Skip to Content

How to snag hard-to-get Disney World dining reservations

HomeDiningHow to snag hard-to-get Disney World dining reservations
How to snag hard-to-get Disney World dining reservations

Deciding on (and then actually getting!) the Disney World dining reservations you want is one of the toughest parts about planning your trip.

With hundreds of restaurants and dining options available, it seems like it should be easy, right?

But, the truth is, there are some restaurants (like Space 220 and any that have character meals) where finding a reservation at your preferred time can be downright tricky.

But don’t despair; there are some things you can do to maximize your chances of getting exactly what you want.

Here are our best tips on how to snag the hard-to-get Disney World dining reservations

The most surefire way to snag hard-to-get Disney World dining reservations: book 60 days in advance

Reservations for all the restaurants at Disney World currently open up exactly 60 days in advance.

Note: This used to be 180 days, but the current process is 60.

That means:

The most foolproof, surefire way of getting any reservation is to book 60 days before your trip begins.

If this is your first trip to Disney World, you may think that sounds crazy. How are you supposed to know where you want to eat 2 months from now?!

That is why we recommend you decide on your daily plan before you start picking where you want to eat.

Lots of people want to skip that step and go right to choosing their dining options, but you do not want to do that, and here’s why:

Disney World is HUGE, so unless you want to spend a large chunk of your vacation on Disney transportation (and trust us, you don’t), you’ll want to choose to dine in places close to where you’ll be that day.

So – make a daily plan first, then select your dining options so you can be ready right at 60 days out to make your Advanced Dining Reservations.

But even if you try to book right at 60 days out, some tricks can improve your chances of getting everything you want:

Chef Mickey's

Try booking online before phone

Online reservations for select restaurants open up at 5:45 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, while the phone lines open up at 7 a.m. Always try the website earlier, but keep the phone number handy if there are issues on the website or you need to speak to a Cast Member – 407-WDW-DINE. 

Reservations for special dining events and things like dessert parties typically open up at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Note: make sure you have your credit card handy. All reservations now require a credit card guarantee, so you’ll need to enter the number when you make your reservation. 

Chances are better toward the end of your trip 

This tip is handy for guests staying on-site because on-site guests can make dining reservations for the entire length of their vacation (up to 10 days worth!).

That is different from how it works for people staying off-site.

Off-site

Off-site guests that want to maximize their chances of getting everything they want will book 1 day at a time, exactly 60 days out from each day they want to make a dining reservation.

If you are staying off-site, there is no option to book for the entire length of your vacation at exactly 60 days out. That is a perk reserved for guests staying on-site only.

You could wait until you are 60 days out from the last day of your vacation and then book all of your dining reservations at once, but we do not recommend that.

You’ll likely find if you wait to book that your dining options and times will be limited, and some of the most popular meals will have no availability at all.

So, if you are staying off-site and you have your heart set on on specific times or restaurants, you’ll need to plan on waking up and making reservations at 6 a.m. EST, exactly 60 days out from each day you need a reservation.

On-site

On-site guests have it a lot easier. Unless your vacation is longer than 10 days, you will only have to set aside 1 day to make your Disney World dining reservations.

People staying on-site can book all of their reservations for their whole trip 60 days before their arrival date. That means your chances are better toward the end of your trip, since those dates aren’t opened to everybody yet.

If there’s a place you really want more than any other, stay flexible and have a couple of date options.

Put your reservations in order of difficulty, not chronological order

If you book your reservations chronologically, you may miss out on some of the difficult ones.

Instead, put them in order of difficulty, so you can try to snag reservations for the hardest ones first.

These restaurants are historically some of the most difficult to get. Make these reservations first:

  • Space 220 and Space 220 Lounge
  • Topolino’s Breakfast
  • Ohana
  • Sci-Fi Dine-In (low capacity makes it difficult to snag a reservation)
  • Beaches & Cream (again, the low capacity can make it difficult to get)
  • California Grill (especially during the dinner service when you can watch the fireworks while you dine, however, if you keep your receipt, you can come back to watch the fireworks from the observation deck if you have a reservation earlier that same day)
  • Chef Mickey’s
  • Story Book Dining at Artist Point
  • Homecomin’ (this one can sometimes be difficult to get; if you can’t snag something online you can also try calling (407) 560-0100)
  • Beaches and Cream
  • Any other character meal
  • Any other signature dining experience

Not currently open, but typically difficult to get when they are:

  • Victoria & Albert’s (especially the Chef’s Table here)
  • Bon Voyage Breakfast
  • Akershus
California Grill fireworks view disney world dining reservations

Use a computer

Using a computer (instead of trying to do it on the My Disney Experience App on your phone!) can make booking reservations easier.

Before your 60-day window opens, open a tab for each restaurant you plan on booking and arrange the tabs in order of difficulty.

Make sure you are logged out of My Disney Experience before your window opens, and then right at 6 a.m. EST, log in and click through each tab to make your reservations.

Using multiple tabs this way saves you time the morning your Advanced Dining Reservations open since you won’t be searching for each restaurant one at a time – they’ll already be open and ready to go.

