How and when to make all Disney World reservations

There are lots of different ways to contact Disney World, and I've spent the last several days on the phone verifying phone numbers and details about how to book all kinds of reservations for Disney World trips.

Below, you'll see how and when to book just about anything, as well as cancellation and payment policies, and whether or not you can expect to see the reservation show up in My Disney Experience.

Let's take a look...

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General/basic reservation info

These are the basics that everybody needs to make their Disney reservations.

Reservation type When to make How Cancellation policy Deposit required Will show up in MDE? (Things that aren't added in MDE automatically can be added as a note.)
Disney World vacation package Reservations can be made once they are released for the year you're traveling (usually released in late July the year prior), up to 499 days ahead of time. You can make reservations online, by using an agent, or by calling (407) 939-5277. Packages canceled 45 days or more in advance will allow you to get a full refund (except for travel insurance or airfare if you purchased those through Disney). Packages canceled 2-44 days beforehand will result in a $200 cancellation fee. Packages canceled a day prior will be charged in full. $200 deposit required within 7 days (if booking online, the deposit is due immediately) and insurance is due immediately if you add it. Full payment is due 45 days before your trip begins. Payments can be applied until then if you'd like to pay as you go. Yes
Room-only Disney resort reservation Up to 499 days beforehand Call Disney World at (407) 939-5277 (just be careful that the phone rep doesn't try to upgrade you to a package if that's not what you want) or booking through an agent is the way to do it if resort rates for your travel dates haven't been announced yet. Once room rates are announced, you can also book online. Can cancel up to 5 days beforehand without paying any penalty (up to 6 days if booked online). 1 night's deposit due within 7 days if booking by phone, deposit due immediately when booking online. Final payment is due when you check in. Yes
Disney Vacation Club booking Varies by resort. Check this list for more info - DVC Request chart Can book directly with a DVC owner or through a site like DVCRequest.com No refunds available if you need to cancel which is why trip insurance may be especially helpful when using DVC points Full payment usually required when booking Yes
FastPass+ reservations Up to 60 days beforehand (beginning at 7 a.m.) for on-site and Swan/Dolphin guests and up to 10 days of FP+ can be made at a time. Up to 30 days before the day you'll be in a park for everybody else (which means being online multiple days in a row for people staying off-site). 407-939-7765 or FP+ section of the WDW site (the website is the preferrable method, but the phone number can be handy if you run into issues) N/A N/A Yes
Memory Maker Anytime, but must purchase at least 3 days beforehand to receive the pre-purchase discount On the WDW site Non-refundable unless purchased as part of a Magic Your Way package Full payment due when booking or you can book it as part of a package and then the package rules apply Yes
Magical Express Anytime, but highly suggest making it at least 10 days beforehand (preferably at least several weeks beforehand so you can receive all of your information by mail) On the ME site or by calling (866) 599-0951 None None Yes
Stroller and ECV/scooter rental If renting from Disney, you can reserve in person (ECVs have very limited quantities). If booking through a third-party company, it will vary. If renting from Disney, you need to go in person to the rental places. If booking through a third-party vendor, you'll need to contact them directly. When booking from a third-party vendor, most require cancellation at least 48 hours beforehand. When booking from a third-party vendor, your card will usually be charged at the time you book. No

Dining-related reservations

Nearly all of these can be booked using the same methods, but the payment terms and other details vary.

