Walt Disney World offers diners the option of making Advance Reservations for dining at their restaurants, however the system Disney put in place is a little different from the traditional reservation at your local restaurant. The main difference is that Disney doesn’t actually reserve you the table but rather they give you dibs on the next available table for your party size. The system works pretty well as long as you’re patient because many times you’ll end up waiting a little bit longer for your table than you would at a restaurant that actually set a table aside for you. The big problem lately is that Disney restaurants are becoming so busy that it’s getting VERY hard to get the reservations you want….for the restaurant you want….at the time you want.
Let me give you some background on our situation. We’re schedule to go to WDW in late September 2007 so we figured we would start making Advance Reservations back in June thinking we were a good 3-months ahead of time and wouldn’t have any problems getting the restaurants we wanted. Well, that was a BIG mistake. We had one heck of a time getting dinner reservations during our stay for the restaurants we wanted to eat at and it was a very frustrating experience to say the least.
Our intent was to make reservations for a few of the places where we always like to eat (i.e. Chef Mickey, Boma, Sci-Fi Cafe, Le Cellier, etc) and also to try and mix in two or three places we’ve never tried before or haven’t tried in a long time. To make a long story short we had to change our reservation list a good five or six times as it was very hard to come up with dining reservations (especially for dinner) that fit our
itinerary of park visits without eating at 8-9:00pm at night. That just wouldn’t work for me let alone our little 2-year old daughter who I don’t think would fancy eating so late.
Why is this happening? Well, think of all the new promotions Disney is running these days. They’re giving vacationers FREE dining packages if you stay at one of their resorts and in addition, the Disney Dining Plan is more popular than ever these days because of how affordable it makes it to dine in Disney. What does this mean? It means a TON of people who normally would be ok with eating at the counter service restaurants are now making reservations for the more popular sit down restaurants because it’s either FREE because of the promotion or they can afford to do it because of the Dining Plan. That is part of the reason you need to make those reservations so far out as you’ll be competing with a lot more people because of the promotions and dining plans.
So here’s my advice to you. If you plan on visiting Walt Disney World and you’ve figured you would just wing it and not make reservations until you get down there, think again. Sit down and come up with an itinerary of places where you would like to eat and make those reservations as far out as you can (which for most Disney restaurants is 180-days.) I know it’s tough to think of your Disney trip and where you want to eat in the middle of winter when you won’t be visiting until the summer, but take it from me that it’s probably the only way you’ll really get the good restaurants at the best and most reasonable times. This is especially important if you’re bringing the kids with you as the character dinners are especially busy during the normal 5-6pm dinner time.
So, do yourself a favor and sit down with your party and get those reservations made. And while you’re at it, come up with a Plan-B, Plan-C and Plan-D in case your restaurant of choice is booked up. And remember, you can always make changes down the road as you get closer to vacation time………but the key now is to get the reservations on the books before you’re eating at Pecos Bill every night (which is not such a bad thing if you like burgers and wraps.) In the end you’ll have a much better time on your vacation and will have one less thing to worry about. 🙂