Reservations for those restaurants that take them, dinner shows, or dining packages can be made 180 days in advance. If you are staying at a Disney World Resort, then you can make them 180 days from your check in date through your check out date as long as it’s within 10 days, so slightly longer than 6 months. Certain restaurants book up really, really early such as Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic Kingdom and Le Cellier in Epcot. Many character meals (restaurants that have Disney characters visit your table while you’re dining) may also sell out early as well. In addition, during peak periods such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, ALL restaurants that take reservations are likely to require reservations well in advance. For those that don’t make reservations, there are still fast food type options available in all the parks and at the resorts that don’t require nor take reservations.
To make a reservation, log in to DisneyWorld.com. Hover (do not click) over Things to Do in the menu and then click on Make Reservations. Where it says All Parks and Resorts can be changed to select a certain park or resort. Change the date, time, and party size to what you want and click Search Times. A list of the restaurants, shows, and packages that have availability within a two-hour window of your selected time will come up. If a restaurant is missing from the list, scroll down. It is likely there are no reservations available and it will say that at the bottom of the available restaurants.
Click on the time you want in the field next to the name of the restaurant, show, or package. On the next page, you will now see why we spent so much time adding Family & Friends as the reservation asks you to name each person with whom you are dining. Add the names and click Next. You will then be asked for a credit card and once you’ve entered that and clicked Next, you’ll get a confirmation that will be emailed to you and added to your reservations under the My Disney Experience tab. For the credit card, most restaurants do not actually charge the card at the time of the reservation. It is taken as security. If you fail to cancel a reservation 24 hours in advance and do not show up for the reservation, the card will be charged $10 per person. Some restaurants, however, do require prepayment, mainly those that are shows like Spirit of Aloha. If the reservation requires prepayment, it will be clearly stated.
This can also be done on the My Disney Experience app. Go to the appropriate app store for your device and download the free My Disney Experience app. After logging in, your icon will appear in a circle at the bottom of the screen (mine is Mickey Mouse). Click on it for a menu. Under My Plans, there’s an option for Reserve Dining. Booking from the app is pretty self-explanatory and is a great option if you want to see if any reservations are available when you’re already in a park.
Take a photo or screenshot of your confirmation as a backup. I have never had a dining reservation lost, but that is my proof that I made one just in case. This is especially true if you have a reservation for somewhere that fills up quickly. Cast members are likely to help anyway, but think of it as free insurance.
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or watch for Part 3: FastPass+, which will be published April 26.