Did you know that Disney Dining Reservations open 180 days in advance? Many don’t which can be a major bummer when you realize all the popular restaurants are booked solid for your trip. But don’t stress too much! Here are some valuable insider tips on scoring last minute dining reservations at Disney World.
Tips on scoring last-minute dining reservations at Disney World
My first visit to Disney World was in 2006 and to say I was completely unprepared is an understatement! But luckily we were visiting during off season and were able to get most of the reservations we wanted.
Nowadays, low crowds seem to be a thing of the past and dining reservations are gone before you even think to book them. As a local, I tend to make spur of the moment decisions when it comes to going to Disney World. That includes where to eat, so I’m all about last minute Disney dining reservations!
Use a Disney dining reservation finder
A reservation finder will scour the Disney World dining website and notify you when a reservation opens up that matches your search criteria. It will NOT book the reservation for you, so when filling out the search form make sure to include the best way to notify you. For me, that is a text message, because I almost always have my phone in hand. Once a reservation is found I get a text message that includes a direct link to the booking site. But you have to be quick as the reservation is first come first serve and open to all Disney World Guests.
Use OpenTable for non-Disney owned restaurants
You may be familiar with OpenTable and even, use it for your local restaurants. It can also be used for select Disney Springs restaurants including The BOATHOUSE, Paddlefish and The Edison!
There is an app for OpenTable making it super easy to search for last minute dining reservations at Walt Disney World. We use it quite a bit for date nights!
Look for unusal meal times
Do you always eat t 5:00 every night? Well, many folks like to stick to their regular meal schedule even at Disney. So, try looking for dining reservations at off times such as a late lunch or early dinner.
Many of the restaurants are open 11 – 3:30 PM for lunch and 4:30ish – 8:00 PM or later for dinner. Which makes it so a 2:30 PM or 7:45 PM is easier to snag than say a 12:00 PM or 5:00 PM reservation.
Keep checking online and over the phone
Just keep checking, just keep checking, just keep checking (sung in my best Dory voice)! Persistence really does pay off when it comes to getting those perfect dining reservations.
As other Guests change, cancel and perfect their plans dining locations open up. I always tell friends and family to check on the Walt Disney World Website multiple times a day and to call when you can.
Messy Mom Tip: When checking online select an actual time instead of “breakfast, lunch or dinner”.
Be flexible on dates
When planning big trips, I always start with last half of my trip and work my way up. This gives me the best chance of snagging hard to get Fastpasses and highly sought after dining.
If you have your heart set on experiencing the new Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White, see if you can get a late dinner on your last full night at Disney World. You have a much better shot of finding that reservation than a prime dinner time on the first day of your trip. You can always cancel the reservation if you find a time and date that is practically perfect!
Call the restaurant directly
Just liked you’re call a restaurant at home to book a reservation you can do that at select restaurants on Disney property.
This approach works best for those restaurants that are not owned by Disney, like those located in Disney Springs.
Take a chance at a walk-up Disney dining reservations
You’ll never know if it’s possible if you don’t ask. And it never hurts to ask, right? So, march up to the hostess stand and ask as nicely as you can if they happen to have any open reservations. But let’s be honest, this works maybe 1 out of 10 times…
But there have been times in recent months where Cast Members are standing at central locations in the parks with a sign saying that there are same-day reservations available. So, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility!
Flash your Landry’s Select member card
Ok, so this only works for those restaurants owned by Landry’s, but I bet you’d be surprised for find out that includes two restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park – Rainforest Cafe right outside the main entrance and Yak & Yeti. Along with T-Rex Cafe and another Rainforest Cafe both located in Disney Springs.
The Landry’s Select membership gives you access to priority seating without reservations. In most cases you will be seated within 15-20 minutes of arriving. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been seated within minutes when the quoted wait is 60-minutes or longer. The membership does cost $25 initially, but you get that back in a $25 reward that can be used at ANY Landry’s restaurant, even local ones. And you also earn rewards for every purchase!
Try a different character meal
Upset that nothing is available at Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom? Try a different character meal! There are quite a few on property that usually have an opening or two.
Garden Grill is a particular favorite of mine. The character interaction has always been superb. The food is hearty and simple which is perfect for picky kids like mine. Have your heart set on dining with the Disney Princesses? Try Akershus Royal Banquet Hall located in Norway at Epcot. The princesses vary, but you can meet Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, Cinderella and even possibly Mulan.
Sometimes our plans hit a snag when we don’t get what we want right when the