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News! Disney World To Add Cancellation Policy and Fee to All Table-Service Restaurant Reservations

Welp, the days of skipping your Disney dining reservations when you’re stuck in line for Soarin’ may be over!

Remember when Disney started requiring a credit card guarantee — and subsequently charged for no-shows — on signature and character meals back in 2011? We’re hearing that starting on October 31, 2013, that policy will apply to all Disney World table-service reservations.

What are the details of the cancellation policy?

If guests fail to cancel their reservations within one day of the reservation time and then don’t show up at the restaurant, they’ll be charged $10 per person on the credit card used to hold the reservation.

For dinner shows and some character meals, guests will continue to be required to pre-pay for the meal and will forfeit the entire cost should they not cancel within the required window and fail to show up for the event.

Guests planning to visit Cinderella's Royal Table could lose their entire payment should they fail to cancel

What does “within one day” mean?

Well, this is usually defined as a 24-hour window, but many guests have had luck with cancelling by 11:59pm the night before the reservation.

How do I cancel a reservation when I’m in Disney World?

Disney’s tried to make it easy to cancel reservations. You can use the My Disney Experience app on your mobile device (if you have already set up a username and password and your reservations are linked up to your account), use the Disney World website, call 407-WDW-CNCL, or head to guest relations in any park or resort. You can also theoretically cancel reservations at any restaurant podium, but we’ve had sketchy results with that in the past.

Luckily, Disney will send you a little reminder email for your reservation with enough advance notice that you’ll be able to cancel in time if needed.

Reservation Reminder Email

Why is Disney doing this?

Well, since Disney opens the booking window 180 days in advance — and many Disney restaurants are SO popular that you really do have to book 6 months ahead of time to get a reservation — guests often book multiple reservations during similar time slots since they (understandably) have no idea half a year ahead of time what they’ll want to eat when they’re in Disney World.

Once they arrive in Disney World and choose which reservations to keep, the others just get skipped. This means Disney’s holding tables that could go to other guests.

We have no idea if the policy is working to accomplish Disney’s goals of fewer no-shows or not, but we’d love to hear your thoughts.

What do you think of extended cancellation policy? Let us know in the comments below!

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115 Comments

  1. Sea Lion says:

    The amount of the cancellation fee was never disclosed to us on Disney’s website before, during or after booking our reservation at Epcot’s Tokyo restaurant. We only learned $10 from this blog.

  2. Love MV says:

    I made reservation at wolfgang puck cafe and showed up 5 min early. They told me to wait because it wasn’t 8pm yet, when there were dozens of empty tables. 3 days later, they charged me $30 for no show fee. Had to dispute the charges and call them. No one apologized and it was so annoying.

  3. camden says:

    Interesting idea… terrible application of process. We showed up for reservation, but still got charged a no show fee. What an inconvenience to penalize for a basic dining experience, the wait for and monitor a credit after taking time to complain. The reality is they have guests waiting to fill tables… nothing goes vacant anyway. I bet they are losing more money administering the program and introducing bad will among guest to chase this down, than to simply give up the table to the guests on the waiting list.

  4. Sonya says:

    LOVE this! We joined the DVC in 1992 and life was easy then to eat wherever we wanted. Within the past few years it has been a nightmare! We live in Florida and visit frequently and find it very difficult to tell family we can’t find a place to eat! Since this has been instituted we can eat and get reservations again!! I am so tired of people being so inconsiderate of others and not cancel reservations so others can eat. Kudos to Disney for realizing what a problem it was and finding a solution……..

  5. Denise says:

    Horrible guest service. Plans change. A fee was never disclosed during the reservation making or the email sent to me. I’ll show up for the reservation and order a water if that is the way they are going to treat guests who have spent thousands of dollars at their resort.

  6. A. K. says:

    Hey,

    I made three dining reservations with my credit card. . .but I had to dispose of my card because someone was using the number on my card. How do I change the credit card that is charged should I not cancel in time?

    Thanks.

  7. AJ says:

    A.K. — Contact 407-WDW-DINE and ask to change the card on the reservations. They should be able to take care of it — or forward you on to someone who can.

  8. Suzanna says:

    I don’t have a problem with Disney’s policy, but I wish they would be more lenient about the cancellations…like maybe four hours notice instead of twenty-four hours.

