UPDATE: See bottom of post for some FAQs and answers via a Disney Dining Phone representative.
In the past several weeks, Disney has instituted a few new technologies and requirements to better regulate the Disney World Dining Reservations Systems. These are largely being put into place to deter the ever-increasing practices of double-booking dining reservations, or simply skipping reservations without canceling them.
Double-booking and skipping reservations in restaurants that fill up six months in advance means that a large percentage of dining reservations are not being used, which, in turn, means that fewer guests are able to dine at these locations, and less money is made in each restaurant.
To improve this process, Disney has (or will be) instituting three new practices:
- Mandatory Credit Card Guarantees on Signature and Character Dining Location Reservations
- Reservation Reminder Emails
- Disallowing Double-Bookings
Credit Card Guarantees Required for Signature and Character Dining Locations Starting October 26th
In order to deter skipped reservations at Disney’s most expensive and popular properties, Disney will begin requiring credit card guarantees on many restaurants beginning October 26th, 2011.
What does this mean for us as guests? Basically, you’ll be required to give a valid credit card number in order to make your reservation for these popular dining spots. No money will be charged to your card at the time of booking (unless the location is a pre-pay meal). However, should you neglect to cancel a credit card guarantee reservation within the allotted timeline (usually 24 hours prior to the meal), a $10 surcharge — per person — will be charged to the card.
Starting October 26, 2011, the following restaurants will require the credit card guarantee:
• 1900 Park Fare
• Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
• Cape May Café
• Chef Mickey’s
• The Crystal Palace
• The Garden Grill
• Hollywood & Vine
• Tusker House Restaurant
SIGNATURE DINING LOCATIONS
• Artist Point
• California Grill
• Flying Fish Café
• Jiko – The Cooking Place
• Le Cellier Steakhouse
• The Hollywood Brown Derby
• Victoria & Albert’s – ($25 per person charge for cancellations within the time window)
• Yachtsman Steakhouse
The following restaurants will continue to require pre-payment for meals at the time of booking:
• Cinderella’s Royal Table
• Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
• Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
• Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
In order to make canceling your unnecessary reservations easier, Disney has set up a special number at 407-WDW-CNCL for easy, quick cancellations. You can also cancel your reservations at www.disneyworld.com/dining, or at any guest relations location, restaurant podium, or resort front desk.
Reservation Reminder Emails
To help you remember your reservations — and cancel them if necessary — Disney has begun sending reminder emails for every single dining reservation. This works most effectively when you book online as your email address is required in order to finalize the reservation.
Disallowing Double Bookings
To make double-booking less of a problem, Disney has also started disallowing guests on the same log-in username or resort reservation number to book dining reservations in the same general time slot.
For example, if you have a lunch reservation for 11:30am at Tusker House, you will not be allowed to make a reservation on the same day at 11:40am at another restaurant.
Yes, you can get around this by not logging in, or by booking the reservation under another name and email address, but Disney’s hoping that that extra step will deter many folks from double-booking the same time slots in order to give themselves more options during their vacation.
Click here for details on how to make Disney Dining Reservations.
Some Possible Answers Re: New Cancellation Policy
Update: Our friends at WDWforGrownups.com reached out to Disney Dining and received some answers to some FAQs:
I just got off of the phone with Jennifer at 407-WDW-DINE and was asking questions about the new cancellation policy. I was very happy to speak with her and she’s really put my mind at ease. I’m thrilled with her answers and she really made me feel like the policy is being put in place to help free up reservation slots, and not treat you like a criminal if something happens and you can’t make dinner.
(Editor’s Note: Disney has NOT released this information officially, so please double check these details when making your own reservations!)
Q #1: What is the amount of time needed to cancel a reservation? If my reservation is at Friday at 5PM, when do I need to cancel the reservation by in order to avoid the fee?
A: The reservation would need to be canceled on the day before. So, Thursday before the WDW-DINE phone lines close at 10PM.
Q #2: If your reservation is for four people, but only 3 show up to dinner, will you still be charged for the 4th person?
A: No. If the reservation is kept, even with fewer people, you will not be charged a cancellation fee. Obviously the preference is that you call ahead and let them know your party will be smaller, especially if it will effect the table size. (Editor’s Note: Some guests have had different experiences with this; double check when making your reservations if you’re unsure of your final party size.)
Q #3: Will all reservations be subject to the fee or will there be acceptable reasons to miss your reservation?
A: All cancellations will be dealt with on a case by case basis, and Disney will of course work with you to ensure the new policy is being applied with care and consideration.
Q #4: If I do need to call and cancel at the last minute due to extenuating circumstances will I call WDW-DINE?
A: You can call WDW-DINE to cancel, but there will also be an easy to remember cancellation phone number to take care of last minute problems and charges. The number is 407-WDW-CNCL.
Also, to answer a common question below, I do believe that if you already have a reservation made — or will make your reservation prior to the October 26th start date — your reservation will not be affected by the new policy. Once again, check when making your reservations.
Will this credit card guarantee requirement affect how you book your reservations? Let us know in the comments section below!
Source for new credit card guarantee restaurants: WDW Magic