Reservation type When to make How Cancellation policy Deposit required Will show up in MDE? (Things that aren't added in MDE automatically can be added as a note.)
Most Table Service reservations and Be Our Guest lunch Up to 180 days ahead of time (people staying on-site can make up to 10 days worth of reservations at once) Online (beginning at 6 a.m. eastern time 180 days beforehand) or by calling 407-WDW-DINE (beginning at 7 a.m. eastern time) Disney says they must be canceled 24 hours beforehand, but it's really midnight the night before. A credit card guarantee is required to make these reservations, but will only be charged $10/person if nobody in your group shows up for the reservation. If at least part of your group shows up, you won't be charged a no-show fee. Yes
Cinderella’s Royal Table, Hoop Dee Doo Revue, Spirit of Aloha Luau, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ Up to 180 days ahead of time Online (beginning at 6 a.m. eastern time 180 days beforehand) or by calling 407-WDW-DINE (beginning at 7 a.m. eastern time) The 3 dinner shows must be canceled 48 hours in advance to get a refund. Cinderella's Royal Table can be canceled up to 24 hours in advance. Full payment required at time of booking if you're not on the Disney Dining Plan. If you're using the Disney Dining Plan, your credit card will be used to hold the reservation. Yes
Be Our Guest breakfast Up to 90 days ahead of time (though only available through July right now) Online (beginning at 6 a.m. eastern time 90 days beforehand) or by calling 407-WDW-DINE (beginning at 7 a.m. eastern time) Disney says they must be canceled 24 hours beforehand, but it's really midnight the night before. A credit card guarantee is required to make these reservations, but will only be charged $10/person if nobody in your group shows up for the reservation. If at least part of your group shows up, you won't be charged a no-show fee. Yes
Rainforest Cafe (2 locations) and T-Rex Cafe Up to 180 days ahead of time, beginning at 7 a.m. eastern time Some available online but calling can often be easier. Rainforest Cafe (Animal Kingdom location) - 407-938-9100, Rainforest Cafe (Downtown Disney location) - 407-827-8500, T-Rex Cafe - 407-828-8739 If you book through Disney's system, you need to cancel by midnight the night before. If you book by calling, there aren't any cancellation fees. If you book through the Disney system, Disney rules apply that require a credit card to guarantee and a $10 fee if you don't show up. If you book by calling the restaurant directly, there's no credit card needed or cancellation fees. Yes, if booked through Disney's dining system. No, if booked directly with the restaurant.
The BOATHOUSE Up to 180 days ahead of time, beginning at 7 a.m. eastern time Book on OpenTable and eventually reservations on the WDW site will be available If you book through Disney's system, you need to cancel by midnight the night before. If you book by calling, there aren't any cancellation fees. If you book through the Disney system, Disney rules apply that require a credit card to guarantee and a $10 fee if you don't show up. If you book on OpenTable, there's no credit card needed or cancellation fees. Yes, if booked through Disney
Illuminations and Wishes Dessert Parties Officially up to 180 days in advance but it's often not available until later Online (beginning at 6 a.m. eastern time 180 days beforehand) or by calling 407-WDW-DINE (beginning at 7 a.m. eastern time) Must cancel up to 5 days in advance to get payment refunded Full payment due when booking Yes
Perfectly Princess tea party Up to 180 days ahead of time 407-WDW-MYTEA Can cancel up to 3 days beforehand Full payment due when booking Yes
Candelight Processional Dinner Package Usually released at the end of June or early July 407-WDW-DINE or book online Must cancel at least 48 hours in advance to avoid cancellation fees Credit card guarantee is required when booking Yes
Special-order cakes At least 72 hours beforehand, up to 3 weeks beforehand 407-827-2253 Must cancel at least 24 hours in advance Credit card guarantee is required when booking No

Special event reservations

Reservation type When to make How Cancellation policy Deposit required Will show up in MDE? (Things that aren't added in MDE automatically can be added as a note.)
Backstage tours Up to 180 days for most 407-WDW-TOUR Must be canceled 48 hours beforehand to receive a refund Full payment due when booking No
Halloween and Christmas party tickets Available in April or May, but the earliest that any party dates sell out is usually around August 407-W-DISNEY or on Disney's ticket page Tickets are non-refundable Full payment due when booking Yes
Disney's on-site child care centers Up to 180 days beforehand 407-WDW-DINE Must cancel at least 24 hours in advance to avoid the $23/child fee Credit card guarantee is required when booking No
Food and Wine special events When they are released, often in late July 407-WDW-FEST Non-refundable Full payment due when booking Yes
runDisney events As soon as they open up for registration (a limited number of spots open up early to DVC and AP holders). See this post for helpful dates 407-939-iRun or rundisney.com No refunds available Full payment due when booking No
Disney Florist Up to a year in advance, but at least 48 hours notice is usually required 407-939-4438 or DisneyFlorist.com Can cancel up to 48 hours ahead of time unless your order includes custom embroidery Full payment is required when booking No

Recreation reservations

Reservation type When to make How Cancellation policy Deposit required Will show up in MDE? (Things that aren't added in MDE automatically can be added as a note.)
Ft. Wilderness golf cart rental Up to 1 year in advance (phones are open 9-5, 7 days/week) 407-824-2742 Must cancel by 1 p.m. the day before to avoid the cancellation fee of 1 day's rental Credit card guarantee is required when booking No
Bay Lake water activities Up to a year in advance 407-939-0754 or SammyDuvall.com Must cancel at least 24 hours in advance or the full cost will be charged to your credit card Credit card guarantee is required when booking No
The Pirates League Up to 180 days ahead of time (follows the same rules as dining for on-site guests and can be made 180 days from when your trip beings), beginning at 7 a.m. eastern time 407-WDW-DINE or 407-WDW-CREW Must cancel at least 24 hours in advance or a $10 fee will be charged Credit card guarantee is required when booking No
Golf tee times Up to 90 days in advance for Disney World resort guests and up to 60 days in advance for non-resort guests 407-WDW-GOLF or online at golfwdw.com Must be canceled at least 24 hours in advance or a fee will be charged ($25 fee for May-September, and $40 for the rest of the year) No deposit required, but a credit card is needed to make a reservation No
Pirate Adventure Cruises, fireworks cruises, horse-drawn carriages at Port Orleans Riverside, fishing at resorts, surfing lessons at Typhoon Lagoon Up to 180 days ahead of time, beginning at 7 a.m. eastern time 407-WDW-PLAY Must be made at least 24 hours in advance or the full payment will be charged No deposit required No
Harmony Barber Shop Up to 180 days beforehand 407-WDW-PLAY Must cancel at least 24 hours in advance to avoid the $10 cancellation fee Credit card guarantee is required when booking No
Archery, horseback riding Up to 180 days beforehand 407-WDW-PLAY Must cancel at least 24 hours in advance to avoid the $10 cancellation fee Credit card guarantee is required when booking No
Pirate and Pals Cruise Up to 180 days beforehand (follows the same rules as dining for on-site guests and can be made 180 days from when your trip beings) 407-WDW-PLAY Must be canceled at least 48 hours in advance to avoid cancellation fees. Full payment due when booking No
Umbrella/cabanas at water parks and monorail resorts Up to 180 days in advance 407-WDW-PLAY Must cancel at least 24 hours in advance to avoid paying the full price as a cancellation fee. Same-day cancellations are allowed in inclement weather. Full payment due when booking No
Spa services Up to 180 days ahead of time, beginning at 7 a.m. eastern time 407-WDW-SPAS Must cancel at least 4 hours beforehand to avoid the full price of the services being charged to your room bill No deposit or credit card guarantee required No
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Up to 180 days ahead of time (follows the same rules as dining for on-site guests and can be made 180 days from when your trip begins), beginning at 7 a.m. eastern time 407-WDW-DINE or 407-WDW-STYLE Must call to cancel by 11 p.m. eastern time the night before or a $10/person fee will be charged Credit card guarantee is required when booking No
Miniature golf Same day reservations available at Fantasia Gardens Go to Fantasia Gardens (located near the Swan) and you can choose a tee time for that day No refunds available Full payment due when booking No
Characters in Flight balloon ride in Downtown Disney Tickets must be purchased in person the day of unless you buy through a Groupon that's sometimes available. Wind conditions are a big factor so call the boat dock beforehand to see what the conditions are before heading there - (407) 828-3150, press 3, then ask to be connected to the boat dock where the Character's in Flight balloon is located In person N/A N/A No

