Disney Dining Reservation Planning Tips

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Disney Dining Reservation Planning Tips

I have a fairly large family, my wife and I have 5 kids, so our trips to WDW require a bit extra planning. Finding dining reservations for 7 is not always easy. Through the years, I have developed a few tips to make my planning easier, and to make sure I get all the dining reservations I want. I hope they help you out:

  • Make your WDW hotel reservation early. I usually plan 9 – 12 months in advance.
  • Plan out your days. I don’t plan much, but do I schedule the one park I plan on being in each day for dinner.
  • Pick your restaurants based on your park for that night. I pick a first and second choice for each night.
  • Book your dining reservations as soon as you can. Since I plan early, I make my dining reservations 180 days in advance of the day I check in.
  • Book popular restaurants towards the end of your stay. If you are wanting to book Chef Mickey’s, Cinderella’s Royal Table or Le Cellier, do them late in your trip. Yes, 180 days seems like a lot, but for popular restaurants, they book up quickly. Even though you are booking as early possible, that means anyone traveling before you has been able to book those restaurants for a week or more. If you push them back to the end of your trip, that gives you a much better chance of finding them available for a good time.

Booking early, and having your plan set, you usually have no problem getting your first choice each day. If for some reason, you book late, and are not booking your dining reservations 180 days in advance (or anywhere close to that), there are a few tricks you can use to find what you want.

  • Try to avoid the evening Extra Magic Hours and any other special events like the Halloween and Christmas Parties. They bring a larger than normal crowd to the parks, it is best to avoid them if you want to find available restaurants. You can always hop over to the Extra Magic Hours after you eat.
  • Buy the Hopping add-on to your ticket, as mentioned in #1, it will give you much better flexibility.
  • Once you arrive at WDW, call Disney Dining from your room phone (there is a speed dial button). Disney often holds cancellations for last minute reservations, many guests have great success getting difficult reservations this way. You can do the same thing by stopping by one of the theme park’s guest services, but I have found calling works a bit better.
  • If you can’t find your first or second choice, book something nearby. You can always show up at your fist choice 30 minutes before your other reservation to see if you can get in. If you can, great, you got your first choice! If not, you always have a back up reservation.
  • Don’t get fixated on a restaurant your co-worker’s aunt’s friend told you that you must do. Some restaurants are just popular, and impossible to get into. Just about every Disney restaurant is decent or better. Take a chance on trying someplace new, you will have a better vacation.

Big thanks to Keith Anderson for being a Chip & Co guest blogger. Keith runs MouseMisers.com, and sits around all day finding ways to save you money on your Disney vacation. Stop by and say “hi”. You can also find Keith on Twitter or on Facebook at facebook.com/mousemisers.

Disney Dining Reservation Planning Tips


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