Advance Dining Reservations can be quite a challenge especially to collect some of the select places on your list. When planning your next Walt Disney World vacation, after taking care of your resort reservations, I suggest doing some research on dining before the 180 day dining window begins. Identify your favorite places and be ready for the 7am /180 day window with general timeframes (like early morning, late morning, mid afternoon, etc) that you would like to plug into your day. Here are some of the things that I have found difficult to book over my trips. Remember The EARLY BIRD Catches the worm or in this case the best dining opportunities.
10. California Grill, Contemporary Resort – Adult centered dining Tres Chic. A reservation during the Magic Kingdom Fireworks time is very elusive indeed. When we were there recently, there was a recall option available for same day return at fireworks viewing time so make that 5pm reservation and return prior to Fireworks time.
9. Hollywood Brown Derby, Hollywood Studios – Great food, especially known for the Cobb Salad. Consider dining early or late lunch instead of dinner. They recently added a Tapas lounge so how about trying the little plates, no reservations needed.
8. Via Napoli, Italy, Epcot World Showcase – Who does not just LOVE pizza ovens and Italian? Everything is yummy here. How about a late lunch or early dinner here in the 3 to 4pm range?
7. Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show – The signature show of the Polynesian Village, it has changed over the years but is a great show and food. Remember that there is usually an early show and a later one so you have multiple opportunities in the same evening to see it so plan accordingly.
6. Food and Wine Festival Ticketed Events – Festival time used to be one of the lowest attendance times of the year, but not anymore. Plan accordingly, if you just love the festival events, watch the websites and call the day that reservations open. This includes wine/beverage tastings of all types and Cooking demos. As one of those who does this every year, believe me we have a plan so reserve early to avoid disappointment.
5. Cinderella’s Castle Character Dining (Character Dining in General) – This is seriously why people come to Disney parks and go on Disney Cruises, Disney characters. So if you or your smaller ones want a meal with your favorite characters be wise and do some research ahead to know where THE character you want to see is and what your options are. Mickey and Minnie appear in many venues daily so know them all. If it is the Princesses that are the character of choice check out which Princess is hosting which venue. There are a bit more location choices than there used to be but this is still the reservation of choice for a LOT of people so be smart and call early (yes this is a 7amEST @180day one). By 7:15 most days, this is history. I did get a chance just recently to see the Cinderella’s Royal Table at a Princess lunch which had 5 of the Princesses. It’s worth going to the extra trouble – the smaller ones really love this. P.S. Don’t forget Princess Tea and the Grand Floridian.
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4. BOMA at Jambo House, Animal Kingdom Lodge – This is one of my favorite reservations, whether I am staying at the resort or not. I just love the breakfast choices and POG juice. It has been getting quite a bit more crowded there recently so even though it is a buffet, you need reservations. Breakfast goes as late as 10:45 here, so consider a brunch time. And after breakfast or before dinner you can check out the animals on the savannah. Food + Entertainment.
3. Le Cellier, Canada, Epcot World Showcase – There are people waiting as soon as the door opens here at 11am. The food is more than worth it. If you can’t get reservations, try going over as a walk in at 11am. I have had it work once.
2. Be Our Guest, Magic Kingdom – I have been in for lunch and for dinner several times. Lunch is fun, dinner is elegant and the food is excellent! I have seen them turn people away without reservations and even with them there is a bit of a wait sometime. Try the Grey Stuff at dinner; yes it is delicious! Just the décor itself in here is worth the trip.
1. Fireworks Dessert Party – Since I have not yet been able to get this reservation, I don’t have much advice except keep trying even the day of as cancelled reservations are sometimes available at the last minute.
A couple of reminders, Think about what types of dining your travel party prefers. Remember that 5 minutes reservation time plus or minus can make a difference in getting a reservation at some of the more challenging venues (i.e. 12:50 vs. 12:45). In many table service spots, eating at lunch instead of dinner may be less expensive for the same entrees. Consider eating off standard dining hours such as a late lunch (1 to 3pm) or early dinner (5pm instead of 6pm) to improve your reservation prospects. Bon Appétit!
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