We now know that the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will reopen on July 11, followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15. Things will be different: temperature checks, masks, and reservations will be a part of the new Disney experience.
But what about dining? And specifically, buffets?
Dining As An Adventure
Advanced Dining Reservations are a highlight of many Disney World Vacations. The most coveted Disney World Restaurants book up six months in advance. Some of the most popular choices are those that offer all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet-style dining including Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Cinderella’s Royal Table at Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom, all of which are also Character Dining Experiences.
What’s more, even restaurants that aren’t officially buffet-style offer toppings bars, beloved by many guests, to customize your meal however you want to. A couple of examples including Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café and Casey’s Corner, both in Magic Kingdom.
Buffets are indeed a common and very popular form of dining in all of the Disney Parks and aboard Disney Cruise Line; however, the current pandemic has brought up some concerns regarding these dining opportunities. In fact, the CDC and the FDA have warned of limiting any self-serve stations, and it might even be a requirement for a reopening plan to be approved.
The FDA has added this statement to its official checklist for restaurant health and safety checks: “Have you limited offering self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and drink stations?”
That’s right- even self-serve drink stations might be on the chopping block at least temporarily.
Buffets will very likely have to be modified to cafeteria-style dining (where a Cast Member would serve you) or be transformed into a counter-service or table-service dining experience. Alternatively, buffets could change rules to allow a certain number of people to be at a station at a time, include hand-washing or sanitizing stations, and change tools and utensils regularly.
Whatever the change is, it will have to take place in the near future and may last for some time; however, it’s unlikely that buffets will close completely or forever. These changes will likely be temporary until there is a vaccine, a cure, or the health officials are sure that the virus is under control.
Disney has said that health and safety is their top priority, and they will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments accordingly. For now, go ahead and keep dreaming and planning your special Disney meals. Just remember to be flexible and understanding of the changes that Disney is making to keep us all safe and healthy. You might even find new experiences that you enjoy just as much!
Do you think Disney will stop buffets upon reopening?