Disney Dining Reservations can be stressful! Mickey Mouse is quite a maestro! Disney World has more than 300 dining outlets with a staff of 350 chefs. You can enjoy everything from hamburgers to filet mignon during your Disney stay.
Yet the sheer number of options can make it hard to arrange Disney dining reservations. Before your Disney vacation, you need to know how to plan your dining experiences. You can figure out the essentials by answering a few questions.
What should you do before you start booking your reservations? What tools does Disney World have for dining? How can you increase your chances of getting into great eateries?
Get the facts and you can enjoy one of the world’s greatest destinations for food. Here is your comprehensive guide.
Research Disney World Restaurants
After you get your tickets to Disney World, you should start looking at your options for restaurants. If service and atmosphere are your main interests in dining, you should prioritize table-service restaurants. If you’re looking to save money on food, you can go to buffet-style restaurants or quick-service eateries.
Read customer reviews of restaurants so you know which ones are the best. Browse a few different websites so you get several perspectives.
Some restaurants like Monsieur Paul and Yachtsman Steakhouse have dress codes. Business casual clothes are acceptable, and you can change into your clothes in your hotel room.
Not all restaurants accept reservations, including quick-service restaurants. Most restaurants that accept them allow for walk-in guests, though most of them get in outside of peak hours. However, if you are staying outside of a Disney property, you must book reservations for all table-service eateries.
If you don’t want to eat inside the park, you can find many restaurants at Disney Springs. These restaurants can be just as popular as eateries in the resort, and some require reservations.
Plan Ahead for Special Events
Disney has special dining events throughout the year, especially during the holiday season. On Thanksgiving, restaurants throughout the park offer traditional Thanksgiving dinners. You can also find dinners on Christmas night and New Year’s Day with both traditional and experimental options.
Thanksgiving and Christmas at Disney World are extremely popular. You should look at several dining options for each holiday and book reservations as soon as possible. You may not be able to get into the park or certain restaurants this year, so plan for the holidays in 2023.
Disney also offers food festivals. The most popular festival is the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival, which runs between July and November. The festival features foods from around the world, including countries like Brazil and Norway.
EPCOT hosts a few other festivals like the International Festival of the Holidays. The International Festival of the Holidays has several special meal options, including cookies that are only served during the holiday season.
Character dining takes place throughout the year. While you are eating, you can take photographs and talk with Disney characters.
Some restaurants offer more character dining opportunities than others. You will need to pay additional money for these experiences. They are extremely popular with families, so you should book a few weeks in advance.
Disney offers a few tools to help you with your dining. The My Disney Experience app can help you create an itinerary and research restaurants.
After you make reservations, you can access the details from your phone. You can create a family and friends list to allow your party to see when dinner will be. If you want to order food to take with you, you can use the Table Service to Go function to place your order.
The Disney World app has walk-up lists. If you want to go to a restaurant that requires reservations, you can add your name to the list. If the restaurant has additional tables after accommodating its guests with reservations, you can get inside.
Disney Genie lets you see what restaurants are available. The app can also give you suggestions if you don’t know where to eat. Disney rolled out the app in 2021, so it may have bugs, and you should use it alongside other apps.
You can download unofficial apps, but you should read their customer reviews first. OpenTable is a third-party service that lets you make reservations at restaurants in the resort and at Disney Springs.
You can also get other services that are not app-based. MouseDining lets you receive email and text alerts when reservations are open. You can get up to six alerts for free, and you can sign up for monthly alerts if you are a frequent guest at Disney World.
Be Strategic With Scheduling Dinner at Disney
If you are staying at a Disney World hotel, you can start making reservations 60 days before your arrival day. You can make reservations for your arrival date and the next ten days of your trip.
Consider scheduling reservations for premium restaurants for the last few days of your stay. This gives you more time to research your dining options and more opportunities to book restaurants. It also lets you end your vacation with a special memory.
If you’re staying outside a hotel, you can start making reservations at the 60-day mark. Make your reservations over the phone through Disney World’s dining line. Waiting to get to the park can make it harder for you to find a table.
You can also make reservations on the Disney World website. Do whatever is most convenient for you.
Reservations are open on the website at 6:00 a.m., so using the website can make it easier to get a table. If you are going during a peak week, you should wake up this early to make your reservations, as restaurants can get filled by 8:00.
Do not give up if you cannot get a table. Try again in a few days, as guests may have canceled in the meantime.
Buying a Disney Dining Plan is a popular Disney World tip, as it can make your meals more affordable. However, a plan does not give you perks for reservations. You still need to book reservations at the restaurants you want roughly 60 days before your arrival.
Double up Your Disney Dining Reservations
Making two or three dinner reservations every day can increase your chances of getting into a restaurant you like. It also gives you options in case you want something different that day. If your group wants to split up, they can go to different restaurants.
As you’re doing research and planning your Disney itinerary, you should create a shortlist for each night. Book reservations for all of the restaurants on your list.
You can cancel your reservations at most restaurants without fees up to two hours in advance. You should use the website or your My Disney Experience app to make your cancelation. Some table-service restaurants like Victoria & Albert’s require 72 hours of notice.
Read the restaurant’s policies so you know how to start canceling dinner reservations. Set a reminder for yourself to call the restaurants you don’t plan at eating at. Rescheduling your reservation can be difficult, but some restaurants may allow you to do so.
Get to the Restaurant
You should get to the restaurant within 15 minutes of your reservation time. Your entire party should be there.
Plan out your itinerary for the day so you can get to your restaurant on time. Avoid going on rides or visiting shows 30 minutes before your reservation so you are not rushing. Disney Genie and other apps let you check how long lines are so you can save time.
Disney Springs is two miles outside of the resort. You can take a shuttle over to your restaurant, though traffic delays can cause problems with getting to your destination. Give yourself 15 minutes if you’re relying on the shuttle.
Most restaurants will hold your reservation for 15 minutes. After that point, it is up to the restaurant’s discretion to hold your table or not. Casual restaurants may hold your table for more than 30 minutes while premium ones may give it away.
Restaurants can charge you no-show fees if you do not arrive for your meal. If you have a good reason why you cannot show up, you may be able to get the fees waived.
Make Your Disney Dining Reservations the Right Way
Before you make your Disney dining reservations, you should research Disney restaurants. Give yourself options for each night and be willing to go to table-service and quick-service eateries. Download Disney apps so you have all the information you need.
Use the website to place your reservations 60 days before your trip. Consider making multiple reservations every night so you increase your options. You can cancel the night before or split your party up between restaurants.
You’re not done preparing for Disney World. Fun Park Go provides premium guides for Disney vacationers. Read our guide to packing for Disney today.