Walt Disney World has announced the reopening of two fan favorite restaurants at Wilderness Lodge and Port Orleans Riverside Resort! This post covers opening dates, Advance Dining Reservation timeframes, plus what else we can expect from WDW dining for the next few months.
Before we get started, let’s offer a brief recap of Walt Disney World’s restaurant reopening progress. The vast majority have returned, to the point that the number of locations that are unavailable is fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of Walt Disney World’s dining capacity. In fact, Artist Point was arguably the highest profile restaurant that had not yet returned.
Additionally, restaurants that have been open for months–some since last summer–have continued to scale up operations. Walt Disney World turned a corner on its staffing shortage, at least for most dining locations. This was thanks to the return of the College Program and a hiring blitz, which brought in a lot of fresh faces and allowed for Walt Disney World to scale up and increase capacity at restaurants and beyond.
Anecdotally, it seems like this has more or less plateaued. Walt Disney World continues to hold job fairs, and is offering hiring bonuses and higher pay for certain roles. Of particular relevance, Walt Disney World has had ongoing and significant shortages for a number of culinary positions, including cooks, dishwashers, and more.
In an attempt to attract more employees, Walt Disney World has been offering hiring bonuses for those openings for the last several months. The bonuses started small, and have incrementally increased to as much as $1,500. That alone suggests that Walt Disney World isn’t having success, and is still short-staffed for a number of key positions.
Our firsthand experience in continuing to see a good chunk of tables go unfilled reinforces the reality that restaurants aren’t firing on all cylinders. In short, dining capacity is improved as compared to last year thanks to the dropping of physical distancing and hiring initiatives, but still pretty far from 100%.
During Disney’s fourth quarter earnings call, the company’s CFO Christine McCarthy corroborated this. She noted that Walt Disney World and Disneyland are still operating under “capacity constraints,” which are only due to staffing at this point. This has been a regular topic here, and we’ve seen the same thing play out with “sold out” hotels due to the same woes.
That explains why Advance Dining Reservation availability has been so limited, why the Disney Dining Plan still isn’t back, and the slow pace of scaling up the remaining locations that are still shuttered. In other words, staffing continues to be an issue–and why this is Walt Disney World’s first major dining update since before the World’s Most Magical Celebration kicked off.
With that out of the way, let’s turn to today’s restaurant reopening news…
Boatwright’s Dining Hall, a hidden gem at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, will be serving up their Southern specialties for dinner starting December 14, 2021. This was largely expected once both French Quarter and Riverside reopened, and Cast Members are the hotels have advised that Boatwright’s would return during the heart of the Christmas season.
Advance Dining Reservations for Boatwright’s Dining Hall can be made beginning December 2, 2021.
Enjoy the flavors of the Louisiana bayou with the all-you-care-to-enjoy Chef’s Platter featuring ribs, Nashville hot chicken, smoked sausage, and barbecued beef brisket with mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, street corn, and green beans.
Have you been craving General Fulton’s Prime Rib or the Deep-South Shrimp and Grits? They are back as well as the signature Boatwright’s Jambalaya and the plant-based Boatwright’s Harvest Jambalaya. And for a touch of Southern sweetness, be sure to order up the Mississippi Mud Crème Brûlée, a decadent chocolate brûlée with a chocolate shortbread cookie.
Finally, Walt Disney World has announced the returned of Story Book Dining at Artist Point, inspired by the Disney film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” just in time for Christmas!
As part of Artist Point’s modified character dining experience, all guests will see Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy, and the Queen stroll through the Enchanted Forest while enjoying a bountiful prix fixe dinner with the choice of individually plated entrées and shared starters and desserts.
Start your storybook adventure with a wickedly refreshing cocktail like the Enchanted Apple with a hint of sour apple. The Royal Prime Rib Roast and the vegetarian “A Stroll Through Nature” are both returning, as well as the decadent Poison Apple dessert with dark chocolate-apple mousse.
From the sounds of it, Storybook Dining at Artist Point will retain its title as the “best character dining dinner” at Walt Disney World if you’re judging primarily based upon food quality. The Artist Point menu is far more ambitious and inventive than anything other character dining experience, but that’s unsurprising given that this used to be a Signature Restaurant.
Storybook Dining at Artist Point will reopen December 16, 2021 at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
Advance Dining Reservations for Storybook Dining at Artist Point can be made beginning December 2, 2021. This was one of the hottest ADRs pre-closure, and we expect that will remain true with reopening. If you’re wanting to book a Christmas or New Year’s Eve week meal, we’d strongly recommend being online early on December 2!
Ultimately, this is some very good news for character dining fans and guests staying at either of the two Port Orleans Resorts. At this point, very few “valued” restaurants remain closed at Walt Disney World. Now, if we could only get reopening dates for Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Victoria & Albert’s, Flying Fish, Spirit of Aloha, Takumi Tei, and Monsieur Paul–we’d be all set!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Excited for the return of Storybook Dining at Artist Point or Boatwright’s Dining Hall at Port Orleans Riverside? What do you think of this news of restaurants reopening at Walt Disney World? Any restaurant reopening announcements that you’re still anxiously awaiting? Hoping for more ‘restored normalcy’ announcements in the near future? Does this have you optimistic or pessimistic for more dining to reopen at Walt Disney World? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!