Disney World vacations require a lot of planning, especially if you want to get the maximum bang for your buck. One of the things you need to figure out is food. There’s a wide choice of restaurants at Disney World and you’re spoiled for choice. The quick-service restaurants are popular, but most families visiting Disney World want to enjoy at least a few meals that are more relaxed and special. You can choose between fine dining, character dining, dinner shows, and buffets. Now, you’re probably wondering, do you need dining reservations at Disney World?
If you go during low attendance periods and eat at less popular restaurants in Walt Disney World, you won’t need reservations. In slow periods, you may even be able to get a table at some of the more popular restaurants. However, there are some restaurants and experiences where you absolutely need an ADR (advanced dining reservation).
If your Disney vacation is a once-in-a-lifetime affair, it’s not a bad idea to pull out all the stops and experience some Disney dining magic. Whether it’s a romantic night out for the two of you or a character dining experience for the kids, here’s everything you need to know about the ins and outs of dining reservations at Disney World.
Disney World dining reservations: What you need to know
It is often impossible to simply walk in and eat at a full-service Disney World restaurant at mealtimes. The popular ones are frequently packed even in the low season. So, if you want to try some of Disney’s excellent restaurants and dinner shows, we recommend making an advanced dining reservation (ADR) before your vacation. Here’s what to keep in mind:
- All guests, even those who are not staying at Disney World Resort hotels, can make dining reservations.
- If you’re dining at a restaurant that’s located inside a Disney World theme park, you will need a valid theme park admission ticket to enter the park.
- Guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel can make dining reservations up to 180 days in advance of check-in.
Restaurants at Disney World where you’ll need reservations
It can be difficult to pick restaurants before you’ve even arrived in Orlando. However, there are some experiences and meals that are extremely popular and well worth considering. Here are some of our favorites.
Cinderella’s Royal Table is located smack dab in the heart of Magic Kingdom in the Cinderella Castle. It doesn’t get better than that. That’s why it’s the hardest reservation to get in Disney World. At each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served here), every table is visited by a Disney Princess.
‘OHana is located at the Polynesian Resort. This island-inspired restaurant is a meat lover’s paradise. The menu is pretty straightforward – pork, chicken, steak, and shrimps. You can also make a reservation for the Lilo and Stitch Best Friends Breakfast and enjoy a family-style meal that’s hot, fresh, and delicious.
Teppan Edo at Epcot serves Japanese teppanyaki cuisine, slow-cooked meats and veggies that are grilled on a griddle that you sit around. There’s a kid’s menu (it’s Disney after all) and the place is open for lunch and dinner.
Coral Reef is your chance to dine underwater. You heard that right! It’s an amazing experience located in the same building as The Seas with Nemo and Friends. The restaurant features 3 dining levels with 8-foot windows overlooking the aquarium tanks.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant is a unique dining venue in Disney World, styled like a 1950’s drive-in movie theater. You’re seated in “cars” with movies playing in the background. Located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this is a great place to take grandma and grandpa.
T-Rex in Disney Springs is insanely loud and geared for kids. The menu is extensive, the portions are massive, and the service prompt and cheerful. Reservations are highly recommended.
Be Our Guest at Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom offers American and French cuisine for lunch and dinner in elaborately themed rooms at the Beast’s Castle. The 3 dining areas immerse you in the mystery and romance of Beauty and the Beast and make for an unforgettable meal.
How to make Disney World dining reservations?
If you’re planning to stay onsite at a Disney World Resort hotel, make your hotel reservations before you make dining reservations. Ensure you have the latest version of the My Disney Experience app downloaded on your phone, so that you can take advantage of all the new features.
If you don’t get the advanced dining reservation you wanted, you’ll be able to use the app on the day of your visit to add yourself to the mobile walk-up list. You can also view menus and place orders through the app.
To make dining reservations at Disney World, log in to your My Disney Experience account and click “Make Reservations” under “Things to Do.” You will be directed to a page that lists all the Disney restaurants. Enter the number of people in your party, your chosen date and time, and filter results by park, resort hotel, or area (including Disney Springs and Disney’s Boardwalk). The search results will show restaurants with availability and you can make your reservation (be sure to have your credit card handy). Once you’re done, you’ll get a confirmation number by email.
You can also make dining reservations at Disney World by calling 407-WDW-DINE (407-393-3463).
Pro Tip: There’s a $10 to $25 per person penalty for no shows or cancellations on the day of the reservation, so be sure to cancel well in advance if you’ve changed your mind. Some restaurants like Chef’s Table and Victoria and Albert’s require a 48-hour notice to cancel reservations.
Making last-minute reservations at Disney World restaurants
If you want to treat your kids to a character meal, especially breakfast, these are in high demand. So, it’s a good idea to make a reservation as soon as the window opens. But, if you didn’t get the reservation you wanted, it doesn’t mean your trip is ruined.
First, don’t get pulled into the hype. Your Disney vacation is enjoyable for many, many reasons, and specialty meals like a Princess breakfast are just one of them. You can have just as much fun eating quick service meals that are fast and cheap.
Second, stay flexible. Sometimes, you might be able to snag a table at the last minute. We’ve had luck by checking the My Disney Experience app periodically about 7-10 days before our trip. This is when other guests are finalizing plans and heading close to the window where they can cancel their reservations without a cancellation fee. If someone decides not to keep their advanced dining reservation at a Disney World restaurant, you might just get lucky.
Thirdly, take advantage of a feature called the Mobile Dining Walk-In Waitlist in the My Disney Experience app. You can see table service restaurants in Disney World that have availability for walk-in guests. If available, you’ll get an estimated wait time. If a location is currently unavailable, you’ll be invited to join the waitlist. You can choose Mobile Ordering as well through the Order Food button in the app. This service allows guests to order food-to-go from table service restaurants. All you have to do is select your items from a participating restaurant, pay through the app, and collect your order from the special pickup area.
Lastly, you can try your luck by simply showing up at the restaurant and asking if your party can be accommodated.
Making dining reservations at Disney World can make your vacation extra special. After spending hours on your feet in the theme parks, it’s always nice to sit down for a nice, relaxed meal with delicious food and a unique ambiance. The character meals and dinner shows are memorable experiences. So, we suggest you do a little planning and make your Disney World dining reservations well before your vacation starts.