Deciding on (and then actually getting!) the Disney World dining reservations you want is one of the toughest parts about planning your trip.
With hundreds of restaurants and dining options available, it seems like it should be easy, right?
But, the truth is there are some restaurants (like any that have character meals) where finding a reservation at your preferred time can be downright tricky.
But don’t despair; there are some things you can do to maximize your chances of getting exactly what you want.
Here are our best tips on how to snag the hard-to-get Disney World dining reservations…
The most surefire way to snag hard-to-get Disney World dining reservations: book 60 days in advance
Reservations for all the restaurants at Disney World currently open up exactly 60 days in advance.
Note: This used to be 180 days, but the current process is 60.
The most foolproof, surefire way of getting any reservation is to book 60 days before your trip begins.
If this is your first trip to Disney World, you may think that sounds crazy. How are you supposed to know where you want to eat 2 months from now?!
That is why we recommend you decide on your daily plan before you start picking where you want to eat.
Lots of people want to skip that step and go right to choosing their dining options, but you do not want to do that, and here’s why:
Disney World is HUGE, so unless you want to spend a large chunk of your vacation on Disney transportation (and trust us, you don’t), you’ll want to choose to dine in places close to where you’ll be that day.
So – make a daily plan first, then select your dining options so you can be ready right at 60 days out to make your Advanced Dining Reservations.
But even if you try to book right at 60 days out, some tricks can improve your chances of getting everything you want:
Try booking online before phone
Online reservations for select restaurants open up at 5:45 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, while the phone lines open up at 7 a.m. Always try the website earlier but keep the phone number handy if there are issues on the website or you need to speak to a Cast Member – 407-WDW-DINE.
Reservations for special dining events and things like dessert parties open up at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Note: make sure you have your credit card handy. All reservations now require a credit card guarantee, so you’ll need to enter the number when you make your reservation.
Chances are better toward the end of your trip
This tip is handy for guests staying on-site because on-site guests can make dining reservations for the entire length of their vacation (up to 10 days worth!).
That is different from how it works for people staying off-site.
Off-site guests that want to maximize their chances of getting everything they want will book 1 day at a time, exactly 60 days out from each day they want to make a dining reservation.
If you are staying off-site, there is no option to book for the entire length of your vacation at exactly 60 days out. That is a perk reserved for guests staying on-site only.
You could wait until you are 60 days out from the last day of your vacation and then book all of your dining reservations at once, but we do not recommend that.
You’ll likely find if you wait to book that your dining options and times will be limited, and some of the most popular meals will have no availability at all.
So, if you are staying off-site and you have your heart set on on specific times or restaurants, you’ll need to plan on waking up and making reservations at 6 a.m. EST, exactly 60 days out from each day you need a reservation.
On-site guests have it a lot easier. Unless your vacation is longer than 10 days, you will only have to set aside 1 day to make your Disney World dining reservations.
People staying on-site can book all of their reservations for their whole trip 60 days before their arrival date. That means your chances are better toward the end of your trip since those dates aren’t opened to everybody yet.
If there’s a place you really want more than any other, stay flexible and have a couple of date options.
Put your reservations in order of difficulty, not chronological order
If you book your reservations chronologically, you may miss out on some of the difficult ones. Put them in order of difficulty so you can try to snag reservations for the hardest ones first.
These restaurants are historically some of the most difficult to get. Make these reservations first:
Note: not all of the restaurants below are currently open. Until they are, the general rule of thumb is that character meals should be booked first.
- Be Our Guest dinner (not as difficult as it once was)
- Victoria & Albert’s (especially the Chef’s Table here)
- Cinderella’s Royal Table (although not as difficult as it once was)
- California Grill (especially during the dinner service when you can watch the fireworks while you dine, however, if you keep your receipt, you can come back to watch the fireworks from the observation deck if you have a reservation earlier that same day)
- Chef Mickey’s
- Bon Voyage Breakfast
- Story Book Dining at Artist Point
- Any other character meal
- Any other signature dining experience
- The Plaza Restaurant (the small size of the interior means there aren’t a lot of reservations available here each day)
Use a computer
Using a computer (instead of trying to do it on the My Disney Experience App on your phone!) can make booking reservations easier.
Before your 60-day window opens, open a tab for each restaurant you plan on booking and arrange the tabs in order of difficulty.
