How to Make Disney Dining Reservations

Once you have booked your Disney package, it is now time to make your next big decision: dining reservations! Disney offers many unique dining experiences and you should definitely take advantage of them while you are there. This post is all about Disney dining reservations; everything you need to know from types of dining, to making reservations, and ways to save.

My Disney Experience App

First things first, you will not be able to make your dining reservations until you have a linked your reservation to your My Disney Experience account. This is Disney’s hubspot for all your hotel and dining reservations, payment options, and tickets. Use your reservation number to link to your MDE account online or through the app and follow the easy instructions to get set up.

Make Disney dining reservations using the My Disney Experience app.

If you haven’t booked your tickets yet, be sure to check out my post on Disney Planning 101.

60 Days Before Arrival

You can make your dining reservations for your entire trip starting 60 days in advance of your arrival date. This means that even if you are staying for 10 days, you can book all your dining reservations for your entire trip at that 60 day mark.

Set your alarm to jump online starting at 6:00am EST on your dining reservation day. If you want those top spot reservations, then be sure to book right at 6:00am. Mouse for Less offers a great calculator that can be used to figure out when is your dining reservation day.

I recommend doing research and having your top three picks chosen before you start trying to make reservations. Reservations for the popular spots will go quickly, so it is important to act fast. If you have planned out your choices beforehand, then it should make this step pretty easy.

Hot Tip: Make sure you have a valid park reservation for the day you are booking your dinner reservation. You don’t want to be spending your day in Magic Kingdom but make your dining reservations in Epcot (unless you are utilizing the park hopper option).

Dining Options

There are three different types of dining at Disney, which can be great for different circumstances. When learning about the different options, I like to use the Unofficial Guide to Disney World (they make one for Disneyland too) to help me learn about the most current restaurant offerings.

Kiosks & Carts

These carts and kiosks are stationed around the park. They are great for grabbing popcorn, pretzels, or my personal favorite Mickey ice cream bars. I find it best to grab these as an afternoon snack before the parades.

Quick Service

Quick service restaurants are great when you want something fast and relatively inexpensive (compared to the rest of Disney). At these restaurants, you order your food at a counter, pick it up, and then seat yourself. These restaurants do not require reservations.

The one benefit of quick service locations is that they offer mobile ordering. You place your order through the My Disney Experience app and select a time window for your return. When you arrive to the restaurant, you check in through the app and you will get an alert when your food is ready. I tend to place my order while we are standing in line for a ride and then say I am “here” when I am walking in that direction. Then by the time we show up it is ready to go!

Table Service

Table service restaurants require reservations, which can be made 60 days prior to your arrival. Some of the bigger restaurants, like Cinderella’s Royal Table, require you to pay a flat rate upfront for a meal which includes an appetizer, entree, and dessert.

The benefit to a table service restaurant is you get better food and you get an extended period to relax. Some of these restaurants offer extremely unique theming, such as the new restaurant Space 220 in Epcot.

When my family goes to Disney, we like to switch between quick service and table service meals. I will do one table service per day, switching between lunch or dinner and any other meals are counter service.

Character Dining

They did away with traditional character dining during COVID, but I am happy to say it is now officially back in full swing! Character dining is a great way to see multiple characters without needing to wait in line at the parks. These meals are offered throughout the day and require prior reservations. You sit at your table and the various characters will rotate around giving you time to interact, sign autographs, and take pictures with each one.

Each restaurant offers a different set of characters, which will be listed online. Cinderella’s Royal Table allows you to see all the princesses and Chef Mickey’s features the Fab Five with Mickey and friends. Make sure your kids bring their autograph books!

Booking a character breakfast first thing in the morning at Magic Kingdom offers you early access into the park when no one else is allowed in. You will miss the benefit of getting on rides at rope drop, but it offers an extremely unique experience to be in the park before everyone else.

Hot Tip: Schedule a character dining experience for a day that you are not planning to be in the parks. This will allow you to maximize your time spent in the parks instead of spending it at an extended meal.

Dining Plans & Dining Credits

Dining plans are prepaid plans that included a number of meals so you do not need to worry about paying for meals separately. These plans disappeared after the start of COVID, but are finally returning starting in 2024! These plans won’t necessarily save you money, but they do help with budgeting and paying for meals up front.

Dietary Accommodations

Disney does a great job of adjusting meals for people’s dietary restrictions and allergies. Most restaurants offer allergy friendly menu options so just be sure to check those online before you book your reservations.

