables are probably the BEST thing that’s ever happened at Le Cellier. It’s not nearly as cramped as it was pre-closures, giving us all more elbow room (and if you’ve dined at Le Cellier before, you know how precious of a commodity elbow room is!). This space was “cozy” to put it nicely (others might lean more towards “claustrophobic!”) so the ample space between tables makes it easier to hear your dining party and breathe easy.
California Grill — Disney’s California Grill
In previous years, California Grill has been hit or miss. The food is typically good here, but due to the popularity of the spot for Magic Kingdom fireworks viewing n the evenings, it was often cramped and, at times, rushed. Our most recent trip post-closures was wonderful! The service was on point, the food was stellar, and the view was as good as ever.
If you want a break from Magic Kingdom but you don’t want to schlep your party ALL the way back to your hotel room, just hop on the Monorail and head to the Contemporary. This spot makes a great location for an early dinner or, if you want to spot the Cinderella Castle projections that recently debuted for Christmas, it’s a great spot to catch a glimpse after dark!
The food is great here. With long-time favorites like the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli (that just returned to the menu!), and new goodies like the amazing Beer and Cheese Soup we had recently, this spot has some great food to its name.
As always, California Grill has those STUNNING 15th floor views of the Magic Kingdom. While fireworks are currently suspended, you still can’t beat those panoramic views, especially after the sun goes down.
Be Our Guest Restaurant — Magic Kingdom
Shh! This last one on our list is a secret! Well, not really, but Be Our Guest Restaurant DID turn out to be a bit of a secret character dining experience when it first reopened! Back when we thought character dining was limited to Topolino’s Terrace and Garden Grill, Be Our Guest surprised us by bringing the Beast back to greet his guests at lunch AND dinner!
Since then, there have been other announcements of character dining returning, including Cinderella making brief appearances at Cinderella’s Royal Table. However, if you’re stuck between Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table, and you’ve already eaten at both (or if meeting princesses is not a must-do for your party), the scales tip towards Be Our Guest.
The lunch menu here has shifted post-closure to their prix-fixe signature service…which to be honest is a bit overpriced for our taste. When the lunch menu was their quick-service menu, it was a slam dunk as far as quick-service food went. But, for a lot of folks Be Our Guest is a must-do and they are willing to pay top dollar to spend some quality time in the Beast’s castle!
We DO miss their Quick Service lunch and we hope it returns, but we did enjoy our prix-fixe table service lunch in the meantime!
We hope this list gave you a few ideas for potential dining options on your next trip to Disney World! As we said at the beginning, EVERY dining location in Disney World has adopted new health and safety procedures that include increased cleaning, physically distanced tables, and more. But these ten locations offer even MORE when you want the best in Disney World dining that is safe or gives you a bit more bang for your buck.
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Visiting Disney World soon? What are your biggest dining questions or concerns when it comes to the reopened parks and resorts? Let us know in the comments!