Dining reservations at Walt Disney World have been a hot topic for discussion lately. Earlier this year the practice of “scalping” dining reservations came to light, but in an unprecedented move Disney swiftly took action in this situation, shutting down websites that were holding reservations and selling them back to guests for a fee.
Though most would agree that Disney's action against these businesses is a good thing, some guests counted on these “unofficial” sources to get virtually any dining reservation they wanted. While these services may have been a convenience, using a third party is by no means the only way to get a dining reservation. In fact, there are plenty of practical ways guests can get those must-have dining arrangements for their Walt Disney World vacation. All it takes is patience, persistence....and some early mornings!
1. Know your reservation windows
All guests can make dining reservations 180 days in advance. That includes guests staying off property, annual passholders and even those without theme park tickets yet. However, if you are a guest staying on property, you have an additional 10-day window to make reservations, bringing the total up to 190 days in advance. Though this might not sound like a big advantage, when you are trying to get some of the most sought-after reservations on property (Be Our Guest, Cinderella's Royal Table etc.), it may be worth booking a night at the All-Stars Resorts, even if you are a local or planning to stay off property in order to gain this advantage if securing a specific dining reservation is your top priority.
2. Shortcut your online experience
No matter whether your reservation window is 180 or 190 days, you'll need to set your alarm to ensure you have the best chance of snagging a reservation during the first day of your window. Reservations become available at 6AM EST the day the reservation window opens, and if you want to make sure you get the location you want, you'll need to use a few shortcuts. First, navigate to the dining reservations page at exactly 5:50AM. Do NOT attempt to use the My Disney Experience app. While you have ten minutes, familiarize yourself with the website, and then open a "notepad" word processor and enter the following information: the date you wish to make reservations for in MM/DD/YYYY format (so, for example, October 15, 2015 will be 10/15/2015), as well as the complete name of the restaurant you want to reserve. This will come in handy in just a moment.
With about 5 minutes left to go, "snap" your desktop view so that the window with the dining reservation website is on the left, and the notepad app is on the right. With only three minutes left until the reservations open, it's time to get to work. As quickly as possible, highlight the date in your notepad and drag the text to the "date" section of Disney's Website. Then do the same with the restaurant name, quickly select your party size and time from the drop-down menus and then and hit "submit". If you start this a few minutes early you may not be successful but Disney's computers sometimes run a little fast, and even if your first couple of attempts are unsuccessful, a little practice never hurt anyone.
Keep refreshing and repeating this process until you are able to get a reservation. Keep in mind that Disney's website isn't exactly the best at handling large increases in traffic, so if the site goes down a few times, keep trying, at least until 7AM. After that it's time to change tactics....
3. Get on the phone
At 6:55 AM if you are still trying to wrestle with technology and aren't getting anywhere, it's time to pick up the phone. Though dealing with Disney's phone system can be a hassle, it's your next best option for getting a reservation and can often work a little bit better than trying online. Disney's official reservations phone line (which you can reach via either 407-939-3463 or 407-939-1947) opens at 7AM and though you may be on hold awhile, if you aren't making any progress online, trying to book a reservation over the phone is your next best option.