Advanced Dining Reservations – Tips For Creating A Disney Dining Strategy

When summer vacations start to hit their 180 day marks, the early-birds come out ready to snap up the best Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) in the Kingdom. I know that it sounds a bit extreme to worry about where you are going to eat six months in advance, however during the crowded summer months popular dining establishments book up fast, and if you haven't made ADRs your meal options may become limited to the quick-service restaurants. In fact, it's not unheard of for some specialty dining experiences (like Cinderella's Royal Table, and Be Our Guest at the Magic Kingdom) to book full in the first few minutes reservations are accepted. When people ask me for Disney Vacation tips, one of the first things out of my mouth is usually to be sure and make Advanced Dining Reservations.


Tips For Creating A Disney Dining StrategyTips For Creating A Disney Dining Strategy


So, you may be asking - what's the best strategy for meal planning? Where do you start? And - how are you possibly supposed to know where you are going to want to eat when there are hundreds of restaurant choices available?

Here Are Six Great Tips:

  1. If you don't plan on having park-hopper tickets, start by figuring out which day of your vacation you will be in which park. This will shrink down your list of options to the restaurants in your Park of the day, and the closest surrounding hotels. My Park Picks: Liberty Tree Tavern at Magic Kingdom, Via Napoli at Epcot, Tusker House at Animal Kingdom, and Prime Time Cafe at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

  2. Breakfast, they say it's the most important meal of the day, but theme park commandos often skip over and grab a bagel and some coffee while rushing towards their favorite rides. This is one of my favorite times to do a little resort hopping, because Disney Deluxe hotels have some of my very favorite restaurants on property. My picks: Whispering Canyon Cafe on a Magick Kingdom day, or Cape May Cafe when I'm heading to Epcot.

  3. Lunchtime Pricing, for Guests not on the Disney Dining Plan, booking a table service meal during lunch can sometimes offer the same great food at a smaller price than dinner service. My picks: Yak & Yeti at Animal Kingdom, and Be Our Guest at the Magic Kingdom.


  4. The ballroom decorated for ChristmasThe Be Our Guest ballroom decorated for Christmas

  5. Be flexible in the time you are willing to sit down to eat. The most popular central times will certainly book first. 12:00pm to 2:00pm for lunches, and 6:00pm to 8:00pm for dinner. Picking a seating that is earlier or later than the mid-meal rush will broaden your options. My early seating picks: La Hacienda San Angel, and Rose & Crown Pub for the beautiful lagoon views.

  6. If you have the park-hopper option on your tickets, location doesn't need to be as much of a limiting factor. I do however find it easiest to start my dining plans with deciding which Park I'll be in. When I want to see a particular set of fireworks or evening shows, making dinner reservations in the same location can cut down time I spend on Disney transportation simply getting from point A to point B. My fireworks picks: California Grill at the Contemporary Resort for a stunning view of Wishes, and Tokyo Dining during IllumiNations at Epcot.

  7. Guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels get a special perk by being able to book their ADRs 180+10 days. That means that they can book up to 190 days in advance of their resort arrival date. My pick: Use this +10 to snag a reservation at the hardest to get restaurants like Cinderella's Royal Table.



California Grill LoungeCalifornia Grill Lounge


Now that you have some tips to keep in mind - check out these online resources to help you chose which restaurants are right for you.

Disney Food Blog - This fan run website offers news and reviews for everything that has to do with Disney Food. It's a Disney veterans go to guide for what's new, what's next, and what can be missed. Every restaurant on Disney Property has a page at the Disney Food Blog that gives you an overview, menus, and guest reviews of the food. Be warned though - the photography there has been known to cause snack attacks.

All Ears Menu Index - Another fabulous fan site, All Ears is my go-to place for finding restaurant times, menu prices, user ratings, and more all on easy to navigate menu pages. All Ears even lays out the details for package meals, tipping, seasonal considerations, and refurbishments.


Blue Glowtini and Bread Service at the Sanaa LoungeBlue Glowtini and Bread Service at the Sanaa Lounge


And finally - it's time to book!

Guests can make Advanced Dining Reservations using the MyDisneyExperience App or Website. For instructions on how to make your ADRs online, check out our previous tutorial on Making Advance Dining Reservations At Walt Disney World.

There are of course other ways that you can make dining reservations at Walt Disney World. If you are using a travel agent, they can usually take care of your ADRs for you, DVC Members are able to book through the Member Services number, and all Guests are able to book by calling Disney Dining Directly at 407-WDW-DINE.


Making Walt Disney World Advance Dining ReservationsMaking Walt Disney World Advance Dining Reservations
Disney Advance Dining ReservationsDisney Advance Dining Reservations


Do you pre-plan your meals and make reservations 180 days out? Do you prefer to be spontaneous and eat wherever you can get in at the last minute? Leave a comment below and share your best strategy tips for fantastic Disney Dining.

BarbaraB wrote on Thu, 01/07/2016 - 15:26:

BarbaraB's picture

Breakfast (if we even bother) is usually at whichever resort we're staying at. Lunch is quick serve at whichever park we're at that day. But dinner...aaahhh...dinner. Dinner is ALWAYS Signature Dining. So ADRs at 180 days is a must.

Katina wrote on Thu, 04/15/2021 - 09:23:

Katina's picture

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