In this video I discuss the most popular Disney dining destinations with good alternatives if you can’t get a reservation. I also discuss some tips and tricks to getting those hard to get ADRs.
Be Our Guest
Be Our Guest Restaurant has been the hardest reservation to get since it opened with New Fantasyland back in 2012. Unlike other new restaurants at Walt Disney World the newness never wore off and this continues to be the hardest ADR to snag. Even though this restaurant is a Quick Service location for breakfast and lunch and a Table Service for dinner a reservation is required for all meals. The food is among the best on property with a French inspired menu and wine list, extremely fresh produce and just good food. The atmosphere is incredibly immersive. At dinner you are able to meet the best.
Alternative: Unfortunately there are no equal alternatives to Be Our Guest. If you are looking for great food check out the Diamond Horseshoe for a fun, entertaining atmosphere the Skipper Canteen is a great option.
Cinderella’s Royal Table
Located inside Cinderella’s Castle, Cinderella’s Royal Table is truly an experience. Added to it’s sought after location is the opportunity to meet some of your favorite princesses. The pricetag on this is astronomical. Unlike most character dining which is usually a buffet, CRT offers a pre fix menu. Do not expect amazing. The food is good but not what you would expect for the price. Breakfast is much better than lunch or dinner. Because the restaurant is so small and the reservations extremely popular they tend to rush you. If you are looking for great character interactions, you are better off looking elsewhere.
Alternatives: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall provides a much better all around experience. You will find reservations at 1900 Park Faire (Cinderella hosts a dinner with her family) and Bon Voyage! (Ariel, Eric, Flynn & Rapunzel)
Chef Mickey’s is one of the most difficult reservations to get on property, and the reason is that at this buffet restaurant you can meet Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and the elusive Mickey Mouse! The food is good (and getting better), and the location is easy for a quick break from the parks. The restaurant is loud and fun! Buffet is pretty basic but the sundae bar is one of a kind!
Alternatives: There are quite a few alternatives to Chef Mickey’s but you may not be able to meet all 5 of your favorites. Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom has one of the best buffets on property and you can meet Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Minnie in their safari best. At Cape May Cafe you won’t find anything special in terms of food and you will only find Donald, Goofy and Minnie but is an alternative nonetheless.
Ohana is hands down my favorite restaurant on property. Not only will you have all you care to enjoy of some of the best food on property there is a celebration of Polynesian culture here that makes your meal all the more enjoyable. Breakfast is pretty standard but features Lilo, Stitch and Mickey. Dinner has some fun and games for the kids including a wandering ukelele player. The food is served “churrascaria” or skewer style with servers wandering around with the most delectable meats, sliding as much of the meat, prepared in the rooms central fire pit, as you can eat. Make sure you save room for the banana bread pudding!
Alternatives: Kona Cafe is right next door and has the same high quality food. This is definitely a hidden gem on property so you can usually get last minute reservations. Their breakfast is incredible. If you are staying at the Polynesian you can get the Ohana meal as room service!
Rose and Crown
The Rose and Crown isn’t anything particularly compelling in terms of food. This is hard to get in the hours leading up to fireworks as they have a great patio. Just note you can request outdoor or window side seating but this is not guaranteed. It is a cozy little pub and does offer a hearty menu of your British favorites, including cottage pie, fish and chips. The food and service are both great and it is reasonably priced so if you aren’t trying to get those coveting fireworks spots it is still worth a stop especially to get the pints you can’t get anywhere else in America.
Alternatives: If you are looking for fireworks the newly opened La Hacienda del San Angel offers both indoor and outdoor seating. Specializing in fresh, Mexican cuisine, the goal of the menu is not to reproduce heavy Tex-Mex, but to offer authentic Mexican flavors straight from the market, including skillets, tacos, fresh corn tortillas, and a variety of margaritas. Another alternative is Spice Road Table, another hidden gem. Offering Meditteranean style tapas, this restaurant in Morocco offers incredible fireworks viewing, an amazing wine list and great small plates of favorites like hummus and lamb sliders, perfect for ending a day of snacking around EPCOT.
Le Cellier Steakhouse
Le Cellier was once the hardest to get reservation at Walt Disney World, while it has become easier to get with the rise in popularity of some other locations the dining room is very small still making reservations rare. The food and service are both consistently good. The atmosphere is cool with the theming evoking dining in a castle wine cellar. Steaks as always delicious, appetizers hearty and desserts good.
Alternatives: There are plenty of places to get a good steak on property. Chefs de France in the nearby France Pavilion offers a great steak for a much better value than Le Cellier (only one TS credit on the dining plan.) The Yachtsman Steakhouse (Yacht Club) and Narcoosee’s (Grand Floridian) offer great high end dining for a romantic night out. The Boathouse and STK at Disney Springs will be much easier reservations to get.
The following restaurants are difficult to get but with a few tries you can usually find what you are looking for. Try to make them 180 days in advance if possible.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, 50’s Prime Time Cafe, California Grill
Tips to getting hard to get dining reservations.
Make 180 Days Out
First things first, go ahead and try to book your desired reservation 180 days prior to arrival. You can better the odds of snagging your reservation by going online at 6:00AM eastern time. This is when Disney opens their reservation system for the day. If you have trouble with the website or fail to reserve your top pick I would call next. Reservations open by phone at 7:00AM eastern time. Call 407-WDW-Dine.
Make Harder to Get Reservations Later in Your Trip
If you are trying to get a particular time at Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table try to make them towards the end of your trip. If you are staying on Disney property you get that beneficial 180 + 10 meaning you can call at the 180 day mark and make reservations for the entirety of your trip. Because not everyone has this perk or may not be staying as long you usually will have better luck later in your trip.
Try Again at 60 Days Out
This is when Disney allows guests to start booking FastPass+. This means they may have to move around dining reservations depending on what FastPass times they can secure. There is a good chance of some new dining reservations opening up.
Try Again at 45 Days Out
If people have booked a Walt Disney World package their final payment is due 45 days prior to arrival. This is the last day people can cancel before loosing their deposit. For many this is when they realize they can’t actually travel for whatever reason so they end up canceling their trip…and all those dining reservations!
Try It at 30 Days Out
30 days out is another great time to check for open reservations. We go back to the FastPass+ bookings theory. A new round of park guests are booking their FastPasses and may be rearranging their dining schedule to accommodate. If you don’t have time and patience to go online and check openings every day then this 30 day mark is a good idea!
Always Check the Day Before and Same Day-
Of course at this point you have your park plan in place but if you are still holding out for your dream restaurant though it is good to check for reservations the day before and the same day. Because Disney requires a credit card hold many people who had booked multiple reservations cancel 24 hours prior to dining to avoid cancellation fees. Many people will book multiple reservations for the same day only to cancel just 24 hours prior to dining. Also, some guests may change their minds at the last minute. Maybe they had a late night in the park and decide waking up for breakfast just isn’t a fun idea anymore. This is a wonderful way to snag those dream dining reservations!
Of course if you booked your vacation with As You Wish Vacations your agent will check reservations regularly so you don’t have to at absolutely NO COST to you!!!