PlanningThe ParksTips

There’s No Availability? What to do When You Can’t Get a Dining Reservation

We love our food and we love eating at all the different restaurants throughout the Walt Disney World Resort Property.  From award-winning chefs at Disney Springs to character meals at the Parks and Resorts, Walt Disney World has a variety of amazing restaurants to choose from when looking at where you want a magical meal.

The probably becomes when you log on at 60-days and find that there is no availability at the restaurants you were hoping for.  Don’t give up hope- there are some options and we are here to share those with you.

My Disney Experience App

Keep Checking

First and foremost, if you get on at your 60-day mark and you aren’t able to secure that beloved reservation, don’t give up hope.  Plans constantly change meaning that Guests are constantly changing and canceling their dining plans.

Because of this constant change, dining reservations open up all the time so keep looking.  Even once you arrive at Walt Disney World for your vacation, keep checking the My Disney Experience app.

Since Disney charges for no-shows, many Guests will cancel their reservations 24 hours prior to their reservation time.  With this in mind, check that app around this time frame as you might just find what you are looking for.


Walk-Up Waitlist

Another option to try is the new walk-up waitlist found in the My Disney Experience app.  Once you have arrived at a Disney Park or a Disney Resort, check out the app to see if you are able to join the walk-up waitlist.

This will show you if your desired restaurant has any openings and how long your wait might be.  Keep in mind, that this only works if you are near the dining location.  No booking Steakhouse 71 when you are at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge still in your pajamas.

Nomad Lounge
Photo Credit: Disney

Try a Lounge

Some of the top dining locations actually have lounges attached to them giving another way to experience the food without a dining reservation.

Over at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Guests might enjoy a beverage and some O’hana noodles at the Tambu Lounge.  We mentioned Steakhouse 71 at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, but there is also a lounge that you can dine at.

Tiffins in Disney’s Animal Kingdom has the beloved Nomad Lounge next door and consider the Brown Derby Lounge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The lounges in Walt Disney World are a fabulous way to experience the delicious food of some of the more popular dining locations without a reservation.

jiko- DD
Credit: Disneydining

Try Somewhere New

We all have our favorites in Walt Disney World, but if you can’t get a dining reservation there, consider trying something new.  You might just find your new favorite.

Can’t get into Boma?  Maybe consider an upgrade to Jiko.  Can’t get into Steakhouse 71?  What about the Grand Floridian Cafe?

What to meet the characters but can’t get into Chef Mickey’s?  Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a fun alternative.

There are lots of options throughout Walt Disney World so even if you have found your top choice, you will have others to choose from.  Be flexible and you might find a new hidden gem

Disney's Polynesian Resort View
Credit: Jennifer Retzlaff

Check the Resorts

Another suggestion when it comes to finding reservations at table-service locations in Walt Disney World is to check out the Disney Resorts.  At each of the four Theme Parks, there are nearby Resorts that offer some amazing food choices.

At Magic Kingdom, Guests have numerous Resorts to choose from giving them the chance to eat at Whispering Canyon at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge or enjoy a high-end dining experience at Narcousees at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.

EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios have excellent options both on and off the skyliner.  Over at Disney’s Caribbean Resort, Guests could try out Sebastian’s Bistro.  Around Crescent Lake, Guests will find options at Disney Beach and Yacht Clubs, Disney’s Boardwalk as well as the Swan and Dolphin.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is an excellent option with a variety of delicious food choices with lots of flavors.

Eat at Off Times

When looking at dining at popular restaurants in Walt Disney World, consider looking at off times.  This will give you a better chance of securing a reservation.  Looking outside the main dining times such as 11:00-1:00 for lunches and 5:00-7:00 for supper will give you more flexibility and more openings as well.

Satuli Canteen

Quick Service

If all else fails and you can’t find a dining reservation, know you won’t go hungry.  There are many quick-service meals that we think rank right up there with some of the table service meals in Walt Disney World.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom has some fantastic options when it comes to quick services such as Flame Tree Barbecue and Sat’ulil Canteen.  Many of the Disney Resorts also offer some great quick service options like Contempo Cafe at Disney’s Contemporary Resort or Captain Cooks at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

Don’t think you are going to have to eat just hot dogs, burgers, and chicken nuggets if you can’t find a reservation.  Walt Disney World has really stepped up its food game lately and there are numerous options out there.

We know that there is panic when you are up early to book your dining at 60-days and you can’t get some of your top choices.  Don’t give up all hope.  Know that dining often opens up randomly, you might find a new favorite or you might discover that you enjoy having faster meals so you can enjoy more of the magic.

We hope this helps you with what to do when you can’t get a dining reservation at Walt Disney World.

Jennifer Retzlaff

Jennifer became a lifelong Disney fan during her first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of her life. She quickly started to introduce her love of Disney to her family with a Disney honeymoon and then family trips when her youngest was 18 months old. She loves the magic that Disney brings to people through theme parks, cruises, and adventures. As a teacher, she tries to bring Disney magic into her classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” She is also part of the Magic Vacation Planner team as a personal travel advisor. With this team, she can now help others plan magical vacations. She loves bringing her love to Disney to readers with How to Disney.

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