When it comes to planning a Disney vacation there is perhaps nothing more anticipated than making advanced dining reservations (ADRs) Often, people plan their entire day around eating a special meal or dining in a popular restaurant. Dining reservations open for guests of the Walt Disney World resort 180 days prior to travel. Guests who have been planning their trip for weeks, months, or even years are prepared to make a dash for the computer or phone when this day arrives, ready to secure elusive experiences such as Cinderella’s Royal Table, Le Cellier, and Chef Mickey’s. But what happens when you have planned a last-minute trip or had a change of plans or dates? Is there hope? I am here to give you a few tips on planning last-minute dining reservations.
First of all, I promise you there will be reservations open during your stay. You will not be subjected to eating quick service meals 3 times a day (though there are some spectacular quick service locations worthy of serving up many unique items!) The most important rule of thumb when planning last-minute reservations is to be open-minded.
- If you are looking to get in Character Dining, try for restaurants that are off the beaten path or restaurants that are not headliners. Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club offers a spectacular Breakfast Buffet featuring Goofy, Minnie, and Donald all ready for a day at the beach. Another great choice is Tusker House at Animal Kingdom. You’ll get Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy doing the rounds here. Want Princesses? No problem! Try for Akershus in Epcot or 1900 Park Fare at The Grand Floridian.
- My next tip is to be flexible. Just yesterday I scored an ‘Ohana reservation for 5 with only one month before travel. The key was I had to be willing to look into off-peak dining hours. My reservation is for 9:30, but what is really cool is Wishes is at 10pm that night and you can see the show perfectly from ‘Ohana! This may be later than we wanted to eat, but we will certainly have a great meal and experience!
- If you really have your heart set on a particular restaurant you may have to display some dedication. In other words if at first you don’t succeed try, try again! Call back frequently, try different times, try different days. You may find a reservation has been canceled leaving an opening for your party! This is a great example of when having a travel agent is a big benefit. You will have another person working with your best interest in mind and making theses calls daily on your behalf. That can be a major time saver for you with a fantastic pay off! In the same vein, if you are someone canceling a trip, please be kind and cancel your dining reservations as well! This will create an opening for another group that will be very welcomed!
- Another thing to keep in mind is that a rainy day could mean dining reservation gold. When the skies open up, often so do the reservations. Guests often head back to their resorts when it gets too wet. Try walking up to a restaurant when you are out on a rainy day. I know I have abandoned some good reservations due to the rain and gotten some fantastic tables for the very same reason.
- Some people also swear by changing your party size. For example if a table for two at any given restaurant is not available why not see if there is a table for three open? This method has had good outcomes for many guests, though I have never personally attempted this.
Lastly, let me suggest a few restaurants that you may enjoy that are likely to have openings last-minute. Keep in mind that just because a restaurant is prone to availability does not mean it is a bad eatery by any means. My suggestions include: Restaurant Marrakesh, Artist Point, Citricos, Tusker House, Kona Cafe, Trails End Restaurant, and Boma.
Jess is a travel agent with Pixie Vacations. If you have questions about booking a last-minute trip please feel free to contact me at Jess@pixievacations.com. You can also check out my blog at www.fastpasstomagic.com
- Planning Your First WDW Trip – What To Expect (chipandco.com)
- Why you should eat at Disney’s ‘Ohana’s Restaurant in the Polynesian Resort (chipandco.com)
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