I want you to have the most magical trip ever and that is why I cannot stress this tip enough. You must book your trip at least 181 days in advance, if possible! This tip is specifically for guests who plan to dine at table-service restaurants throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.
Advance Dining Reservations for table-service restaurants (and quick-service reservations for Be Our Guest) can be booked online beginning at 6:00 AM at the 180 day mark. They can be booked over the phone at 7:00 AM. For your best chance at getting the dining reservations you want, you must have your trip booked before that time and be at the ready (or have a good agent) to begin booking your wishes right away. It might seem strange to have to decide where you would like to eat 6 months before your visit, but you will have to bite-the-bullet and figure that out in order to get the character dining and special dining experiences you want.
Dining experiences like Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest, Chef Mickey’s, ‘Ohana and others often book up that day. How is that possible? Dining reservations for guests of Disney resorts can be booked 180+10. This means that guests can book their dining beginning at the 180 day mark for their entire stay up to 10 days. How will this affect you? This rule means that Disney resort guests arriving before you, but staying throughout your dates, will have already been able to book time slots for your dates before you are even able to try for them. Additionally, guests staying off property can book 180 days in advance (although they can only book one day at a time). This is the reason you must book your stay 181 days in advance, if possible.
The required deposit for booking a Disney package is $200 and it is fully refundable until 31 days prior to travel. Pay your deposit 181 days out and be ready to start your planning the next day. Dining at Disney, especially character dining, will be a huge part of your trip. Whether you only want one character dining experience or one every day of your trip, this will give you the best chance of making your family’s vacation as magical as possible.
Many people who contact me say “I was waiting for a deal to come out.” That would be a huge mistake if you plan to include special dining experiences. I will give you a current example of what I’m talking about. A deal for January-March, 2017 travel will be released to the public on October 3 for Disney resort guests. For the guests traveling during that time, even those checking in the last day of March, dining reservations will have already opened before the deal is released, meaning that some of the most popular restaurants will likely already be unavailable during their stay.
The best thing to do is to book early! If you have a good agent, she will monitor your reservation for any deal that Disney releases and apply it to your reservation automatically, then let you know what you saved. If you book on your own, you will need to contact Disney again as they will not contact you!
Many years ago when I traveled to Disney World, we could walk into any table-service restaurant and ask for a table and be seated very quickly. The chances of that happening nowadays would call for a sheer miracle. It can happen but it is rare. Having advanced dining reservations is a very important component of a magical Disney trip (if you plan to dine at table-service restaurants).
I hope you found this tip helpful! It is my wish that everyone have the exact Disney vacation they’ve dreamed of and that is why I chose this topic for Tip #1. Please post any questions or comments and have a Disney day!
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Let me sprinkle some pixie dust on your next vacation by booking with me. You can contact me at Brenda@pixievacations.com.