Money Saving Tips

  • Eat breakfast in your room to avoid spending money in the parks. Most of the rooms offer a mini fridge and some have microwaves, so cereal or oatmeal make for great easy meals.
  • Have groceries delivered to your resort using Amazon’s Prime Now grocery delivery service. You can place your order before you travel to Disney and schedule it to deliver during a certain time period on your arrival day. It is a good idea to stock up on breakfast and snack items you can take to the park.
  • Bring your own water bottle. Water is free at any place that offers fountain drinks. This will save you from buying the overpriced water bottles.
  • Alternate sit down and quick service meals. Table service meals are easily the most expensive, so switch it up often or only utilize quick service meals to save money.
  • Explore More: Check out my post all about how to save money at Disney.

Favorite Restaurants

Below are some of my family’s favorite restaurants:

  • Magic Kingdom: Cinderella’s Royal Table, The Crystal Palace, & Liberty Square Market
  • Epcot: San Angel Inn Restaurante, Teppan Edo, & Toyko Dining
  • Hollywood Studios: 50’s Prime Time Cafe & Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater
  • Animal Kingdom: Rainforest Cafe and Yak & Yeti
  • Character Dining: Cinderella’s Royal Table, The Crystal Palace, & Chef Mickey’s

Cinderella’s Royal Table: This is an iconic character dining experience within Cinderella’s castle. The characters feature all the Disney princesses. Try to time your dinner reservation to end right before fireworks or reserve a breakfast character meal if you want early access to the park before the crowds arrive.

The Crystal Palace: This is a character dining buffet with Winnie the Pooh and friends. We love this place for the unlimited buffet options. You can definitely get your money’s worth here.

Liberty Square Market: This quick service spot is great for a mid-afternoon snack. This is a place where you can pick up the famous Disney turkey leg. I’m not a personal fan, but this is a cannot miss spot for my husband and kids.

San Angel Inn Restaurante: I love this table service restaurant for the environment. Located within the Mexico pavilion, the lighting is dimmed to look like you are dining al fresco with a temple in the background. The pavilion itself feels like a street market in Mexico. For the 50th anniversary, they offered an amazing chocolate pyramid dessert that my kids still talk about today. I am hoping they are leaving this dessert on the menu permanently.

Chocolate Fiesta Pyramid dessert at San Angel Inn Restaurante in Epcot

Teppan Edo: If you are looking for dinner and a show, head over to Japan’s Teppan Edo for a typical hibachi meal. They will cook your meal right in front of you and have you laughing the whole time. These reservations go fast!

Toyko Dining: This sit down restaurant is great if you love sushi! We went here for our daughter’s 10th birthday and it remains her all time favorite restaurant to this day.

50’s Prime Time Cafe: My kids absolutely love this table service restaurant. It is a fan favorite as well, so reserve this one quickly. They offer comfort foods such as fried chicken and meatloaf. The decor makes you feel like you are back in a home in the 50s with a turn knob tv at most of the tables. The part that makes this experience so fun are the waitresses, who make sure that you are on your absolute best behavior. Fair warning: do not put your elbows on the table!

TVs at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios

Sci-Fi Dine In Theater: This sit down restaurant doesn’t make our list for the food, but rather the awesome environment. Once you check in, your hostess will take you to your own car where you will face a giant movie theater screen where they play classics. The lights are dimmed making it feel like you are truly at an old school drive-in movie at nighttime. It serves your typical hamburgers and milkshakes.

Rainforest Cafe: This is a chain restaurant so the food is mediocre. However, this is a great restaurant for those with kids. Throughout the restaurant are various animals including monkeys and elephants that move and make noises. Every so often a “storm” rolls through with the lights turning down and the animals reacting. They allow walk-ups, but get a reservation if you want to avoid long waits.

Chef Mickey’s: This character dining buffet is located inside the Contemporary Resort, which makes it a great option to do on a day off from the parks. My favorite is the breakfast buffet where you can get a lot of food considering what you are paying for it. Here, Mickey and his pals will come by your table and greet you. Schedule a late morning reservation if you want to sleep in on your day off and still get to enjoy an amazing breakfast.

Yak & Yeti: This restaurant in Animal Kingdom tops the list for some of the best food in all the parks. It offers a more eclectic menu and the meal portions are gigantic.

My husband with a HUGE appetizer of Ahi Tuna Nachos at Yak & Yeti

We have not been able to get reservations for these, but these are fan favorites that I would definitely recommend trying out and are on my list for next time:

  • Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom)
  • Space 220 (Epcot)
  • La Creperie de Paris (Epcot)
  • Oga’s Cantina (Hollywood Studios)
  • Roundup Rodeo BBQ (Hollywood Studios – opening March 2023!)

Disney dining can really offer unique flavors and menus, so I recommend making at least a few reservations if your budget allows it. If you consider yourself a big foodie, spend a lot of time at Epcot in the World Showcase area. They run various festivals throughout the year and change up their menus frequently.

Have more questions about Disney dining? Ready to book your trip? Reach out to me today!

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