We’re not foodies by and stretch of the imagination, but we are planners. And we are hardcore Walt Disney World planners. A big part of planning a Walt Disney World vacation is picking and booking your dining reservations—usually called “Advance Dining Reservations” or ADRs.
In this post, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about Disney World dining reservations, from which restaurants take them to which are the best and most popular, and of course when and how to make them.
Which Disney World Restaurants Take Reservations?
Before we go on, let’s clarify that this post doesn’t talk about Disney World dining plans or how to use them. We’ll use some of the same terminology (like “table service”), but you don’t really need to know about dining plans to know about reservations, or vice versa.
The Disney World website lists 413 restaurants (as of publication). This includes various seasonal and non-seasonal dining “experiences” and packages, but it’s a good rough approximation of the number of restaurants offered. Of those, 139 Disney World restaurants take reservations. Roughly a third of those are special packages or unique offerings that we aren’t really covering in this post.
For the most part, this breaks down simply. Most of the restaurants that take reservations are the table service or buffet restaurants. If you’ve got a waiter, it probably takes reservations.
If it’s a “quick service” restaurant where you’ll be walking up to a register and ordering, it usually won’t take reservations. There are notable exceptions, like Be Our Guest, which offers quick service at breakfast and lunch while also taking reservations for those meals.
The bottom line for this section is simple: if you want to dine somewhere, you should always check if it takes reservations. Disney is expanding restaurants that take reservations regularly, with recent additions like Beaches and Cream (between the Yacht Club and Beach Club) and ABC Commissary (a quick service restaurant at Hollywood Studios) surprising many.
Most Popular Dining Reservations at Walt Disney World
In this section we’ll talk about the most popular dining reservations at Walt Disney World. These are going to be the restaurants that you’ll have to be prepared to book ASAP (which is what the rest of the post is about). We’re not including things like packages or unique events here. These are just standard meal reservations.
We’re going to break this into three groups. The first group is restaurants that you absolutely have to book as soon as possible and consists of four restaurants—Victoria & Albert’s (at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa), Cinderella’s Royal Table (at Magic Kingdom, inside Cinderella Castle), Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White (at Wilderness Lodge), and Be Our Guest (at Magic Kingdom, “inside” Belle & Beast’s castle).
Victoria & Albert’s—along with Victoria & Albert’s Chef’s Table Dinner and Victoria & Albert’s Dinner Queen Victoria Room—is the single toughest reservation to get at Walt Disney World. Not only will it fill up 180+ days in advance (we cover booking windows in detail below), but no one is cancelling a meal at Victoria & Albert’s. This is something you plan a trip around.
Cinderella’s Royal Table is just about the same difficulty as Victoria & Albert’s. It fills up at 180+ days out, and families are very hesitant to cancel, though probably not to the same degree as Victoria & Albert’s.
Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White is a new and well-received character dinner at Wilderness Lodge. Whether its popularity will be long-lasting is yet to be determined, but for now this is a tough one to book.
Be Our Guest just barely makes it into this group. I know other sites disagree with me, and I encourage you to read as much everywhere as possible, but Be Our Guest is easier to get into than the above three restaurants.
While it often books 180+ days in advance, it sees more cancellations than the above three, which makes sense given the gap between its hype (astronomical) and quality (okay, and two meals are quick service). That said, I’m grouping it here to be safe!
The second group is restaurants you’ll want to book 180+ days in advance but that you don’t need to lose your mind for. These four restaurants are: California Grill (at Disney’s Contemporary Resort), Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno (at the Boardwalk), ‘Ohana (at Polynesian Village Resort), Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (at the Norway Pavilion in Epcot), and Chef Mickey’s (at Contemporary).
One thing to remember about this second group is that while they may have okay availability, you will probably be looking at really bad times if you don’t book them ASAP.
The third group is two dinner shows—Spirit of Aloha (at Polynesian Village Resort) and Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue (at Fort Wilderness). We just want to know that you’ll often see wide availability for these, but they have different categories of seating. So you might see every day for the next 180 days has availability, but if you clicked through you might find the best seats hard to come by.
