Advance Dining Reservations
Advance Dining Reservations. It sounds simple doesn't it? And in most cases it is--as long as you call well in advance; you're not trying for hard-to-get reservations; your have isn't overly large; and you aren't booking a dinner show or meal that requires a credit card guarantee or pre-payment. We'll look at each of these cases, and give a few tips for making your ADRs go smoothly.
- What Are Advance Dining Reservations
- How to Get Started
- Using Disney's Online Dining Reservation System
Everything Else About Dinning Reservations
Everything Else About Making Advance Dining Reservations
Last Minute Reservations
Things have changed at Walt Disney World! Once, vacationers could visit without planning meals ahead of time and have a fairly good chance of walking up and being seated at most table service restaurants. With the introduction of the Disney Dining Plan and frequent Free Dining Promotions that has all changed.
To have the best chance of getting the restaurant of your choice, one should always make reservations as soon as the 180 reservation window first becomes available. This is particularly important during peak vacation times, holidays, during Free Dining season, and lately, just about anytime. For more information on crowds at Disney and dates and events that impact them, see our Choosing Vacation Dates page. The more flexible one is with dining plans the better chance of getting a reservation last minute. Consider having lunch instead of dinner at a particular restaurant or picking a different dining date or restaurant if nothing is available when reserving.
If for some reason, however, nothing seems available during your vacation stay for a restaurant you've just been dying to try, here are some tips you can try for getting an ADR at that coveted dining spot:
- If the reservation is at a non-Disney owned restaurant, such as any of the Downtown Disney or Swan and Dolphin hotel restaurants, try calling the restaurant directly to make reservations. Most of these do not have all of their available space in Disney's Dining Reservation system. You can usually Google for the phone number or make reservations through their online web sites.
- By phone, choose off times such as a quarter past the hour rather than on the hour or half hour. Online you may only select on the hour or half hour, but the system will show you available in between times. You might also try picking the earliest or latest dining times for a particular meal. Popular dining times for lunch are 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm and for dinner 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.
- If you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort, you might also try choosing days closer toward the end of your vacation to help overcome the overlap caused by guests vacationing at slightly earlier travel dates and using the "180 days plus 10" rule.
- Split larger groups into several tables or even separate dining reservations booked close to the same dining times. Be sure to let them know at the restaurant podium that you are dining together. Disney tries very hard to accomodate guests.
- Disney's Dining system has a rather quirky anomaly. While we don't advise trying this often, as wide spread practice can cause difficulty, if there is a restaurant you are just dying to try and nothing else works, changing the number in your party can sometimes yield times or reservations that aren't otherwise available. For instance, if you are looking for a reservations for two and have had no luck, try making the reservation for three guests instead. You won't be denied seating if the number of people differs when you arrive. Keep in mind that this is something you definitely don't want to do for restaurants that require a credit card guarantee or pre-payment.
- Keep trying. Walt Disney World package reservations must be paid in full 45 days in advance. Many people will cancel vacation reservations before making final payment or prior to cancellation penalty dates. The polite ones will also cancel dining reservations. It never hurts to keep trying.
- Once arriving at Walt Disney World, try calling for ADRs again. At Disney resorts, guests can press DINING or *55 on in-room telephones for assistance, dial *88 on any Disney public payphone or ask the resort's Lobby Concierge to check whether any last minute openings have become available. At the parks and resorts, same-day walk-ups are sometimes accommodated when requested in person at the restaurant's podium. Walk-up seating may sometimes be available even when dining reservations can't be obtained through Disney's Advance Dining Reservation System, although you should never count on this. Wait-times for walk-ups, if accepted, can range from a few minutes to an hour or more. During extremely busy times, many restaurants will post a sign letting potential walk-up guests know that these requests are not being taken.
- Use your smartphone to locate availability. Guests in the parks and on Walt Disney World property can also check for table-service availability at nearby restaurants using the location-based services on your supported device. Simply search disneyworld.com/dining from your supported browser and choose to view “map view” of dining results or click on the "Near Me" link OR use the free 'My Disney Experience' or 'Mobile Magic' apps if you have pre-downloaded either (Note: Supposedly, Disney will phase out Mobile Magic sometime in 2013).
