There have been a lot of changes in dining at WDW these past few years. The lukewarm reception to the Disney Dining Plan was replaced with frenzied fans vying for Free Dining promotions – and Advanced Dining Reservations.
Be Our Guest introduced a new wave of dining with a restaurant focused on quick service lunches and table service dinners – and the first appearance of adult beverages in the Magic Kingdom. More importantly, until recently the lunch service was running a pilot test of FastPass+ dining reservations. They have been replaced by traditional advanced dining reservations, but this hot spot hasn’t waned in popularity and has set a precedent for more immersive character dining options throughout WDW.
While I have absolutely no insider information on what may or may not be coming to Disney World in the near or distant future, I do have a few predictions to share, some based on rumors, my personal wish list, and plain old good sense.
Star Wars Cantina
The rumor mill has been working overtime on Disney’s Hollywood Studios since Disney bought LucasFilm a couple years ago, and with the newest installment of Star Wars hitting theaters this winter, timing has never been better to expand the park to include a Star Wars themed land, encompassing the existing Star Tours attraction and branching out to a series of other shows, attractions, shopping, and dining experiences.
Dining with Star Wars characters (and their Disneyfied counterparts – like Jedi Mickey) have proven wildly popular at Star Wars Weekends. And with Mos Eisley’s Cantina as one of the most memorable scenes in the original series, it makes sense to bring this fan favorite to life with a permanent addition to the park!
Recently, the famous frozen treat previously found only at Aloha Isle in the Magic Kingdom and Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian Village Resort has been on a tour of the Disney World – Dole Whips have been popping up at Epcot Festivals, Animal Kingdom, and at the neighboring Adventureland quick service stop, Sunshine Tree Terrace. This has led to some internet speculation that Aloha Isle will be shuttering its doors, possibly to be replaced by a new dining option.
The rumors I’ve heard focus on a Princess and the Frog themed restaurant, which kind of makes sense in the location which joins Adventureland and Liberty Square, near Princess Tiana’s meet-and-greet gazebo. Creole food is no stranger to Disney, with Disneyland hosting 3 themed dining locations in their New Orlean’s Square. The popularity of Be Our Guest makes this another great option for dining in the park too.
But truth be told, I’d be more interested to see Tiana’s Palace pop up at the Port Orleans – I think dining at the Moderate Resorts is often overlooked and I’d love to see a revival of their restaurants to make them destinations for guests who aren’t staying at those particular properties! Plus a post-dinner stroll on the Sassagoula River sounds like a dream come true!
The Snuggly Duckling
Gaston’s Tavern has been a smash success with its manly pork shanks and tasty Le Fou’s Brew. It makes total sense as a location in Belle’s Village in New Fantasyland. But I just can’t get enough of Rapunzel, Flynn, and the whole Tangled team! The themed rest area at the west side of Fantasyland is nice, but I’d love to be able to get some Tangled themed treats there too!
While another tavern is maybe a bit too much for this park, a walk-up window selling fun beverages with foamy tops and maybe some pastry or pretzel twists reminiscent of Rapunzel’s braids – that would make my experience complete.
The Royal Feast of Arendelle
Here’s what we know: The Malestrom is closed, to be replaced by a Frozen themed attraction. Frozen meet-and-greets and gift shops are in the works. In the upcoming Frozen Fever short, Elsa throws a birthday feast for Anna. There is an existing princess dining experience in Epcot’s Norway. The original plans for New Fantasyland included an interactive experience with a birthday party for Princess Aurora. Need I say more?
Put all of the above together, and you’ve got a recipe to revamp the current Akershus Royal Banquet Hall princess dining experience into a surprise birthday party for Princess Anna, thrown by Elsa with help from all their princess friends, and YOU’RE INVITED. A relatively minor change that would practically allow Disney to print their own money.
Bistrot Chez Remy
I love a good bookend, so let’s swing back to the rumor mill at Disney’s Hollywood Studios where folks are curious what will replace the Backlot Tour (hint: I think it’s going to be a Pixar land). If that’s the case, what would be better than a Ratatouille themed restaurant – just like the super popular one that’s opened up in Disneyland Paris?
Again, these are all my own speculations, and I have no top secret info. But you know what they say, a dream is a wish your heart makes!
What new character dining experiences would you love to see come to WDW?