Disney Restaurant Reservations - How to Make Disney World Dining Reservations

While you can go to Walt Disney World without making a lot of advance plans, if you and your family would like to enjoy some pleasant sit-down meals at the nicest of the Disney restaurants, it makes sense to schedule your Disney World dining reservations in advance. For some restaurants, advance reservations are absolutely crucial. For others, not so much.

To help you out, I've put together this brief guide on how to make Walt Disney World dining reservations, including suggestions about the restaurants for which they are most needed. What you need to do first, before you get on the phone to the reservations line is make yourself a plan. Hopefully my tips will help you out so you are free to enjoy your vacation without worrying where you are going to have dinner every night.

Advance Dining Reservations at Disney World

One of the first things you need to know about making Disney World restaurant reservations is that you can book your reservation 180 days in advance. That's approximately six months ahead of time, give or take a few days. Disney used to have a 90 day window for reservations and I think most guests who planned in advance found that stressful, but hopefully the new 180 day policy will make reservations a little easier to get for those who plan their trips far in advance.

There's an important exception that should be noted, as well. If you are staying at a Disney World resort (this means one actually owned by Disney, not their partners), you can book your dining reservations at 180 days + 10 days. What this means is that if you will be staying at Disney resort you can book ALL of your dining reservations 180 days from your arrival date.

The "plus 10" is assuming that most visitors don't stay at the resort for more than 10 nights, so the "plus 10" window should cover your entire stay, allowing you to book all of your table service meals during one phone call, rather than having to get up every morning to make the call to WDW-DINE. So if will be staying at a Disney Resort, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.

How to Book Your Disney Dining Reservations

There are now two ways to make your Advance Dining Reservations (ADR) at Disney World. You can call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463). If you are calling from outside the US, the country code is 001. So you would dial 001 407 939 3463 if you were calling from the United Kingdom, for example.

Or you can make your ADR online -- if Disney's Online Dining reservation system is actually working (it frequently isn't!). Try visiting Disney Dining to make reservations.

Just keep in mind that the online reservation system is new and highly temperamental. I would absolutely not rely on it if you are trying to book reservations for someplace as difficult to book as Cinderella's Royal Table. For Cindy's, you want to be dialing the phone about 30 seconds before the Reservations line opens, if you weren't able to make the booking online.

The phone line for Dining opens at 7 a.m. Eastern time and online booking opens at 6 a.m. Eastern time. So if you have problems making a reservation with the online system during the first hour that it is open, then definitely be sure to call.

If you will be staying at a Disney resort, be sure to have your resort reservation number. You will need to either give it to the phone representative, or type it in online in order to open up the extra 10 days.

Some restaurants, such as Cinderella's Royal Table, require payment at the time you make the reservation so you will need a credit card when you book.

Most Difficult Restaurant Reservations at Disney World

Topping the charts of most difficult reservations to secure is Cinderella's Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom. This restaurant inside the Castle features characters meals with the princesses and it is the MOST popular restaurant at Disney World, despite not being the best food at Disney World. It is all about the princesses and the magic of the castle.

If you have plans to take your family to Cinderella's Royal Table, you absolutely must book 180 days in advance. And you must get yourself out of bed to make that reservation the moment the phone lines open. You can also try your luck an hour earlier with the online system.

Next up in difficulty is somewhat open for debate, but in my opinion and experience that would be Le Cellier. This restaurant is located in the Canadian pavilion in Epcot.

It is a fine steakhouse and while there may be arguably better steakhouses off Disney property, I think this is the best choice for steak in the theme parks. Atmosphere alone could carry this restaurant, but I've always found the food to be excellent as well. This is an extremely difficult reservation.

And then 'Ohana. 'Ohana is the Polynesian restaurant at The Polynesian Resort. Meals are served family style. Breakfast features a Lilo & Stitch character meal (the only place to see these two characters at a character meal), and dinner features storytelling and all sorts of chaos, including coconut races. The food itself is just okay, but most folks go here for the experience. Hint: This is not someplace to experience a romantic dinner for two! Bring earplugs!

While these three restaurants top the list for being difficult to book even 180 days out, you should not be too idle about making other reservations. The popularity of the Disney dining plan means that the table service restaurants are all very popular at all times of the year. So if you want to make the most of your trip, try to make a plan that you can work with and schedule several ADRs. If there are any restaurants that you MUST eat at, book it at the 180 day window.

You can always cancel without penalty (unless it's a prepaid reservation). Just be sure that you please do cancel reservations you won't use as other Disney World visitors would love to get those reservations too.

In addition to the three restaurants listed above I strongly recommend advance reservations for the following:

Crystal Palace, Chef Mickey's, Akershus, California Grill, and dinner shows or packages such as the Hoop de Doo Review, Fantasmic or Candlelight Processional packages.

Also, if you are visiting the parks during a holiday period such as Easter, Christmas, New Years or Thanksgiving, or during a Free Dining promotion (usually Sept-early Oct.), definitely make all of your dining reservations in advance as soon as you are able!

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Anne Baley profile image

Anne Baley 5 years ago from Florida

I would definitely add Victoria & Albert's to the list of restaurants that absolutely require a reservation. It's normally booked months in advance, but is well worth the wait.

Great article with a lot of good tips!

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