If you've made last minute vacation plans and just aren't having much luck getting ADRs, there are several Walt Disney World restaurants that always reserve 30% of their available space for walk ups. Rainforest Cafe in Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney locations, Yak 'n Yeti in Animal Kingdom and Planet Hollywood in Downtown Disney are restaurants that always reserve tables for walk ups. Here are a few other suggestions by location as best bets for walk ups:
- Epcot's World Showcase: San Angel Inn, Restaurant Marrakesh, Biergarten & Nine Dragons
- Magic Kingdom: The Plaza Restaurant
- Disney's Hollywood Studios: Mama Melrose
- Downtown Disney: Fulton’s Crab House
- Resorts: Captain’s Grille (Yacht Club), Olivia’s (Old Key West), Kona Cafe (Polynesian), Turf Club (Saratoga Springs), Grand Floridian Cafe (Grand Floridian), The Wave (Contemporary Resort) & Trails End (Fort Wilderness)
Recent changes, including steps taken by Disney to reduce the number of double restaurant bookings and the introduction of a $10 credit card hold for ADRs at select table service restaurants and character meals, have increased the walk-up availability at many less popular restaurants.
Make an ADR countdown ticker to use in signatures on forums, message boards, blogs, your email, web pages, etc. It's a great way to remind you of that important first available booking date.
Hard to Get Reservations
There are a few Disney restaurant reservations that can be extremely hard to get. The Chef's table at Victoria and Albert's usually sells out the first day it becomes available for booking and is not available on Wednesdays or Saturdays. When reserving The Chef's Table, be sure to have the names of all party members on hand when making reservations as V&A uses them to personalized menus. You may book this reservation 180 days out by calling V&A directly at 407-939-7707, 407-WDW-DINE (939-3463) or by reserving online. By phone, a prompt will direct you to the Victoria and Albert's line. A credit card must be used to guarantee this reservation.
Other popular meals at Walt Disney World include dinner at the new Be Our Guest restaurant located in Beast's Castle at Magic Kingdom; most character meals, especially Cinderella's Royal Table (and especially for breakfast) and Chef Mickey's Buffet; Fantasmic! Dinner Packages; California Grill during Magic Kingdom firework hours and La Hacienda de San Angel and Rose and Crown during Epcot's Illumination hours will also fill up quickly.
Meals that absolutely require a reservation are Victoria and Albert's and all of Disney's Disney diner shows: Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Spirit of Aloha Luau and Mickey's Backyard BBQ.
When reserving meals specifically for firework viewing at California Grill, La Hacienda de San Angel and and Rose and Crown, plan on on scheduling meals approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours before scheduled fireworks and arriving at the podium early to let them know you are hoping for a window seat or patio seat. You will be told they can't guarantee a specific table, but it never hurts to let them know you are looking for one. If you will be celebrating a special occasion, ask the Disney Dining reservationist to note it when making reservations and mention it again at the restaurant. Again, this guarantees nothing, but sometimes Disney does make a little magic happen. Monsieur Paul in France and Tokyo Dining in Japan can be great viewing alternatives for Illuminations if you can get a window seat, and the same goes for ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort and Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian for view Wishes in the Magic Kingdom. If you simply can't get the reservations you want and are dying to dine while watching fireworks over dessert, try making even reservations at the Plaza Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. The restaurant offers a limited view of the Wishes fireworks. For Illuminations, show up a little early at Cantina de San Angel in Mexico. No reservations are needed for this Quick Service restaurant, and patio seats offer excellent viewing of the nighttime spectacular (just be aware that the patio can get crowded during the show and kids may end up standing in front of your table to get a better view).
If you can't get reservations for California Grill during the firework viewing, don't worry. As long as you have dined that evening, you will be allowed to return and watch the Fireworks from the restaurant's private viewing balcony on the fifteenth-floor of the Contemporary Resort. Simply show your receipt at the 2nd floor podium to be allowed access. This is a fantastic view and shouldn't be missed.
In addition to the special cases listed above, there are a few other restaurants that always book up quickly. The short list is below.
