What to do if you can’t get a reservation for a Disney restaurant

As thrilling as Space Mountain and the other rides at Walt Disney World are, Disney’s many restaurants are attractions themselves. As such, getting a reservation for a Walt Disney World restaurant can be tricky. If the restaurant you want for your Disney date is full, you still have options. Here’s what to do if you can’t get a reservation for a Disney restaurant.

Disney Dining Reservation Guidelines and Reminders

Let’s start with the basics. The process for booking a Disney restaurant reservation has changed in recent years.

  • Start with the restaurants you want to visit the most, and your ideal date and time
  • Dining reservations can be booked up to 60 days in advance
  • You can book online, on the My Disney Experience app or by phone (online recommended)
  • To dine at any restaurant in the park, you will need valid park admission and a park pass reservation
  • Masks are required at all indoor Walt Disney World locations
  • A credit card is required to validate the reservation
  • Any reservation canceled less than 24 hours in advance is subject to cancellation fees.
  • Most restaurants do not include tipping, although some third park restaurants do, be sure to read your receipt carefully
  • Many non-Disney owned restaurants in Disney Springs use OpenTable for online reservations

POINT: Wondering which Disney restaurant is the best for a date night? Take a look at the best restaurants for wine at Walt Disney World. Not only do these restaurants and bars have excellent wine lists, but their menus are some of the best on Disney property.

Chef Art Smith's reunion at Disney Springs
Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming | Image credit: Stephanie Patterson

Learn how to use third-party Disney reservation services

If you’re having trouble getting a reservation at your Disney restaurant of choice, consider using a third-party service to help you out. There are a few websites available to alert you when the reservation you want becomes available. These services use technology that checks the availability of Disney Dining reservations based on parameters you set.

If a reservation becomes available, you will be alerted by SMS or e-mail. You will then have to make the reservation yourself. It is important that you define parameters and a method of communication that will allow you to react as quickly as possible. An alert from one of these services does not guarantee an effective reservation.

Be sure to read the terms and conditions of any service before using it. There are free options as well as paid options. Consider a paid option to help support these businesses and the service they provide.

8 Unique and Tasty Disney Dining Experiences - Sci-Fi Dine In Theater Restaurant
Image credit: Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater Restaurant

Check availability without appointment

Occasionally, same-day slots open at select Disney restaurants. Same-day entry to a Disney restaurant is through a walk-in mobile dining system. If you walk up to the Welcome Booth outside any Disney Restaurant, they will direct you to the walk-in mobile availability tool in the My Disney Experience app.

Check availability at participating restaurants through the app or by scanning a QR code located in the restaurant lobby. Then use the app to add your party to the list of an available restaurant. Once your table is ready, you will be notified to go to the welcome booth or other specified location. Make sure that your mobile notifications are activated in order to be correctly alerted when your place becomes free.

Make sure you’ve picked out a cute Disney date outfit!

Consider popular alternatives to Disney restaurants

When trying to decide which restaurant you want to dine at at Walt Disney World, consider what’s most important to you and your lover. Is it the atmosphere? Is this the menu?

If the exact restaurant you want to book isn’t available, there might be another Disney restaurant with a similar atmosphere or menu that still feels like a dream come true. You can also take the opportunity to explore hidden gems around Walt Disney World for dinner or drinks.

Alternatives to Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom:

Alternatives to the San Angel Inn at EPCOT:

Alternatives to Cellier Steakhouse at EPCOT:

Alternatives to the 50s Prime Time Cafe and Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

  • Nothing beats the atmosphere of the two restaurants above, but Mama Melrose’s Restaurant Italiano offers great food and decor reminiscent of the early days of Disney-MGM studios.
Shula's Steak House - Swan and Dolphin from Walt Disney World
Shula Steakhouse

Disney Fireworks View Restaurants (reservations required)

A reminder to plan ahead, and if you want to dine at Disney during a busy season like any big party, be flexible. When it comes time for your dining experience, be sure to plan travel and transportation time in advance.

About Michael B. Billingsley

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