Restaurant bookings at DisneyWorld :: What I’ve learnt so far!

Restaurant bookings at DisneyWorld via Toby & Roo

Going to DisneyWorld has been a lifelong dream for me. I really, truly, desperately wanted to go as a child but never had the chance. Now, though, I do!!

We’re going to Disney!

We’re heading off in September so already I’ve started booking things. For those of you that don’t know, 180 days before your trip, you can start making dinner reservations. I was told by a few friends that I needed to book some time off work, prepare myself mentally and then book, book, book. If possible get up early and, dear god, don’t do it online because you WILL NOT get that coveted spot. I’ll be honest, I took them seriously but not that seriously. How bad could it be right?

Wrong.

Restaurant bookings at Disneyworld are like trying to get a GP appointment at 8.15am on a Monday morning, and booking the elusive Be Our Guest Restaurant at 12pm is like trying to find unicorn hair. It’s impossible! I really genuinely didn’t think it would be THIS hard.

I tried to book as soon as I received my email to say that booking was open but unfortunately I couldn’t book any further than arrival day, so I thought I’d leave it a week… Noooo. Bad decision. I’ve had to fiddle things around and compromise quite a lot, but it’s not the end of the world.

Here is what I have book so far; we’re on the Disney Dining plan that allows one table service meal, one quick service meal and a snack:

  • Our Arrival dinner at the Sci-fi Dine in Theater
  • HollyWood and Vine for the Disney Junior experience at lunch time
  • La Hasienda before the Epcot illuminations – it’s on the lagoon so easy access!
  • Chef Mickey’s Contemporary Breakfast at 7.30am before we head out to Universal for the day.
  • Lilo & Stitch breakfast at the Ohana
  • The Rainforest Cafe for dinner
  • The hawaiian dinner experience at Ohana
  • T-REX for lunch
  • Be Our Guest for lunch (admittedly leaving it late I could only get a crappy time of 10.45 BUT this is on our home day so it means that we will eat super early and still have 2-3 before we need to head off to the airport!)
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table for breakfast at 8.55am before our chill out day.
  • AND Fantasmic! Dinner package at Mama Melrose.

With each booking I swear I get more excited and I can’t tell you how over joyed I am that I managed to book Be Our Guest, even though it will be a super early lunch, it has worked perfectly for us because our flight is late afternoon and we always leave loads of time to get to the airport and book in.

At the moment I’ve signed up to a tour plan company to help me plan out my tours of each park. It’s been insanely useful because it’s helped me plan which day I should go to which park (including the days we are taking to visit Universal) and it has given me a crowd checker, which tells me on a scale of 1 to 10 how busy each day will be. This means that I have been able to look at the parks and say, OK, I don’t want to wait long for this so I’ll visit Magic Kingdom on this date but Animal Kingdom on this date.

The site also has pre-made tour plans so you are told when is best to go to which ride, what rides to book your three per day fast passes for and your estimated que time.

Pretty confident in going to need the tour plans as I feel already overwhelmed and under water with the whole experience! It’s just so much!!

Have you ever been to Disney World? What are your top tips for restaurant bookings at disneyworld?

H X

49 Comments

  1. April 4, 2016 / 9:09 pm

    Aaah exciting! We’re going at the end of July for 2 weeks. You are so organised, we’ve only booked the Cinderalla one so far!

  2. April 3, 2016 / 5:57 pm

    I’ve never been to disney. I really want to go! We’ve agreed to wait until we’ve finished having babies (who knows there might a baby number 3) and wait until they are old enough to really appreciate it and make it a trip of a lifetime xx

    • Harriet April 3, 2016 / 10:01 pm

      That sounds like such a good idea Alex – we’re planning to do it now with them at age 3 (nearly 4), 5 and 18 months – then again in 5 years! Eeekkkk! H x

  3. April 2, 2016 / 8:22 pm

    I cannot believe I thought I could just walk into the restaurants and wait for a table haha its such a good job I read this before I go with my son

    • Harriet April 2, 2016 / 8:23 pm

      Nope – only quick serve restaurants – anything with table service should be booked 180 days before – crazy right?!

  4. April 2, 2016 / 8:56 am

    We took our family about 8 years ago. It was the most amazing holiday and theistic talk about it now! Hope you have an amazing time xx

  5. March 31, 2016 / 11:08 pm

    Oh wow I had no idea that you needed to book so far in advance!! We are planning a trip next Spring. I just hope I am as successful as you have been with restaurant bookings:)

  6. March 31, 2016 / 10:10 pm

    I am yet to have the pleasure to visit any Disney world but j hope soon I can head to the Paris one since it’s near but thanks for the tips to book in advance

  7. March 31, 2016 / 6:43 pm

    Oh my word, I haven’t bee to Disneyland or Disney World yet and I would so love to! These restaurants sound incredible too! x

  8. March 31, 2016 / 1:30 pm

    I have never been to Disney world but I have always been wanting to go. It has been a dream of mine and I hope that dream can come true one day!

  9. March 31, 2016 / 9:44 am

    I loved my trip to DisneyWorld 4 years ago but I don’t think we booked anything like that in advance! Have a fabulous trip

    Love Emily, emilyrosevass.com

  10. March 30, 2016 / 11:59 pm

    I haven’t been to disneyworld since I was a kid so I can’t offer any tips. I have taken my daughter to Disneyland Paris and that’s the same with booking up meals. I’m so jealous your going. I’m desperate to go. What you’ve booked so far sounds amazing x

    • Harriet March 31, 2016 / 9:02 am

      Thank you, I can’t wait Kerry!

