by JollyFrogger Diva
If you’re visiting Walt Disney World and plan to eat any of their amazing table service restaurants, chances are you’ll need to make reservations. There’s always a small chance you can walk up and get a table at certain restaurants, but others book up quickly and make dining reservations a necessity if you want to be certain you’ll be able to dine there. Anyone visiting Walt Disney World can book their advance dining reservations (ADRs) 180 days before the day they want to dine. Guests staying at Walt Disney World resorts (excluding Swan and Dolphin and Shades of Green) can book for up to 10 additional days in advance, while guests staying off property will have to book each day at the 180 day mark. It’s important to have a plan in place before the 180 day mark, especially if you’re hoping snag a reservation to some of the most popular spots. So how do you go about deciding where and when to dine? Here’s a look at the process I’m using to make our plans as the 180 day mark for our upcoming trip is quickly approaching.
1) Know Your Date
It may sound obvious, but it’s important to know what day (or days) you can make your dining reservations. The first thing I do after making our resort reservation is find out what day we can make our dining reservations and mark it on my calendar. There are lots of calculators online that can help you figure out what 180 days before you check-in date are, so don’t worry about trying to do the math.
2) Know Your Daily Schedule
You could make you daily schedule around your dining reservations, but I prefer to base our daily schedule around park hours. We often like to avoid whatever park is having Morning Extra Magic Hours and will try to be at any park that might be having Evening Extra Magic Hours since my family tends to be night owls. Before our 180 day mark, I like to know what park we plan to visit each day so I have a better idea of what day I want to book each restaurant.
Diva Tip: Disney doesn’t always post their park hours for 180 days out. In that case, I tend to look at the published weeks closest to our visit as the hours will often remain pretty similar. If you’re visiting near Halloween or Christmas, be sure to make note of party dates when planning your visit to Magic Kingdom.
3) Know Where You Want to Dine
There are so many amazing restaurants at Walt Disney World that it can seem overwhelming to only pick out a handful to try. Our basic strategy is to allow each person in our group to pick their favorite restaurant, try at least 1 new place, and then fill in any remaining days with the group’s favorites. For example, any trip my family makes to Walt Disney World will include at least one meal at Via Napoli because everyone loves eating there. On this upcoming trip, we’re hoping to try Disney’s Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno (you can read Disney Magic Diva’s review of it if you aren’t familiar). If you’re a first time visitor or just not sure where to dine, check our our dining review page for inspiration. Disney offers something for ever palette so you’re bound to find at least a few places you want to try.
Diva Tip: Be sure to check out Disney’s Dining Page to read the menu for any restaurant you plan to visit. Menus change from time to time and you don’t want to arrive at your meal only to find out that the menu no longer appeals to you.
4) Know Your Battle Plan
Once you know where you want to eat and when you’ll be visiting each park, it’s time to map out a tentative schedule so you’ll know your plan of attack with ADR day comes. Our personal schedule usually allows for 2 days in each park and at least 1 non-park day where we visit our favorite resorts and Disney Springs. I like to pencil in which park day we’ll ideally eat at restaurant. Once you have your list and the days you’re hoping to make reservations, make a list from highest to lowest priority. For example, if you’re hoping to dine at Cinderella’s Royal Table or Beaches and Cream, you’ll probably want to book those first as their reservations tend to fill up fast. Places like Via Napoli (my review of Via Napoli) and Raglan Road (my review of Raglan Road) are usually more available, so that’s generally some of the last reservations I make.
5) Know Your Backup Plan
Sometimes, no matter how well-prepared you are, you will not be able to get a reservation at a time or location you want. Often, a little flexibility pays off and you may be able to find a reservation for a different time. The more flexible you can be with your schedule, the better chance you have of finding something. For example, I may have Be Our Guest penciled in for our first day at Magic Kingdom but the only thing I can find is for our second day there. No problem, I’ll book whatever I can find for Be Our Guest and try to find a reservation for Tony’s Town Square on our first day instead. Still not having any luck? Check out Soarin Diva’s tips on How To Score That Hard To Get Dining Reservation and maybe one of her suggestions will pay off for you.
I realize that not everyone likes to plan their visit to the extent that my family does. Some people book their trips last-minute and sometimes you don’t just don’t know where you want to eat 6 months in advance. Luckily, there are so many delicious choices available on Walt Disney World property that you’re sure to find a reservation somewhere great no matter when you book. Who knows- maybe you’ll even find a new favorite place to dine.
If you’re ready to book your next trip, or just want a free quote, contact Patricia at All for Dreams Travel.