6 Hacks To Land Those Hard To Get Dining Reservations

in Disneyland Resort, Food, Walt Disney World

Disney Character Dining

Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts have fabulous dining opportunities, from the quick-service counters offering fast and hot food to the table service establishments with character dining, signature cuisine, and more. But oftentimes, Disney Guests are frustrated when trying to reserve an advance Dining Reservation because some of them are very hard to grab!

Some Disney Dining Reservations can be tricky to book because of small restaurant sizes, limited service, or high interest. Navigating the system without knowing the tricks and tips to score those hard-to-get dining reservations doesn’t have to be difficult. Check out our top six hacks to land those hard-to-get dining reservations.

spice road dining reservation package epcot
Credit: Disney

Don’t Search for “Lunch” for Dining Reservations

You might easily choose “lunch” or “dinner” in the time slot while looking for a Disney Dining Reservation, but Disney fans have found that it doesn’t work as well as choosing a solid time to dine. If you’re looking for lunch at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant, choose something like “12:30.” The app will automatically look on either side of your desired time slot, and for some reason or another, this may bring up more options. If nothing still pops up, toggle between a few options for an increased chance of landing that hard-to-get dining reservation.

disney dining reservation app screen
Credit: ITM Screenshot My Disney Experience App

Check 24 Hours Before Your Desired Dining Time

Disney World and Disneyland have a rule regarding canceling dining reservations. If you cancel less than 24 hours before your dining time, you will be charged $10 a person. This can also be said of no-shows at the restaurant itself. Disney’s website reminds us,

Restaurants offering advance reservations charge a per-person cancellation fee for reservations cancelled after the designated cancellation period, or for no shows. Each restaurant at Walt Disney World® Resort maintains its own cancellation policy, so be sure to confirm the policy before finalizing your reservation. For additional assistance, please call (407) 824-1391.

To avoid these fees, Disney Guests will “hoard” and book multiple reservations, not knowing which one they will use (reservations within 2 hours of each other.), and dump the extras at the 24-hour mark.  This results in a good amount of previously-not available time slots opening up. Opening up MDX (My Disney Experience) 24 hours before your preferred dining time is one of the best ways to grab that hard-to-get dining reservation.

While you can always walk up to the host stand to see if walk-up seating is available, those openings typically come from those “dumped” reservations.

storybook dining
Credit: Disney

Split Up Your Party

If you have more than 6 people in your party, you might not see much availability in the My Disney Experience app. You have the choice either to call the Disney Dining hotline at (407) 939-3463, or split up your party into a few different sized tables. Because MDX may not let you have two reservations close together, asking another member of your party to book can be helpful.

If that seems like too much trouble, the dining hotline will be able to help you further. Of course, if choosing a hard-to-book location like the already small Cinderella’s Royal Table , it’s an additional hurdle you must jump. Once successful with your bookings, visit the restaurant. When checking in at the hostess stand, you can say these reservations are together and see if they can seat you in one area.

family dining at be our guest
Credit: Disney

Call The (Disney Springs) Restaurant

Did you know a selection of restaurants at Disney Springs is not owned or operated by Disney? While you can easily purchase your meal using a Disney Gift Card or by scanning your MagicBand, locations like the T-Rex Cafe are owned by Landry’s. You can pull up the restaurant’s website instead of the Disney Dining site and contact them directly by phone for a reservation, which means you have a better chance at getting a restaurant reservation! OpenTable can sometimes offer these popular restaurants, too.

T-Rex Cafe
Credit: Disney

Those holding a Landry’s membership card are also able to get preferred seating, even while on a Disney vacation. Accepted at over 600 Landry’s Inc. locations nationwide, the Landry’s Select Club card comes loaded with a $25 Welcome Reward available for your next visit, and entitles you to (based on availability) priority seating for any day of the week for parties of six or less. You will also earn points for each $1 you spend. After presenting your membership card to your server (don’t forget), you’ll earn “1 point for every $1 spent on eligible food, beverage, retail, and online & in-store gift card purchases at any participating location.”

The catch is that the card also costs $25, but with the $25 voucher, it evens out. If getting to Rainforest Cafe, T-Rex Cafe, or Animal Kingdom Park’s Yak & Yeti is important to you, this membership is something to think about!

Sign Up For Third Party Alerts for Dining Reservations

Several third-party services like Mouse Dining or Mouse Watcher can help you find Disney dining reservations. But you can’t lean on them entirely. Most of these services offer email alerts, but if you’re not on top of your inbox, you can miss out on those valuable minutes making the difference in snagging a Disney dining reservation.

If you sign up for optional texting services, that can cover some of that time gap, getting your attention more quickly and helping you score that reservation. But if other Disney Guests are also being texted… your chances for scoring are lessened. Bottom line, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of signing up for free alerts or paying for costly texts.

mouse dining alert disney reservations
Credit: Mousedining.com

Opt for Alternative Spaces

New and popular restaurants like Space 220 have been top of the lists of must-dine places at Walt Disney World Resort. But many vacationers don’t realize that the Space 220 lounge is also a part of this restaurant. While it has a different reservation page, they are both located in the same building with similar menus ( Space 220 Restaurant is prix fixe, while the lounge is à la carte apps). These two spaces can give you nearly the same experience while using a different reservation method.

space 220 purple drink at the lounge my disney experience
Credit: Walt Disney World

Likewise, EPCOT’s Italy pavilion is home to the Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar , a table service eatery. While reservations aren’t taken for this location, Disney Guests can grab a bar table or seat first come, first served. Full plates of pasta, antipasti selections, and “dolci” sweet selections can be made here, leaving you a great location for a dinner! They are typically open from 12:30-9 p.m.

tutto gusto wine cellar disney italy EPCOT
Credit: Disney

And lastly… if you use a travel agent, don’t forget that they can assist you with making dining reservations. While it’s not a sure thing, these experts can help navigate the system and prioritize your most-wanted dining locations.

Have you ever used these tricks to snag a coveted Disney Dining Reservation? If you don’t succeed, try, try again and let us know in the comments below which reservation is your favorite to make!

in Disneyland Resort, Food, Walt Disney World

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