After the closure of a popular buffet-style restaurant in Orlando – Sweet Tomatoes – was announced, it got me thinking about all of my favorite all-you-care-to-enjoy Character Dining locations at Walt Disney World.
Prior to the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, a lot of guests avoided buffet restaurants to begin with due to one reason or another. Many people have germophobic issues and didn’t like the idea of sharing serving utensils or other people being so close to food they were about to eat.
With social distancing and constant hand-washing being a regular part of our daily lives now, it’s going to be of the utmost importance when it comes to our Disney vacations with tens of thousands of people; and even more so in those Disney restaurants with self-service buffets like Trail's End, Boma, Chef Mickey's, Tusker House, and so many others.
As I was thinking about what could be done, I started thinking about the first house my husband and I owned. It was a split level house and when you walked in the front door, there was a flight of steps on your right going to the lower level of the house while the stairs on the left went upstairs into the main living areas. There was wrought iron railing up the stairs and around the living room area, but the space between each rail was big enough for little ones to fit through – and it was a long way down. We did something I’d never seen in any other split level house and had plexiglass installed all around the entire area. The plexiglass went right under the top of the railing and wedged into the carpeting leaving no space for either of the kids to fit through. The best part was that it was clear, so it didn’t feel closed in at all.
The reason I share that story is that I feel like plexiglass could really save these Character Dining experiences that so many of us absolutely love. What if plexiglass was installed at the buffet lines between where all the dishes of food are and where guests stand? What if cast members were stationed in each section to not only replenish empty items but also to ask guests which items they’d like on their plates and dish them up?
I’m certain that there are discussions happening with food and beverage teams on how they can make things work without causing an uproar. They'll also need to do it in a way that will make guests feel safe and comfortable while dining. I can’t help but wonder what the possibilities being discussed could include. Character Dining is such a huge part of a Walt Disney World vacation for so many folks that I just can’t imagine them going away.
What do you think Disney will do at their buffet restaurants once they reopen? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.