180 days is one of those landmark days for planning a Disney vacation. It is the day when guests can start making table-service dining reservations for their stays at Walt Disney World. At Disneyland, this is as big of a day because the demand for dining isn’t as high as it is at Walt Disney World. For Walt Disney World, however, it is very important. Some restaurants are very difficult to get if you don’t make your reservations right on that 180th day.
So, what are some ways to successfully navigate this day and get the restaurants that you really want.
Tip One: Plan Beforehand
This is a very important step. You should making a list of what restaurants you may want to eat at. Well-written reviews of Walt Disney World restaurants can be found at the Disney Food Blog: http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/
In addition to the reviews, the Disney Food Blog also pictures of some of the menu items so you can a visual idea of what you could be eating.
For those who are choosing not to use the Disney Dining Plan or who just want an idea of how expensive the restaurant is, Allears.net has sample menus for all Disney dining locations (both table service and quick service): http://allears.net/dining/menu/
Ok, Dad, I’ve made my list what should I do next.
Tip Two: Rank you selections
Once the process of choosing potential restaurants, the next step should be to rank those restaurants with the restaurant that where you most like to eat at the top. You should assume that other guests who have the same check-in day and as a result the same 180th day as you are doing the same and create back-up choices for your top choices. Below is a list of restaurants that typically book up quickly:
1) Be Our Guest in New Fantasyland – this is the newest table service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom with reservations only taken for dinner and, as a result, it is in high demand even during slow times. There is no character meet-and-greet here but sometimes during dinner The Beast will make an appearance and an opportunity to take pictures. No autographs please – The Beast doesn’t want to break your pen.
Be Our Guest is open for lunch but as a quick-service option.
2) Cinderella’s Royal Table for Breakfast – Lunch and dinner sell out fast too but breakfast is usually the first meal to get booked up. So, if you want to eat breakfast there and it’s booked but you really want to eat in the castle, then lunch or dinner could be a better option.
3) California Grill at The Contemporary Resort for dinner – this restaurant has its own private viewing area for the Wishes fireworks show over the Magic Kingdom which makes it popular with guests.
4) Victoria and Albert’s at The Grand Floridian – Like Be Our Guest, this restaurant is only open for dinner. It is a very small restaurant and arguably the best restaurant at Walt Disney World and is a multi-year winner of the AAA Five Diamond Award. Victoria and Albert’s is not on the Disney Dining Plan.
5) Le Cellier in the Canada Pavilion at EPCOT – A small restaurant in Canada that is open for lunch and dinner. This restaurant costs two table service credits of the Disney Dining Plan.
6) Hollywood Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios – The best table-service restaurant in Hollywood Studios. Like Le Cellier, it’s only open for lunch and dinner. It is also two credits on the Disney Dining Plan.
So, you’ve made a list of restaurants and you’ve ranked them. Now what?
Tip Three: Be ready to make your reservations at 6 am Eastern on Day 180
Guests can start making reservations online starting at 6 am Eastern time. They can start calling into Disney reservations at 7 am Eastern time. Booking online can give you an hour jump on those who are calling in. Be prepared for computer glitches and long times or computer lags when making reservations. You’re not the only person doing this. The Disney computers can only handle so much traffic.
This is where ranking your restaurants comes into play.
Tip Four: Don’t make reservations in chronological order
You should make your park plans around your dining reservations NOT your dining reservations around your park plans. Don’t lock yourself into thinking “I need to make a reservation at [insert restaurant here] because I plan to be in [insert park here].” That thinking will only lead to frustration on your part when you can’t into restaurant X on day two.
You should make your dining reservations based on your rankings. If you can’t get into your first choice on day 1 or 2 but can on day 5 or 6 then make the reservation on day 5 or 6. Then move on to your second choice, third choice, etc. until you have filled in all of your dining reservation slots. You will find that it will be easier to make reservations for “hard-to-get restaurants” later in your vacation than at the beginning of the vacation. This is because fewer guests have the ability to make reservations on those dates because vacations will be ending during your trip. On the flip side, guests arriving after you can’t make their reservations yet because they are more than 180 days away from their vacations.
Tip Five: Have Back-ups for all of your choices
Nothing is more frustrating that trying to make a reservation for a restaurant only to find out that you can’t make a reservation there for your entire trip. When you make your selections and ranking those selections, you should be looking for similar restaurants to your primary selection. Some examples (1st choice – backup):
Cinderella’s Royal Table – 1900 Park Fare
Chef’s Mickey Breakfast – Tusker House Breakfast/Cape May Cafe Breakfast
Yachtsman Steakhouse – Flying Fish
Le Cellier – Captain’s Grille
Tip Six: Be Flexible
If you haven’t noticed the theme in the first five tips, the most important tip is to be flexible. You need to look at your vacation as a whole not individual days when planning your table-service dining. Roll with punches if reservations at your top choice restaurant aren’t available on the exact day you want it. Be prepared for computer glitches when making your reservations even if it means having back-up electronic devices at the ready to make those reservations.
This 180 day landmark can be one of the most stressful planning days for your Disney vacation. However, following these tips can take a lot of stress out of making your reservations leave the rest of your days planning the fun stuff (Fastpass+ attractions, touring the parks, taking a behind the scenes tour, etc.). I hope these tips help you avoid the stress that can come from this day.
Thanks for reading!