Though Walt Disney World fans are very opinionated about things like MyMagic+, the direction of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the inclusion of Frozen at Epcot’s World Showcase, you’d be hard pressed to find a Disney fan who would say that one of these developments actually ruined their Walt Disney World vacation. However, there is one BIG problem happening every day at Walt Disney World that is actually causing guests some severe stress, and is robbing some of their chance to experience their perfect Walt Disney World vacation. And oddly, no one seems to be talking about it. 

When you think of scalping, you probably think of people selling merchandise or event tickets at extreme markups online. However, a different type of scalping is going on at Walt Disney World, and it involves something that is technically free: dining reservations. Now you may be wondering, how can you scalp something that doesn’t cost anything?

Essentially, unscrupulous individuals are making a business out of scooping up high-profile dining reservations (think Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest dinner service, etc.) the moment they become available every night at 12:01 AM, and then reselling these reservations to guests for a modest fee. Though there are some legitimate businesses that monitor dining reservations at Walt Disney World (see this article at Theme Park Insider for more), scalpers have increased in number in recent months, thanks in part to the ease of booking that MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience have afforded.

Though meticulous planners may not have an issue making reservations 180 days in advance, more casual visitors as well as annual passholders have been really hurt by this phenomenon. However, it's not just guests that are suffering with the effects of dining scalping. If you’ve ever been to Be Our Guest or Le Cellier in the middle of a dinner rush and wondered why there were so many empty tables, this phenomenon is partly responsible, as any reservations that are "held" by these services are typically cancelled with as little window as possible in order to maintain the artificial scarcity that created the demand for this service in the first place. 

Unfortunately, Walt Disney World has expressed little to no interest in fixing the dining reservation scalping problem, even though it has been going on for several years. However, in the interest of being proactive, here are three simple ways that Walt Disney World could potentially hit back at scalpers and make the playing field a little bit more level for all guests who are wanting to make dining reservations at the resort's most popular locations. 

1. Requiring a valid ticket for date of dining

Currently, in order to make dining reservations 180 days in advance at any Walt Disney World restaurant, all you need is a credit card. Though there is no way to dine inside a Disney park without a ticket, you are actually not required to have a valid ticket or pass at the time of booking to make a reservation. This loophole has been exploited to great effect by dining scalpers, and simply requiring a ticket for reservations would go a long way towards solving this problem, as all scalpers would need to maintain annual passes that would need to be matched to guests at the time of reservation.

Not only would this be a huge investment, but Disney may call into question passes that have dining reservations for every day of the calendar year on them. While we'd all love to think about eating every meal at Walt Disney World forever, the reality is that it is extremely unlikely that anyone would actually do this, making scalpers easy to spot. 



There were a few articles at the end of September 2015, one of them from Fox News, that Disney shut these sites down. So hopefully they fixed the problem and these sites won't be able to pop back up!

Just cancel reservations in BOG and make it first come
first served. Walk ins only. You wait 120 min for an Anna & Elsa meet and greet for Gods sake . Think of it as another attraction. End of story.

Offer the same thing as the dining buddy reservation system but for no fee. Problem solved. Why would anyone pay dining buddy or any other business for something that Disney gives them for free?

This has plagued us local annual pass holders. We would love to book special dining events for our kids or enjoy a magical anniversary experience. Sometimes feels like Disney punishes you for living too close.

Easy fix for initial reservations: Do not permit name changes on reservations, and require valid matching ID at time of seating.
As for the services that charge and then continually search until they find the availability window you request, there is no solution. They are being paid for their time and service.

View More Comments

Add new comment

About Theme Park Tourist

Theme Park Tourist is one of the web’s leading sources of essential information and entertaining articles about theme parks in Orlando and beyond.

We are one of the world’s largest theme park guide sites, hosting detailed guides to more than 80 theme parks around the globe.

Find Out More About Us...

Plan Your Trip

Our theme park guides contain reviews and ratings of rides, restaurants and hotels at more than 80 theme parks worldwide.

You can even print them.

Start Planning Now...