Advanced Dining Reservations at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is a huge investment.  A lot of money is put into lodging, tickets, souvenirs, and, of course, dining.  When you stay at a theme park, you are held hostage, but still need to eat.  In order to receive the best bang for your buck, it is important that you know and understand your dining options, including Advanced Dining Reservations.

Types of Dining at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World has three types of dining—quick service, table service, and snack.  Quick service is any restaurant that you walk up to, place your order with a cashier, wait for it at the counter, and walk away with your meal.  Table service is where you go in and are seated and have a server.  These are either buffet, family style with set items, or a la carte where you order off the menu.  Snack is where you walk into a store front or a cart out in the open and walk away with a food item. 

It is especially important to understand the differences if you purchase a Disney Dining Plan because you are given a set amount of credits for each type of dining based on the number of nights you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort.

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What are Advance Dining Reservations?

Table service restaurants book up fast, so to ensure that you will be seated, you need to make Advanced Dining Reservations, also called ADRs.  Disney’s Advance Dining Reservations are not real ‘reservations.’  They do not guarantee you that you will be seated at that time.  Advance Dining Reservations at Disney are what the hospitality industry refers to as ‘call ahead seating.’ 

Call ahead seating is getting your name on a list to be seated as if you had been waiting at the restaurant.  It is basically a virtual waiting list.

How Do Advance Dining Reservations Work?

When you have an Advance Dining Reservation time, you are asked to show up 5 – 15 minutes prior to your Advance Dining Reservation time. At that time, your name is put on a list. When a table opens up for your party size, you are then seated. If a party of the same size is on the list ahead of you, they will be seated first. You are usually seated with 15 minutes of your Advance Dining Reservation Time, but it can be over an hour after your time slot if the restaurant is particularly busy and the tables are not moving. Showing up early, can move you ahead on the list, but people who show up on time (and on time means 5 – 15 minutes early) for an earlier slot than yours, will be put on the list ahead of you.

Making Advance Dining Reservations

Advance Dining Reservations can be made 180 days prior to the day that you wish to dine.  If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, you can make your ADRs 180 days + 10 days from the time that you will check in.  This gives you the ability to make Advance Dining Reservations for your entire trip (or most of it) at once.  If you are not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, you must wait 180 prior to the day you wish to dine for each restaurant.  It is important to make your Advance Dining Reservations as soon as you can.  Walt Disney World restaurants fill up quickly, and the more popular the restaurant, the harder it is to get a dining time, especially if you have more than 4 people in your party.

If you are using a travel agent, many will make your Advance Dining Reservations for you.  You may also make them yourself by calling 1-407-WDW-DINE or by going online to Walt Disney World’s website and clicking on dining.

The times available for your Walt Disney World Advance Dining Reservation will depend on many factors.  The sooner you book your Advance Dining Reservations, the more time slots that will be available.  The smaller your party size, the more time slots that will be available.  And, of course, the hours of operation for the restaurant you wish to dine at will determine what is available. 

Tips about Advance Dining Reservations

  • You can get into Walt Disney World theme parks prior to park opening by scheduling an early breakfast.  This is a great way to get pictures without hundreds of other people in the background and get a jump start touring.  You will not be allowed to roam the park prior to park opening, but you can be ready to go as soon as the park does open.
  • Walt Disney World theme park restaurants take Advance Dining Reservations up to park closing.  You can enjoy sit back and enjoy a late meal while the theme park empties out instead of fighting crowds.
  • Very few Walt Disney World restaurants have a penalty for cancelling so you do not need to worry about getting busy and not showing up.  If you miss your ADR time, you can show up late and generally be seat without worry.  Likewise, showing up early will usually get you seated early—provided the restaurant isn’t busy.
  • If you don’t have an Advance Dining Reservation, stop by any Guest Relations Office, and they can make one for you.
  • It you are told there is no Advance Dining Reservations available, stop by the restaurant anyhow.  There are lots of no-shows, so the restaurant might be able to seat you even if the computer says it is full.

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Comments 2 comments

Alma 21 months ago

I think this was the case of a rush to put in a parade beofre They raised the prices of all Their Tickets. They also put in a night show on the Lagoon. The purpose of the parade is to keep visitors in the park longer but as the word gets out that this parade is sub-par that probably will no longer work.


Renz 20 months ago

- Wow!! I am sooooo execitd about your new blog!! It's beautiful (of course!) and it makes me so, so happy to see other crafting, photographing, decorating ladies blogging about those passions and mixing things up. I think it makes a blog so much more interesting! Congrats!! PS I love what you did with this little niche. So cool!!September 20, 2011 12:39 am

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