3 Disney Dining Reservation Lessons Learned

Planning dining reservations for your Disney World vacation can be a challenge, especially if you have little ones who desperately want to go to a specific restaurant.

Cinderella’s Royal Table is one of the most difficult reservations to get!

You’ll be making so many preparations so that your family can have the perfect trip, but there are several pitfalls that you’ll want to be sure to avoid! These common mistakes can set you back in both time and money. Here are three Disney dining reservation lessons we’ve learned from years of trial and error.

Plan Early

You can make an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) as early as 180 days ahead of your visit. As an added benefit, Disney resort guests can make reservations for their entire vacation (up to 10 days) on the 180th day before their stay begins.

Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland.

If you’d like to dine at Be Our Guest  or Cinderella’s Royal Table, you’ll want to start trying for a reservation at the earliest possible moment. These places are extremely popular and reservation slots fill up fast!

You can book reservations by calling 407-WDW-DINE beginning at 7 a.m. ET, or jump on the My Disney Experience app or try to book online. The online system opens at 6 a.m. ET.

Don’t Give Up

Just because there were no reservations available for the popular restaurant or character meal you wanted at the time you wanted, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Other guests change their selections right down to the last moments before a trip — and sometimes even on the same day as the reservation. This leaves potential openings for you get the reservation you’ve been hoping for.

Try calling back every day through the reservations line or on the My Disney Experience app to see if a booking becomes available.

Don’t forget that some Disney restaurants also accept reservations through OpenTable.com — you might be able to snag a seat that way! Here are just some of the restaurants that might be available through Open Table: The Boathouse, Morimoto Asia, Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs; Shula’s, bluezoo and Il Mulino at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin; and Flying Fish, Sanaa and Big River Grille at Disney resort hotels.

You can even visit the actual restaurant on the day you wish to dine to see if there have been any last-minute cancellations.

Show Up!

It may sound like common sense, but if you make a reservation, don’t forget about it, or worse yet, just decide to skip it! Besides not being very considerate of others, there are penalties for being a no-show.

If you’ve made a Disney dining reservation, you should be prepared to be on time. This means arriving at least 15 minutes prior to your ADR time. If you’re in a different park from where your reservation is set, carefully plot out your transportation and allow plenty of time. Nothing is worse than being stuck on a bus when you should have been dining alongside Winnie the Pooh and friends at the Crystal Palace or enjoying a dinner and drinks over at the California GrillUsually, a restaurant will hold your table for 15-20 minutes if you’re running late. Just try to call in if you know you’re running behind. 

Another reason to show up is to avoid the no-show fee. That’s right — Disney World will charge the card used to make your reservations a fee of $10-$25 per person if you fail to show up. Be sure to cancel at least one day beforehand to prevent these unnecessary charges from eating into your food budget. Also, canceling ahead will free up a table for someone else who might have their heart set on that particular meal.

Have you made a fatal mistake in making your Disney dining reservations before? Please share in the comments below for our readers making plans for their next trip.

Just starting out? Visit our Walt Disney World Dining page to find everything you need to know. We have a full list of menus from every restaurant for you to browse before you go, as well as photos of the locations, and more importantly, the FOOD! And if you’re having trouble deciding on where to dine, be sure to take a look at our Rate and Review section, where other readers have left their thoughts on recent dining experiences.

Be sure to check out the AllEars® YouTube Channel for reviews, news, information and more! 

3 Disney Dining Reservation Lessons Learned

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Sarah has built a career in communications and marketing that started when she was the editor of her high school newspaper. She has written for AllEars.net since 2018, and enjoys sharing Disney news and updates with the AllEars community. She's been a Disney fan ever since her first visit to Walt Disney World when she was 5, and has been known to arrange trips around visiting a Disney park!

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5 Replies to “3 Disney Dining Reservation Lessons Learned”

  1. one time about 10 years ago we were running extremely late thanks to a major wdw bus problem. we tried and tried to get through to the restaurant on the phone, all we could do was call the dining reservation line. are the direct numbers to the restaurants posted somewhere easily found?

  2. I believe you have the Fast Pass timing confused with ADR. Anyone can make dining reservations 180 days out – you don’t have to be staying on property!

  3. I thought anyone could make an ADR 180 days in advance. I did this back in July, 2018 and scored dinner at Be Our Guest in January, 2019. We’re staying in a house off-property. You need to be a resort guest, though, to make ADRs for 10 days past the 180 days mark.