- Ohana (dinner) at Polynesian Resort (extremely popular - book at 180 days)
- Le Cellier at Epcot, Canada
- Coral Reef at Epcot, Living Seas
- Garden Grill at Epcot, The Land
- Princess Storybook (all meals, especially breakfast) at Epcot, Norway
- Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom (especially dinner or several hours before holiday parties)
- 50s Prime Time Cafe at Disney's Hollywood Studios
- Tusker House (breakfast) at Animal Kingdom
- 1900 Park Fare at Grand Floridian Resort
- Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Sci-Fi Dine In Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios
- Cape May Cape Beach Club Resort
- Whispering Canyon (dinner) at Wilderness Lodge
Those using the online reservation system will have a one hour advantage over those calling when making hard-to-get reservations. Online reservations rollover to the current day beginning at 6:00 a.m. EST each day. It does appear that this may be the new best way to get hard-to-come-by reservations.
ADRs For Larger Groups
Dining with a large group at Walt Disney World can be challenging if it's important that everyone sit together. A few restaurants such as 'Ohana at the Polynesian Resort and Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge can easily accommodate large groups. Disney's dinner shows, the Spirit of Aloha, Hoop De Doo Musical Revue and the Mickey's Backyard BBQ, are also great dining choices for a group.
Groups of 8 people or more who want to ensure that they sit together can make ADRs by calling 407-WDW-Dine and requesting transfer to "Group Dining". A group coordinator will help to make reservations so that your entire group can sit together. Special rules apply to Advance Group Dining Reservations and include guaranteeing reservations with a credit card. A 24-hour advance cancellation policy will also apply that charges your card a penalty of $10 per person for no-shows. All group dining reservations will have an automatic 18% gratuity applied to the restaurant bill.
Even if you don't make your ADRs through Disney's Group Dining, when using the Dining Plan, an 18% gratuity is automatically added to checks for six people or more. This amount will be based on the entire cost of the meal and that gratuity will be charged directly to your room. This amount can add up on the Dining Plan and may be a cost to settle up at check-out that wasn't planned on. Automatic gratuity for larger groups applies to the Free Dining promotion as well. If you are dining with less than six in your group, you have the option of leaving a lesser percentage if the service was not up to par.
ADRs That Require a Credit Card Payment in Full or Guarantee
Walt Disney World restaurants, shows or dining packages that accept ADRs all require a credit card to either guarantee the reservation or full credit card payment at the time of reserving. These reservations will also have specific cancellation policies that will need to be adhered to prevent your card from being charged or to be credited a full refund. Generally, credit card guarantee policies specify canceling reservations at least 24 hours in advance or risk being charged a $10 per person penalty. For example, a reservation made for Oct. 29 must be canceled on Oct. 28 by 10 p.m. EST to avoid the fee. The few exceptions have either different cancellation periods or higher cancellation penalties and are listed below. Restaurants requiring a credit card guarantee will not charge the card except for no-shows or when cancellation penalty applies. At these restaurants, you may pay for your meal after dining by cash, room charge, credit card or Dining Plan credits. Restaurants requiring pre-payment in full will refund payment only if reservations are canceled a full day in advance.
Restaurants Requiring a Credit Card Guarantee with Varying Terms
- Victoria & Albert's (including Chef's Table) - Grand Floridian Resort and Spa - $25 per person penalty; cancel 48 hours in advance for Chef's Table
- Citrico's Chef's Domain (6-course meal in a private dining room ) - Grand Floridian Resort and Spa (407-939-7707 for reservations) - $100 penalty; cancel 48 hours in advance
- Fantasmic! Dinner Package - Select Disney's Hollywood Studios Restaurants - cancel 48 hours in advance
- Wonderland Tea Party - Grand Floridian Resort and Spa - cancel 48 hours in advance
- Candlelight Processional Dining Package - Select Epcot Restaurants during Holiday Season - cancel 48 hours in advance
Restaurants Requiring Pre-Payment in Full
Restaurants requiring a pre-payment will refund the payment in full as long as reservations are canceled a full day in advance; otherwise, full payment is forfeited.
Those on Disney's Dining Plan should mention at the time of reserving reservations for these restaurants intentions to use table credits to pay for the meal when calling by phone. Your credit card shouldn't be charged when reserving, but you'll still have to give Disney the credit card number and cancellation dates and policies will apply.