Here’s a video showing how this works.

Use multiple devices, but only if necessary

In almost all instances, 1 person working on 1 computer is plenty. But if you are booking for a large group, traveling during an extra busy time of the year (such as the holidays), or trying for lots of hard-to-get reservations – all things that can make it more challenging to snag the reservations you want – you might want to consider using multiple people on multiple devices.

For example, put 1 person in charge of snagging a pre-park opening Advanced Dining Reservation while you work on everything else.

Think outside the box

Sometimes you may have to compromise a bit to get what you want. This is especially true if your group is on the larger size (anything more than 6).

These tips are especially helpful for dining with large groups. However, the same concepts can be applied to smaller groups, too:

  • Try for reservations during unpopular times of the day. Dinner and pre-park opening breakfasts are 2 of the most popular times of day to dine, which means they’ll be the first slots to book up. Instead, try dining during less popular times of the day to maximize your chances of finding an opening.
  • If you can’t get 1 reservation for your entire group, try splitting up into 2 smaller ones. When you check-in, you’ll be able to ask the hostess to seat you together (or at least near one another, although this isn’t a guarantee. And, depending on your group size, even if you booked under 1 reservation, the table configurations at some restaurants simply don’t allow for large groups to be seated all together, so there is always the chance your group might be split up.

If you weren’t able to get what you wanted at the 60-day mark, don’t give up

People often feel like if they got up early at exactly 60 days and weren’t successful snagging what they wanted that all hope is lost – but it isn’t! If you’re past the 60-day mark, give these tips below a try.

Some restaurants should be called directly

Non-Disney owned restaurants don’t release many seats to the Disney Dining system, so you’re better off calling them directly if you can’t get reservations through the Disney Dining system.

Splitsville Luxury Lanes

Here are some numbers to keep handy:

  • Homecomin’ – (407) 560-0100
  • Frontera Cocina – 407-560-9197
  • House of Blues – 407-934-2583
  • Morimoto Asia – 407-939-6686
  • Paradiso 37 – 407-934-3700
  • Planet Hollywood – 407-827-7827
  • Terralina Crafted Italian – 407-934-8888
  • Raglan Road – 407-938-0300
  • Rainforest Cafe (Animal Kingdom location) – 407-938-9100
  • Rainforest Cafe (Disney Springs location) – 407-827-8500
  • Splitsville – 407-938-7467
  • STK Steakhouse – 407-917-7440
  • T-Rex Cafe – 407-828-8739

Use OpenTable

Restaurants throughout Disney World are now appearing on the OpenTable app and website. Be sure to check there for availability as well.

Disney Springs restaurant reservations via open table

Try a reservation finding service

MouseDining is a popular service that constantly checks for openings at restaurants you choose to track and then sends you text alerts when something becomes available.

This is a handy feature (and a huge time saver!) since it isn’t uncommon for available reservations to be released in batches.

If you are looking for just a couple of openings, their free version would probably work for you, but even if you need to upgrade to one of their paid options, the small cost is well worth the time it would save you from having to do all the checking on your own.

MouseDining screenshot of home page

There’s also Touring Plans’ dining reservation finder, which will notify you when a specific dining reservation you want is available.

To be clear, this is only an alert tool and you’ll have to make your own reservations (and be fast if you want to snag a popular one).

You need a TouringPlans.com account to use the reservation finder, but an active subscription isn’t needed to use the tool. You can set up dining reservation alerts with a “basic access” Touring Plans account.

touring plans disney dining reservation finder

You can also try MouseWatcher.com for Disney dining reservation alerts. But, this one does cost money.

You can either pay for individual alerts (a 2-day alert costs $5) or purchase a subscription (the lowest-priced one starts at $19 per month for 5 active alerts). MouseWatcher checks for reservation availability 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When it comes to getting alerts, you’ll receive either a text or an email. You can then click the link provided to make a dining reservation.

You will also continue to receive new notifications each time an opening is found, but MouseWatcher won’t send duplicate alerts if the same reservation time is found within 24 hours.

mousewatcher disney dining alert

A couple of days beforehand, check again

Disney World has recently adopted a new cancellation policy that requires a credit card to secure any Table Service reservation. If you don’t cancel by the day before your scheduled reservation, you’ll automatically be charged $10/person.

The good thing about this policy is that it keeps people from stockpiling reservations that they aren’t going to use, and it means that openings come up the day or two beforehand that people can snag for their trip.

Use this to your advantage and try checking again, even up until the day before, to see if you can get what you want.

Consider booking with a travel agent

If thinking about trying to snag hard-to-get dining reservations feels more scary than fun, you should consider booking your vacation with a travel agent.

Experienced agents can book your resort and dining reservations, and they can even keep an eye out for discounts on your trip. This is all done at no extra charge to you.

If you’re interested in booking your next vacation with one of the travel professionals we recommend, fill out the quote request form, and someone from the team will get in contact with you shortly.

Advanced Dining Reservation FAQs

Are walk-up spots (or same-day reservations) possible?

