Due to the ever so growing popularity of Disney parks, it’s becoming quite impossible to just walk up and eat a a table service restaurant, even when it’s the slow season.
Don’t get me wrong, it can be done and happens all the time, but most of the time, it’s really difficult to get seated within the hour at some of the more popular Disney restaurants.
That’s why it’s so important to make you restaurant and dinner show reservations as soon as possible…180 days in advance, to be exact.
Below, you’ll find lots of additional information and advice about dining in Disney World using advanced reservations. Plus, I’ll even show you some surefire ways to help you get a table at the hottest Disney restaurants around, even if they appear to be all filled up.
And better, I’ll also give you some restaurant recommendations and alternatives for hard to get restaurants and eateries.
So with that being said, let’s jump straight into it.
Advance Dining Reservations in Disney World
As of right now, you can make a restaurant reservation at most Disney World restaurants up to 180 days in advance.
Below, you’ll find a brief overview on how to book advanced dining reservations through the methods mentioned above.
When booking a dinner reservation online there are a few things you should do:
1. Get a lay of the land. If you are still outside that 180 day mark, become familiar with all the restaurants that are available at all the parks, resorts, and Downtown Disney so that you have an idea what it is they offer.
2. Make of list of your top choices, putting more popular ones at top. Once that 180 day mark hits, the most popular and hardest to get restaurant should be your number one priority.
3. Plan out all the restaurants you want to eat at and which days. Be sure to always check the park hours for those days to get a better sense of how you want to spend you day prior to and after eating. The last thing you’d want to do is go from Animal Kingdom all the way to Magic Kingdom for lunch.
4. Establish a Disney account. Doing this will allow you to effortlessly make dining reservations. Make one here (free)!
5. Reserve! Once you’re within 180 days exactly from your Disney trip, you should start booking all the restaurants that you really want to eat at.
Reserving Through the App
The same tips for reserving online also apply for the app. The only difference is that you’ll be able to make reservations on the fly, not matter where you are.
Reserving By Phone
Making restaurant reservations by calling isn’t the fastest way possible because you’ll immediately be waiting for 5-10 minutes (or longer) before you speak to someone.
Plus, their automated phone system will make you answer a ton of questions before it even attempts to connect you with a real person.
But if calling is still your thing, be sure to call at slower periods like after 8-9 pm EST on weekdays or really 7 am EST in the mornings, when they open.
My advice, use the online system. It’s sooooo much easier.
Call 407- WDW-DINE or 407-939-3463 for reservations.
Reserving Through Concierge Desk (Disney Resorts Only)
You can also make dinner reservations in person at your resorts concierge desk.
Although it might be too late to get some of the more popular restaurant reservations, you’ll still be able to snag some other great ones. Plus, you might even get lucky and get a 1900 Park Fare Cinderella Dinner reservation for the next day (it happened to me).
And if you booked a Club Level (Concierge Level) room, you also have direct access to your own phone number for dining reservations.
Just call 407-WDW-CLUB.
And just fyi, you can’t make reservations for lounges or quick service restaurants. Those are first come first served.
Restaurants That Require Credit Card Guarantee
All table service restaurants now require a credit card guarantee. Your credit card on the reservation will be charge $10 a person ($25 for Victoria and Albert’s) if you don’t show up or if you don’t cancel before the previous days ends. So basically, the latest you can cancel an advanced dining reservation is 11:59 pm EST of the night before your reservation. Failure to do that will result in a charge. Just remember, since most Disney call centers and support end at 11:00 pm EST, you’ll have to do this online, or via the app.
But don’t worry, if you had a reservation for 4 but only 2 show up, you won’t be charged the fee for the missing folks.
Honestly, when I first heard about this I was skeptical, but after doing a little research and had some experiences it first hand, I get why they’re doing it.
For example, one day (before the credit card guarantee policy) I was trying to get a reservation for Yak Yet for the same day, but all reservations were already taken up. So since I was already at Animal Kingdom Park and pretty close by, I decided to stop by the restaurant and see what the walk-in wait times were like. And surprisingly, there was no one, and I mean NO ONE eating in there, despite all the times being reserved. So I walked up to the counter and got seated immediately.
This credit card guarantee has changed all of that…
Restaurants That Require Prepayment
There are a few restaurants and dinner shows on Disney property that also require you to pay for the entire meal in advanced.
These restaurants include:
- Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom
- Hoop Dee Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness Resort
- Spirit of Aloha Luau at the Polynesian Village
- Mickey’s Backyard BBQ at the Campsites at Fort Wilderness Resort
And since these restaurants (except Cinderella’s Royal Table) are dinner shows, you will be able to choose your seating location in advance.
Also, if by any chance you have to cancel these reservations, you can get a full refund if this is done 2 days prior to your dining reservation.
When You Should Reserve Your Table
You can book book your dining reservations up to 180 days in advance for all tables service restaurants in WDW, including restaurants in Downtown Disney.
If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can make reservations for your entire trip just during one phone call once you hit that 180 day mark. All you’ll need is your resort confirmation number and they’ll go ahead and pair everything up in your My Disney Experience account. And of course, this can also all be done via their website and the app.
The best thing about this is that even if your trip starting date is 180 days sway, you can actually make up to 10 days of advanced restaurant reservations.
However, if you’re not staying at a Disney Resort (Swan, Dolphin, Shades of Green, Downtown Disney Resorts, etc.), you can still make dining reservations up to 180 days in advance, but you’re going to have to make a reservation for the next day and the next (and so on and so forth) until every day of your trip is covered and within the 180 days mark.
To book, see above section for methods and details.
Picking the Right Disney Restaurants
Aside from trying to figure out what resort to stay at or which rides to ride during your trip, one of the most important aspects of planning a Disney vacation, in my opinion, is planning out where and what you want to eat. I mean honestly, you’d be shocked at how many people plan their trips around when, where, and what time they can get certain restaurant reservations. Trust me, I was that guy.
