DINING AT DISNEY
5 Things to know about dining at Disney World
Walt Disney World Resort is an incredibly large complex with close to 300 restaurants. With that many options, you would think finding a place to eat on the spur of the moment would be easy, but it’s not. The most sought-after restaurants and dining experiences can only accommodate a certain number of people each day, which means if you want to eat with the princesses in Cinderella’s Castle or Mickey and friends at Chef Mickey’s, you need to plan ahead.
Even if you aren’t interested in the popular restaurants, you’ll still want to make reservations. Nothing can ruin a vacation quicker than a hungry toddler or hangry (hunger + anger) teenager and no place to eat!
So here are 5 things to know about dining at Disney.
1/When to reserve
Dining reservations for Disney World open up 180 days in advance of your trip at 6 a.m. EST online and 7 a.m. EST over the phone (407.939.3463). As a non-Disney property guest, you can make reservations for one day at a time. In other words, 180 days before your first day in the park, you can make reservations for your first day of dining. Then 180 days before your second day, you can make reservations for your second day of dining and so on.
If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can make your entire stay’s reservations (up to ten days) starting 180 days from your first day.
For popular meals, you'll want to plan on getting those reservations made right when the window opens, but keep reading because there's more to it!
2/Exceptions to the rule
All dining reservations are supposed to be released 180 days in advance, but sometimes restaurants hold back because of renovations or menu changes. The Fantasmic! and Rivers of Light packages also aren’t available regularly right at 180 days. If you don’t see any options for a restaurant or package right at 180 days, they likely haven’t been released, so keep checking back.
3/How to reserve
To make reservations online, you’ll need your reservations properly linked to your My Disney Experience account, and you’ll need a credit card to guarantee your reservations. Nothing is charged at that time, but if you don’t cancel your reservations within the specified time (normally 24 hours in advance) and don’t show up, you’ll be charged $10 per person. Disney does make allowances for late flights and sick kids, but try to let them know in advance by phone as getting that charge refunded can be a difficult process.
The online system won’t allow you to double book a time. So if your family is splitting up for a meal and you’re trying to make two reservations for the same time period, you’ll need to make those reservations by phone.
If you’re an on-property guest and have opted for the Disney Dining Plan, you also can link that account, so you don’t have to prepay for dinner shows or specialty meals like Cinderella’s Royal Table. Read here to get our take on whether the Disney Dining Plan is worth the money.
4/Where to reserve
Dining reservations are available for all table service meals. Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom is the only quick service option on the property that accepts reservations. Be Our Guest is quick service at breakfast and lunch only, but those are great options to see Beast’s Castle, if you can’t get a dinner reservation. Breakfast is a bit of a stretch for picky eaters, but lunch is great. (“Try the gray stuff, it’s delicious. Don’t believe me? Ask the dishes!”). Note that the Beast does not appear at breakfast or lunch.
5/What to do if you can’t get what you want
If you start booking your trip after 180 days or the reservation that you wanted was booked up at 180 days, all is not lost. Keep checking for cancellations because they do happen. The best time to find cancellations is right around the time of final payment (which is 30 days before the trip) or just a few days before you travel. People change plans all the time which can be to your benefit.
Of course, the sooner you book your stay in Orlando, the better chance you'll have to get the Disney dining options of your choice!
Want to take the stress of searching for the best deal and booking accommodations off your plate completely? Consider booking with our partner Tripbound. As a KidTripster fan, you get an extra 10% off when you reserve through this link. When you do, we get some coffee money from them at no additional cost to you. Just wanted you to know.