As you may have heard, character dining at Walt Disney World Resort has been put on an indefinite hold as part of the phased reopening process amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. The only place to enjoy a character dining experience during the resort’s phased reopening is Topolino’s Terrace!
Disney Dining, in and of itself, has always maintained high standards of quality, cleanliness and sanitation, even before the spotlight of this topic surfaced following the novel Coronavirus. This comes as no surprise since Disney prides itself on guest safety, experience and customer service. Food safety can literally make or break a food establishment’s reputation under normal circumstances, with or without the lurking Covid-19 cloud. The restaurant sector, in my opinion, is likely to be the area of the Walt Disney World Resort to have the easiest time adapting to the new safety measures because of the strict precautions that have always been in place. Many of the measures we will now see in the resorts, parks and amenity areas are anything but foreign to a restaurant. Strict and efficient hand-washing, as well as the methods to prevent cross contamination and food borne illness, have always been of upmost importance throughout Disney Dining.
The changes that will be visible from a guest’s perspective are masked servers, 6-feet plus spacing between dining parties to accommodate new social and physical distance standards, and as you may have expected, the absence of visiting characters to your table. Covid-19 spreads through transmission of large respiratory droplets. By minimizing the visitors in and around your table and food, as well as the shared surfaces you touch, you can carry on in a relatively safe eating environment, much like the one you’ve been eating in at home or at your local restaurant. While there is an inherent risk of Covid-19 exposure when visiting any populated area, as Disney states openly on a number of written communications, experiences like food service can continue under new safe circumstances. To read more on how to safely dine out while visiting reopening restaurants, click here.
While buffets are truly a thing of the past, characters can still be seen in a few places. As far as dining goes, Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera at the new Disney Vacation Club Resort, Disney’s Riviera Resort, is open for dining reservations and has the man himself – Mickey Mouse – plus his famous pals bouncing around to say a quick hello as they pass by from a safe distance during the “A la Art” breakfast offering! This is what is now called a “modified character dining experience.” I thoroughly enjoyed my most recent visit and meal here shortly before the Coronavirus shut down in March. Here’s a quick review.
Ambiance – Topolino’s Terrace has a bright and airy Mediterranean vibe which is extended through the dining room right out on to the outdoor Terrace where you can take in beautiful views of the Riviera Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort and Skyliner, as well as Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The décor is elegant and unique which is enhanced by Mickey and his artistic pals. The area is wide and spacious.
Food – The food here is more upscale than other Disney dining experiences. A fan favorite is the complimentary pastry course which is served in an artist’s pallet serving tray accompanied by delicious dipping sauces. The menu is a la carte (or a la Art) similar in style to that of Trattoria al Forna character brunch on the Boardwalk.
Allergy-Friendly – I was pleased to find the Allergy-friendly menu to be expansive, complete with an allergy-friendly donut bucket to substitute for the standard complimentary pastries!
Location – The location of the restaurant is easy to find upon arrival to the Riviera Resort thanks to ample signage and friendly cast members who can direct you as needed. An elevator is needed to reach the rooftop location and will now be limited in capacity.
Pricing – The breakfast runs $42 per adult and $27 per child (ages 3-9). Dinner prices can be found here.
If you’ve already visited Topolino’s Terrace and you are familiar with the place, you can expect to enjoy a similar feel but with the necessary changes listed here.
- Mobile Dine Check-in: Simply check-in via “My Plans” in the My Disney Experience App on your smartphone. You’ll receive a text when your table is ready. Additionally, you can make dining requests and note dietary restrictions in the app here as well.
- Masked Cast Members, including your server: While patrons may remove their masks to eat and drink while seated at their table, servers are required to wear a mask.
- Limited capacity: Topolino’s Terrace is a large room to begin with. You may not see tables and chairs physically removed from the dining room, but you will notice some areas marked “Unavailable” as to distance each dining party and those in the lounge area. For example, some four to five-seat table tops will now seat two guests. You can still book reservations for a larger party.
- Limited Menu offerings: A limited menu is to be expected, as with most restaurants undergoing phased re-openings, due to limited capacity kitchens and staffing, as well as supply chain. As with most of the changes we are seeing, this is certainly not permanent but can be expected for guests visiting this summer.
- Single-use QR code paper menus: You will receive a disposable small sheet of paper with a QR code which can be scanned into your phone to present the restaurant’s menu. This will be available in several languages including French, Spanish and Portuguese. You may request a paper menu if need be. You can also read the menu ahead of time by visiting the Disney website.
- Waves from Mickey, Minnie, Daisy and Donald as they pass and dance by from a safe social and physical distance: You will still be able to photograph the characters as they parade through, but you will no longer be able to pose with and hug them as in previous times. In lieu of personalized autographs, guests will receive a signed postcard as a special souvenir at the end of the meal.
- Single-use paper checkbooks for payment: Rather than reuse the familiar leather checkbooks, you will receive a disposable paper envelope. If you choose to use a pen provided by the server, they will sanitize it prior to re-purposing it for the next guest to follow.
- Limited capacity: Capacity is limited in the restaurant, kitchen and even in the elevator that takes you to the top floor where the restaurant is located. Be sure to arrive with enough time prior to your reservation to allow for a wait for the elevator.
- Deep cleaning in between dining parties: Each table will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized with effective solutions prior to re-set.
More questions? No problem! Disney Cast Members are happy to chat with you about the new measures and practices put in place for guest safety. There is no tiptoeing around the fact that these are notable changes and can make guests confused or uneasy. Disney recognizes this and, in addition to the written signage on property and information available online, are happy to explain and seek answers for you to ensure your guest experience is still an enjoyable one full of fun and whimsy at Topolino’s Terrace!
Of all the available dining options for the remaining 2020 summer at Walt Disney World Resort, I anticipate Topolino’s Terrace being a top pick for Advanced Dining Reservations. We predict this will be a popular spot, not only for the characters, but because of the food and service as well. Will you be dining here soon? Will you wait until a later time to visit? Comment below and let us know your thoughts!