Something that we always recommend, especially for high seasons, is to book in advance at Disney World restaurants. Very important if you want to dine in a specific place during New Years or from where you can see the fireworks.
Disney World has many restaurants, all kinds of food and entertainment. Many with characters and others where you can enjoy the “theater” (in a way) or watch the fireworks. For all of them, you need a reservation, it is preferably since they fill up very quickly. Sometimes even months before your visit. For Quick Service, you don’t need reservations.
On their official site, you’ll be able to see the list of restaurants and perhaps add your favorites to a list so you know where you’d like to eat. On the page, along with the description of the restaurant, you will find the menu from breakfast to dinner.
They are so many, we have tried a lot and still haven’t visited all of them. Restaurants, cafes, bars… in the parks, at Disney Springs or at the Resorts. While you are at Walt Disney World Resort, these tips will help you a lot.
When making reservations, either through their official website or through the My Disney Experience app (MDE) (for both you need to register, the same account works with both options), you have several things to pay attention to, and here’s a list of some points that will help you make the reservation easier.
Remember that there are also a lot of restaurants that you do not need a reservation since they are quick service and some of these have the option of ordering from the MDE app.
1) Typical lunch hours are between 12-2pm and dinner between 6-8pm. So you will most likely have problems finding a table at those times and with little time ahead. If, for example, you want to see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from California Grill at the Contemporary Resort (they even play music from the show in the restaurant) we recommend making a reservation a few months in advance of your visit. Other restaurants at Epcot such as Spice Road Table or La Hacienda de San Angel you can also enjoy your dinner watching part of the park’s fireworks.
2) If it is a very large group, more than 6 people for example, we recommend to make 2 reservations, 2 tables each with 4 people (for example, in case there are 8 people). Upon arrival at the restaurant, you can let them know that there are 2 reservations and ask if the tables can be next to each other. It happened to us on for NYE, 2 tables (4 people in one and 6 people in another). It took us a while to sit down but the tables were next to each other. In other cases they may move the tables together.
3) Just keep in mind that breakfasts are cheaper than lunches and lunches are cheaper than dinners. However, it can change a bit if the restaurant includes characters. For example at Be Our Guest, dinner includes meeting The Beast or breakfast in ‘1900 Park Fare’ with various characters. So if you want to try a restaurant, but don’t want characters to make it a little cheaper, try booking at hours that don’t include characters.
4) If you want to make a reservation for a restaurant while visiting a park, remember the typical eating hours, at those times rides might have less waiting time since the majority of the people will be eating. So maybe you can enjoy several attractions and then eat. And of course, many times it has happened to us that some quick service do not serve after certain hours (especially the small ones) or close early. Don’t forget to use MDE to check schedules.
5) If at the time of booking you cannot find where you want, try at another time or the next day. Many times other people can cancel that reservation and it will appear available to you! Also try other time blocks, it’s easier to find between 2pm-5pm than to specifically search for 2pm. In the app you can also see if there is an option to arrive at the moment, sometimes it can be 5 minutes to wait, sometimes it can be hours or they simply do not have an option to arrive at the moment, but it is always good to check.
6) Disney World is a family place, sometimes it will be hard to find a table for 2, not impossible. Keep trying! 🙂
7) Many of the reservations can be made 180 days in advance. In the same way, check from time to time before 180 days.
8) When making a reservation, they will ask for your credit card. Nothing will be charged to the account at the moment. If you do not go, you need to cancel 48 hours before the reservation so that nothing is charged to your account. This happens since many made reservations and in the end did not show up or did not cancel, taking away space from other families. So if you have a reservation and for some reason you can’t go that day or at that time, it’s better to cancel to give other people a chance. If not, about $10 will be charged per person. If you can’t through the app, try calling.
9) Sometimes it is easy to find places to eat at the time of the visit. Do not hesitate to ask at the door of the restaurant if there is availability for your family. They may take a while to get in, but maybe someone canceled at the last minute. If it is low season, it is much easier to find spots. One time at Epcot, I was with my parents and they wanted to sit at a restaurant, I only wanted dishes from one of the festivals, I checked the app and there was nothing available, but it showed me that Garden Grill was available without reservation, so they just walked to the place and that’s it.
10) Restaurants with theater (for example: Hoop-Dee-Do Musical Revue) need to be paid in full when making the reservation. They are shows with dinner at a fixed price.
11) If you want to make a reservation for New Year’s eve or Christmas or some other important date in the United States (for example, July 4th – Independence Day – is one of the busiest), the sooner you do it, the better places you will find. 180 days is normal, but if you can check more than 181 days in advance to have options when booking, the better.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. We hope we can help you with these little tips. Enjoy and bon appetit!