The moment you enter Walt Disney World, Cinderella Castle is there waiting to grab your attention.
As you walk down Main Street for the first time, your eye is drawn to it. This architectural marvel has an unmistakable magnetism to it, which is why it has performed so admirably as the centerpiece of the main hub at the world’s most popular amusement park. At some point in every theme park tourist’s life, you’ll want to eat at the restaurant that you know is there. It’s the pinnacle of Disney eating, not because of the food itself but because of what it represents.
Here are six things you should know when you eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
1. You’ll need a reservation
As I mentioned in a prior article, this restaurant was once the most difficult reservation to attain at Walt Disney World. Since the introduction of Be Our Guest in Fantasyland, it’s fallen to second place in this race. That means it’s only slightly easier to book in advance and almost impossible to visit without an Advance Dining Reservation. If you try to take that route, you’ll wind up waiting so long that you’ll waste your entire day at the park.
The safest way to assure yourself a seat at Cinderella’s Royal Table is by calling 180 days in advance the moment the phone lines open, which is 7 a.m. EST. Note that you’ll have to pay the full price of every individual’s meal when you book the reservation. If you’re not someone who likes to plan your vacation that early, you may be in trouble. The best suggestion I have is that if you don’t book early, you should become relentless in checking the various online reservation search options. People can cancel trips at any point, and they’ll immediately get rid of their ADR for Cinderella’s Royal Table since that means money back in their pocket.
2. You'll have to wait outside
Even when you have a reservation, you’ll have to wait outside and possibly for quite a while. Your ADR guarantees you a seat around the scheduled time, but there are a lot of ways this time gets delayed. There’s a surprise right when you enter the building, so while you stand in line, the cast member will inform you that you may need to wait for a time. Don’t get grumpy about the delay, which could take as long as a half hour but will probably be in the 10-15 minute range. The explanation is beyond their control, and it’s magical. During your delay, others are having a dream come true.
3. You'll get your picture with Cinderella first thing, even before you enter the dining area
This is the explanation for having to wait outside. The instant you enter the building’s (exquisite) door, you’ll discover a queue. Presuming that the place is crowded – and it usually is – you’ll stand in line while you watch one of the true joys of Disney. You’ll have the best view of other people interacting with the hostess of the royal palace, Cinderella!
She stands in front of an elegant drape backdrop in the Grand Hall and poses for pictures with all the guests attending her royal meal. You’ll get a contact high from the energy level of the children living out one of the greatest dreams. Plus, your photographs will provide a keepsake that you’ll enjoy for the rest of your life. Standing in line for pictures with Cinderella is one of the best parts of the Royal Table experience. Savor every moment of it.
Pro tip: if you’re bringing children with you, make sure to pick up an autograph book for this experience. Watching Cinderella sign her name sends kids into heightened stages of euphoria.