Make sure you are logged out of My Disney Experience before your window opens, and then right at 6 a.m. EST, log in and click through each tab to make your reservations.
Using multiple tabs this way saves you time the morning your Advanced Dining Reservations open since you won’t be searching for each restaurant one at a time – they’ll already be open and ready to go.
Use multiple devices, but only if necessary
In almost all instances, 1 person working on 1 computer is plenty. But if you are booking for a large group, traveling during an extra busy time of the year (such as the holidays), or trying for lots of hard-to-get reservations – all things that can make it more challenging to snag the reservations you want – you might want to consider using multiple people on multiple devices.
For example, put 1 person in charge of snagging that pre-park opening Advanced Dining Reservation for Be Our Guest while you work on everything else.
Think outside the box
Sometimes you may have to compromise a bit to get what you want. This is especially true if your group is on the larger size (anything more than 6).
These tips are especially helpful for dining with large groups. However, the same concepts can be applied to smaller groups, too:
- Try for reservations during unpopular times of the day. Dinner and pre-park opening breakfasts are 2 of the most popular times of day to dine, which means they’ll be the first slots to book up. Instead, try dining during less popular times of the day to maximize your chances of finding an opening.
- If you can’t get 1 reservation for your entire group, try splitting up into 2 smaller ones. When you check-in, you’ll be able to ask the hostess to seat you together (or at least near one another, although this isn’t a guarantee. And, depending on your group size, even if you booked under 1 reservation, the table configurations at some restaurants simply don’t allow for large groups to be seated all together, so there is always the chance your group might be split up.
If you weren’t able to get what you wanted at the 60-day mark, don’t give up
People often feel like if they got up early at exactly 60 days and weren’t successful snagging what they wanted that all hope is lost – but it isn’t! If you’re past the 60-day mark, give these tips below a try.
Some restaurants should be called directly
Non-Disney owned restaurants don’t release many seats to the Disney Dining system, so you’re better off calling them directly if you can’t get reservations through the Disney Dining system.
Here are some numbers to keep handy:
- Frontera Cocina – 407-560-9197
- House of Blues – 407-934-2583
- Morimoto Asia – 407-939-6686
- Paradiso 37 – 407-934-3700
- Planet Hollywood – 407-827-7827
- Terralina Crafted Italian – 407-934-8888
- Raglan Road – 407-938-0300
- Rainforest Cafe (Animal Kingdom location) – 407-938-9100
- Rainforest Cafe (Disney Springs location) – 407-827-8500
- Splitsville – 407-938-7467
- STK Steakhouse – 407-917-7440
- T-Rex Cafe – 407-828-8739
Restaurants throughout Disney World are now appearing on the OpenTable app and website. Be sure to check there for availability as well.
Try a reservation finding service
MouseDining is a popular service that constantly checks for openings at restaurants you choose to track and then sends you text alerts when something becomes available.
This is a handy feature (and a huge time saver!) since it isn’t uncommon for available reservations to be released in batches.
If you are looking for just a couple of openings, their free version would probably work for you, but even if you need to upgrade to one of their paid options, the small cost is well worth the time it would save you from having to do all the checking on your own.
There’s also Touring Plans’ dining reservation finder, which will notify you when a specific dining reservation you want is available.
To be clear, this is only an alert tool and you’ll have to make your own reservations (and be fast if you want to snag a popular one).
You need a TouringPlans.com account to use the reservation finder, but an active subscription isn’t needed to use the tool. You can set up dining reservation alerts with a “basic access” Touring Plans account.
You can also try MouseWatcher.com for Disney dining reservation alerts. But, this one does cost money.
You can either pay for individual alerts (a 2-day alert costs $5) or purchase a subscription (the lowest-priced one starts at $19 per month for 5 active alerts). MouseWatcher checks for reservation availability 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
When it comes to getting alerts, you’ll receive either a text or an email. You can then click the link provided to make a dining reservation.
You will also continue to receive new notifications each time an opening is found, but MouseWatcher won’t send duplicate alerts if the same reservation time is found within 24 hours.
A couple of days beforehand, check again
Disney World has recently adopted a new cancellation policy that requires a credit card to secure any Table Service reservation. If you don’t cancel by the day before your scheduled reservation, you’ll automatically be charged $10/person.