So when it comes to choosing the perfect restaurant it depends on one thing – what do you want to eat (and with whom)?
Honestly, if you name it, Disney is bound to have it.
Looking for a Hawaiian buffet with juicy steak, plump shrimp, and possibly the greatest pineapple bread pudding in existence? They got it! (The restaurant is actually called ‘Ohana if you were wondering)
Want to dine with Cinderella, Prince Charming, and the Evil Stepmother and Evil Step Sisters? You can do it! (1900 Park Fare – Dinner)
In the mood for Moroccan fare? Disney got you covered (Morocco Pavilion in Epcot has plent of Moroccan food choices)
Looking for a romantic, kids-free, night out at a AAA Five Diamond Award fine dining restaurant? Look no further than Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. (Victoria and Albert’s)
Whatever it is you’re looking for Disney will probably have a restaurant that meets your needs. The hardest part is just picking them.
That’s why I recommend you do 2 things:
- Check out my listing of the Best Walt Disney World Restaurants
- Read my detailed Disney restaurant reviews so that you can get a better understanding about each restaurant and what it is that they offer.
Restaurant Reservation Tips and Tricks
Here are 10 reservation tips and tricks to help you snag that prime dining reservation.
1. Always check for reservation openings, everyday. Never give up. People always change and cancel their dining reservations at the last minute so you just might luck out and snag an ‘Ohana reservation at 6:30 pm that same day. It’s happened to me.
2. Make a reservation in person as soon as the restaurant opens up. If you really need to eat at a certain restaurant, you should find out what time they open and see if they have any reservations. You’ll find more luck during the slow period and offseason.
3. Visit the concierge if you’re staying at a Disney resort. Although I’m pretty sure they use the same system that we use as guest, sometimes the concierge is able to find prime time reservations at even the more popular restaurants. Once when I was staying at the Animal Kingdom lodge, I went to the concierge lounge around 9 pm and asked to see if they had any dinner slots open for Ohana for the next day. And what do you know, there was one!
4. Make reservations at out-of-the-way restaurants. There are a lot of great Disney restaurants that aren’t in the parks. Many resorts also have great restaurants (some with characters, most without) that are really easy to get reservations for. So once you try some of those more popular ones, be sure to check out the not so popular yet equally delicious restaurants.
5. Snag a dinner reservation at the World Showcase. Epcot is home to some of the best most multi-cultural restaurants across Disney. And for some reason, these restaurants never fill up, making these prime places to reserve for lunch and dinner. Heck, you might even be able to walk-in without a reservation.
6. Visit Disney during the offseason (Jan, Feb, late Aug, Sept, early Dec). You’d be surprised how many restaurants have openings at prime times during the offseason. So if your trip is flexible, take a vacation during the slow period. Plus, the weather is usually always better during these periods 🙂
7. Dine at off times. If you have flexible eating habits and are willing to eat dinner at 9 even 10 pm or later, then you’ll be in luck. Some restaurants reservations and slots tend to be more open during brunch , mid afternoon (3 and 4 pm) and late night hours.
8. If you can’t get into a restaurant during dinner, try for a lunch slot. Lunch slots usually are always more available than dinner. I think it’s because everyone is running around the parks all morning and afternoon. So if you really want to go to a restaurant, try finding a time for lunch.
9. Download the My Disney Experience app. If you have a smartphone (iPhone or Android) then this app is a must. It let’s you to make dining reservations, change your times, and even find openings last minute.
10. If nearby, visit the restaurant even if you don’t have a reservation (or it’s sold out). There have been many times when a restaurant’s reseravations are completely filled up for months yet, you’re still able to get a table within 30 minutes on that same day. It’s weird but it happens. I mean seriously, a friend of mine has been calling Disney everyday for 2 months straight to see if there were any openings for Be Our Guest but failed. So what did she do? She walked straight to the check in counter at Be Our Guest and got a table in less than 2 minutes. Insaneeeee.
Bonus. Get the Dining Plan. I’m going to be real with you for a second. When I first heard about the dining plan, I was skeptical and confused. Even worse, I thought it was a massive ripoff. But after taking a few trips with it, I can’t imagine a world where people are taking Disney trips without it. I mean seriously, you can actually eat more tasty, better, and larger foods without paying a penny extra. Seriously! And I’ll show you how (click here)
Canceling an Advanced Reservation
Sometimes things come up and you won’t be able to make it to your dining reservation. That’s okay!
Now let me warn you because some restaurants may charge a fee for cancellations or no shows. Fees usually are $10 per person on the reservation. But ultimately, this all depends on the restaurant you reserved and their cancellation policy. So be sure to always check the cancellation policy before you book so that you won’t be charge. You’ll usually know if a restaurant charges a fee for really late cancellations if they require a credit card guarantee when making the reservation.
If you just can’t make your time, be sure to give Disney a call to see if they can change your reservation time (for the same day) at no additional costs or fees.
However, if you’re looking to change the restaurant reservation for the same day or within the cancellation window, you will incur the fee.
The only time you may be able to get your fee waived is if you have a really good excuse or reason for missing your reservation, especially if you show up an hour or so late. However, this all depends on the Cast Member working and how big your smile is when your explaining the situation as to why you’re late.
So just make sure to cancel your advanced dining reservations as soon as possible to avoid any additional costs.
Also, according to Mouse Savers, canceling a Disney Resort reservation does not cancel your restaurant reservation. So be sure to cancel both so that you won’t get any surprise charges in your credit card statement.
And That’s a Wrap…
Thanks for reading and for any additional information about Disney World, be sure to check out their official website.
Thanks again for reading and have a delicious trip!