You can start making your dining reservations 180 days before your vacation. (Visit http://pscalculator.net/pscalc.php to determine when your 180 day mark is!) If you are staying on Disney Property in a Disney owned and operated resort (this does not include the Swan/ Dolphin, Shades of Green and Downtown Disney Resorts) you can book your dining for your entire vacation (up to 10 days past the 180 day mark)! That's another perk to staying on property! If you are staying at a non Disney owned resort, you will need to call each morning, 180 days out, to make your reservations.
Prior to making your reservations, you need to do your homework! Visit the WDW web site and educate yourself on the restaurant options and the menus. You can buy guide books that are only about Disney Dining and there are downloadable books to help you as well. There are also many blogs and web sites that can help you with this. A few of my favorites are:
Restaurants You Really Must Book in Advance
If you want to attend the Cinderella's Royal Table Character Breakfast, it is critical to call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463) at 7:00 am ET, 180 days in advance. It sells out within minutes each day when reservations open. (Lunch and dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table sell out quickly, too.) Full prepayment in advance is required for Cinderella's Royal Table.
The Chef's Table at Victoria and Albert's in the Grand Floridian Resort also sells out every morning, exactly 180 days in advance. There is only one Chef's Table seating each night and it is not available Wednesdays and Fridays.
Reservations are required for these locations -- you will never get a walk-up table:
- California Grill in the Contemporary Resort
- Victoria and Albert's in the Grand Floridian Resort
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Mickey's Backyard BBQ dinner shows at Ft. Wilderness (both require full prepayment in advance)
- Spirit of Aloha Luau dinner show at the Polynesian Resort (requires full prepayment in advance)
Reservations are virtually required for these very popular locations -- chances of getting a walk-up are almost nil:
- Le Cellier in Epcot's Canada
- Coral Reef in Epcot Future World/The Seas
- Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom
Other locations that are sold out in advance more often than not:
- Princess Storybook meals at Epcot's Norway
- Garden Grill in Epcot
- Tusker House character breakfast in Animal Kingdom
- 50s Prime Time Cafe in Disney's Hollywood Studios
- Liberty Tree Tavern dinner in Magic Kingdom
- Boma in Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Cape May Cafe in Beach Club Resort
- Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary Resort
- 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian Resort
- 'Ohana in the Polynesian Resort
- Whispering Canyon dinner in Wilderness Lodge
Once you have familiarized yourself with your options and have made your first and second choices (just in case!) you need to look at the park times, Extra Magic Hours and your travel schedule to decide which day you want to eat at which restaurants. (WDW park hours and touringplans can help with this.) If you are planning on visiting Epcot all day on your second day, don't make reservations at a Hollywood Studios restaurant!
Exactly 180 days from the day you check in, be ready to book your preferred dining locations online at 6:00 am ET. Booking online gives you a one hour jump over calling for reservations!!