The good thing about this policy is that it keeps people from stockpiling reservations that they aren’t going to use, and it means that openings come up the day or two beforehand that people can snag for their trip.
Use this to your advantage and try checking again, even up until the day before, to see if you can get what you want.
Consider booking with a travel agent
If thinking about trying to snag hard-to-get dining reservations feels more scary than fun, you should consider booking your vacation with a travel agent.
Experienced agents can book your resort and dining reservations, and they can even keep an eye out for discounts on your trip. This is all done at no extra charge to you.
If you’re interested in booking your next vacation with one of the travel professionals we recommend, fill out the quote request form, and someone from the team will get in contact with you shortly.
Advanced Dining Reservation FAQs
Are walk-up spots (or same-day reservations) possible?
Absolutely they are – sometimes. But they don’t tend to happen at the most popular places, and they are never a guarantee.
Smaller groups (especially if you’re dining solo or as a couple) will likely have an easier time snagging a walk-up or same-day reservation. Bigger groups, however, may have a more difficult time.
People cancel reservations all the time – even on the day of – so checking frequently for open spots is always a great idea.
Many restaurants do now offer a waitlist option, but the catch is they may not do it every day, and the spots can go fast so your best bet is to check first thing in the morning; don’t wait until you’re ready to eat to find out what is available!
BUT if you’ve got your heart set on a certain restaurant, the only way to guarantee you’ll snag it is by making an ADR.
Do I need to have a ticket to book my dining reservations?
Nope! No ticket is required to make Advanced Dining Reservations. Anybody (with or without a ticket) can make reservations.
But, if you want to dine at a restaurant inside one of the parks, you’ll need a ticket and a Disney Park Pass reservation to enter the park.
Do I need to have a Disney Dining Plan to book dining reservations?
Note: The Disney Dining Plan is currently suspended and cannot be purchased at this time.
Anybody can make reservations – offsite guests, onsite guests, guests paying for meals out-of-pocket (with no Dining Plan), and guests with the Disney Dining Plan.
I’m staying at a Disney resort; when can I make my dining reservations?
Guests staying at one of the onsite Walt Disney World resort hotels get a special perk when making dining reservations.
Like everybody else (both onsite and off), they can start booking 60 days in advance, BUT they also get to make up to 10 additional days worth of reservations.
This is a fantastic perk for a couple of reasons:
- You’ll only have to wake up early to make your dining reservations on 1 day, and
- You’ll have a better chance to snag some of those hard-to-get reservations (see the tips above!)
When can offsite guests make Advanced Dining Reservations?
The good news is, offsite guests still get to make reservations 60 days out.
But the bad news is, you don’t get the “+10” perk that onsite resort guests receive.
Instead, you’ll have to wake up early 60 days out from each day of your trip. Yawn.
Are dinner show reservations tough to get?
Note: Dinner shows are currently suspended.
Disney World has a couple of popular dinner shows:
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Ft. Wilderness (the most popular of the 2)
- Spirit of Aloha at Disney’s Polynesian Village and Resort
Reservations here are generally not too difficult to snag, but tables are assigned when you book.
So, if sitting close to the stage is important to you, you’ll want to book reservations here early, too.
What about over the holidays?
In addition to all the amazing decorations you can see during that time of the year, you’ll also find that some special meals and events take place.
Take, for example, Thanksgiving.
For most people, Thanksgiving includes a tasty meal of turkey and all of the fixings, and in response, Disney often offers special Thanksgiving meals at many of its restaurants.
Those are popular, but the most popular on that day is typically Liberty Tree Tavern.
So, if you’re traveling during the holidays, make sure you take into account special meals or events that are popular and add those to your priority list, too.
Note: many of the events in the links below have been suspended for 2020. Check back later for updates on the 2021 holiday season.
- Thanksgiving at Disney World (most popular meal to snag is typically Liberty Tree Tavern)
- Candlelight Processional Dining Packages (recommended if you plan to attend the Candlelight Processional, however, the packages don’t always open up at 60 days out; the less-expensive meal options tend to go first)
- New Years at Disney World (many of the special events here sell out, too, but may not open up at exactly 60 days)
Are there reservations you’re hoping to get or other tips for snagging hard-to-get Disney World dining reservations you’d like to share?
Please discuss in the comments.
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