As you've probably learned by now, Disney World vacations require lots of planning, and dining is no different. While the quick-service restaurants in the parks are always an option, most families visiting Disney World would like to have at least a few meals that aren't fast food. For that, we highly recommend making Advance Dining Reservations, or "ADRs" for short. With dinner shows, character meals, fine dining, buffets, deluxe views and everything in between ... yeah, it's safe to say you'll want to book an ADR or two for your next trip!
For some of you, dining at Disney World is a big-time affair. If you see your trip as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and want to pull out all the stops, you should consider making reservations for at least one character dining experience and a few table-service restaurants, maybe for one of the hard-to-get restaurants or even for a romantic night out while the tadpoles stay with a babysitter. If this sounds like you, you'll want to make reservations as early as possible and consider staying on-site, especially during the busiest times.
However, if fine dining or character dining is less of a priority, you don't need to lose too much sleep over Disney World dining reservations. Unless you are visiting during one of the busiest times of the year, you should be able to find a few table-service options much closer to your actual trip date (especially at Epcot), or even while you're there. If you're fortunate enough to be visiting during the least-busy times of year, you'll have even more last-minute choices. And keep in mind that Disney has tons of tasty quick-service options, as well. Even if you don't book any dining reservations, you'll never go hungry!
What You Need to Know About Disney World Dining Reservations
All guests (even those staying off-site) can make Disney World dining reservations. Unlike some perks offered exclusively to those staying on-site at a Disney World hotel (such as Extra Magic Hours), ADRs are available equally to all guests, regardless of where you're staying.
Park admission is required for in-park dining. Just to be clear, you must have valid theme park admission at the location of your meal. So if you're dining at The Crystal Palace, be sure you have the proper tickets to enter Magic Kingdom for that reservation.
You can make Disney World dining reservations for your trip starting 180 days out. No matter what time of year you’ll be visiting, we recommend making reservations as close as you can to the magical 180-day mark. For guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you’ll have 180 days in advance of your check-in day ... plus, you can make dining reservations for your entire stay, up to 10 days. What this means is that guests staying on Disney property effectively get 190 days to make reservations rather than 180. This is quite an advantage if dining is a priority, especially during the busiest times, so you'll want to make sure you book your Disney World hotel room before the dining reservation window opens for your trip.
It's not uncommon to find the most popular restaurants, such as Cinderella's Royal Table and Victoria & Albert's, already booked by the time the 180-day mark rolls around. The longer you wait, the less chance you’ll have at eating at one of your favorite restaurants or experiencing a dinner show. That said, there are still ways of snagging those last-minute reservations, which we'll discuss below.
If reservations are really important to you, make sure you have already planned which days you will be going to the parks before your 180-day reservation window opens. It is almost impossible to plan daily meals for your vacation without knowing where you’re going each day. You can use our Crowd Calendar to help you decide which parks to visit on which day. Keep in mind, reservations do sometimes start ahead of park opening hours, and you can get into the parks early.
We don't suggest using morning Extra Magic Hours for dining reservations if you are staying on-site and would otherwise plan to attend those EMHs, because that is when you would want to be on the most popular rides. For those of you staying off-site, if you have a dining reservation in the park before it opens, you will be allowed in early (usually about 30 minutes before the start of your reservation). Look for cast members with signs for reservation check-in, or specially-marked turnstiles. This can sometimes be a good strategy for getting a jump on popular attractions if the restaurant is further back in the park. Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom, for example, offers early reservations and is right near two of the most popular attractions in the park: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan's Flight.
Take advantage of advance-order dining at Be Our Guest. Speaking of Be Our Guest, it's the only restaurant that currently offers optional order-ahead, or advance-order, dining when you make an advance breakfast or lunch reservation. (It is not available for dinner reservations.) When you are within 30 days of your reservation, you can select your entrees, sides, beverages and dessert through an order form on the My Reservations page in your My Disney Experience account. You do not have to pay when placing the order, and you can modify or cancel it at any time before arriving at the restaurant. Canceling a meal order will not affect the restaurant reservation itself, so you must cancel the restaurant reservation separately if you need to do so.
Have your credit card ready when you make your Disney World dining reservations. Make sure you have a credit card ready before booking your dining reservations. You can also enter your credit card information in your My Disney Experience account in advance. Disney holds your reservation with a credit card guarantee, and if you do not show up to your reservation or cancel within 24 hours of your reservation, you will be charged $10 a person. Disney does not charge you in advance for your meal unless you are booking a dinner show (Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue, Spirit of Aloha) or dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table inside Cinderella Castle.
Here's how to book Disney World dining reservations online: Log into your My Disney Experience account and under the Things to Do tab, click Make Reservations under Dining. The new reservation window opens at 7 a.m. EST each day. This will take you to another page that lists all of the restaurants on-property. You’ll then enter the number of people in your party, date and time of day, and can filter your results by park, resort hotel or area (such as Disney Springs or Disney's BoardWalk). The search results will show which restaurants have availability that day. You can then click on the desired time and create your reservation. Voila!
Once you finish entering your details, your reservation should appear on your My Disney Experience account. You can make same-day reservations for restaurants if they’re available. If you need to cancel your dining reservation or change the number of people dining, you can do so on the website, so long as your reservation is not within 24 hours. At that point, visit Guest Relations in the parks or call the reservation hotline to modify your existing reservation.
Here's how to make a Disney World dining reservation on the My Disney Experience app: Click on the plus sign in a circle at the bottom of the screen, which will pop up with different options. Choose Reserve Dining and enter the number of people in the party, date and time of day. You can also search for reservations in the app by experience or cuisine and location. Just like on the site, you can make same-day reservations for restaurants if they’re available. You can also cancel your reservations on the app up until the 24-hour period before your reservation time. Anytime after that, it is recommended you call the reservation hotline.
Making Disney World dining reservations over the phone: Making an ADR over the phone should be used only when you do not have access to the app or website, or need to cancel a reservation within the 24-hour time period leading up to it. To make or cancel a reservation over the phone, call 407-WDW-DINE and listen to each of the options.
How to snag last-minute reservations: We like to think there is an art to snagging last-minute reservations, but sometimes it's just good, old-fashioned luck. If we have a last-minute trip to Disney or we've waited to book dining reservations, we've had luck scoring popular restaurants. As soon as we've finalized our plans for which park we'll be in which day, we start checking My Disney Experience periodically for the week or so leading up to our trip. This is when other guests are also finalizing their trip details, and sometimes end up deciding not to keep their dining reservations. The day before is often the best day because people don't want to pay the reservation cancellation fee.
We've also had luck obtaining same-day reservations by simply showing up and asking about availability. It never hurts. We've even been able to snag same-day reservations when there was rain. Because Epcot has so many dining options, you can often find last-minute reservations for some of its restaurants.
If you want to dine at Disney Springs, also try Open Table. Many of the most popular restaurants at Disney Springs, such as The BOATHOUSE, Morimoto Asia and Raglan Road, offer additional reservation times on Open Table. So if you can't snag an ADR or the time you want isn't available in My Disney Experience, try Open Table.
Arrive on time. Disney is strategic with the way it schedules its reservations. Be sure to arrive on time, if not early, to make things easier for everyone! If your reservation is at the start of a dining period (some restaurants are only open for breakfast and dinner, with a break ending around 4 p.m.), there is likely to be a rush of new guests.
So there you have it: our favorite tips for making Disney World dining reservations. We want to hear YOUR favorite ADR spots in the comments. Have a question? Just ask. If you have tips we didn't mention, share them in comments below. Hop over to our Orlando Planning Timeline for more trip planning resources!