This article has been updated since it was originally published to include the most recent information.
One of the easiest ways to meet characters at the Disney Parks is by booking a character dining reservation. But with social distancing and health and safety measures in place, will Disneyland and Disney World still offer character dining in the future after the parks reopen?
Character dining gives guests the opportunity to meet Disney characters (including the must-sees like the Fab Five, rare characters that don’t often do meet and greets, and all of our favorite Disney Princesses) without having to wait in line. Typically at a character dining meal, Disney characters (both “face characters” like princesses and princesses and “fur characters” like Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh) will walk from table to table greeting guests, taking photos with them, signing autographs, and generally interacting with them.
But when Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort — both of which offer a variety of character dining options — reopen, will character dining still be offered as it always was, will it be modified to abide by social distancing guidelines, or will it be cut from the Disney dining options altogether? Here is all the information we know so far.
Character Dining at Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disney Resort
At Disney Parks around the world, we can see examples of how character dining could be modified in the U.S.
Shanghai Disney Resort is currently offering a modified version of character dining. Instead of characters visiting each table, they will simply make an appearance at each meal and wave to guests, who are able to take photos of them at a distance.
Below is the new description of character dining at Lumiere’s Kitchen at the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel:
Starting March 14, Lumière’s Kitchen will offer brunch and dinner during weekends. Guests will be able to enjoy brunch from 11:30-14:00 on Saturday and Sunday as well as dinner on Saturday evenings from 17:30-21:00. Special appearances by popular Disney characters add a touch of star-studded magic. Choose from an array of appetizers, salads, international entrées and of course, a dazzling array of Beauty and the Beast-themed desserts.
Hong Kong Disney Resort is also offering a modified version of character dining, even though Hong Kong Disneyland has not yet reopened. Guests can eat at Enchanted Garden Restaurant at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, although the characters will be maintaining social distancing during each meal. You can read more about that here.
When Will Character Dining Resume at Disneyland and Disney World?
Given the fact that character dining has resumed at Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland, many Disney fans and upcoming vacationers want to know if and when character dining will resume at Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
Before Disneyland Resort temporarily closed in mid-March, it hosted six different character dining options:
- Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park at Disneyland
- Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
- Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast at Storytellers Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
- Donald Duck’s Seaside Breakfast at Disney’s PCH Grill at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel
- Goofy’s Kitchen Breakfast and Dinner at Disneyland Hotel
Without any news pertaining to Disneyland’s reopening, we don’t yet know if character dining will be offered.
Before Walt Disney World Resort temporarily closed in mid-March, it hosted character dining at 14 different restaurants at the theme parks and Disney resort hotels:
- Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom
- The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom
- Garden Grill Restaurant at EPCOT
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at EPCOT
- Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Perfectly Princess Tea at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Cap May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Story Book Dining at Artist Point with Snow White at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk
Disney World has announced several changes coming to dining, and we have now confirmed that Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort will officially be the only character dining location that is available during the beginning phases of Disney World’s Reopening. Disney says that Topolino’s Terrace will offer “modified” character dining, but hasn’t yet shared what that means. But character dining currently taking place at Shanghai and Hong Kong Disney Parks could point us toward how it will look at Disney World.
It’s important to keep in mind the point that was raised at the beginning of this article: a huge benefit of character dining is to offer guests the opportunity to meet Disney characters without waiting in a line to do so. However, the examples of modified character dining at Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland (in which characters will say hello to guests from a distance and will not visit every table for meet and greets) show that this benefit of meeting characters has been essentially taken away.
Character dining at Shanghai Disney and Hong Kong Disney now doesn’t offer much of a different experience to seeing characters inside the Disney Parks. For example, because Shanghai Disneyland is not offering any character meet and greets and now guests can only wave to and take photos of characters from a distance, then character dining at Shanghai Disneyland also does not offer many other benefits, other than the opportunity to eat a meal and wave to Mickey Mouse.
Would you still pay for character dining if the experience was modified, just like it is at Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disney Resort? Should Disneyland and Disney World still offer character dining, even if it is modified, or should it not be offered altogether? Let us know in the comments.