Planning an entire Disney World Vacation can be super stressful. With new changes from Lightning Lane to Fastpass, new My Disney Experience App changes, and Disney Genie+, grabbing dining reservations is more challenging than ever. This article will provide a rundown of exactly how to use Disney’s systems most effectively in order to snag coveted reservation times at your preferred dining locations. It will also cover which dining experiences are most popular and provide insight into which locations may be the best for your particular group.
How To Make Dining Reservations at Disney World?
To put it simply, there are two methods: call Disney’s reservation line or make the reservations yourself via the My Disney Experience website or mobile app. Overall, making reservations via My Disney Experience gives you more opportunities to find what you want, and are what some of the tips and tricks in the later sections of this article require. Here are the perks and drawbacks to each method:
How To Make Dining Reservations via Phone Call
If you are a technology dinosaur and would rather not bother with the computer or application confusion, simply call 407-WDW-DINE (that’s 407-939-3463). Calling via the phone allows you to speak with a Disney representative that can help with the reservations and lock in the selections you prefer. However, calling in means that you may have to sit on the line waiting to access someone who can help. You also don’t get to see all of the options you may have, since they will just be read out to you. There won’t be as much flexibility in trying out different combinations to get what you really want; you will only be told of what is available during the time and location you provide. Lastly, calling in for a reservation means you have to wait until the lines open at 7am the morning you are allowed to begin booking your reservations. Booking via the App or Website opens more than an hour earlier.
Making Dining Reservations via Disney App or Website
Making dining reservations through the free My Disney Experience App which you can download to your phone (or the same website based client you can use on your computer) allow you to filter through dates, times, and dining locations yourself. If you know what you’re looking for, this can be much easier to allow you to quickly determine the best options for your family. You can simply refresh the page over and over to see what is available for different search criteria, and possibly access new choices as someone else drops a reservation you wanted. On the morning of reservation selection, you can start making choices at 5:45am.
How Far in Advance Can You Make Dining Reservations?
All guests are allowed to book dining reservations 60 days in advance of their trip. However, there are a couple of minute differences that can be a huge benefit to you if you are staying at a Disney World Resort. If you are not staying at a Disney resort, the 60 day in advance period applies to each and every day. If you want to book 60 days in advance for your Monday park visit, you can… but then you have to wait until the next day to for your next booking to reserve a spot for your Tuesday park day (for example). This means to get the full litany of restaurant choices and times, you will need to log on multiple days in a row.
If you’re staying at a Disney resort, your 60 day in advance counter aligns with the first day of your vacation. This allows you to select reservations for every day of your trip, even though those later days are beyond 60 days from the time you could start booking for your first day. This means you can plan further in advance of everyone else and are almost guaranteed to lock down a top-choice reservation!
If you are staying at a resort and have a specific dining reservation that will make or break your trip, use this trick to your advantage. Simply plan that must-do dining reservation for later in the trip! That way, you will be able to plan it out 64 or 65 days ahead, while pretty much everyone else won’t yet have access to the reservations for that day.
As previously mentioned, booking via the My Disney Experience App or Website means that 60-day prior window begins at 5:45am compared to the 7:00am window for calling in. Set a calendar reminder 60 days before your vacation begins and be sure to make the reservations as quickly as you can to guarantee you get access to your top picks.
Do Dining Reservations Fill Up Quickly?
YES! Disney dining reservations fill up extremely quickly since so many guests will be visiting the parks at the same time as you. This means that top restaurant picks (discussed below) may become unavailable within a few days or even hours of being open for booking. That is why it is so critical to have a set plan and ensure you remember to make your reservations as early as possible!
Which Dining Reservations are Quickest to Go in Walt Disney World
Each park has its own restaurants which other guests will be quick to snag reservations for. After doing your own research to determine if an experience is something you want to partake in (be sure to consider time, money, and quality!), check the below list to see what is likely to be the first restaurants to run out of open reservations in each park. If you want something listed here, you should definitely make an effort to book them as far in advance as you possibly can. If not you can always grab a bite from a quick service restaurant.
Magic Kingdom Park has the most people visiting, and the lowest number of quality restaurants. That being said, there are multiple special character dining experiences in the park which are some of the quickest restaurants across the Disney Resort to be all booked up.
Cinderella’s Royal Table will be nearly impossible to get a reservation for if you don’t book ASAP. The experience inside of the castle itself allows visitors to meet the Disney Princesses while they eat, so it’s a top pick for many families.
Be Our Guest is also difficult to get a reservation for without booking ASAP. The atmosphere of the restaurant inside of the iconic Beauty and the Beast castle is excellent.
My personal dining reservation recommendation: The Jungle Navigation Co. Skipper’s Canteen. Themed after the Jungle Cruise, it has the best mix of food and atmosphere (if you’re not looking to meet characters).
EPCOT is the peak of excellent dining since it is home to the World Showcase and the amazing cultural experiences that come with it. Since there are more restaurants, there are more chances to snag something good here – but the best picks are still sure to go quickly.
Akershus is EPCOT’s princess dining location in Norway, where Anna & Elsa and their friends will meet with guests while they dine. With the Frozen craze still burning strong, this experience fills up fast.
Space 220 is one of EPCOT’s newest restaurants and has an amazing space theme that truly feels immersive. Since it is such an “out of this world” experience, reservations can be difficult to nab.
My personal dining reservation recommendation: Takumi Te or Le Cellier. The former restaurant, located in Japan, will make you forget you’re at a theme park. If you have a big dining budget and like sushi, it’s the spot for you. Otherwise, Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada is an excellent option.
Hollywood Studios has an interesting mix of unique sit-down dining experiences. Since it features Star Wars so heavily, the only dining experience that gets booked quickly is a bar rather than a nicer full-service restaurant like the other experiences in the article.
Oga’s Cantina is the location most difficult to grab a reservation for due to its immersive Star Wars theming and exotic-looking drinks. It’s also a great spot to experience the Disney difference without having to spend more than an hour for the entire dining experience to pan out.
The Hollywood Brown Derby is the park’s most fancy dining option, and therefore its reservations can sometimes fill up quickly.
My personal dining reservation recommendation: Sci Fi Dine In. Though its food isn’t particularly special, the nighttime drive-in theming of the restaurant is something you’ll never encounter again.
Animal Kingdom restaurants are not all that difficult to get reservations for overall.
Tiffins is the fanciest and most worthy of your reservation. Alternatively, the Tusker House is one of the best Disney Character dining experiences on property and is also worthy of your time and reservation. Both of these spots will be the first to fill up in the park, though it will not be immediately at the 60-day mark.
Tips & Tricks to Get the Dining Reservations You Want
- Be flexible on the timing. Getting the restaurant you want should beat sliding it perfectly into your day plan.
- Refresh the My Disney Experience App constantly (if you don’t book 60 days out). New options pop up and get taken all the time as other guests adjust their schedules, so the more you check, the easier it is to grab a reservation.
- Book multiple things on the same day. There is no penalty for cancelling reservations (before the day of), so make any reservations you want and then remove the ones you don’t need later.
About the Author:As a local and former Disney Cast Member, I know EVERYTHING there is to know about Disney World and the company. I have a masters degree and frequently write within my full-time job. I write articles for fun and to ensure people get the best information or opinions they can on all things Disney!