The one thing that seems to surprise people the most when researching or planning their Disney World Vacation is that a) you need reservations – I mean come on, it’s a theme park and b) that people make reservations for dining 6 months in advance – who knows where they want to eat 180 days from now.
Disney’s current reservation system does allow for dining reservations to be made 180 days in advance. A few years ago they switched their system to 90 days, but switched back in a relatively short period of time.
Does this mean that you should start to panic if you are travelling to WDW in less than 180 days and have not yet made any reservations? The short answer is No. It is quite possible to go to WDW with few or no reservations and have a great time, but like most things Disney a little bit of pre planning can go a long way in maximizing your fun and your dollar.
One of the favorite activities of many kids (and adults) is seeing the characters and collecting autographs. The line up to see characters can often be as long if not longer than many rides (I once lined up with my daughter for over an hour to see the fairies). Disney offers a number of character dining experiences where 3-4 characters will come right to your table to sign autographs and photo opportunities. These character dining opportunities are very popular and this is one area where I would recommend getting reservations as soon as possible.
Disney offers a variety of dining plans. We have both purchased the plan and have received it free as part of the promotion. The regular dining plan and the deluxe dining plan provide credits for daily sit down meals so if purchasing the dining plan (or getting it for free) it is best to make reservations
Early Entry into the park
Want to avoid the crowds at Rope drop. Schedule a breakfast inside the park before the park actually opens. One of our favorites is to have breakfast at the Tusker House in Animal Kingdom at 8am when the park opens at 9:00am. At 9:00am not only are we done breakfast and are in the park, but since Tusker House is situated in the Africa section of the park we are ready to jump on all the rides before everyone else makes it there.
Did you know that reservations at Askerhus and Cinderella’s Royal table come with a photo package? This is particularly a great deal at Askerhus since when using the dining plan the meal is only 1 Table Service Credit.
Advance Dining Reservation Tips
Book reservations at 180 Days if possible. You will get the best selection of dining times and restaurant availability.
If you don’t get the restaurant you want check back frequently. Cancellations happen daily and don’t forget to check the day before or day of since many restaurants require 24 hour notice to avoid a cancellation charge on your credit card.
Not sure how to figure out where you are going to want to eat every day. Start by looking at the park hours and plan which park to visit each day. Then plan your reservations around where you will be.