Some of us would go so far as to say that attractions and shows at Disney World are just things we do until it’s time to eat again. Part of the reason is that you’ll find dining experiences here that you just can’t find anywhere else on earth. Due to their uniqueness, Disney World dining reservations fill up faster than a Space Mountain roller coaster ride.
Eating inside Cinderella’s Castle with the princesses is something that dreams are made of. And your family will never forget getting a hug from Chef Mickey while the smell of waffles fills the air and the monorail glides overhead. Thousands of people each year want to dine with Winnie the Pooh.
You may have heard discouraging stories about how impossible it can be to get Disney World dining reservations. But, as someone who’s eaten at almost every restaurant at Disney World, I know all the tips and tricks. I’m happy to reveal 7 secrets on how anyone can snag that magical seat next to Mickey on your family trip to Disney World!
1) Book 180 days in Advance
It may seem like way too far ahead of time. But, this is the absolute best way to secure the hardest Disney dining reservation! To ensure you’re calling as early as you possibly, check this "Disney days until calculator” and enter your arrival date to find out when you should call. If you’re staying on Disney property, you can make reservations before that 180 day mark. The cast members at Disney Dining (407) WDW-DINE are equipped with days out calendars and a calculator built in to the system. It’s OK to call just to ask them to look up your date so that you can be prepped and ready when your big day comes.
Westgate Palace Resort (starting at $159/night)
2) Call Early...or Get Online Even Earlier
Create an account at disneyworld.com now so you’re ready to book later! The online reservation system is set up to release tables at 6 am EST, but I’ve heard of people finding reservations as early as midnight! You can get through to (407) WDW-DINE beginning at 7 am EST. Set your alarm. Have your list of dates and restaurant preferences in front of you. Ask the cast member making your Disney World dining reservation to check availability at that restaurant for the whole day at once. Have an alternate date ready in case your first choice doesn’t work out, which leads us to our next secret tip.
3) Be Flexible
Are you willing to make Disney dining reservations reservations at unusual times? The secret to this is to have a snack in your room before you start your day at the park and maybe bring some snacks with you. You are much more likely to find a lunch reservation for 2 pm or a dinner reservation at 5 pm instead of the usual noon and 6 pm. If you take the latest dinner reservation possible you may be able to walk through an empty park upon exiting. Another bonus is that the restaurant may even be less crowded if you pick a reservation that’s at a more “nontraditional” time.
4) Don’t Book Chronologically
Start by trying to make the dining reservation at the restaurants you want the most instead of the first one on arrival day. This way you’re less likely to miss out on the most popular dining experiences. Book dinner shows and the Fireworks Dessert Party before everything else because seating for these is often based on when the reservation was made.
5) Call Direct
If you weren’t able to get your Disney World dining reservation through (407) WDW-DINE you can try some of the non-Disney owned restaurants by calling direct.
- Rainforest Cafe (Animal Kingdom location) – (407) 938-9100
- Rainforest Cafe (Downtown Disney location) – (407) 827-8500 and
- T-Rex Cafe – (407) 828-8739
6) Try again One to Two Days Before
People often cancel dining reservations at Disney World at the last minute! So check online or use your My Disney Experience app a day or two before to check. Please note that Disney World requires a credit card number to hold reservations at table service restaurants. If you cancel as late as one to two days before, you’ll be automatically charged $10 per person.
7) Be Adventurous
Disney World has more than 80 table service restaurants to choose from. Each is special for different reasons. Don’t be afraid to venture out and try something that may have more availability than the others. Who knows? You may just find a hidden gem that you can return to every trip!