It’s happened to the best of us. Maybe you got stuck on a ride. Maybe a show ran for much longer than you thought it would. Maybe you were mistaken about what time it was.
No matter what happened, you look down at your watch and realize, oh no, you’re about to be late for your dining reservation. DON’T PANIC! There are some steps you can take to make it to your reservation and avoid that late fee. Check out our guide and tips below so you’re prepared when it happens to you.
Disney’s Dining Policy
Disney takes Advance Dining Reservations seriously. They’re often hard to snag, especially for the most popular restaurants, so Disney wants to make sure you don’t waste them. Diners who “no show” without contacting Disney are usually charged $10 per person, meaning a party of six could stack up. Others may charge much more – for example, missing a reservation at Victoria & Albert’s will cost you $75 per person.
Plan to Get There Early
Moving around Walt Disney World can sometimes take longer than you think, even if you’re just traveling across a Park or through your hotel. Always plan to arrive at the restaurant 15 minutes before the reservation time to allow your party to settle and check-in. Sometimes, there’s even a line for check-in, so don’t play it too close!
If You Know You Won’t Make It, Cancel or Modify It
You can modify or cancel a Dining Reservation in the My Disney Experience app. If you stopped at your hotel for a dip in the pool that took longer than expected and you’re cutting it a little close to your Liberty Tree Tavern reservation at the Magic Kingdom, you can try to modify it for a later dining time in the app, but there are no guarantees. As far as cancellations go, you can cancel most reservations without a fee if you cancel in a certain time frame – each restaurant has a different one so make sure you check, but 24 hours is usually a safe bet.
You Have a Grace Period!
If you realize you’re only going to be five minutes for your reservation, don’t sweat. Disney restaurants allow for a 15-minute grace period following your reservation time before your table may be given up. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show a little hustle to make it though! After that grace period, your table could be given to other diners.
Let the Restaurant Know
If you’re running behind, you can call Disney Dining at 407-WDW-Dine and follow the prompt for same-day dining. The Cast Members will try their best to accommodate you, and if the restaurant isn’t totally slammed and you’re not REALLY late, they’ll usually have no problem doing so. But there’s no guarantee! This also goes for lateness due to things like getting stuck on a ride or Disney transportation breaking down.
Those Pesky Virtual Queues
With the advent of virtual queues for attractions like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and TRON Lightcycle / Run, what happens if your boarding group is called during a dining reservation time? Always let the Cast Members know! Visit the Cast Members at the front of the attraction or the host at the restaurant (depending on which one you might be late for), and they will work to accommodate you and make sure you can have both experiences!