When looking to eat at Walt Disney World in a sit down restaurant you need to book in advance. Advance Dining Reservations (ADR’s) open 180 days in advance and honestly they fill up quickly. The booking opens at 6am Eastern Standard Time (or Orlando time for us in Ireland) for online reservations and the phone lines open an hour later.
If you want a meal at Be Our Guest or Cinderellas Royal Table you will need to be online when booking opens. Be Our Guest is the only quick service restaurant that takes reservations for Breakfast and Lunch. The theme and decoration of the restaurant as well as the good food make it a must do for many people. The atmosphere, the princesses and the fact that you get to eat in the castle make it Cinderellas Royal Table highly sought after reservation. Take this fact combined with Cinderellas Royal Table being one of the smallest restaurants on property means that reservations are hard to get.
Every menu can be found on the Disney website as well as many other places online. Do you want character meals? Unique dining experiences? Dinner Show? Make all of these decisions ahead of time and you’ll be golden.
Here are my Top Tips for dining reservations:
- Use the website: Menu’s, costs, pictures and descriptions of the experiences at each restaurant can be found on the website which are great tools for deciding where you want to eat. Make sure you have registered for a My Disney Experience account in advance of your 180 day window. Have a payment method registered and become familiar with how the website works so you’ll be set to go when its time.
- Dining Plan or No Dining Plan?: This is a choice only you can make for your family. There are three main dining plans the quick service dining plan, the Disney dining plan and the Deluxe dining plan. There is also two higher tier ones the Premium and Platnium dining plans as well. I will have another longer post on this later on. But this page is a great place to start your research: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/planning-guides/in-depth-advice/disney-dining-plan/
- Plan in advance: Before your booking window opens spend time on the website and decide where you want to eat while you are visiting. Write these down and make a list of importance to you to eat at each restaurant. Remember only table service meals need a reservation. The only exception to this is Be Our Guest which is a QS Restaurant but requires reservations for Breakfast and Lunch due to its popularity.
- Rank your choices in order of importance: Remember that lots of other people will be online trying to make the same reservations. Making a list will help you be prepared for when your booking window opens and always try to get your must have reservations first.
- Be online when your booking window opens: When your booking window opens try and get your reservations in order of which is most important to least important. Pick the time that suits you or closest suits you and book that. You can try change these times over the next while but make them as close to what will suit your family as possible as it is not always possible to change.
- Book Cinderellas Royal Table and Be Our Guest first!: These book up quickly and usually for families with children they are must do restaurants.
- Make breakfast reservations before park opening: If you are planning on having breakfast inside a park the restaurant should open approx an hour before the park opens for reservations. This way you can be ready to go and hit all the major rides once the park officially opens and you can get some great photos with few people in the park.
- Plan enough time for Character Meals: Character meals vary in how long the times are. On our last trip we were served all three courses, met all 5 princesses and made a special wish in Cinderella’s Royal Table in 40 minutes, whereas our Hollywood and Vine Disney Junior Breakfast took 90 minutes. If you have somewhere you have to be (fireworks or parade etc) make sure you leave enough time to eat and enjoy your meal and still get there in time.
- Keep checking back if you don’t get the reservation you want: If you don’t get all your reservations keep checking back in the weeks coming up to your trip. A lot of people cancel reservations especially coming up to the 24 to 48 hour mark as that is when you will be charged if your party doesn’t turn up. Plans change and you may just snag the reservation you want.
- It’s not as scary as some people make it sound: Some people make it sound like a military maneouver and if you don’t do it a certain way you won’t get the reservations and your vacation will be a disaster and your children will be neglected from the magic. None of this is true. We have taken trips where we have not done a single ADR and trips where we had an ADR every night. Some people go to the parks with no ADR’s and are able to get reservations at restaurants that are hard to get but this is usually not the case. Make your reservations that you can and remember to have fun!