Walt Disney World 101: Dining Reservations
Dining at Disney World can seem complicated and overwhelming. Here is a guide that will help you understand the basics of Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR).
Advanced planning for a Disney World trip is required, there is no if/and/buts about it. One of the most important thing people skip over is reserving sit down restaurant experiences. Disney World is full of incredible full service eaterys, including the famed Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Sanaa, ‘Ohana, and Chef Mickeys. But let it be known
YOU CANNOT WALK UP TO THESE RESTAURANTS AT ANYTIME AND BE ABLE TO EAT THERE.
Did I make that clear enough? There are so many times that people are disappointed because they can't eat at all the places they planned on, simply because they didn’t make an advanced dining reservation. Don’t be that person. Following this guide, you should be able to score just about any reservation you desire.
When to Book
Dining reservations open up 180 days prior. Yes, you read that right. A full six months in advance! And if you have have a Walt Disney World hotel reservation, you also get up to 10 days of your stay to book these dining reservations once you hit your 180 days out from your hotel check in date.
At this point, you are probably asking if that is really necessary. The answer is yes and no. If you are trying to score a reservation at some of the most coveted locations, then absolutely yes. And you better do it within the first few minutes of the 180 day mark opening up. These restaurants include Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest (dinner), Chef’s Table at Victoria and Albert's, Chef Mickey's, and a few other spots.
We highly suggest making your reservations as soon as you possibly can. I find that 3-4 months before, I can get almost every reservation I want. But in all reality, the sooner you can book them, the better off you will be.
How to Book
Booking reservations are very easy, so you don’t really have an excuse not to do them. There are two ways to book; the easiest way in my opinion is online, you can also call and make them. Whatever way you decide, reservations become available at 7am EST at that 180 days out mark.
To book online, simply visit Disney World’s site. You can search for a reservation at a specific restaurant or look to see what is available on a certain date, time, and party size. Once you find an available reservation, you will go through a few pages of filling out information. This includes who is in the party (optional), special dietary needs, and a credit card guarantee. Your card will not be charged, unless you don’t cancel a reservation within 24 hours prior or do not show up. If you fail to cancel and don’t show up, you are charged $10 per person on the reservation. In other words, cancel at least 24 hours prior and you will be okay. There are a handful of locations that require full payment in advance, your card will be charged in this case. As long as you cancel in the allotted time (24-48 hours prior depending on location) you will receive a full refund.
To book over the phone, you can call (407)WDW-DINE. You will follow the same steps as outlined above, but with a live person. Once you have a reservation number, you can link it to your MyDisneyExperience account.
If you cannot find the reservation you want, check back often. Especially a week or two before your trip. There will be a lot of openings pop up and you can almost always snag a coveted reservation. I have been able to do this with Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table several times.
Be willing to eat at odd times and you are more likely to find a reservation. We ate dinner at Be Our Guest at 4:30pm, but it opened up the rest of our night.
If all else fails, visit the restaurant the day of a few hours before the meal time you are aiming for, if it is slow or they feel like providing a magical moment, they may just find you a seat.
Keep all reservation numbers documented, technology has been known to fail. If you can prove that you have a reservation, the cast member will accommodate you. I screenshot all my dining reservations from MyDisneyExperience and keep them until after my trip.
You will save yourself a lot of time and headache if you make all your dining reservations in advance. Even if you don’t, there are tons of quick service locations to eat all your meals at. I find that if I have a healthy balance of both, it makes for the best trip.
If you have any questions, let us know and we'll be sure to answer them.