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Need to Cancel a Last-Minute Disney Dining Reservation? Here’s a Trick!

The Walt Disney Company has a long and enduring reputation for providing the very best of the best in experiences for folks of all ages. And among those experiences are of course those unforgettable magical mealtime moments that only Disney can carry out so well. From contested character dining to savoring masterfully prepared novelties by award-winning chefs, the featured food scenes at Disney destinations all around the world are definitely high on the list of any Guest’s must-dos.

Dining family

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Related: The Greatest Experiences for Families Vacationing at Disney World

Walt Disney World Resort in particular is home to some rather stellar establishments, many of which provide exceptional exclusives you can only find here and nowhere else. And such acclaimed attributes to be savored here have only continued to grow over the years, so much so, that making advance dining reservations has since become the norm for assuring that you and your party get to enjoy such offerings.

Advance reservation making

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Related: Tips to Scoring the Best Disney Dining Reservations

So why would anyone even consider cancelling one of these winsome dining reservations that just everyone coming to Disney World so longs for? I mean, you have timeless classic experiences like Cinderella’s Royal Table located right within Magic Kingdom Park’s iconic Cinderella Castle, no less. Then there are those newer classics like the Be Our Guest Restaurant and Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen, both onsite at Magic Kingdom Park as well, Steak 71 over at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Space220 at EPCOT, Tiffins on location at Animal Kingdom Park, and countless others. Fans who haven’t been to Disney lately just can’t wait to enjoy these still-new options, plus the various others in addition.

Dining at Tiffins

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Related: Newer Dining Venues Around Disney World You Still Haven’t Tried

Just the same, it’s not really a matter of why anyone would “want” to cancel a coveted dining reservation they managed to score, but rather when there is a need to. And unfortunately, that scenario is all too familiar these days, now more than ever.

If we’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that there are no set-in-stone certainties in life. Plans can change abruptly, even while you’re smack-dab in the middle of a long-awaited Disney World vacation. Now that FastPass+ is no more, for example, it can be harder to plan dining in coordination with the attractions you’re most counting on. Say an upcoming Lightning Lane selection you had to act fast on doesn’t quite fit with an already planned dining reservation you made long ago—possibly up to 60 days ago when your option to make such arrangements first opened up. What do you do?

Related: ‘Frustrating’ & ‘Awful’: More issues with Lightning Lane at Disney World

It’s never appealing to have to cancel a dining reservation you so wanted, but in situations such as these it really can’t be helped. But there is another issue to contend with—the cost of such cancellations. Disney’s policy for cancelling dining reservations is that you must do so 24 hours in advance of your intended time. The penalty for cancelling after that window of time has passed is a $10 incurred fee, applied to each member of your dining party.  And if you have a big group, that can quickly add up!

Big Family

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Related: Disney Guests Face Another Price Increase

While this may seem like a lose-lose situation, there is actually a convenient hack you can do, allowing you to “cancel” your dining reservation last-minute and actually avoid paying any fees. What’s this secret? Just log into the My Disney Experience app and instead of trying to cancel your reservation, simply click on the “Modify” option. Then, scroll through for any available dates or times in the future and change your reservation to one of those.

Modifying Option

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Now that you are out of the 24-hour timeframe designation you can go ahead and cancel that reservation. Or perhaps you will get lucky and find that the new time fits even better. What a way to have your cake and eat it too!

Even if you do initially end up needing to cancel your reservation, it may not be altogether hopeless to snag a meal at the dining venue you so longed for. That’s because in more recent years, Walt Disney World Resort has unveiled a new Walk-Up List feature at some of the more popular table service venues throughout theme park and Resort locations. This enables Guests who may not have made a dining reservation in advance to walk up to said desired venues on a whim and possibly secure a last-minute available time slot. It works by logging into the My Disney Experience app and adding yourself and your party size to the selected waitlist.

Walk Up List

Credit: Brooke McDonald

While the new Walk-Up List is both a convenient and clever way of securing a coveted spot at one of many restaurant favorites, do take note that it is still somewhat of a gamble. You aren’t necessarily assured that there will be availability for the date and time you are alternately considering.

Related: Disney’s Hollywood Studios Restaurants Added to Walk-Up List for Table-Service Restaurants

Just keep in mind that hope is never entirely lost at Disney, even if you’re left making a tough decision that calls for choosing a long-awaited attraction over a dining reservation at a Disney World Restaurant you were so looking forward to. Disney World is, after all, the place where dreams come true. And whatever may come, you know you’re in for the experience of a lifetime!

About Laura

Laura Catherine aka “LC” is a writer who resides in Maryland with her family and several pets. She visits Walt Disney World whenever she can. Additionally, she is a published author of three novels, a children’s book, and has a passion for gardening.