But what about [this restaurant]?
The above list isn’t going to be perfect for every trip. We built it on experience and reviewing availability for the next 180 days (with particularly focus on days one through seven and 180).
If there’s a restaurant that you’re looking into that isn’t there, you should always investigate its availability on the Disney World website just to be safe.
Just visit right now and see—is there space today? Tomorrow? Next week? In 180 days? In 175 days? This will give you a good sense of how difficult it is to get reservations. The best way to tell if an ADR is popular is to look and see if there are many ADRs available!
When Can I Book Disney World Advance Dining Reservations?
Let’s split this up into two sections—one for the general public and one for guests of Disney’s hotels at Walt Disney World.
But First—Same Day Reservations
Before we got to how early you can book dining reservations, let’s talk about how late you can do the same. We regularly make same-day dining reservations. While you should never count on this, we want to remind people that it can happen and to highlight one thing…
Oftentimes you can get same-day reservations for restaurants even when their “standby wait” is long. This is especially true around lunch time. Groups who walk up to a restaurant will be told to wait an hour or more for a text when sometimes they could just go online and book the same time—or even an earlier time—as a reservation.
When can the general public make Disney dining reservations?
Anyone can make a reservation at a Disney World restaurant up to 180 days in advance through the Disney World website or the My Disney Experience app. Drafting this section on April 3, if I visit the Disney World website I’m able to make reservations through September 30, which is today + 180 days. Reservations open at 7AM Eastern Time.
When can guests of Disney Hotels make Disney Dining Reservations?
Great question! The answer is “180+10 days.” You’re welcome!
Just kidding. Dive into the world of online Disney World fandom and you’re bound to see “180+10 days” sitting comfortably among other shorthand like “FP+” and “DH” and “ADR.” Here’s what “180+10 days” means in Disney parlance…
“180+10 days” is a perk of staying at a Disney hotel at Walt Disney World. Guests of these hotels can make dining reservations beginning 180 days before their arrival date (hence “180”) and can book for their arrival date plus the next ten days of their trip (hence “+10”). Again, you can make reservations starting at 7AM Eastern Time.
Note: I’ve seen people say it is ten days including arrival date, but I’ve seen more examples that it is arrival date plus ten days. I haven’t booked a ten-night stay recently enough to find out (and either way, I’d never trust a single example).
For stays of longer than ten nights, you’ll be able to make reservations for the later days 190 days in advance. That is, 180+10 rolls forward one day at a time (see the last example below if this isn’t clear).
We’re going to run through some quick examples, but keep in mind that the policies may change, Cast Members may have different understandings of this complex rule, and the My Disney Experience booking system can be touchy. If you have or had an experience that differs from these examples, please feel free to leave it in the comments.
I’m staying at a nearby Hilton from November 1 to November 10 (not actually, stalkers). I want to make a reservation for Be Our Guest breakfast on November 7 (not actually, don’t care for it). I will have to wait until May 11—180 days prior to November 7—because I am not a guest of a Disney hotel.
I’m staying at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort from November 1 to November 10. I want to make a reservation for Be Our Guest breakfast on November 7. I can make my reservation on May 5—180 days before my check-in date of November 1—because I am a guest of a Disney hotel and the dining date is in the first 10 nights.
I’m staying at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort from November 1 to November 5 and then a nearby Hilton from November 5 to November 10. I want to make a reservation for Be Our Guest breakfast on November 7. I will have to wait until May 11—180 days prior to November 7—because November 7 is not within the time of my Disney hotel stay, even though it is within ten days of my arrival date.
I’m staying at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort from November 1 to November 15 (ouch). I want to make a reservation for Be Our Guest breakfast on November 14. I can make my reservation on May 8—190 days before November 14, which is outside the initial “180+10” window.