    I can understand Disney’s position in having people make simultaneous reservations at a half dozen restaurants, thus tying up the restaurants and preventing legitimate diners from making reservations.

  9. Bbsnchz says:

    How about allowing only one reservation per meal. Say I’ve already booked lunch for 4 at so and so restaurant, I then can no longer book another lunch reservation at another WDW restaurant for that same day unless I cancel my reservation at the first restaurant. That will at least lessen booking duplicity…

    Just a suggestion…

  10. Darcy says:

    They already tried that. If you try to make a reservation from within your account during the time frame that you have another, it will pop the other up and ask if you want to cancel. Trouble is – this only works for the non-shady folks who do their reservations thru just one email account / Disney account.

    As to them being lenient on cancellations – they are. When we were there last year and my daughter was sick, EVERYTHING was touch and go. We never knew what we were going to make it to or not. They were fine about cancelling, even within an hour, for legitimate reasons. :)

  11. Lola says:

    I think these fees are ridiculous since Disney is a billion dollar company that easily has other patrons wanting to walk in and have a meal. I wish they would get rid of these if not the no show policy should be cancellation 3-4 hours before dining hour … UGH its annoying because you don’t know what might happen the following day if an emergency will come up!!!

  12. ARCNurse says:

    This policy, like many of the others at Disney, squashs any spontaneity at the DW Parks. I remember when people started doing the double booking of restaurants in order to get a spot somewhere to eat. It was started because people could no longer get walk up seating at many of the table service restaurants because of the ADR’s. Many of the restaurants use to only allow so many ADR’s and saved the rest for walk ups. Now, most of the table service restaurants allow ADR’s to fill all the tables/seats thus making it impossible for walk ups, and like I mentioned before, any spontaneity at the Parks when it comes to table service dining. So it was Disneys own fault that double booking happened at all. Maybe Disney World should go back to only allowing 60% of the table service restaurants tables to be ADR’s and the rest walk up. Then they wouldn’t have to have this cancellation fee policy because most wouldn’t find the need to double book restaurants. Although I have a feeling Disney is enjoying this new policy for its revenue potential.

  13. Snafooo says:

    Being a Premium Annual Passholder for Disneyland, I’ve booked many reservations at Disneyland and have never been charged a no-show fee when we showed up for the reservation. Now we are going to Disney World in December and have already booked all of our reservations. From what I’m reading, however, there’s still a chance that we will be charged the no-show fee even though we show up for the reservation? That’s annoying.
    I also have had the annoying experience of arriving at the restaurant 5-10 minutes early and being made to wait for the EXACT time of the reservation before being seated, even though you can see open tables. I’ve also been seated 15 minutes later than my reservation because the restaurant was packed. What’s up with that?
    I need to comment about the 6 month advance dining reservations (ADR)… Since this is going to be my first time at Walt Disney World, I was AMAZED that we were told to book our reservations as soon as we were able to. Now I am really glad that we were told to do so and that we have reservations as most of the restaurants are booked solid for the last two weeks of the year. At first I thought that all of the spontaneity would be gone from our trip. It now turns out that planning that far in advance is a very good thing because it makes us do research about the park and we are very knowledgeable about Disney World now.

  14. Shannin says:

    I do agree that the fee is a bit high. $10 per person when you have a party of 3 is $30. $10 per RESERVATION is much more reasonable.

    Disney is full of kids…. things happen….
    We did have to cancel dinner reservations this past weekend as my son was not feeling well. I wish I new he would have been sick 24 hours prior but I didn’t and it was out of my control. We did cancel about 3 hours prior to our reservation so that they could have given the table to someone else. I thought we were being thoughtful in calling to cancel so they could give the table to someone else. Maybe next time we will just not show up as it doesn’t seem to really matter.

    Definitely won’t be making advance dining reservations with Disney again. To much can happen with kids and I don’t have money to just toss away.

  15. Greek says:

    I hear all the complaints about the $10 fees but my family is thrilled. We have been DVC members since 1992 and yes we sure have seen changes. Some good, many not so good. But personally my family is sick and tired of inconsiderate people thinking only of themselves and booking multiple reservations. We have no problems getting reservations now. The only problem is we have to be responsible. Imagine that……

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