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Facts and Tips for Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations
All Tips on this Page Apply to Walt Disney World Only (Other Disney parks around the world have different systems)
Get your Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) for restaurants ahead of time and work your schedule around these. Advanced Dining Reservations are often the hardest things to get or change, many times even harder than FastPasses, so you want to make ADRs your first priority. If there is a restaurant you really want to eat at, we would even suggest planning what days you visit each park around that reservation availability. For example, if you really want to eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table and have four days worth of tickets to Disney World, check ahead of time to see what days/times are available for reservations before deciding what day you will visit Magic Kingdom. If you think you want to visit Magic Kingdom on Monday, but the only reservation available for Cinderella’s Royal Table that week is at 2:00pm on Wednesday, considering making Wednesday your Magic Kingdom day instead (of course, this may not be an issue if you have Park Hopper tickets and can visit more than one park per day). Then go from there to reserve your FastPasses for Magic Kingdom on Wednesday instead, working around your dining reservation time and location.
Some Advanced Dining Reservations go extremely fast. You can usually reserve a spot at these restaurants 180 days in advance to your arrival day, so you may want to consider this when picking your vacation dates. If you decide to take your vacation sooner than 180 days away, you may be able to still get a dining reservation for your vacation, but it will often take more time and effort to find a reservation. You may need to take the same approach as your most-difficult-to-get FastPass selections – check as often as possible until one becomes available. It is also important to do some research ahead of time to find out which restaurants charge up front for your reservation and which do not. Most Walt Disney World restaurants at this time do not charge a fee to make a reservation, but a select few do, such as Cinderella’s Royal Table. Also, check the cancelation policy for the restaurant you would like to make a reservation for – most Disney World restaurants allow you to cancel up to a certain point (usually 24–48 hours) without a fee, but this might not always be the case.
The Disney Dining Plan isn’t really free. Even though it is sometimes referred to as the “Free” dining plan, you will still have to pay for your meals unless there is a special promotion package which makes the dining plan free under certain conditions (usually it comes with a specific length of stay in select resorts that are not discounted). If you don’t have one of these special promotions and want to use the Disney Dining Plan, you will need to purchase it through a specific vacation package. You will then get a certain amount of food “credits” to use in restaurants, and this food credit program is referred to as the Disney Dining Plan. We recommend doing as much research as possibly on this dining plan to decide whether or not this will benefit your family, especially when comparing it to any other offered discounts available at the time (such as room discounts). The general consensus seems to be that the Disney Dining Plan is best for larger parties that want to eat at several expensive restaurants (especially character meals) in order to fully use the food credits you have paid for. Otherwise, it may end up being cheaper to pay for meals individually during your trip. You can read more about Disney’s dining options on their website.