Disneyland reopening

The COVID-19 pandemic is still sadly going nowhere, but that doesn’t mean nature isn’t healing at the Disney theme parks in some small ways. One of the final dominoes to fall has been character interactions. Right now, you can see Disney characters at parades or distant encounters, but the proximity we associate with those meet-and-greets has been absent at Disneyland Park…until this week. Character dining is back at the Disneyland Resort.

Hard though it may be to believe, the Disneyland Resort has gone more than 16 months without character dining. (Walt Disney World has had a select few character-dining locations back at some level of operation for the last few months.) As the Disney Parks Blog reported a couple days ago, character dining is back at two key locations: the Plaza Inn at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., and Storytellers Cafe at the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. The former option has been a quintessential Disney-dining favorite, with the most classic characters from Disney stories at the Minnie & Friends Breakfast. Storytellers Cafe has the Mickey’s Tales of Adventure breakfast for guests in the mood for a slightly different atmosphere, and the weekend character-dining spot opens this very weekend, on July 23. (Plaza Inn’s bookings don’t start until August 12.)

A Few Questions

As the parent of two children, I’m particularly glad to see these spots reopen. As much as I want to go back to the Disneyland Resort (with precautions in mind, to be clear; my wife and I are both vaccinated, but our kids are too young to receive any COVID shots at this point), one major stopping point has been the lack of closer character interactions. And to be fair, these two spots reopening doesn’t mean the characters will do the traditional walk-around to each table. If you watch vloggers at various Walt Disney World dining locations, you’ll see that the character-dining options there remain relatively distanced. (At least, compared to the pre-pandemic times.) It’ll be interesting to see if the Disneyland dining situation keeps things at a literal arm’s length.

That’s because, as much as it’s nice to have even Storytellers Cafe bring back character-dining, you’re rarely going for the food. (Having dined at both of these restaurants with my family, for character-dining experiences, I would pick Plaza Inn, only for the classic-character interactions. The food’s better at Storytellers Cafe.) So if the character experiences remain distant – and with the Delta variant unfortunately on the rise, and California counties re-imposing mask mandates, it’s likely that things won’t be closer – take this news happily but with a mild grain of salt.

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