Absolutely they are – sometimes. But they don’t tend to happen at the most popular places, and they are never a guarantee. 

Smaller groups (especially if you’re dining solo or as a couple) will likely have an easier time snagging a walk-up or same-day reservation. Bigger groups, however, may have a more difficult time.

People cancel reservations all the time – even on the day of – so checking frequently for open spots is always a great idea. 

Many restaurants do now offer a waitlist option, but the catch is they may not do it every day, and the spots can go fast so your best bet is to check first thing in the morning; don’t wait until you’re ready to eat to find out what is available!

Waitlist

BUT if you’ve got your heart set on a certain restaurant, the only way to guarantee you’ll snag it is by making an ADR.

Do I need to have a ticket to book my dining reservations?

Nope! No ticket is required to make Advanced Dining Reservations. Anybody (with or without a ticket) can make reservations. 

But, if you want to dine at a restaurant inside one of the parks, you’ll need a ticket and a Disney Park Pass reservation to enter the park. 

Do I need to have a Disney Dining Plan to book dining reservations?

Note: The Disney Dining Plan is currently suspended and cannot be purchased at this time.

Absolutely not.

Anybody can make reservations – offsite guests, onsite guests, guests paying for meals out-of-pocket (with no Dining Plan), and guests with the Disney Dining Plan

I’m staying at a Disney resort; when can I make my dining reservations?

Guests staying at one of the onsite Walt Disney World resort hotels get a special perk when making dining reservations.

Like everybody else (both onsite and off), they can start booking 60 days in advance, BUT they also get to make up to 10 additional days worth of reservations. 

Disney's Riviera Resort

This is a fantastic perk for a couple of reasons:

  1. You’ll only have to wake up early to make your dining reservations on 1 day, and
  2. You’ll have a better chance to snag some of those hard-to-get reservations (see the tips above!)

When can offsite guests make Advanced Dining Reservations?

The good news is, offsite guests still get to make reservations 60 days out. 

But the bad news is, you don’t get the “+10” perk that onsite resort guests receive. 

Instead, you’ll have to wake up early 60 days out from each day of your trip. Yawn.

Are dinner show reservations tough to get?

Disney World has 1 popular dinner show:

  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Ft. Wilderness (the most popular of the 2) returns June 23, 2022, with reservations opening May 26, 2022

Spirit of Aloha at Disney’s Polynesian Village and Resort used to be a popular dinner show at Disney World, but it is now permanently closed and being replaced with new Disney Vacation Club Villas.

Hoop Dee Doo

Reservations here are generally not too difficult to snag, but tables are assigned when you book.

So, if sitting close to the stage is important to you, you’ll want to book reservations here early, too.

What about over the holidays?

Because many schools have long breaks during the holiday season, you’ll often find that the time period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are some of the busiest days of the year.

In addition to all the amazing decorations you can see during that time of the year, you’ll also find that some special meals and events take place.

Take, for example, Thanksgiving.

For most people, Thanksgiving includes a tasty meal of turkey and all of the fixings, and in response, Disney often offers special Thanksgiving meals at many of its restaurants.

Those are popular, but the most popular on that day is typically Liberty Tree Tavern. 

Liberty Tree Tavern

So, if you’re traveling during the holidays, make sure you take into account special meals or events that are popular and add those to your priority list, too.

Note: make sure you check back for the latest updates on the latest holiday season.

********************

Are there reservations you’re hoping to get or other tips for snagging hard-to-get Disney World dining reservations you’d like to share?

Please discuss in the comments.

Related News

Tee W.

Sunday 18th of September 2022

Thanks so much for your post! I woke up at 5:30 am to be ready to book dining reservations and was disappointed to only find availability for two of the seven reservations I was hoping to secure. Based on what you posted, I called two of the restaurants directly and had no problem getting reservations. Now, I am hoping MouseDining can help us to reserve at least one character meal. Thanks again ☺️

Palmer Hodges

Sunday 21st of August 2022

If you are traveling with children three and under, do you need to include them in your reservation number?

Shannon Albert

Sunday 21st of August 2022

Yes, you do. That's for fire code purposes.

Sarah

Monday 20th of June 2022

If my husband and I log into two separate computers, should we log into both of our separate MDE accounts, or the same account? I'm worried about the system booting one of us out.

Tami

Wednesday 25th of May 2022

I made lunch reservations for Cinderella's Royal Table. I made it for 4 people, but needed it for 5. I could see there were open spots for parties of 1, but I couldn't reserve that, too. I called and the cast member told me no problem...I can bring one extra person with me or drop one person and it will be fine. I'm worried. Is this really true?

Felicia Goodwin

Sunday 29th of May 2022

Hi, Tami -

Yes, you should be able to add an additional person to your party during check-in.

Gina Bettencourt

Tuesday 26th of April 2022

What if you are doing split stays between 3 resorts over 12 days . How will making our dining reservations work then ??

Colette

Friday 13th of May 2022

@Gina Bettencourt, just went through this… Each check-in starts a new ten-day period therefore, you’re not able to book the full length of your stay on day one. Bummer!