  11. March 30, 2016 / 11:21 pm

    Oh goodness, I don’t think I would ever be organized enough to do all this! We will take the kids soon, as we’re only a few hours away from Florida, but knowing us it will all be a bit last minute!! It will be a disaster 🙂

    • Harriet March 31, 2016 / 9:02 am

      Haha – only if you want to eat at table service places – you don’t book em, you don’t go! Most of the restaurants seem to have a quick service option though! H x

  12. March 30, 2016 / 10:10 pm

    Oh how exciting! I love Disney World. Your plan sounds good so far. I haven’t been to all of those restaurants!

    • Harriet March 31, 2016 / 9:04 am

      Thanks Bex – I’m trying to be!! I feel like I’m doing a pretty poor job compared to everyone else! x

  13. March 30, 2016 / 7:53 pm

    Ekk it sounds like your really on the ball with getting things done – so many places to eat so little time.

    • Harriet March 31, 2016 / 9:06 am

      I know Sarah – I want to go to every one!

  14. March 30, 2016 / 7:30 pm

    I went to Disney several times as a kid but I can’t remember ever having to be book tables in advance – ee just seemed to walk in at lunchtimes. We always had dinner outside of the resort at local restaurants.

    • Harriet March 31, 2016 / 9:07 am

      Yes Georgina, you can walk in for most places but not table service places that are in high demand! It’s a good job I booked as we had to compromise just by missing the first opening days/hours.

  15. March 30, 2016 / 5:58 pm

    We went to Disneyland a couple of years ago. I’m afraid we didn’t think of trying the restaurants there. We bought some snacks though, most of the time we ended up eating while queuing for rides. Not a good thing I know! Next time, we might just book too.

    • Harriet March 31, 2016 / 9:11 am

      Ahh we’re hoping to save as much as possible by being on the site and having the plan – not so much snacking for us, it’s too costly and we can’t take snacks with us over the atlantic (or believe me I’d be all about the snack too!) H x

  16. March 30, 2016 / 5:49 pm

    Oh my god I never knew this!!! Disney is a childs dream so I can’t wait to take my son when he’s old enough, but I’m glad I’m aware of this in advance! EEEEKkkk! xx

    • Harriet March 31, 2016 / 9:11 am

      Oh yes! 180 days to the minute before you better book up AND 60 days before you book rides! H x

  17. March 30, 2016 / 4:27 pm

    I went to Disney World as a kid, but I can’t remember having to book a restaurant. I think we just walked in, but this was a few years ago now.

    • Harriet March 30, 2016 / 5:13 pm

      I wish we could! You do just walk into quick service restaurants but anything that is table service has to be booked!!! H x

  18. March 30, 2016 / 4:10 pm

    Woah I’m very jealous! Disneyland is a dream of mine too and eating out is my favorite activity. Hope many tasty meals await you!

    • Harriet March 30, 2016 / 4:22 pm

      Thanks Laura – I have waited 20+ years for this!

  19. March 30, 2016 / 3:49 pm

    I am a bit of a Disney expert having worked for the company for four years as a Cast Member (what Disney call their employees). You’ve chosen some great restaurants. If you get a chance, try to add Whispering Canyons Cafe at Wilderness Lodge. Great place for dinner. Really fun. If you manage to get reservations there, make sure you ask your server for ketchup. See what happens. 😉

    • Harriet March 30, 2016 / 4:23 pm

      Ooooh Tori you legend!! I shall see if I can add it while I still have a few days free 🙂 Any more tips you have, lob them over 🙂 H x

  20. March 30, 2016 / 3:33 pm

    What tour plan company have you used? I’m going to Disney with my friend and her family (admittedly not until 2018) but this would be super useful to see what places are busy on what days. x

    • Harriet March 30, 2016 / 4:28 pm

      I’m used touringplans.com – you pay something like $12 for a year subscription and get full access to DisneyWorld, Land and Universal! I love it! It also has all the dining guides, crowd checkers, tour plans – everything 🙂 H x

  21. March 30, 2016 / 3:25 pm

    Wow, I went to Disneyworld a few times as a kid but we didn’t do any dining experiences. I’m planning to take our family in a few years but had no idea it was this difficult to plan out all the dinner reservations! (I do remember very clearly though my Mum’s uber organised schedule of which park we’d be visited, which rides we’d do at what time etc.!)

    • Harriet March 30, 2016 / 4:29 pm

      Haha yes you have to be – I will be dictator mum! H x

  22. March 30, 2016 / 2:04 pm

    Wow I had no idea it was so hard to book at Disneyworld, how crazy! Booking dinner 6 months in advance seems insane! Glad you managed to get some reservations made! 🙂

    • Harriet March 30, 2016 / 4:34 pm

      Yep! I was told that to book special occasion dinners you have to get up at certain hours and you will be out-booked by three-four minutes into opening!! Mental!

  23. March 30, 2016 / 1:02 pm

    It’s my dream to go to disney as a family. I never knew u had to book where u eat in advance like that! Worth knowing for the future.

    • Harriet March 30, 2016 / 4:35 pm

      Very much so Joanna! In 30 days I have to book what rides we want to go on at what time!! H x

  24. March 30, 2016 / 12:46 pm

    Wow! This looks brilliant. I’m all about the food and these restaurants sound amazing. You’ll have the best time x

    • Harriet March 30, 2016 / 4:35 pm

      Me too Sarah – my husband thinks its hilarious how excited I am about food!

  25. March 30, 2016 / 9:44 am

    OMG who’d have thought it! I assumed you just booked when you got there. I haven’t been to Disney world but I have been to Euro Disney and let me tell you, it’s my firm opinion that you enjoy it WAY more as an adult than you would as a child (I first went when I was 21 and had a ball). Hope you have an amazing time XXXX

    • Harriet March 30, 2016 / 4:37 pm

      Thanks Rachael – nope, even the rides are fast passed 60 days in advance!!

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