- Cinderella's Royal Table - Magic Kingdom
- Hoop-Dee-Do Musical Revue Dinner Show - Disney's Fort Wildness Resort and Campground
- Mickey's Backyard BBQ - Disney's Fort Wildness Resort and Campground
- Polynesian Spirt of Aloha Dinner Show - Disney's Polynesian Resort
- Disney Girl's Perfectly Princess Tea Party - Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Magic Kingdom Fireworks Dessert Party - Magic Kingdom
In order to make canceling your unnecessary reservations easier, Disney has set up a special number at 407-WDW-CNCL for easy cancellation. You can also cancel your reservations at www.disneyworld.com/dining, or at any guest relations location, restaurant podium, or resort front desk. To avoid any applicable penalty, the cancellation must be made up to 11:59 p.m. on the day before the reservation is scheduled.
Special Dietary Needs
Most Walt Disney World Resort table service restaurants can accommodate food allergies and food intolerances, such as gluten or wheat, shellfish, soy, lactose or milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish or eggs, with advance notice. When making Advance Dining Reservations online or by calling Disney's Dining line, indicate any allergies you may have at the time of making the reservation. Call a representative at 407-824-5967 once you have booked your dining reservations, at least 14 days in advance. Additionally, chefs at Disney table service restaurants are always happy to take time to talk to guests about their dietary needs or answer questions about menu selections.
At Quick Service restaurants, ask for Oodies brand hamburger or hotdog buns - they are dairy-free and gluten-free and many counter service restaurants carry them. All Quick Service counters have ingredient lists available, but these are limited to the items made on site. Quick Service counters should also be able to suggest safe substitutes when available. Tofutti brand soy products are available everywhere Disney sells hand-dipped ice cream. Soy milk is available in the grab 'n go sections of most Walt Disney World resorts. Walt Disney World Resort does not have separate kitchens to prepare allergen free items or separate dining areas for Guests with allergies to dine. Some restaurants may have dedicated fryers for those with gluten allergies, however. You'll need to inquire when ordering.
Additionally, each park has one quick service location that is designated as the central location for food allergies, and may be the best option for those with severe allergies:
- Magic Kingdom: Cosmic Ray’s
- Epcot: Sunshine Seasons
- Hollywood Studios: Backlot Express
- Animal Kingdom: Flame Tree BBQ
Plus, beginning August 4 2013, Animal Kingdom park will offer a new allergy information kiosk to assist guests with food allergies and intolerances in making informed dining choices in the park. The 'Gardens Kiosk' will be located just outside the Adventurers Outpost meet and greet on Discovery Island and be open daily from 9am to 3pm. Guests will be able to speak with a cast member about their dining options, as well as purchase a range of pre-packed snacks including hummus vegetables, granola bars, chips, popcorn and a gluten-free beer. Vegan sweets from Baby Cakes also will be offered – all-natural, organic goodies that are made without wheat, gluten, dairy, casein and eggs. If successful, guests can most likely look forward to similar kiosks opening in Disney's other theme parks.
Kosher meals must be requested at least 24 hours in advance by calling (407) 939-3463. A 48-hour notice is needed for table service restaurants at the Swan and Dolphing resorts, Yak & Yeti Restaurant in Animal Kingdom, and both Rainforest Cafe locations. Kosher meals are not offered at Garden View Afternoon Tea, Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining. A credit card is required to guarantee Kosher orders; however, your card will not be charged unless the reservation is canceled in less than 24 hours or the party is a no-show.
Disney's new Mickey Check gives health-conscious parents a recognizable shortcut to identifying Kids' Meals that meet the Disney Nutrition Guidelines on counter service menus throughout Walt Disney World Resort. Following the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Disney Nutrition Guidelines also encourage the limitation of sodium, sugar, and saturated and trans fats. To meet these guidelines, meals carrying The Mickey Check must contain at least three of the following: 1) fruits and vegetables, 2) low-fat dairy, 3) whole grains and 4) lean protein, beans, eggs, and/or nuts. Kids' meals must be ordered as they appear on the menu, without substitutions, to meet the Mickey Check guidelines.
