A Disney World vacation mean a lot of planning. And if you want to take advantage of a sit down restaurant, character meal, or breakfast reservation before park opening you'll want to make advanced dining reservations (or ADR as they're sometimes called).
But not all restaurant reservations are created equal. Some you'll have no issues making a last minute reservation for, and others will be completely booked up six months in advance.
So how do you make a dining reservation? Which restaurants are harder to book? Is it possible to get in a restaurant if no reservations are available? I'll cover all of these things and more so that you can dine at your dream restaurants at Disney World.
Anyone can make a dining reservation 180 days in advance. You don't have to be an onsite guest, or even have park tickets to make dining reservations at Disney. This can be an advantage if you know you are going to book a last minute trip, but have not yet made resort reservations.
If you are an onsite Disney Resort guest, you get the added perk of being able to book for your entire trip (up to 10 days) at the 180 day mark. So if you have a 7 day trip, you can book for all 7 days of your trip starting 180 days out from your check in date. That definitely gives on site guests an advantage with some of the harder to book reservations.
You can make your reservations a few different ways:
Reservations open up online at 6am, but phone lines open up at 7am or use a lobby concierge desk or dial 55 from your phone.
If you don't show up to your reservation you are charged $10 per person
Which restaurants are harder to grab? Here are some of the most popular restaurants at Disney World:
Some restaurants book up very quickly, so you'll want to know which restaurants you want before your booking window opens.
If you have your heart set on any of these restaurants, I highly suggest you be up and ready to book the day your booking window opens up. Try using your computer first before calling, as the phone lines don't open until a full hour after the online reservations open. You can also use the app, but the app wont let you book package dining options.
Book Based on Priority
Don't book your restaurant choices in chronological order. Book in order of difficulty and priority. If you suspect one or more of your restaurant choices might be difficult to grab, book those first. Even if they aren't the first reservation of your trip.
Search Specific Times
When you are booking your reservations you have the option of looking up open reservations by time or by meal (breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner). If you can't find anything by looking up the meal, try looking up specific times. More options are usually available when looking up specific times.
If you have your heart set on a hard to get reservation, be flexible on the date. Since reservation windows are 180 days from your check in date for your entire stay (for Disney resort guests), you'll have a better chance of snagging a reservation towards the end of your trip. So if you are able to move your reservation back even by a day, you might have a better shot at grabbing a table.
The same is true of reservation times. If you are flexible on the times that you sit down to eat, you'll have a better chance of finding a table. Check for times that aren't typical meal times. You might have a better chance of grabbing a 2pm lunch rather than at noon.
If you still can't get your reservation, keep checking back. Cancellations occur all the time. Especially as it gets closer to the date. Keep checking back on the website or calling Disney to find availability.
Get a Little Tricky
If you can't get a reservation for the exact number of people in your group, try playing with the number of people in your reservation. For example, if you are looking to make a reservation for 2 people but there is no availability, check for a reservation for a party of 3. If that works, try to edit the reservation down to 2 or call Disney to have them do it for you.
You can also make two reservations at the same time. So if you have 5 people in your group, make a reservation for a party of 2 and then another reservation for a party of 3. You can then ask the restaurant to seat you together. Keep in mind that you aren't guaranteed seating together, but Disney does a great job of doing everything they can to help. *Note that to make the second reservation you'll need someone else in your party to make that reservation. My Disney Experience only allows for one reservation on your account at any one time.
Get Professional Help
If you booked with a travel agent, you might be better off having them help you book some of those hard to get reservations. This is definitely one of the perks of using a Disney agent. They can get up at the crack of dawn to do these things for you.
You can also use the service Mousedining.com. This is a free service that will send you notifications when reservations for restaurants become available.
You can also use Open Table for many restaurants in Disney Springs. So if you aren't having luck with My Disney Experience you can check Open Table or even call many of the Disney Springs restaurants directly to make reservations.
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See you at the parks,