Between pandemic closures, refurbishments, and new offerings, a lot is happening with Disney restaurants right now. Even though the Parks have been open for almost three years following the pandemic closure, several restaurants and dining experiences still haven’t returned to their original operation.
However, starting next week, two of these locations are bringing back the experiences that made them special.
When the Walt Disney World Resort closed and reopened for the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, several restaurants were unable to operate their full experiences due to safety concerns. Character meals were unable to have characters, buffets were turned into family style or a la carte menus, and restaurants moved to a limited capacity. Some restaurants remained closed for months after the Parks reopened. Dining locations have slowly returned to usual operations in the months and years following the closures.
Recently, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in EPCOT reopened with the usual Princess character meal, and both the Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom and Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom returned to their classic buffets (previously, they had shifted to a family style menu).
Starting next week, two more restaurants are returning to their pre-pandemic experiences.
The beloved Cinderella’s Royal Table will see the return of Princess meet-and-greets to the restaurant. When the restaurant first reopened, Cinderella or another princess would make a brief experience in the dining room to wave to Guests, but no Princesses would visit your table for the traditional meet-and-greet. Your family will be able to dine alongside Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine, Snow White, and Aurora, and maybe even a surprise Princess every once in a while. Having the Princessess back is a welcome return to this coveted dining experience inside Cinderella Castle. Princessess will return on February 28, and Disney’s website states that prices at the restaurant may change to reflect the changing experience.
While Chef Mickey’s was one of the earliest restaurants to return after the Parks reopened, being one of the more popular restaurants in Walt Disney World. Characters returned a few months later, but the meal stayed family style as opposed to the traditional buffet. However, starting March 1, the Chef Mickey’s buffet will return. We can look forward to classic Chef Mickey’s favorites like Mickey Mouse waffles, macaroni and cheese, and of course, the beloved ice cream bar.