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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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111 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!!!

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