If you’re planning a trip to Disney World, there are several different types of reservations that you’ll need to make!
You’ll need to make reservations for your hotel and your dining, as well as Disney Park Pass reservations for each day that you plan to visit the parks. Plus, you’ll want to book experiences like Savi’s Workshop and Droid Depot in advance. Your vacation relies heavily on these reservations, but it’s still completely possible to have a great time without them. Either way, there’s no need to stress, because today we’re sharing our top tips for how to snag those hard-to-get reservations!
Before we dive in, keep in mind that the best way to make sure you book the experiences you want is to grab those reservations RIGHT when they become available. For most things, including dining, you can make your selections 60 days out (plus the length of your stay for Disney hotel guests [up to 10 days].) Hotel reservations and Disney Park Pass reservations don’t currently have a set release schedule, so just book these when they come available or as soon as you know your plans. Typically, you can book these anywhere around a year or even more out.
Now, not all reservations are created equal. We visit the parks ev-er-y day and know which Park Passes are tougher to snag, which restaurants book up quickest, and more.
Examples of Hard-to-Get Reservations
- Savi’s Workshop — the lightsaber building experience at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This is very limited capacity and quite popular.
- Disney Park Passes for Hollywood Studios — as one of the smaller parks with lots of new things to experience, this one fills up quickly — especially during holidays and weekends.
- Be Our Guest Restaurant at Magic Kingdom — Beauty and the Beast-themed dining location where guests eat inside the Beast’s castle just like in the animated film.
- Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom — the well-known restaurant INSIDE of Cinderella Castle.
- Le Cellier at EPCOT — a signature dining steakhouse in the Canada Pavilion.
- California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort — a resort restaurant with great views overlooking Magic Kingdom and (when they are happening) the nightly fireworks. This is a popular choice for date night.
- Oga’s Cantina at Disney’s Hollywood Studios — the incredibly popular Star Wars bar in Galaxy’s Edge. Unlike other Disney World bars, you can typically ONLY get in with a reservation.
There are other popular yet currently unavailable locations like ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort or Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at various locations that typically are hard to score as well. When these are available again, keep them on your radar!
AND NOW, FOR OUR TOP 3 TIPS!
1. Don’t Give Up — You May Be Able to Find a Reservation at the Last Minute
If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again. Just because you missed your dream reservation at that 60-day window doesn’t mean that you won’t find it at all. We encourage you to keep checking on Disney World’s website or the My Disney Experience app until the very last minute!
Many Disney restaurants have a cancellation fee if reservations are dropped less than 24 hours ahead of time, so we often see several cancellations the day before! If you’re looking for a specific restaurant, try walking up to the podium the day-of as well. Sometimes there are spots still available, and sometimes you can get on the walk-up waitlist, which is kind of like a virtual queue. Some folks don’t mind (or don’t know about) the cancellation fee so you can find reservations open up VERY close to the time they were for at times as well. Just. Keep. Checking.
If you’re looking for a specific Disney Park Pass reservation, many people change their plans last-minute, so keep looking, even on the morning of your visit. You can swap those park passes out up until the moment you actually scan into the park!
Even days the Park Passes have been completely booked up, we’ve seen some availability appear the night before or morning of our planned visit!
2. Search for Dining by the Hour, Not by the Meal
When it comes to making dining reservations, online or in the app, you’ll be given two choices: search by the hour or search by the meal (breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner). The time windows typically display in 30-minute increments, and we’ve often seen reservations pop up when we search by the time that weren’t there when we looked specifically for a meal.
Using the 30-minute times, you may also be able to find a reservation for your desired restaurant at a time that’s not a normal mealtime. If you’re willing to be flexible and eat at 3:30PM, this might work out in your favor.
Beyond off-times, seriously we’ve sometimes just had a reservation show up searching a real time that just…doesn’t under the meal. It might be at a time smack dab in the middle of the meal window. Weird, but it works.
3. Use Those FastPass Refreshing Techniques
Remember back when FastPass was a thing and we’d tell you to constantly refresh the app? Well, that applies to reservations as well! You can use that same strategy for dining, Disney Park Pass, and some experiences (especially at the last minute) to see if anything becomes available.
We recommend keeping the Disney World website open on your device and just refreshing the screen every time you think about it while you go about your day. You may be surprised what you find at the most random times! You can also open the My Disney Experience app on your phone and refresh by toggling back and forth between screens.
Kepp in mind for this and the other tips — the smaller your party, the greater your chance of success. You might find a last-minute dropped ressie for one at Oga’s Cantina after enough refreshing…but a reservation for seven might be harder to find.
Other Tips That May Help
- Some of our team have had good luck getting the reservations they want by looking in the middle of the night. A lot fewer people are searching and snatching them up then!
- If you can’t get the Disney Park Pass you want, try making your party smaller and booking those individually or in pairs. Since those don’t have specific times like dining reservations do, you could all be separately booked for the same park and be fine. This works for restaurants too. you might not be guaranteed to sit together but, especially if your party is particularly large, break them up into smaller groups for better success.
- Do your very best to hit that 60-day window if you can. It’ll save you a lot of stress further down the line. Make sure to plan out your must-haves ahead of time so that you go in with a plan!
Those are our best tips for those tricky reservations, so take what you’ve learned here and be successful! Let us know if you try any of these tips and they work for you, we love to hear from our readers. In the meantime, stay tuned to DFB for more vacation planning advice!
Have you ever scored a dream reservation last-minute? Tell us in the comments!