If you are planning on dining on Walt Disney World property, it’s in your party’s best interest to be dining with advance Disney dining reservations (called ADR). An advance dining reservation guarantees you a table at the restaurant of your choosing around the time you specify on the reservation (your actual seating time varies depending on how busy the restaurant is). With the dining plan gaining popularity each year, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to walk up and request a seating at a restaurant especially the popular ones like Cinderella’s Castle. It’s important to plan your meals and reserve your ADRs before you arrive at Disney World in order to eat where you want when you want to eat there.
How does Disney’s Advance Dining Reservations Work?
Unlike a typical reservation at a restaurant where they book you at a specific table at a specific time, Disney of course does things their own way. They have a set number of tables available during each specific block of time. They book those seatings without booking you at a specific table. Say they have ten 4 person tables available at 2 pm on a given day. They book ten parties of 4 at those said tables without assigning a particular table to any party. The first of the 2 pm parties to arrive at the restaurant gets the first seating available even if that said party was the last party to book their reservation. So if the Smith Family booked their reservation for 2 pm 6 months ago and the Jones family booked their reservation for 2 pm a week ago and the Jones family arrives at the restaurant first, they get the first available seating since there are no particular tables assigned.
How do you book your Advance Dining Reservation?
To book your advance dining reservations, you can call Disney directly at 407-WDW-Dine starting at 7 am EST on the 180th day before you arrive at Disney World. You can also book your reservation online starting at 6 am EST on the 180th day before you arrive at Disney World or if you are using a Disney travel agent they will do this for you.
If you are staying on Disney property, not only can you book your ADRs 180 days in advance, you can also book all the ADRs for the first 10 days of your stay when you are 180 days from your arrival date. So say you were arriving at Disney on January 23rd, 2012 and you wanted to book your dining reservations. Since July 27th is 180 days from that arrival date, you could call Disney on the 27th and book your advance dining reservations. But instead of calling again on July 28th to book the reservations from January 24th (which are 180 days apart), you can book your dining reservations for the first 10 days of your stay on July 27th for the dates January 23rd to February 1st, 2012.
Tips on Booking your Dining Reservations:
- Do your research before the 180 day mark arrives. Know where you want to eat and roughly when you want to eat there.
- Be flexible. You won’t always get the reservation time you want. Be sure you have alternative times and dates prepared before you call.
- Most people book their reservations either on the hour or on the half hour. Try booking your reservations on the quarter hours (such as 1:15 or 1:45 pm).
- If you plan on dining during off peak times (such as before noon or between 3-5 pm or after 8 pm), you are more likely to get the time you want.
- If your child is under 3, they still need to be included in your party size even if their meal is free. It would be hard to squeeze a party of 3 at a table for 2.
- Take the reservations you are offered (if every other time you wanted is booked) even if it isn’t at the time you desired. Then call back every day or every couple of days (especially as your trip gets closer) to see if a better time is available. You can always cancel the less desirable time if nothing else comes up and you decide you don’t want to dine there after all.
- Select restaurants do require a credit card guarantee and some even require that you pay for them ahead of time (such as Cinderella’s Royal Table). If you have a dining plan, you will still have to give the credit card to guarantee the reservation but you won’t have to pay for it ahead of time.
- If you have special dietary concerns, let Disney know when you book so they can note the reservation. This includes allergies such as gluten or wheat, shellfish, soy, lactose or milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, or eggs. Email [email protected] at least 2 weeks before you depart to provide further details on your needs and to confirm the dietary accommodations.
- If you are celebrating something special, make sure they note it on the reservation.
Tips on Using your Dining Reservations at Disney:
- Call and confirm all your reservations before you depart just to be safe. Plus make sure you carry the reservation numbers with you in case you need them.
- Allow up to an hour to get to your dining reservation. Add an additional 30 minutes if your reservation is at a resort as transportation isn’t available from resort to resort. You will have to go from your resort, to an open park and then board a bus, boat or monorail to get to your dining reservation at the resort.
- Arrive early. We usually arrive up to 30 minutes before our set reservation time. If it’s busy, you will wait. You could wait up to an hour even though you have an advance dining reservation.
- If you aren’t going to make it to a reservation, call 407-WDW-Dine or let the concierge at your resort know so they can cancel the reservation. This way they aren’t waiting on you to arrive and can give your spot to someone else.
- If you have a larger party (6 or more) it may help get the reservation you want if you split up your party
Do you have any tips to add on booking or using a dining reservation?
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Learn more about Walt Disney World Dining and get suggestions for where to eat, how to use the Disney Dining Plan and more.