Have you ever planned a last minute vacation to Walt Disney World? Have you ever been on a Walt Disney World vacation where you didn’t have much control over the planning? If you’re a type A planner like I am, it can be stressful! But it can be especially stressful when it comes to booking your dining. Here’s my tips for booking last minute dining at Walt Disney World!
First of all, the back story on my last minute dining experience. In 2017, my family & I traveled to Walt Disney World to see my sister, who was 12 years old at the time, dance in the Dance the Magic showcase! Her dance team got to partake in a special showcase on the Beauty & the Beast stage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios & in the Magic Kingdom parade! It was the trip of a lifetime for all of us & an incredible opportunity for my sister.
Because we were traveling with the dance team, a lot of our planning had to revolve around things like rehearsals, and making plans with her dancer friends. When it came to booking, we had to wait until the company gave us the particular details to move forward with the resort booking. We went in April, but could not book our resort dining until around late January.
As a big planner, who books Advanced Dining Reservation at the 180 day mark, I was panicking! Even once we got things booked, we were planning with 20+ other families, many of whom wanted to do things as a group and it became difficult to coordinate. But I let myself step back because this trip was about my sister & all the other incredible dancers, about to embark on the opportunity of a lifetime! I am a dancer myself, so I was completely excited for everyone.
So we finally got our resort booked and we were ready to start nailing down some plans. My family & I usually select what we want & we consult our travel agent. However, because this trip was booked through Dance the Magic, we consulted with him very little & I took the reigns for booking dining. I had my wish list of places we all wanted to go & to my surprise, most of those wishes were granted! When planning a last minute Walt Disney World vacation, keep in mine these 10 tips for booking last minute dining at Walt Disney World.
1) Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Not having control over your booking or booking things last minute can be stressful when you have a list of places you’re hoping to dine at. You have to remind yourself-this is Walt Disney World! You will always have an incredible vacation, regardless of where you dine. Try not to worry too much about not getting every single dining reservation.
2) Consult Your Travel Agent
Your agent may know all kinds of tips & tricks, and can keep a constant eye on dining reservations for you. Always consult with them to get the best help! If you’re looking for a travel agent who specializes in Walt Disney World vacations, head on over to The Magic for Less Travel today for a free, no obligation quote!
3) Always Keep Checking
If you don’t get a reservation you’re looking for, always keep checking. Guests are constantly changing their plans & dropping reservations. Some of the more hot ticket places are going to be hard to get last minute, but don’t lose hope! Literally check every spare moment you have. I find this easiest to do on the My Disney Experience app. My phone is constantly with me, so I check in every opportunity I have.
4) Be Open to Different Availability
Maybe they don’t have a 6:00 p.m. reservation available, like you wanted, but do have a 4:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. Take what you can get! Don’t be picky with your dining time. Of course, if seeing a nighttime spectacular is on your must do list, make sure it doesn’t clash.
5) Try Different Searches on My Disney Experience
If you pick something generic like “Dinner” or Breakfast” it may tell you nothing is available. Always try searching specific times too, and as mentioned above, give yourself some options for times. Try to avoid rush times like 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. & 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. These windows are the most popular, so you might be hard pressed to find anything last minute.
6) Check 1-2 Days Prior to the Dining Date
As mentioned in item 3, constantly keep checking for last minute dining options! You will have the best luck 1-2 days prior, so these days are vital. Guests tend to cancel things within that time frame to avoid the cancellation fee they’ll be charged if they don’t show up.
7) Book a Backup Reservation
Book an old favorite, or a new wish list item that’s further down on your list! Give yourself an option, while you keep trying to snag that hard to get reservation. If you get it, you can always cancel your backup!
8) Be Open to Quick Service Dining
As tragic as it may be if you don’t get ANY table service meals (don’t worry-you will ALWAYS find something!), Walt Disney World has SO many incredible quick service options that can be equally, sometimes more, delicious than any table service meal! Be it Pecos Bill’s, Polite Pig or Contempo Cafe, these are just a few of the awesome choices on property.
9) Try Walk-up Dining
It may be super disappointing if you don’t get one of your top dining choices. Don’t be discouraged! Walt Disney World has to allow enough space for walk-up guests as well. So, you may luck out and not have a long wait to get in! It is always worth asking for those with last minute dining wishes. Again, I would suggest peak times like 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. & 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. for walk-up.
10) Try Calling
Usually the most efficient way to find a dining reservation is to just keep trying. But when all else fails, try calling a cast member at 407-WDW-DINE. Have it programmed in your phone, try frequently!
Just by following these 10 simple tips above, I was able to snag some incredible dining reservations for our last minute planning. The most difficult one the get was the Bon Voyage breakfast at Trattoria Al Forno. Not only is this still a popular choice, it was also opening week when we went. I managed to get a 7:30 a.m. by simply CONSTANTLY checking the My Disney Experience app. When I saw it, I jumped on it! Another tough one I got was the Rivers of Light dining package-it was also opening month for that show! So, the others I got were;
Not too shabby for a 7 night trip! I know some of them are not difficult to get into last minute, but it was our wish list and we fulfilled them all for that trip!
My main tip for last minute dining reservations would be to relax & not worry. Your trip will be perfect! I am a big time planner when it comes to Disney, but I will always remember this trip, not only as the trip my sister danced her way down Main Street U.S.A., but also as the trip that was semi-spontaneous & unplanned & it was still very enjoyable. In a lot of ways, it was more enjoyable, because we were more flexible! So just take into account these tips, and enjoy your last minute vacation to Walt Disney World.
What tips do you have for booking last minute dining at Walt Disney World?Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter.
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Disney lover & photographer, living in Newfoundland, Canada. My first trip to Disney World was at age 15 & I have been more times than I can count since! When I see Cinderella's castle, or the fireworks, my heart skips a beat. If you know what I’m talking about, then you’re a Disney lover too! I can't wait for my next trip home & hope these blogs help you plan your next trip to the world!