For more information on special dietary needs, or a list of Quick Service locations that carry special dietary or Kosher meals (with no advance notice needed), visit Disney's web site or email SpecialDiets@DisneyWorld.com.
You can also find information about dining Gluten-Free on our web site or Disney allergy-free dining on AllergyEats' Disney microsite. Our news letter, Magically Speaking, has also published a series of articles on Food Allergy Dining at Walt Disney World (be sure to access the other articles with the links at the bottom of the page). The following 2010 Microsoft Word documents from Disney are also available for download from our web site, but some info may have changed and information should be considered as a loose guideline only:
Allergy-Free Chicken Tenderloins Locations
Food Allergy Dietary Reference Sheet
Guest Dietary Letter
No Gluten Added Products WDW
OP Allergy Menus for Epcot
Water Parks Menu Items
This information has been provided by Disney; request updated information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (407) 824-5967
Those with allergies or who follow a special diet have a great new option for ordering celebration cakes. BabyCakes NYC at Downtown Disney now takes cake orders that can be delivered to any Walt Disney World restaurant in which you already have Advance Dining Reservations. BabyCakes caters to special diets and allergies, including refined sugar-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, casein-free, soy-free, egg-free, Kosher and vegan items. Guests can order a two-layer, 6-inch cakes that will serve 8-10 people. To order, call the bakery at 407-938-9044 at least one week in advance. You will need to give them your restaurant confirmation number, date, and reservation time. Cakes are served at the end of your meal.
Other Helpful ADR Information
- Write down or print ADR reservation numbers when reserving restaurant meals and take them with you to the restaurant. This is your proof of a dining reservation. It's also good to reconfirm your reservations before leaving home.
- If you are staying on Walt Disney World property, you can request a list of all of your ADRs at anytime from the Lobby Concierge of your resort.
- Be aware of Seasonal Pricing changes during holidays and other peak-times. TheMouseForLess keeps a list of dates and restaurants that charge them here.
- If your Advance Dining Reservations are prior to park opening, Disney runs special buses for early breakfast in the parks. Be sure to bring your confirmation number as the cast member at the park turnstile may ask for it before admitting you to the park. You will still need to have a park admission ticket to enter the park early for breakfast.
- All Walt Disney World Resort restaurants are non-smoking.
- Most Walt Disney World restaurants have a "resort casual" dress code, meaning shorts are okay, but shoes and shirts should be worn and no bathing suits. Tank tops for men are also discouraged. A few restaurants require dressier clothing and information will be provided when making your reservations. As of this writing "business casual" dress requiring dress slacks or shorts & shirts with a collar for men and dress slacks or shorts or a dress for women is required the following "Signature" restaurants: Jiko - The Cooking Place (Animal Kingdom Lodge), Flying Fish Cafe (BoardWalk), California Grill (Contemporary Resort), Citricos and Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian Resort), Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge), and Yachtsman Steakhouse (Yacht Club Resort). Also included at the Swan and Dolphin Resort are Il Molino New York Trattoria, Shula’s Steakhouse, and Todd English’s bluezoo. Victoria & Albert's at the Grand Floridian resort requires a suit and tie for men and evening wear for women.
- Specialty celebration cakes are available for an additional charge and should be ordered 48 hours in advance by calling the Cake Hotline at (407) 827-2253. Guests may request a 6" cake (non-personalized) upon arrival at the dining location for a charge of $21.00 plus tax and gratuity (no advance notice required)
Walt Disney World guests can now request their favorite WDW restaurant recipes via a special form distributed at the restaurants. Requested recipes can be either emailed or sent to your mailing address. The form states that recipes have been converted from large batches to smaller serving amounts and thus may taste slightly different than those experienced in the restaurants.
If you'll be driving your vehicle to one of the Epcot or Magic Kingdom resorts and plan to dine, be sure to have your confirmation number handy. Guards strict about admitting anyone to the parking lots of these resorts that are not authorized to be there!
As a special service, The Magic for Less Travel will make ADRs directly though Disney for clients. There is no charge for their services. You may contact them via email or fill out a quote form to receive a no-obligation quote or to learn more about the special incentives and services they offer.
Visit our One Dozen Dining Tips page to get lots of advice on dining at Disney as well as money saving tips and coupons.