180+10 and Split Stays
While we’re huge fans of split stays—where you divide your stay between two Disney hotels—we’ve seen mixed reporting on how Disney treats them for the purposes of making dining reservations. If Disney treats these as separate stays for “180+10,” you’ll have to make dining reservations for each set of days separately 180 days in advance of check-in at each hotel.
Ideally, Disney would treat a split stay at two Disney hotels as a single stay for dining reservation purposes, so long as there is no gap night between the two reservations. We’ve seen at least one example of this happening (in this discussion). But others complain it doesn’t work that way (in this discussion).
Frankly, we have no idea what to expect in this regards. What we recommend for split stays and stays longer than ten days is that you (1) post in forums and on reddit with exactly your plans and whether people have any recent feedback and (2) try to book online and by phone at the earliest date you think you might be able to book. The worst case is a Cast Member tells you to call back on the “proper” date.
Tips for Making Advance Dining Reservations at Disney World
While we’re calling it “tips,” this section should really tell you everything you need to know about making your Advance Dining Reservations.
Know Your Booking Options
There are four ways to book. The first two are online or via the app. We recommend booking online as a default method. The online booking system is very intuitive. Visit it and familiarize yourself with it. The app isn’t reliable enough for booking the top restaurants ASAP.
But everyone knows the Disney computer systems can be glitchy, so it sometimes helps to be prepared to book by phone. The Disney dining reservations phone number is 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463). Remember—booking windows open at 7AM Eastern Time.
Finally, you can have someone else do all this for you. If you book your trip through an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, they’ll be able to book your dining reservations for you. Note that they don’t have any sort of special or early access, though, so you’re really just trusting that they can—and will—do better at booking than you will.
Prioritize Restaurants Properly
If you want to book one of the most popular dining reservations at Walt Disney World (above), you want it to be the first one you try and book and you want to schedule it for later in your trip. Fewer people are booking for dates further in the future, so availability will be best then.
Make sure you know what restaurants you want to go to on which dates and when you’ll be able to book them. And keep in mind which days you might be able to book them.
Like we said, if you have a split stay or a stay longer than ten days, there is lots of conflicting information out there about how the 180+10 window applies. It won’t hurt to try to book at the earliest reasonable date. Remember you’ll need your guest count and a credit card when you book—this is to protect from late cancellations, which we cover next!
Disney World Dining Cancellation Policy
As with all things involving potential penalties, you should always confirm with the restaurant to make sure you have the latest information. There are restaurants with different policies, so it’s really important that you check with them.
Most reservations can be cancelled up until the end of the day before with no penalty. Disney states this in their credit card place holder policy:
Your credit card won’t be charged before you dine with us unless you either don’t show up for your reservation or cancel after 11:59 PM Eastern Time on the day before your arrival.
For most restaurants, the penalty for a late cancellation or no-show is $10 per person. I’ve never heard of this being applied when only a few members of your party couldn’t make it. We’ve also had the penalty waived when we called early enough to cancel a dinner because of illness, and we’ve had one no-show fee never show up on a day during a wicked thunderstorm.
Note though, that some restaurants, like Victoria & Albert’s, require even more advance notice to cancel. Victoria & Albert’s requires 72 hours notice and has a $100 per person penalty for failure to cancel in time. Another example is Cinderella’s Royal Table, which requires 48 hours notice or you’ll lose the full cost of the reservation (paid in full at time of booking).
Disney World Dining Grace Period (Late Arrivals)
In theory, Disney World’s restaurants hold your reservation for 15 minutes if you don’t show up on time. In practice, We’ve been 30+ minutes late before (lost Uber driver) and not had problems getting a table. That said, I’d be more likely to count on that at a casual dining option than one of the top restaurants.
What to Do If You Don’t Get a Disney Dining Reservation
So, you slept in and missed getting a reservation—what’s next?
Check Again Tomorrow
If you’re interested in a dining reservation on a given day, you should always check daily until you’re less than 180 days out from that day. This applies even if you already searched it as early as possible it because of 180+10.
