Disney Dining Vacation Planner Walt Disney World

Tips For Getting The Most Popular Dining Reservations At Walt Disney World

March 9, 2023

Despite there being dozens of amazing restaurants at Walt Disney World, it can still be hard to find reservations. If this sounds like you, you’re definitely not alone. Luckily, we’ve got some tips of the best ways to get the most coveted dining reservations at Walt Disney World.

Do you have a top tip for getting the most popular reservations? Let us know. I’ve love to hear them.

Book A Disney Package

Booking a Disney package does give you an advantage when it comes to dining reservations.

A Disney package consists of a Resort stay and Theme Park tickets. And one of the perks that come with staying at a Disney Resort is the ability to book dining reservations for your entire trip (up to 10 days), 60 days prior to your check-in date.

When the most popular restaurants are a part of your planning, the ability to book 10 days before Guests who are not staying on property is a big advantage.

Meeting Mickey at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Make Your Dining Reservations In Advance

It goes without saying, but book early. Even if you stay on property, you’re not the only Guest checking in that day. So, if there’s a restaurant you want to eat at, don’t wait.

I know the thought of getting up at 6AM EST to book a dining reservation sounds absolutely exhausting. But, your future self will thank you.

On the other hand, if you can’t fathom the thought of waking up so early, consider working with a Travel Agent. Booking dining reservations is one of the services I provide.

Mickey waffle at Boma, in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Keep Trying

I know it can be hard to keep logging in and see no available reservations. But, that doesn’t mean you have to give up and admit defeat.  

Cancellations occur often, especially as Guests are finalizing their plans. With the exception of a few restaurants, booking doesn’t cost you anything. Your credit card is only there so you can be charged if you don’t show up for your reservations.

And at $10 per person, Guests don’t want to see that charge show up on their credit card statement. So, they snatch reservations up early. And once their trip gets closer and plans are finalized, they cancel within the appropriate window to avoid that charge.

So, keep checking back, especially days leading up to your trip. You never know what you’ll find.

Woman looking at her phone

Get An App To Help Keep An Eye On Reservations

Why keep looking at My Disney Experience when there are apps that do the work for you.

I’m sure there are other apps out there. But, I have 2 apps on my phone with the sole purpose of stalking Disney Dining Reservations.

There are free and paid versions of these apps. But, the concept is simple. Tell them when and where you want to dine. If there’s availability, you’ll receive a push notification.

You’ll likely not get any notice for weeks. But, as your trip gets close, you’re likely going to get more notifications, further proving the point I made earlier.

Once you get the notification, don’t wait! Remember…you’re not the only one getting these notifications.

Mickey Mouse cupcake

Be Flexible

Although you might have your heart set on a certain time, or day of the week, finding an open reservation is simply a game of luck. So, your best bet is to be flexible and try to think ahead.

Restaurants book up fastest during peak hours. Think 8-9AM for breakfast, noon-1:30PM for lunch, and 6-7PM for dinner.

Start your search by looking at slower times of the day and week.

Remember that locals like to visit the Parks on their days off too. So, if you can, try to avoid Fri night and weekends. But, they will have a harder time making a 3PM dinner on a Wednesday than someone who is on vacation.

Even if you have Park Reservations for a different Park that day, book that reservation. As long as there is availability, you’re able to modify your plans on My Disney Experience.

A screenshot of a Walk Up List for Dining Reservations in Walt Disney World

Join A Walk-Up List

Many restaurants have a walk-up list on the My Disney Experience App. So, even if you don’t have a reservation, you may still be able to dine there.

There’s just one catch. In order to get on the Wait List, you must walk to the restaurant before the App will even allow you to join.

Luckily, if the Walk Up list is completely full, they’ll tell you. There’s nothing more disheartening than to make a special trip to the restaurant, just to find out you STILL can’t get a table.

Knights guarding the hallways of Be Our Guest

Ask The Host/Hostess

When all else fails, you can ask the Cast Member if there are any cancellations. You never know, they may be able to squeeze you in. Someone may not have showed and the system hasn’t had time to update yet. Or maybe a table of 2 just dined there for dessert and now the table is open.

Although there’s no harm in asking, this is more likely to work for someone dining alone or a couple looking for a small table. If you’re dining with a large group, you may want to make other plans since it’s unlikely that a large table will become available.

If you do decide to try this tip, please remember to be nice to these Cast Members. They don’t HAVE to put you on the waitlist. So, please be kind to them.

Remy Statue in the France pavilion in Epcot

Bonus Tips

  • If you can, book through the My Disney Experience App. If you have a credit card saved to your account, you can use that card to book your reservations. But, if you book on the computer, you’ll need to keep typing your credit card info before your reservations are officially booked. It’s inconvenient and time consuming.
  • When staying on property, plan to dine at the most popular restaurants towards the end of your vacation. Your chance at getting a reservation is greater because there are less Guests with the ability to book for the date you want.
  • Book the most popular restaurants first. Some restaurants will always have availability, no matter when you book. So, go from the hardest to book to the easiest.
  • When searching for times, scroll from Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch/Dinner to specific times. Reservations could be sold out under the “Dinner” tab, but Disney will show you that there’s availability when clicking “8PM”.
  • Remember…even if you follow every single one of these steps, you may still not be able to dine at a specific restaurant. It absolutely stinks, but it just goes to show you how popular some of these restaurants are.

Have questions? Feeling anxious? Don’t know where to start? That’s where we step in.

We know what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do. We’ve done the training, we’ve made the mistakes, and have learned from them, And that’s what makes us the perfect people to help you.

From perfectly curated itineraries to direct access to your Travel Professional, our goal is to take the stress out of planning your vacation.

Simply fill out whichever form works better for you, and we’ll discuss your options.

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Hawaii Destination Specialist

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