That means planning WAY in advance and knowing where you want to eat several months before you even arrive! Because it is so complicated, we’ve all made mistakes in how we book dining, so we’re going to pass those on so you don’t make those mistakes, too!
Not Making Reservations Early
There’s a reason we recommend you make dining reservations as early as possible by either calling 714-781-DINE (3463) or booking them through the Disney World website or My Disney Experience app. That’s because a lot of table service restaurants fill up quickly, and if there’s somewhere you want to eat, you need to grab that reservation quickly.
The earliest you can make reservations is 60 days from the first day of your Disney World trip, so get up early on that morning and get ready to BOOK.
Making Too Many Table Service Reservations
So here’s the thing — spending time inside a table service restaurant can take up your valuable park time, so you need to realize that before you start booking restaurants. If you make too many reservations, you might spend more time inside restaurants than riding attractions or enjoying the parks!
So be sure you’re not over scheduling your meals — it’s not a good idea to book more than one table service meal a day. Trust us, we’ve learned this the hard way!
Not Checking Often Enough
If you don’t get those reservations at your 60-days and out point, don’t fret. Here’s the thing — people are ALWAYS canceling reservations, which will open them up for you, so you just have to keep checking Disney World’s website or the app to see when new reservations are available.
If you check often enough, you just might find an open spot for you and your party!
Not Checking For Reservations On Disney World’s Website
So we’ve found a weird thing when booking dining in Disney World. We’ve had situations where we’ve tried to look at the reservations page on the My Disney Experience app for a specific date and time and come up empty-handed. BUT when we go to a specific restaurant’s page on the app and search for reservations, we find them!
So keep that in mind if you’re looking for reservations — it’s probably a good rule of thumb to just check the restaurant’s page directly every time.
Not Checking the Walk-Up Waitlist
Still didn’t manage to get that coveted dining location you wanted? Well, guess what? You might just be able to walk into the restaurant on the day of by checking the Mobile Dine Walk-Up Waitlist. All you have to do is go to the restaurant’s page in the My Disney Experience app and you’ll see the Walk-Up Waitlist. If tables are available, you can join the waitlist and get notified when a table is ready for you!
You’ll have to be fast for those restaurants that use this, though — a lot of guests now know about this feature because it’s one of the best ways to get into a restaurant without an advance dining reservation.
Not Getting the DFB Dining Guide
Our best tip for not making mistakes with Disney dining is to buy our DFB Guide to Dining at Walt Disney World, which gets you immediate access to our downloadable worksheets for planning your trip, as well as sample one-day dining itineraries.
You’ll also get our restaurant reviews, so you know which restaurants to book, along with our best tips and recommendations! And as a DFB reader, you’re entitled to a discount! Use code WDW2022 for 25% off your purchase.
Not Trying New Dining Locations and Experiences
We get it — we all have our favorite restaurants at Disney World and we do return to those places over and over again. But a big mistake we’re all making is not giving new locations and experiences a shot. So take a look at all of those restaurants at Disney World, check out some reviews (again, you can see those in our dining guide), and pick out something NEW and different!
The thing about trying out different restaurants is that you just might find a new favorite spot!
Only Booking Dining in the Parks
Yes, it’s convenient to book dining in the parks when you know you’ll be there, but if you’re ONLY looking at restaurants in the parks, you might just be missing out. There are some INCREDIBLE restaurants at Disney World resorts AND at Disney Springs (and we recommend keeping a day open JUST for Disney Springs and/or to resort-hop).
If it’s inconvenient to book dining outside of the parks, think about this — if you’re in Magic Kingdom, places like Steakhouse 71, ‘Ohana, and the Grand Floridian Cafe are just a Monorail ride away. If you’re at EPCOT, you’re within walking distance of several resorts with great dining options. If you’re at Animal Kingdom, you could hop on a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge and check out the restaurants there.
Not Checking Menus and Reading Reviews
Don’t ever just blindly book a spot at Disney World, even if EVERYONE has told you to eat there. You want to look at menus first (especially if you have dietary concerns) and make sure there are things on there you actually want to eat. You can do this through the My Disney Experience app and on the Disney World website.
Also, read REVIEWS! You’ll find reviews for almost every single restaurant in Disney World here on DFB, so use our site as a resource!
Booking a Meal in EPCOT AND Eating Festival Foods
If you plan on attending one of EPCOT’s festivals and eating most of festival foods, do not — we repeat, DO NOT — book a table service meal. You will likely regret it. Here’s the thing — you can fill up on festival foods fast, and you will not want to add a heavy meal into the mix.
So if you’re eating your way around the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival (and trust us, there is a LOT of food available), we suggest skipping the table service dining on that day.
Not Checking Entertainment Times
If there’s a parade, fireworks, or any other entertainment that you want to see, be sure to check the showtimes because you do not want to book a meal and have to miss something you wanted to see. You can always check times on the My Disney Experience app, as well as on the Disney World website calendar.
Don’t miss out on something because you didn’t think to check in advance — you’ll just end up regretting it. Book your dining before or after!
Not Asking to Sit at the Bar
Many Disney World table service restaurants have a bar, and even if the restaurant is full, the bar may not be. So ask to sit at the bar — in most places, you’ll have access to at least part of the restaurant’s menu, if not the FULL menu.
Some locations do have a different bar menu, but you’re sure to find something you like on that, as well. Plus it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can order from the full menu: for example, if you’re sitting in the Space 220 Lounge, you can still order the prix fixe menu from the restaurant.
Not Knowing Where Restaurants Are Located
Here’s another tip: know where restaurants are when you’re booking them. You don’t want to book a meal at a restaurant in a park that you’re not going to be in. Nor do you want to book a restaurant at a resort that’s far away from where you plan on being on that given day.
So how do you figure out where everything is located? First, there is a map on the Disney World website to give you a good idea of the lay of the land, but you can also check Google Maps so you can look up distances between locations.
So there you have it, be sure to consider these mistakes before booking your dining reservations in Disney World. We have plenty of resources on our site to help you decide where to eat, and we post reviews, as well as menu updates, regularly. So be sure to check with us often! There’s a reason “Food” is in our name — we know Disney food!
Also, be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Disney World Food — we break down the difference between counter service and table service and give you all the info. you’ll need to make informed eating decisions!
Have you ever made a mistake in booking Disney dining? Let us know in the comments!