Disney Dining is a popular service all over Disney World property. So many people get as excited about popular Disney restaurants as they do about the amazing attractions. This makes dining reservations of great importance and also explains why so many people plan and put in the work to get them! To help you with your planning, here are 7 things Walt Disney World Insiders know about dining reservations:
7. Plan and organize your dining
Before you get to your booking window, it is best to organize your dining plans to figure out where you want to go and which days within your trip would be the best for each dining location. It is also wise to map out the most difficult to snag restaurants toward the end of your vacation so that you have a greater likelihood of actually getting them. A little bit of planning and organization goes a long way and helps to make sure that your restaurant choices are exact what you want and will be efficient during your trip.
6. Reserve right at the 180 day mark
Dining reservations open at 180 days before your trip, and if you are Disney resort guest, you can book for your entire vacation (up to 10 days) at that time. This gives you a great advantage of others, and is why putting your difficult to get restaurants toward the end of your vacation can help you if you are staying on property. You should also focus on booking your dining reservations in order of difficulty, not in chronological order, since others are trying to book reservations at the exact same time.
5. When reservations actually open each day
When booking at 180 days, it is important to start as soon as possible that day. So many Disney Insiders (and travel agents) will be up and ready to go to help ensure they get everything they want. The reservations actually open at 6AM Eastern Time online. The phone lines open at 7AM Eastern Time. It is best to start online and do what you can, and if you run into any issues, call at 7AM. There can be long waits on the phone sometimes, so be sure to call right at 7 so you get in the queue early.
4. Snagging difficult reservations
There are a few dining locations that can feel almost impossible to get sometimes. There are a couple ways to help get these reservations. You can plan for them later in your vacation that way you have a better chance of getting them. This only helps you if you are staying at a Disney resort, so you may consider a resort stay if you aren’t already. It is also helpful if you consider less popular dining times, or meals. Be Our Guest is usually easier to get for Breakfast or Lunch than it is to get for Dinner, so if you just care about getting to see and experience the restaurant, then try these times if you can’t get dinner. You also may try different party sizes to see if you can break up your party if the restaurant is really important to some members of your group, especially if you are a larger group.
3. Itinerary Planners or Disney Travel Planners
Does booking and planning all of these reservations sound overwhelming? Well you have a couple of options that can help you have your cake and eat it, too. If you stay at a Disney Club Level resort, itinerary planning comes with your resort stay and the Itinerary Planning Office will handle all of your reservations for you right at the booking window so you can sleep in and not have to worry about it. If you plan on staying at a Disney resort, you can also consider using and authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Their services are actually no charge to you and are the same prices you would receive booking with Disney directly for your vacation. With their services, they will typically handle making your dining reservations and know all the tips and tricks to help you get everything you want at the times you want them. These can both be great options for you to sit back, relax and not worry about doing the planning.
2. Cancellation policies
There are many people out there who book up dining reservations and then aren’t able to use them. Disney has a 24 hour cancellation policy. You must cancel your reservation 24 hours or before your reservation or they will charge you a $10 fee, per person in your party. It is important to remember that when you are holding reservations and you think your plans may change, since this could add up to a decent amount of charges. This is how Disney helps ensure that people don’t hold onto reservations that they have no intention of using, thus preventing other guests from enjoying the dining experiences, and skewing the reservation schedule.
1. Check again closer to your trip, and even during
Because of the reservation cancellation policy that Disney has in place, this is why it benefits you to check again for desired restaurants even at it gets closer to your trip, or during your trip. Reservations open up as guests decide that they can’t make them and are put back in the system for you to snatch up. It is best to try the 180 day mark first, but if you miss that and haven’t had luck, don’t give up! There is still definitely a chance you can get them. It just takes patience and diligence to keep checking!