ADRs, or advanced dining reservations, are one of the many keys to a successful and relaxing Disney vacation. Without them, trying to eat can be stressful and time consuming, particularly during the busier seasons like spring break, Christmas, and the summer. While it is nearly impossible to just walk into most table service restaurants on the whim, most can be booked fairly easily with just a few months or even weeks notice. There are a select number of restaurants, however, that require significant advanced planning. So man your computers (or phones) at 7am on T-180 days to your Disney vacation if you expect to eat at these culinary hot spots!
10. ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort
‘Ohana features an all-you-can-eat “Best Friends” family-style character breakfast with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, and Pluto, all dressed in traditional Hawaiian garb. Dinner is an all-you-can-eat family-style Hawaiian barbecue. Although the dinner option does not feature any characters, it does offer great views of the Wishes Fireworks in the Magic Kingdom. Check out our review: Dinner Polynesian Style at Ohana’s
9. Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The big draw to this restaurant is the unique theme. Guests are seated in “convertibles” facing a large movie screen showing clips from 1950’s sci-fi movies. The nighttime “sky” inside twinkles with stars, completing the “drive-in” illusion. Although the food is not gourmet, (traditional American offerings like burgers and shakes), you’re unlikely to find such ambiance elsewhere.
8. T-REX at Downtown Disney
Where else but in Disney can you dine with life-sized dinosaurs? This Downtown Disney restaurant, owned by Landry’s corporation (also owners of Rainforest Cafe and Yak & Yetti), is well known for its incredible interior and is generally booked well in advance. Animatronic dinosaurs seem to come alive, and “meteors” rain down while guests choose from an extensive menu. Families with young children flock to this restaurant for a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience.
7. 50’s Prime Time Café at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Eating here is truly like taking a step back in time. Guests are seated at Formica tables in “kitchens” designed to resemble the traditional family gathering places of the mid-20th century. Black and white TV screens play clips from prime-time TV shows of the same era. The wait staff puts on a show of their own, scolding guests who don’t finish their veggies or put their elbows on the table. Food is traditional American home cooking, with dishes like Mom’s Old-fashioned Pot Roast and Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken. Top it off with 50’s famous Peanut Butter and Jelly Milkshake, and you’ve got “comfort food” at its finest. It’s another uniquely themed dining experience that only Disney can offer.
6. Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
The award-winning fare at Victoria & Albert’s draws both guests of Walt Disney World and local diners, which accounts for the difficulty in securing a reservation at this location. There is a strict dress code (dinner jackets required for men, no shorts, jeans, sneakers or flip flops are permitted) and the restaurant is not recommended for children under 10. The least expensive meal available here is the 7-course Prix Fixe for $135 dollars. Eating here is a major commitment of both time and money, but frequent V&A diners will tell you the experience cannot be duplicated!
5. Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Chef Mickey’s has always been a popular choice for families with young children. It offers buffet style meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as the opportunity to meet five of the most popular Disney characters without waiting in traditional meet and greet lines. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto make appearances at each meal, circulating among the guests as they dine. The atmosphere, though somewhat rambunctious, encapsulates the true essence of Disney.
4. 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
This popular character meal is located in Disney’s grand Floridian resort. Their “Supercalifragilistic” breakfast features the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, and Alice. During “Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner”, guests are greeted by Prince Charming, Lady Tremain, the Stepsisters, and Cinderella herself. Both meals are buffets with a wide variety of delicious food. I’ve personally dined at this location for both breakfast and dinner and was very impressed by the quality and selection of the food, as well as the authenticity of the characters. They really take their time with the guests, and we have had some of our most memorable character interactions at this location. Check out our review: Supercalifragilistic Character Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare
3. California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Located on the 15th floor of Disney’s Contemporary resort, this restaurant offers California inspired fare, as well as spectacular views of fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle. Although the most coveted of the reservations here are during or shortly before the Wishes fireworks display, it is not well known that guests dining at the California Grill at any time of the evening may bring a receipt or proof of reservation to the hotel and gain access to the observation deck.
2. Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom
This Princess character meal featuring Cinderella, Jasmine, Rapunzel, Aurora, and Ariel has traditionally been the most coveted of all Disney dining reservations. Cast members in the reservation call centers tell legendary tales of 7am phone calls from guests screaming wildly into the phone, begging for any time available on a given date. Fortunately a few years back Disney decided to change this from a credit secured reservation to a prepaid reservation, making tables slightly easier to come by.
1. Be Our Guest at the Magic Kingdom
As the newest table service dining addition to the Walt Disney World Resort, a dinner reservation at Be Our Guest has become harder to secure than a front row viewing spot for Wishes on Christmas Eve. This restaurant features three distinct dining areas and a unique French-inspired menu, with items like Chicken Provençal and Croque Monsieur. The theming at Be Our Guest is quite elaborate and Disney spared no expense getting all of the details just right. The largest of the dining rooms includes a magical Disney window looking out onto snow falling over the French countryside. And until Disney opens a “Frozen” themed-restaurant, I wouldn’t expect the demand here to subside.
While it may be possible to get a reservation at less than 180 days out at many of these restaurants, the availability of times will wane quickly. Within several days of the 6-month booking window opening, you may only find limited availability at odd times (like a 9:30pm dinner). Are there any other Disney restaurant reservations that consistently allude you? Leave a comment below!