5 Things to Know About Dining at Disney World
Walt Disney World 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!
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. 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.
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 times to find cancellations are 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.
\All that to say, the sooner you book your suite 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? Get in touch with the Resort Specialists at Tripbound or call now at 1-888-816-5214. We’re ready and waiting to match you and your family with the perfect getaway!
Shellie Bailey-Shah is editor of KidTripster, an online travel resource for families traveling anywhere in the world with kids.