Full payment required when booking

Although most reservations just require a credit card to guarantee a reservation, these are the ones that require full payment when you book.

Reservation type When to make How Cancellation policy Deposit required Will show up in MDE? (Things that aren't added in MDE automatically can be added as a note.)
Backstage tours Up to 180 days for most 407-WDW-TOUR Must be canceled 48 hours beforehand to receive a refund Full payment due when booking No
Cinderella’s Royal Table, Hoop Dee Doo Revue, Spirit of Aloha Luau, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ Up to 180 days ahead of time Online (beginning at 6 a.m. eastern time 180 days beforehand) or by calling 407-WDW-DINE (beginning at 7 a.m. eastern time) The 3 dinner shows must be canceled 48 hours in advance to get a refund. Cinderella's Royal Table can be canceled up to 24 hours in advance. Full payment required at time of booking if you're not on the Disney Dining Plan. If you're using the Disney Dining Plan, your credit card will be used to hold the reservation. Yes
Halloween and Christmas party tickets Available in April or May, but the earliest that any party dates sell out is usually around August 407-W-DISNEY or on Disney's ticket page Tickets are non-refundable Full payment due when booking Yes
Pirate and Pals Cruise Up to 180 days beforehand 407-WDW-PLAY Must be canceled at least 48 hours in advance to avoid cancellation fees. Full payment due when booking No
Disney Vacation Club booking Varies by resort. Check this list for more info - DVC Request chart Can book directly with a DVC owner or through a site like DVCRequest.com No refunds available if you need to cancel which is why trip insurance may be especially helpful when using DVC points Full payment usually required when booking Yes
Cirque du Soleil tickets Up to 180 days ahead of time 407-WDW-SEAT, in person, through Ticketmaster, or online Tickets are non-refundable Full payment due when booking No
Memory Maker Anytime, but must purchase at least 3 days beforehand to receive the pre-purchase discount On the WDW site Non-refundable unless purchased as part of a Magic Your Way package Full payment due when booking or you can book it as part of a package and then the package rules apply Yes
Illuminations and Wishes Dessert Parties Officially up to 180 days in advance but it's often not available until later Online (beginning at 6 a.m. eastern time 180 days beforehand) or by calling 407-WDW-DINE (beginning at 7 a.m. eastern time) Must cancel up to 5 days in advance to get payment refunded Full payment due when booking Yes
Food and Wine special events When they are released, often in late July 407-WDW-FEST Non-refundable Full payment due when booking Yes
Perfectly Princess tea party Up to 180 days ahead of time 407-WDW-MYTEA Can cancel up to 3 days beforehand Full payment due when booking Yes
runDisney events As soon as they open up for registration (a limited number of spots open up early to DVC and AP holders). See this post for helpful dates 407-939-iRun or rundisney.com No refunds available Full payment due when booking No
Umbrella/cabanas at water parks and monorail resorts Up to 180 days in advance 407-WDW-PLAY Must cancel at least 24 hours in advance to avoid paying the full price as a cancellation fee. Same-day cancellations are allowed in inclement weather. Full payment due when booking No
Miniature golf Same day reservations available at Fantasia Gardens Go to Fantasia Gardens (located near the Swan) and you can choose a tee time for that day No refunds available Full payment due when booking No
Disney Florist Up to a year in advance, but at least 48 hours notice is usually required 407-939-4438 or DisneyFlorist.com Can cancel up to 48 hours ahead of time unless your order includes custom embroidery Full payment is required when booking No

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Have other reservations you're hoping to book or questions about any of the info above? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

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