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Knowing How And When To Make Your Disney Dining Reservations – 10 Things You Should know

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Disney dining is one of the best parts of a Disney vacation! There are so many great places to check out and the memories made at each special restaurant will last a lifetime. Since many of the restaurants on property have become extremely popular over the years, you’ll want to make sure you know exactly what to do when making your reservations. Here are 10 things you should know about Disney dining.

10. 180 Is The Magic Number

You can actually call and make your reservations for your dining experiences 180 days prior to your trip. Anything earlier than that is too far ahead. I can’t tell you how many guests wait until midnight on that special day to schedule their dining. Some of them even hear, “sorry, it’s sold out” at that time! If you do your research (which is explained below) and you’re ready to book 180 days prior, go for it! If you planned a trip sooner than 180 days out, you’ll want to figure out where you want to dine quickly and reserve it at your earliest convenience. Credit cards are required to hold your reservation (they will not be charged at this time). If you change your mind about the restaurant you chose, or have another in mind, the switch can be made or cancelled without an issue as long as its 24 hours prior to the dining experience.

9. Check Out the Menu Ahead of Time

Since Disney has some of the most diverse cuisine in the parks and resorts, you’ll want to look at a menu before you decide to eat at a particular restaurant. Many guests hear other Disney goers about how wonderful a particular restaurant is and without second guessing, they book it. When they arrive to the restaurant, they quickly regret choosing it because the food isn’t to their liking, their kids don’t care for it, etc. All menus are on the Walt Disney World website and are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! It would behoove you to check before you book!

8. Think About How Much You Really Want to Eat

All of the restaurants that take reservations at the Disney parks and resorts are sit down style. They tend to serve more food than a quick service station. With that said, it’s important to consider how much you’ll really want to eat. There are some families that love having three full sit down meals in a day, while others prefer 1-2 sit down meals with lighter meals and snacks in between. You’ll want to determine how many reservations you make by how much you think you’ll want to chow down. This will help save time and money in the long run!

7. Consider Dietary Accommodations

Disney sure has some magical moments, and one of the most magical accommodations they make is that almost every restaurant can accommodate your meals on any special dietary needs. If you or anyone in your party has a dietary need, be sure to speak to a cast member when making the reservation to see if that particular restaurant you’re interested in will be able to assist you. Last year, I witnessed a very touching moment while dining at Trails End (at the Fort Wilderness cabins). A chef came out to the table next to me with a big bowl of chicken fingers for a little boy (about 9 years old). His parents started to cry and stated that they have never been able to eat all together as a family because of their son’s dietary needs, but Disney was able to accommodate him at every restaurant they have been to so far! This was the first time they were able to eat together as a family! The magic doesn’t get any better than that! Remember to mention the accommodations needed to your waiter when you arrive as well! If you have a special accommodation (anniversary, engagement, birthday, etc.) be sure to let the cast member at the time of reservation know so it can be celebrated too!

6. Read The Reviews

It can be a very tedious and overwhelming task if you’re trying to decide amongst several restaurants to check out on your next trip. One of the best things to do is ask you friends, co-workers, or family members about their experiences at the restaurants they’ve been to. If not, check the reviews online or even pages on Facebook. You’ll be able to get an idea of which restaurants seem to be fan favorites. You can also ask the cast member on the phone when you are making the reservations to recommend their favorites to you.

5. Dessert Parties

One of the best ways to indulge in desserts is at any of the famous dessert parties that are hosted in the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and even on a cruise in the Seven Seas Lagoon. Each dessert party offers spectacular views of the parks nightly firework show, an array of beverages, and an assortment of desserts that are sure to knock your socks off. Each one is also themed differently and there are even special dessert parties during the holiday season. These events are very popular and sell out quickly. They are an additional fee and require advanced reservations way ahead of time. If you are able to check out this awesome activity, it will be a favorite one on your to-do list.

4. Plan According to Your Day and Location

One of the most important things to consider when booking a dining reservation is the location that you will be at. You’ll want to either make you daily plans around the restaurants you booked, or book your dining around your day that you planned. This will allow a smoother travel and transition to the restaurants that you will be around on that day. Otherwise, you’ll have to include tons of traveling time.

3. Allow Travel Time

Speaking of travel time, you’ll need plenty of it! One of the things guests can underestimate is the amount of time they will need to get from their location to their restaurant. Disney recommends allowing an hour of travel time if you’re using the busses, boats, or monorails to get to your location. If you’re walking, be sure you don’t wait in line at an attraction or ride for an ample amount of time if you’re cutting it close. It is important to make it as close to your reservations as possible. Disney is very, very good at trying to accommodate you if you are running late due to traveling, but you’ll most likely have to wait a little longer for them to get you to a table if you’re very late. Remember that if you don’t make it to your reservation at all, you will be charged $10 per person in your party (with the card that you provided at the time of the reservation).

Bonus Tip!

BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Disney travel deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius! Discover More >

2. Don’t Get Discouraged!

Hearing that the restaurant you’ve had your heart set on doesn’t have any available reservations is heart breaking. Many guests have to settle for other options in a case like this. The best advice I can give you is to keep checking! Guests cancel reservations every single day, and if you’re lucky, one may just pop up when you check online or give Disney a call. You never know how lucky you can get! I typically check twice a day until the day of my trip if I am in a scenario like this, and I have to say, I have always been able to snag a spot where I wanted! Just keep trying!

1. Disney Dining Plan- Choose Accordingly

Disney Dining Plans are a great way to save money on your trips (especially if you were able to get it for free with your resort reservation). If you do in fact plan to purchase the dining plan for your party, be sure you consider which one is feasible and most convenient for your group. There have been so many guests that end their trip with dozens of snack or meal credits left on their plan. This tip goes back to tip #8 in this article. Once you determine how much you’ll really want to eat, you can choose the plan that is best for you. Once you have purchased the plan, you can determine how many sit-down meals you have available and make your reservations from there.

BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!

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About Natalie

Natalie is an elementary school teacher and a native Floridian who lives and breathes all things Disney. Her love for Disney started at the age of two during her first visit, and has continued to flourish into her adult life. She loves to share her Disney passion with her students and believes Disney is so special because there is no other place to forget about your worries and be a kid again, which is why she refuses to ‘grow up’.

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