As a foodie at heart, no Disney trip is complete without making sure I at least attempt to have dinner at ‘Ohana, order a Dole Whip, enjoy an ice cream cone while waiting for Festival of Fantasy, buy popcorn while walking along Main Street, and have a meal at Crystal Palace on the last day of our vacation. (Okay, you’ve got me, I also have a secret obsession with the pork shank from Gaston’s Tavern.)
Regardless of what your food traditions are during your vacation, chances are, you may need to make a reservation or two at some of Disney’s amazing restaurants. But as many of us Disney fans know, some of these reservations are notoriously difficult to get. If your dining list includes Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Chef Mickey’s, ‘Ohana, or any other number of popular Disney restaurants, it will pay off to do a little bit of homework on the front end. Here are some tips to make sure that you get that dining reservation you’ve got your eyes set on:
- If you have booked your vacation on Disney property, you have a great advantage. Use it! You can make your Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) 180 days in advance of your check-in date, and you can make up to 10 days of ADRs and/or the entire length of your stay, whichever is shorter, all on the same day. Guests who are not staying on Disney property can also make reservations 180 days in advance, but they do not have the 10-day benefit. A quick tip for those staying on property: your best chance in securing hard-to-get reservations is when you look at dates closer to the end of your trip. For example, if you are looking to book a dinner at ‘Ohana and you can’t find availability on the first day of your trip, start looking towards the end of your trip and work your way backwards.
- Have a game plan. Know your schedule, like which parks you would like to be on a particular day and which restaurant you’d like to go to. For example, if I know I’m going to be at Magic Kingdom for the second day of our vacation, I will note down that I will look for availability at Crystal Palace before park opening (so I can score those precious pictures of an empty Main Street!). I also like having a back-up restaurant and/or back-up time, in case there is no availability for my first choice.
- Know which restaurants fill up on reservations quickly. There are some restaurants that are particularly notorious for being booked quickly. Here are a few: Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Le Cellier, ‘Ohana, Chef Mickey’s, and California Grill. Booking pre-park opening breakfasts in the park restaurants (i.e. Tusker House, Akershus, Crystal Palace) can fill up quickly as well. If you have your heart set on one of these restaurants, make sure you get to these reservations first! And back to #1, if you are a resort guest and are not able to find availability towards the beginning of your trip, you might have better luck working your way backwards.
- Be aware of your options to make reservations. There are two ways to make reservations, by phone through (407) WDW-DINE or online. You can book online beginning at 6:00 am EST and you can book on the phone starting at 7:00 am EST. Try booking online first as that first hour advantage can make a difference!
- Make sure your information on My Disney Experience is up-to-date. If you are booking online, this is key. You will want everyone in your party to be included in your profile, so it is easy to connect them up front with your reservation. Have your credit card information readily available too, if it is not already connected to your profile. Every minute counts, so the less time you spend completing the reservation process, the more time you’ll have to move on to the other restaurants on your list and get those booked.
- Prioritize your wish list. If you know your vacation won’t be complete without breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, and you know that the restaurant books up quickly, you will want to book that first. Have a list of the have-to-haves and nice-to-haves, so you can prioritize which bookings you will go after first.
- Remember – you can also make reservations for special experiences and events. Thinking about booking an experience at Bibiddi Bobiddi Boutique or Pirates’ League? Call (404) WDW-DINE and you can also score those reservations under the same 180+10 rule.
- Don’t give up! If at first you don’t succeed…well, you know how the saying goes. Cancellations happen all the time. Disney has a cancellation penalty where you have to pay $10 per person if you don’t cancel the day before your reservation – so there are bookings that open up even the day before.
- Walking up is an option, too. Making reservations ahead of time is always the ideal, but some people have had success with walk-ups as well. I remember one day during our last vacation just walking up to the Chef Mickey’s podium right when the restaurant opened for dinner. They told us there may be a wait since we didn’t have a reservation, but lo and behold, we were seated within 20 minutes. It does happen, so if you have not been successful in getting that reservation on the phone or online, there’s still a glimmer of hope.
- Use a travel agent. We travel agents make it our mission to score the hardest-to-get ADRs for our clients. For us, it’s almost like a contest and we will do everything we can to get that reservation, including being up at 5:30 am to get ready once the 180-day window opens! If you have a travel agent, take advantage of the services they offer.
So there you go, my fellow Disney Addicts. I hope this gave you some extra tricks up your sleeve the next time you are planning on scoring those ADRs. Do you have any additional tips that has worked for you? Sound off in the comments below!
Hi there, I’m Myra and I’m a huge Disney nerd and addict! I’m also an Independent Travel Agent at World of Magic Travel, the preferred agency of Chip and Co. and Disney Addicts. I’m happy to help you plan your next vacation, including securing reservations at many amazing Disney restaurants! Visit my page or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!
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