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Friday 23 June 2017
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Let’s Talk Disney Advanced Dining Reservations

Your Walt Disney World trip is booked! You stressed over the best dates to travel and then spent some time deciding on the best Walt Disney World resort. Now that your trip is booked, it’s time to begin planning your days and nights at Disney. Yes, you can just show up and hope for the best, but I’ve found that planning is the best approach to any Disney vacation. Why should you plan for a vacation?? Well, planning can help you avoid crowds, get into the restaurants you want and yes, possibly, relax a bit.

My suggestion is to first choose your touring schedule for your vacation. For me, this means filling out a planning calendar with park hours, parades and any special events. I stop by a site like www.easywdw.com and look at Josh’s planning calendars and add his suggestions to the spreadsheet. From there I can decide which parks to visit on which days. (We always park hop, so I choose one park for each morning and one for the evening, and we always take a break midday when the crowds are at their peak.)

Once your parks are decided, then it’s time to choose restaurants. Disney lets you book ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations) 180 days before your vacation and the most popular restaurants book up very quickly. To get your top choice, I recommend making as many reservations as you can on that day. Here are 5 things to consider when making reservations:

  1. Theme – it’s Disney World, so you should eat somewhere fun! If your child loves the ocean, then head over to the Coral Reef Restaurant.
  2. Characters – we always like to have at least one character meal booked for our vacation. You can’t beat the character interaction at these meals.
  3. Location – Obviously you’ll want to choose a location that is convenient to your plans. But keep in mind, that if you’re in a park in the evening, you can choose a restaurant at a nearby resort as well.  How about spending the afternoon at the Magic Kingdom and hopping on the Monorail for dinner at the Grand Floridian for a change of scenery?
  4. Menu – the theme and location may be fantastic, but if you’re children don’t eat Mexican food, then you should skip restaurants in the Mexican pavilion.
  5. Past vacations – we always try to eat someplace we have never tried at Walt Disney World. This gets tough after many trips, but it’s always worth searching out a new venue for a meal.

There are so many wonderful restaurants at Walt Disney World. It really helps to do some research on your options. Look at menus on the Disney World site and read reviews on Disney fan sites before randomly deciding on your meal choices. Once you’ve filled in your planning calendar with your top choices, be prepared 180 days before your trip to make your reservations. You may not know what you’re having for dinner tonight, but you’ll be all set with dinners in 6 months!

What is your favorite hint for getting the best dining reservations at Walt Disney World?
Amy



Amy is a Disney loving mom of two Disney loving boys. She loves planning for Disney trips, reading about Walt Disney World and most of all, going to World Disney World!


  • Excellent advice! I go through the exact same thought process when planning out my Disney vacations. I just posted my first draft itinerary and am now waiting to book my ADRs! Great Disney minds, think alike! 184 days and counting!

  • My first step in planning is to decide which parks to visit as well but I choose those parks based on the Extra Magic Hours and then plan my meals based on those decisions.

  • katy mulcahy – line

    We actually don’t make plans once we’ve made our reservations and we love it this way! We wake up each morning we’re there and see what sounds good for the day, now I must say that we go in the off peak times and have never been disappointed. We might not get the exact time we’d like for dinner but we always get into the ones we want.
    By doing it this way we don’t feel rushed and should we wake up after a late night at Jelly Rolls and decide not to go out till later we aren’t disappointed about missing something. It’s more relaxing for us than trying to keep to a schedule made 9 months ahead of time.

  • Bridget I

    Someday I hope to plan a Disney Vacation that far in advance. However, our last trip was planned only about a month ahead of time. I called and tried to get our favorite restaurants (in Oct just before Halloween) and was able to get most of them, not always at ideal times (ie maybe 2 for lunch) but we had a lot of great meals. I also double booked some days (ie 2 table service) and cancelled as we got closer – other people do this too, so don’t be afraid to call again closer to the date if you don’t get what you want the first time. Also, we might do a big brunch like 1900 Park Faire around 10 and then we would really be set til dinner with just a snack. 🙂