Advance Dining Reservations: What You Need To Know

Advance Dining Reservations: What You Need To Know rachelcastle

My 60 days out came and went last week. This means it was time for me to have access to Advance Dining Reservations for my upcoming Walt Disney World vacation. If it’s been a while, you may want to review what this means for you and how to best take advantage of this opportunity to reserve your favorite dining experiences for your family. And of course, it’s complicated. As an on-site guest, I was able to access this perk for my entire length of stay.



I wish it were easy to go online and click in a user-friendly and efficiently fashion on the restaurant of your choice for your family and have your dining all set. As I sit at my computer and phone at 6:00 a.m. ready to log in to My Disney Experience, at the very least with my expensive vacation ahead I should be able to just get what I want, when I want. After all, I am staying on property, it is 6:00 a.m., and it is 60 days out. But like all things with Walt Disney World trip planning these days, even 60 days out requires some planning and a few tips. And even then, getting what you want is not guaranteed.

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Pre-Planning



Being aware that vacationers to Walt Disney World no longer have access to Advance Dining Reservations 180 days prior to the start of their vacation is the first thing you need to know. If it’s been a while, you can now access this opportunity to reserve a dining reservation 60 days out from your vacation beginning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern time. As part of your pre-planning, I recommend having your itinerary somewhat set with Park Pass reservations completed and an updated My Disney Experience login at hand. Listing your days with options for dining easily accessible will help you with your big moment; having a Plan A and Plan B is always good. Pre-planning your technology is helpful as well. As a reminder, the Disney Dining Plan has been suspended, so budget, as well as newer options like prix-fixe menus, should be considered.

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Technology

Your alarm is set for a little before 6:00 a.m. You are awake, but is your technology? A great tip is to make sure you have several options to use in order to access the reservation system. I actually failed this time at this because I forgot to have a few browsers on my laptop ready for me, which I actually needed when one didn’t work. I was tired, in a morning brain fog, hadn’t had my coffee yet and completely forgot that when one browser doesn’t work, and my phone/app was also glitching, I could try another browser. After 15 minutes, I did have success with another, phew. My Disney Experience within the dining reservation system glitches and it did with me at 6:00 a.m. Completely frozen. Panic set in because I wasn’t prepared for that other browser immediately as I should have been. What also helps is having several tabs set up on your laptop with your dining already typed into each tab within My Disney Experience. Be sure everything is updated, your information is set, and that your credit card details are stored in the system. And an old-fashioned trick? Use the phone to actually call Disney Dining. Their phone lines open at 7 a.m. It’s a backup to the backup because you will be waiting on hold for a long time.



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Tips & Tricks

Some restaurants will book up faster than others because they are more popular. Usually, those are character meals or unique experiences like California Grill that offer fireworks views, or a new experience such as Space 220. I would try to book those first over the less popular restaurants. My other tip is to start backward from the last day of your stay to your first day. There is a greater chance of booking those successfully. As a reminder, you will be charged a prepayment for signature dining restaurants such as Cinderella’s Royal Table. Expect to see that charge on your credit card as soon as you book your reservation. Our website offers many tips for you to follow as well.



Remain Calm, People

Not everything will go smoothly. It never does. It didn’t with me this week and I had to adapt, readjust and reconfigure times, restaurants and days. Some restaurants are more popular, some dining is harder to get due to shortages of staffing. For tips on restaurants to select, I find the Disney Restaurants forum on DISboards.com to be very helpful. When I thought I was finished, one fellow DIS friend was also on the website that day and listed what they chose. It made me revisit my choices and I did switch one restaurant because of our friend’s recommendation. If you don’t get what you want at first, there are some things you can still do. First, keep checking daily. Just because at the sixty-day mark you didn’t succeed doesn’t mean your restaurant of choice won’t come back to offer you a choice to dine there. Check daily and check even up to 24 hours prior to that day because people do cancel.



You may also try other systems that work well. OpenTable can book reservations for many Disney restaurants, and utilizing Disney dining alerts from non-Disney sites can be helpful as well. I have used both of these options recently and both worked really well for me. I liked that with OpenTable I could cancel without penalty.

Consider lounges as another option if you have exhausted all avenues of booking. Lounges are a wonderful compromise for table dining experiences and there are many on Disney property. On the My Disney Experience app, you can find the “Join Walk-up List” button to be able to dine last minute, no guarantees of course.

While it took me several attempts at securing my choices for my upcoming vacation due to a very glitchy website, I was mostly successful as long as I was willing to make some adjustments in the times. A few of them I quickly grabbed and will adjust either the days or the times as I get closer to my trip. This is part of the planning process. It did make me excited for my trip, and my family excitedly woke up that morning and asked me where we are eating this time. I love being able to announce old tried and true restaurants that we all enjoy repeating and some new ones to try out as everyone’s tastes change, grow and adapt over the years. I actually had so many requests from my family that I had to forgo some of their favorites this time around, I just couldn’t fit them all in. But hey, there’s always a next time…

Bon appétit, Bete’avon, ¡Buen provecho!

Shari Kessler loves the Disunplugged and all things Disney. She has imparted her passion for the parks along with her husband of more than 25 years to their three young adult children. Their family vacations have included Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line and Aulani but their home base is Walt Disney World as she resides from New Jersey. Shari also loves her cats Ricky and Lucy(RIP Lucy 2021). As a former early childhood educator she is now assisting at an animal hospital in NYC. She enjoys the Disunplugged community and hopes her articles connect with the Dis family.
You can find her and all of her articles at:
https://sharikessler13.wixsite.com/my-site
Thanks for reading!
























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