When people plan their vacation to Walt Disney World, there are so many decisions to make. Guests have to decide where to stay, how many days to spend in the parks, which parks to visit, which FastPasses they want, and my favorite decision – where to eat. Disney allows guests to make dining reservations 180 days before their vacation. While there are a lot of out of this world choices for dining, there are some restaurants that are very popular, and they can be locations where it is hard to get the Advanced Dining Reservations (also called ADRs.)
Photo from Walt Disney World
There are some guests that love to have their ADRs all planned out and put into their itinerary and then there are some guests that feel that is too structured.
Let’s take a look at why booking in advance can make your vacation life easier.
The Benefits of Booking Advanced Dining Reservations
• Booking your dining in advance ensures that your family is able to eat at that restaurant or enjoy the character experience that they really want.
• Disney World can get really busy! With more popular dining reservation, it is literally, “you snooze you lose.”
• If there is a certain character interaction that you feel you or your family really wants, then book character dining! This helps save FastPasses instead of using them for character meet and greets and saves precious park time. Time equal money on vacation.
• There are so many dining options between the resorts and all four theme parks that allow you to try different types of food, different ethnic options, and possibly meals that you can’t get close to home. Having a dining reservation helps your family try as many options as they desire.
• Being able to plan your vacation and having a daily itinerary is helpful when trying to take on a pre-planning may be required vacation such as Walt Disney World. I personally love this and like being able to try different restaurants each vacation. Making ADRs helps plan your daily activities and select which park your family wants to visit each day.
• Make your ADRs as soon as you are able! If you decide later that you really don’t want that pre park opening breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant, then trust me some other family will gladly take it off your hands. On the other hand, if you decide 20 days before your magical vacation you decide that it wouldn’t be complete without that Be Our Guest Restaurant reservation, well too bad, it will be very hard if not impossible to get.
Do you want help deciding on ADRs then click here.
Photo from Walt Disney World
The Top Five Restaurants That Require Advanced Dining Reservations
5. Reservations During Nighttime Shows
A lot of guests like to plan their evening dining reservations around the theme park nighttime shows or fireworks. For example, guests like to grab an ADR for California Grill so they can watch the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks show, “Wishes,” from the restaurant. This restaurant dims the lights and plays the music from the fireworks. Guests can enjoy the show from the restaurant, the California Grill Lounge or the outside observation deck. If you have a reservation before or after the fireworks you are allowed to watch from the deck or the lounge with a receipt from your meal.
There are plenty of restaurants located in the monorail resorts that are popular for this reason. Also, Hollywood Studios offers packages that include VIP seating for their nighttime shows with dining reservations at certain restaurants in the park. These are also very popular. Walt Disney World will also offer special dining packages that include special seating at seasonal events throughout the year. If your family wants to ensure they have a special seat for one of the theme parks’ nighttime shows than you will want to be sure to get an advanced dining reservation.
4. Breakfast Before the Park Opens
A lot of guests want that early morning before the park even opens dining reservation. Being able to be in the theme parks before the park opens is magical. Guests can take pictures with an almost empty park. Imagine being able to take a picture of your little princess on Main Street USA in front of Cinderella’s castle with almost no one else in it. That is what an early morning breakfast reservation will get you. Also, do you want to be one of the first guests in line for an attraction when the park opens? Then being in the park before rope drop will help you with that.
3. Chef Mickey and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
This is a tie. While it is harder to secure a reservation at Chef Mickeys, there are other character meals where you can meet Mickey Mouse and his friends. However, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is one of two options to meet Disney princesses.
Chef Mickeys: Enjoy a fun filled buffet with Disney friends in the Contemporary (Yes, the resort that has the monorail that drives through it! So fun!) Resort. Chef Mickey serves breakfast, brunch and dinner and guests can meet Disney Characters such as: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, and Goofy.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall: This character meal is in the Norway pavilion in Epcot. Guests dine in a medieval castle while meeting Disney Princesses such as: Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Princess Aurora, Ariel, and Mary Poppins. This restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is American fare and served family-style while lunch and dinner is Norwegian inspired fare.
2. Cinderella’s Royal Table
Meet Cinderella as you dine in her royal castle. This storybook setting over looks Fantasyland. Guests will be able to meet classic Disney Princesses for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Tiaras and glittering gowns are options, although young guests are encouraged to dress up for the occasion.
Photo from Walt Disney World
1. Be Our Guest
Be Our Guest Restaurant is based on the beloved Disney Classic, Beauty and the Beast and serves French inspired fare with three themed rooms – The Grand Ballroom, The West Wing and The Castle Gallery. All three rooms have the same menu and serve quick service dining for lunch and now breakfast. For dinner, there is table service dining. This is such a popular restaurant and dining experience that Disney now allows reservations for breakfast and lunch even though these are quick service options.
Honorable Mentions: I have to add all character meals to this list. Crystal Palace, Cape May Cafe, Tusker House, 1900 Park Fare, Hollywood and Vine, ‘Ohanas, and Garden Grill are not as difficult to secure a reservation, but they are popular. If you or your children have their heart set on meeting a certain character then character meals are one of the best ways to ensure it. If you think you might want to do a character meal then book a dining reservation for it.
Want help making your ADRs? click here.
A trip to Walt Disney World means almost everything needs to be planned ahead of time. There is so much to decide even before you travel that it can be overwhelming. Some guests feel that Disney has taken all of the spontaneity out of the vacation. For those guests, they don’t like making ADRs and don’t want to waste precious park time sitting down to eat. That is totally fine! There is no wrong way to enjoy Walt Disney World.
Remember if you do want to try table service restaurants then make your ADRs on your 180 day mark or as soon as you book your vacation (if it’s after your 180 day mark). If you don’t get that pre park opening breakfast at first, then keep trying. If not, then you have another restaurant to try during your next Walt Disney World vacation.
Elizabeth fell in love with Disney World as a little girl and has continued to visit again and again. She has been to Disney as a little girl, in her 20’s with friends, pregnant, with a preschooler, and with a child who has severe food allergies. Elizabeth is an agent with Destinations in Florida, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. She is ready to help you plan a magical Disney vacation, all at no cost to you!
Elizabeth loves planning and researching any adventure! She will work with you and your family to ensure that your vacation is everything you dreamed of and more! You can reach Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 317-753-5959. You can fill out a quote request form here.
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