Basically, between split stays, long stays, regretted decisions, and rumors that Disney saves some tables for 180 days out, you’ll want to check every day until you’re comfortably within that 180 day window. Around 175 days out, things will settle for a bit.
Check Around Major Dates
Here’s a tip—check every day until your trip. That’s sort of helpful, but we’ll try and narrow it down for you a bit. Check around the following dates:
180 days in advance (booking opens)
60 days in advance (FastPass+ booking date for Disney guests)
30 days in advance (Public FastPass+ date and vacation package payment date)
Seven days or less in advance (last minute changes)
Just writing this post, I found availability at Victoria and Albert’s, Cinderella’s Royal Table, California Grill, and Be Our Guest within the next seven days. The first two only had one time each in the next seven days, and the others had multiple times. The only two servings I couldn’t find availability for were breakfast and lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
Now—a single data point is worth just about nothing. But while availability for restaurants in general may get worse as you get closer to your trip, there are lots of reasons people will cancel their reservations as the date get nearer.
People are unlikely to modify reservations between 180 days out and 60 days out. They’re unlikely to do anything but read and reread our Walt Disney World FastPass+ strategy during that time. Seriously, this just isn’t a busy time for Disney vacation planning.
At 60 and 30 days out, guests will be booking FastPass+, which might result in cancellations. People who prioritize rides still have to book ADRs (180 days) before FastPass+ (30 to 60 days), so ride enthusiasts who wind up with conflicts will cancel reservations 30 and 60 days out.
30 days in advance is also when many guests will be making (or not making) their final payments on their vacation packages. Guests who decide to cancel their trip will likely be cancelling their dining reservations as well.
Once you’re within a week or so, people are in complete “rearrange” mode where they realize their flight times or other problems with their schedules. They’re just deciding they don’t care much about a meal, or that they didn’t need to go to Be Our Guest for all three meals, or that their dining plan isn’t working out how they planned.
At 72 hours out, people will be facing the cancellation penalty for Victoria & Albert’s. At 48 hours out, cancellation penalties for other restaurants, like Cinderella’s Royal Table, start to trigger. And of course, the night before will see the last of the cancellations at most restaurants.
Consider Purchasing Some Assistance
There are two popular tools that will monitor the Disney system in search of your dining reservations. MouseDining is dedicated to this task, and they even partner with some travel agencies to assist agents in helping their clients. Touring Plans has an ADR search tool, but you’ll need a full Touring Plans subscription to use it.
We’ve only used either of these in limited fashion so don’t really have an opinion one way or the other. They do seem to work and we frequently hear success stories about both.
Try Walking Up
I’ve never heard of someone successfully walking up to Victoria & Albert’s or Cinderella’s Royal Table and getting a table. I’d guess it happens only rarely at the latter and never at the former.
Beyond those, people do have success walking up to restaurants without reservations (we’ve personally done Be Our Guest, for example). This is one of those things where you experience is going to vary greatly, but it’s always worth trying as a last resort. Hosts and hostesses will either tell you the wait or that they only are taking reservations.
Do you have any questions about Advance Dining Reservations at Walt Disney World?
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way.
Just starting out? Check out our Walt Disney World planning guide! If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
When it comes time to book, we've got you covered with posts on how to book cheap flights, how to get the best deal on your Disney hotel, and where to find discount Disney World tickets. And of course everyone wants to know whether or not they should get a dining plan—check out our Complete Guide to Disney World Dining Plans!
Don't forget to master your Disney World FastPass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! We've got park-specific guides as well: Magic Kingdom FastPass, Epcot FastPass, Animal Kingdom FastPass, and Hollywood Studios FastPass.
Know what to ride with our guides to: Magic Kingdom rides, Hollywood Studios rides, Epcot rides, and Animal Kingdom rides! Plus learn about the water parks with our guide to Blizzard Beach and our guide to Typhoon Lagoon!
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.