Nobody likes to plan for something over half a year away. An outcry from longtime Walt Disney World guests laments the changing nature of the park. Some of the best restaurants in the park no longer cater to walk-in customers. Instead, you’ll have to wait for 60 minutes or longer during peak business hours to get a table. Since wasting time during a Disney vacation is the worst thing you can do, making advance dinner reservations has become a necessary evil.
Yes, there is a certain kind of madness in not knowing what you’ll eat for dinner tonignt but knowing where you’ll eat in seven months, but Disney fans have to make their peace with this behavior oddity. Some restaurants are harder to get than others as well. For those, you should plan to call Walt Disney World at 7 a.m. 180 days ahead of your first day at the park. If you’re staying onsite, you can create up to 10 days of reservations during the phone call, meaning that you can make reservations up to 190 days in advance. Here is a list of the eight restaurants where you must get advance dinner reservations if you want to eat there.
1. Rose and Crown for Illuminations seating
According to Amusement Today’s esteemed Golden Ticket Awards, Illuminations is the best outdoor show production at any theme park in the world. Since visitors at Epcot have a tendency to swarm the areas providing the best views of Illuminations, finding a great seat is something of a challenge. Experienced Disney veterans, on the other hand, know that there is a trick.
Several of the restaurants at the World Showcase provide an exceptional view of the proceedings as well as alcohol. Did I mention alcohol? I should mention alcohol. Yes, you can sit around and order drinks and dessert while awaiting the start of the show. The trick is to schedule a reservation about 90 minutes before Illuminations begins, which is currently 9 PM EST.
The best restaurants for this trick are Tokyo Dining, Monsieur Paul, La Hacienda de San Angel, and Rose and Crown. Judging from the header, you can guess which one I suggest, but I would note that La Hacienda de San Angel has its supporters. Your choice depends upon the style of food you enjoy. To me, Rose and Crown’s English cuisine in combination with what I consider the best view of Illuminations makes it the clear choice.
All you need to do is pick the day you want to watch Illuminations and schedule a reservation for 7:30 or so. Upon arrival, inform the host that you prefer seating by the water. It should take another 20 minutes or so to accommodate this. They’ll seat you before 8, you’ll have your food by 8:30 and around the time you’re finishing up, Illuminations begins. It’s a perfect night, and all that is required is a bit of planning.
2. California Grill
The issues with Illuminations seating are duplicated and expanded upon with California Grill. One of the most elegant restaurants at Walt Disney World, California Grill is located at the Contemporary Resort on the 15th floor. If you know anything about Walt Disney World, you understand that this positioning provides guests at California Grill with a breathtaking view of Cinderella’s Castle. Follow that line of thinking to its logical conclusion. Yes, California Grill offers haute cuisine combined with the view of Wishes, the most viewed fireworks show at any theme park in the world. If you have any intention of eating dinner there, you’ll need to get your name at the front of the list, which means that Advance Dinner Reservations are a must.
While the Best Friends Character Breakfast featuring Lilo & Stitch is the most popular feature at ‘Ohana for my family, most others vote for the vaunted family-style dinner. Whichever one you prefer, you’ll need to act quickly if you want to enjoy one of the most beloved meals at Walt Disney World. ‘Ohana is legendary for its Polynesian flavors, fitting for an establishment located at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
This restaurant offers one of the greatest meal services you’ll ever get to enjoy. They bring you giant cuts of grilled meat on elongated skewers. Rounds of food include pork dumplings, wings, sirloin, shrimp, and turkey. Plus, they ceded to complaints and recently re-introduced sweet-n-sour chicken, which was briefly removed from the menu in 2014. Since ‘Ohana delivers one of the best table service meals at Disney in terms of bang for the buck, it books up quickly, making an ADR a must.