Whether you are looking to dine at Disney as a party of 2, 8, or 20 – advanced dining reservations are the way to go. Keep in mind – as a Disney Resort guest, you can book your dining reservations 180 days from your check-in date. The trick to landing the dining reservation of your dreams is to be ready to book the day your 180-day advanced dining reservation opens. We don’t just mean that DAY – we mean the moment you can put the reservation online (6:00 am) or speak with a Cast Member over the phone when they open for the day (7:00 am). Non-resort guests are also welcome to book 180 days in advance but are not able to book for the length of their trip. You would have to call or book online each day, 180 days in advance of the reservation date. With this being said, resort guests have the potential of booking 190 days in advance, giving them the greater advantage of snagging those hard to get dining spots! Whether you are booking as a resort or non-resort guest, here are our top reasons why making those reservations in advance will save you (and your stomach) from grumbling.
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World in 2020, there is a 60-day booking window with reduced capacity.
1 – “No Tables Available”
We’ve all seen it on the Disney website… “No Tables Available,” and we’ve heard it several times – “I just want to eat at Be Our Guest, but we can’t get in!” Booking as soon as you possibly can provide you with a greater chance of dining at those restaurants that seem impossible to get in to. We suggest if you’d like to avoid the dreaded “No Tables Available,” know your advanced dining reservation window and take advantage of it.
2 – Minimize Your Wait Times
So you have decided you would like to eat at a particular location, but the hostess is telling you the wait will likely be two hours! Too bad even the magic at Disney isn’t strong enough to turn this moment into a happy one. We have easily heard of two hour or more wait times, even in the slower months at Disney. You also have to anticipate being told particular restaurants aren’t accepting any walk-ups for the day. While making an advanced reservation doesn’t mean you are free of a slight wait, you still know roughly what time you are to be seated and can let your stomach rest easy that food is coming soon!
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World in 2020, no walk-ups will be allowed at theme park restaurants. You must have a dining reservation to dine at the restaurant.
3 – An Accurate Budget
When you know in advance which restaurants you are dining at, you have the opportunity to budget appropriately for meal costs. Meals are always tricky to budget, but if you know where you are dining, you can check out the pricing ranges and plan for each member in your family. You can also check out the restaurants tipping policy and plan for how much gratuity is to be charged.
4 – Menu Friendly
Do you have picky eaters? Is there a particular allergy in your family? Is there something on the menu you will enjoy? Having an advanced dining reservation lets every guest in your party plan ahead if they would like. Menus are available online, and browsing before your trip just adds to the fun! You can also mention any allergies you may have and add this to your reservation so Cast Members will know the moment you enter the restaurant.
5 – Get into the Parks Early
That’s right! Some of the park restaurants offer breakfast before the park even opens! We love having breakfast at Magic Kingdom before the crowd arrives. Disney even has PhotoPass Cast Members that can take your family picture on the empty Main Street U.S.A. in front of the Castle. Plus, finish your meal before the park opens, and you are one of the first in line at the attraction entrance.
6 – Primo Spots for Special Events
Dine at Spirit of Aloha, sing-along at Hoop De Doo Revue – these are a couple of perfect examples that booking your dining reservation in advance can potentially get you fantastic seats center stage! Whether you are trying to catch the fireworks or a view of the parade, timing and advanced reservations are a must. Of course, making your reservation in advance is never a guarantee for primo seats, but chances are much better than if you didn’t!
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World in 2020, dinner shows are temporarily suspended.
7 – Meet Characters with No Fuss
So your little one REALLY wants to meet Cinderella and eat in her Castle? Unfortunately, if you wait to book the character dining spots, the chances of you dining with the characters are slim to none. Our suggestion is to book a character dining experience in advance, then surprise your little one with a breakfast, lunch, or dinner they will simply never forget! But again… this can only happen by making your reservation well in advance.
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World in 2020, character greetings are temporarily suspended. Topolino’s Terrace’s Breakfast a la Art and The Garden Grill at Epcot will offer a modified character dining experience during the reopening.
8 – Keep to a Schedule
FastPasses, parade times, show times – there is a lot to keep up within a park’s daily schedule. If you have made your advanced dining reservations, this helps all other planning pieces fall into place. Once you have your reservations set, you can begin to plan out the rest of your schedule for the day. Not only will this put less stress on the family or group traveling together to make last-minute decisions, but it takes out all the guessing game on what’s to come.
If you are like us, advanced dining reservations are a must for our big and small trips alike. We enjoy the occasional spontaneous trip, but based on our experiences, everyone seems much happier when they know when dinner will be on the table!
For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.