It’s no secret that getting the Walt Disney World Resort experience that you want requires planning, often months, if not years, in advance. This is especially the case with dining anywhere that takes or requires a reservation. The first thing you should know is that not every restaurant that takes a reservation will be difficult to book.
But, that’s not why you’re here, is it?
Spots at some of the most highly sought-after restaurants can often be completely unavailable if you don’t know when to reserve. Here are the traits of a successful Walt Disney World “dining reservationist.”
As you can imagine, some venues are definitely more consistently popular than others. Often, this is because there is some sort of character interaction associated with it at hard-to-reserve restaurants like:
- Cinderella’s Royal Table, featuring Cinderella & friends
- Chef Mickey’s, featuring Mickey Mouse
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, featuring appearances by Snow White, Belle, Cinderella, Princess Aurora, and Ariel
Or, the restaurant may always be booked because the food and/or atmosphere is amazing at restaurants like:
- Victoria & Albert’s
- California Grill
- Le Cellier
The keys to finding out if this is the case with the restaurant that interests you are discussed next.
The best advice I can give you is to figure out, as early as you can, where you would like to dine and when you would like to dine there. Talk to the kids about it! Talk about the menus and the locations and see if they fit into your budget and your overall vacation plan. There’s a web page and menu for almost every restaurant at Walt Disney World. Take some time before you book your reservations to give them a look. Here. I’ll even give you the link right here so you have no excuses!
It’s very important to follow the steps below, or you may miss out!
- Count backwards 180 days from the day you would like to dine at a given restaurant and make sure you’re up early that day. The website will begin accepting new reservations at 6:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time).
- If you’re trying by phone, you should already be trying to call 407-WDWDINE at around 6:55 AM on that “180-out” day. The phone reservations open at 7:00AM. You should also check Disney’s website to see if your favorite spot will be closed for whatever reason during your stay. For example, Cinderella’s Royal Table will be closed from 28 February 2018 – 2 March 2018 for refurbishment.
Speaking of Cinderella’s Royal Table, that’s one of, if not, THE toughest reservation in the entire Resort. I myself have never eaten there. Maybe you’re interested in the fairly new Be Our Guest restaurant, which can also be tough to get a reservation. Even getting up early on that 180-out day, you may still miss out. But, don’t give up! That leads me to…
Check My Disney Experience on the Walt Disney World web site every day under Dining. There could have been cancellations on your preferred day. Disney has a smartphone app that works for this tip as well. This technique was how I was able to get a dinner table back in 2012 for another notoriously tough reservation: Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canada pavilion at Epcot.
Another option is using a relatively new service that will track a reservation place and time, then text or e-mail you that it is available. This is done though a website I have used in the past called touringplans.com. While I’ve used this website for other information, I have not tried the tracking service myself. However, a fellow Traveling Dad said that it helped him get into Chef Mickey’s, which can be a challenge.
Be flexible about your timeframes. You may have your entire vacation planned, like, we’re going to Epcot on day 1, and Magic Kingdom on day 2, etc…But, thanks to your persistence, a lunch spot opened up at the Royal Table one day before you land in Orlando!
Are you willing to be flexible with your plans in order to get the restaurant reservation you covet? Cinderella’s Royal Table is open for all three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), while Be Our Guest is only open for lunch and dinner.
I was fortunate enough to have lunch at Be Our Guest. The lunch menu is quite good. However, you should know that it is not a full table-service at lunch. You order at electronic screens upon entering and then are seated with your food delivered to your table. Although the atmosphere is different in a lunch setting, you would still get to see the beautiful work that the Imagineers put in on this restaurant.
Try Booking Lunch
This is where flexibility comes into play. Lunch is an easier, but still difficult, reservation to get at Be Our Guest, but it comes with one or two trade-offs.
If you need to be on a collision course with Disney Princesses and you can’t get into either of the ones I mentioned above, there are definitely other options for dining with Princesses. One location you might try is at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway pavilion at Epcot. The added bonus here is that there are seatings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so there are a lot more opportunities to get in there.
WDW’s website includes the following list of Princesses at Akershus and says that guests can “expect to see several of the following: Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Princess Aurora, and Ariel.” What this means is that at least a few of those will be there, but not all of them. This gives them the flexibility to allow for cast member sick days or other unforeseen
Check out our Disney podcasts for all our insider Disney tips. Got more questions that I didn’t quite address here? No problem! Hit me up on Twitter @KevinGillooly or drop me a line via my Disney podcast’s e-mail and we’ll answer it in a future episode!