One complaint that I’ve heard over and over since Walt Disney World reopened last year is that it is next to impossible to get dining reservations! I agree, it isn’t easy right now, but it’s not impossible. Here are a few reasons why it’s even harder than normal, and a couple of suggestions on how to get reservations.
There is a staffing shortage across the country right now, and that includes at Walt Disney World. There are still restaurants that aren’t open, simply because Disney doesn’t have enough people to reopen them. Since not everything is open, there aren’t as many full service restaurants to choose from. With fewer choices, the spots will fill up quickly.
Another issue is that Disney is still limiting capacity in the restaurants. It’s nice to have extra room while dining, but that makes those spots coveted. I don’t know what current capacity for restaurants is but the last time I went to a full service restaurant things were still spread out.
Remember as well that even though the booking window is 60 days, if you’re staying at a Disney Resort you can book dining reservations for your entire stay at that time. That means that some of the most popular reservations will be gone before the window opens for the rest of us.
What can you do if the reservation you want isn’t available? You have a couple of options. First, be patient, and keep checking. I’ve had a lot of success getting reservations at popular restaurants a week or so out. As people realize that they will have to cancel their trips, they’ll drop their dining reservations. I know that there are services that will let you know when a reservation opens up, but I have never used one of those. I just check throughout the day when I think about it.
The day before is often a good day to grab a reservation that you didn’t think possible. Disney sends out emails to remind people of their reservations. Since those spots are secured with a credit card people know that it’s their last chance to cancel without being charged if they don’t show up. Be more persistent the day before so that you can get one of those reservations.
Flexibility is important as well. I will always search by the meal instead of a specific time. If the time isn’t the greatest I will still grab the reservation. I’ll then continue to try, but for a time that is closer to what I wanted. If that opens up I’ll make the new reservation and then cancel the first one. If no new times are available at least I was able to dine at the restaurant that I wanted!
If it’s the day of and you still didn’t get the reservation for a must-do you have two options. The first is that you can try to get on the Wait List. You can do this on the My Disney Experience App. Try as early as you can! I have had no success with Wait Lists, although supposedly it’s been improved with the rollout of Disney Genie.
Your other choice is to dine in the lounge if there is one available. A great example of this is Space 220 Restaurant. It’s next to impossible to get a reservation for the restaurant, but the lounge is a different story. I’ve heard of people being seated within 30 minutes! Lounges often offer the full restaurant menu, so make sure you ask if you don’t want just appetizers.
Of course, not getting a reservation gives you the opportunity to try something new. Each Walt Disney World restaurant is special, you just might find a new favorite!