There’s no doubt that Disney World has some really amazing food. In fact, some people focus their entire vacation around what and where they are going to eat. The food never disappoints and a lot of the restaurants include some really cool experiences with characters and/or entertainment. Some of the most popular, hard-to-get reservations are Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Chef Mickey’s, California Grill, Le Cellier, and Victoria and Albert’s. Depending on how often you visit the parks (this may be a once in a lifetime vacation), getting a dining reservation can be a very important part of your trip. If there is a specific restaurant that you have been dying to eat at, then you will want to make sure you do everything you can to secure that reservation. Here are some tips that have worked for me:
Plan Far in Advance
Reservations at Disney World open up 180 days in advance. Your best shot at getting that hard-to-get reservation is doing it as soon as the window opens online. If you are staying at a Disney resort, then your window will open 180 days from the day you are scheduled to check-in and you will be able to make reservations for 10 days following the 180 day mark. That is a little extra perk of staying at Disney. In order to do this, you will need to already have your Disney resort stay booked and linked on your My Disney Experience.
Before the 180 day mark arrives, you will need to plan out a rough schedule so you will know where you will be on what days. That will help you plan out which reservations you want to secure. It is important to be prepared so that when you go to make the reservations, you can get it done as quickly as possible.
Once your 180 day mark arrives, set your alarm for an early wake up! The online reservation system opens at 6 am Eastern sharp, so you will want to be logged in and ready to go at your computer before 6 am. As soon as the clock strikes 6 am, start making your reservations and begin with the most popular restaurants first. For example, if you want to eat at Be Our Guest, make that the first one you search for on the day you have selected. Strategically searching for the hard-to-get ones first will give you the extra advantage at snagging any spots they may have open.
If You Don’t Get It, Keep Checking
If you are not able to get your reservation on your first try, then don’t fret! People are constantly changing/canceling their reservations, so new ones pop up all the time. In fact, many people are known to make more than one reservation because their plans are not finalized and as their plans become more solid, they will cancel reservations they no longer need. For that reason, keep checking! It really is a matter of just being persistent and being online at the right time to catch an opening. It may sound tedious, but this has worked for me several times. Make a point to log in every day and perform a quick search.
Attend a Special Event
If you plan to be at Disney in the Fall, then you may consider attending either Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. If you are attending a party, then you may want to try and see if you could secure a reservation during the party. Since attendance is limited during these special events, it can sometimes be easier to find a reservation on those evenings. Keep in mind though that you do need to be attending the party and will require a special ticket ($) to attend.
Use a Dining Alert Service
There are a few websites that offer a service to alert you when a reservation opens up. Touringplans.com is a subscription based website and you will have to subscribe to access their reservation finder tool. The way it works is that they send you an alert when the reservation you are looking for opens up on the Disney website. The key though is reacting to the alert as soon as you can. Once you get an alert, you will have to log on to the Disney website/app and search for your reservation immediately. The service does not hold the reservation for you, it just lets you know when one opens up.
Mouse Dining is another site that alerts you when reservations open up. The service on this website is free, however you will still have to create an account and sign up to their newsletter to receive alerts.
For Disney Springs, Call the Restaurant
If the restaurant you are trying to reserve is not Disney Owned (ie. a Disney Springs restaurant) and you are not able to find a time on Disney’s website, try calling the restaurant directly. These restaurants do not give out all their reservation times to Disney’s reservation system, so just because Disney’s website says there are no openings, that is not necessarily true. Just give them a call and you could be pleasantly surprised. I’ve done this with Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom and was able to get the exact date and time I wanted, which was showing as unavailable on Disney’s website.
Check Last Minute
Continue to check up until the last day. A lot of reservations open up the day before since you have a full 24 hours to cancel any dining reservation. Some may wait until that last 24 hours if they are not sure, so make sure to keep checking up until the day before and even the day of.
Try Walking Up
If none of the above tips worked, then simply try walking up and asking for a table. If it is a hard-to-get restaurant like Be Our Guest, then the chances will be slimmer, but there may still be a chance. You have nothing to lose! Give it a try and walk up to reception and ask if they have any tables available. It’s very possible that they have one or you may just need to wait 30-45 minutes to get one. It’s definitely worth the shot!
There are many opportunities to secure those hard-to-get dining reservations at Disney. You just need to know the tricks and be persistent. If you follow the tips mentioned above, then you will increase your odds of getting that most important reservation. Best of luck!
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Laura is a mom of one adorable girl with a love of all things Disney. She traveled to Disney World with her family in 2010 and was hooked. They have since been a total of over 15 times. With all her knowledge of planning Disney trips, she now wants to share that with others. She loves giving guidance, tips and advice to others planning their magical vacation!