Last week at a post-funeral family gathering, my cousin-in-law announced that she and her family were taking their very first trip to Walt Disney World at the end of September. The first two questions that are asked upon hearing such a joyous proclamation are “Where are you staying?” and ” Did you make your dining reservations?”. Her reply “Art of Animation” and “no”…..NO? (audible gasp). To most enthusiastic Disney planners (I like “enthusiastic” vs “obsessive”..sounds better, don’t you think?) the thought of not having dining reservations after the 179 day mark can bring on a full anxiety attack. Hearing one does not have dining reservations 6 weeks before a trip actually made me dizzy. I immediately had a flashback to the Disney vacations past where hours were spent aimlessly walking around the park d’jour, in sweltering heat, looking for someplace to dine. Brought back to the present by the baby pulling out my hair, I reassured my now panicked stricken relative that all would be well and I would help her make the necessary arrangements.
While I know many of my Disney-lovin’ pals get up at the crack of dawn 180 days before the first day of their Disney World vacation, armed with their restaurant plan A and B (B is just in case some one is quicker at the keyboard and they are unable to get their desired place or time), other just are not into it. Many argue it puts too much restriction on a their vacation as vacations are supposed to be a nice break from the monotony of schedules. I can respect that. Some people just do not want to plan where they will eat 6 months beforehand. I, too, used to think it was ridiculous, mainly because I have spent the greater part of the last 12 years pregnant and who knows what a pregnant gal will want to eat 15 minutes from now, let alone six months in advance. We discovered that our Walt Disney World vacations are actually MORE relaxing when we have set reservations than without. Back in the “non-ressie” days, we used to wander the park search of dining, no one could ever agree on where to go and we could NEVER get into the popular spots. It was not only a waste of valuable family park time but it really put a strain on the travel dynamics, as we usually travel with my parents and sister and brother-in-law.
These days, I have become the designated family trip planner. My usual course of action is to ask everyone in our traveling party where
they want to eat this time around. Once I have gathered everyone’s request, I make our dining reservations online, at the 180 mark, based on the trip schedule I have put together. It is restrictive? I don’t think so, but it is structured and by giving our vacation structure we are free to spend time focusing on family fun rather than arguing about where to eat. My husband always tells people that when it comes to our WDW vacations, he just packs his bag and waits for me to tell him when and where to show up.While this works for our family, it is not for everyone. Some would rather take their chance and wait to see what food mood strikes that day. This works best during the off-peak season and smaller travel parties.
No matter what your style of planning, remember, dining reservations can be made up to 180 days (180+10 for guests staying at a WDW resort) in advance online or by calling 407-WDW-DINE. If you like to make reservations closer to your travel dates, you may have a bit more diffculty getting the times or places you want. If this happens, try to be flexible and eat during off peak times. Early lunch or a late dinner may be easier to secure if you are having trouble finding an available time. If you choose not to make advanced dining reservations, it doesn’t hurt to walk up to the hostess at your restaurant of choice to see if there is availability. No-shows happen all the time and poor weather can be your ally. You do not have to wake up with the birds 180 days before your WDW trip to secure your dining reservations, however if there is a place at which you absolutely must eat, it would be wise to make those reservations well in advance, especially if it is one of the more popular places like Chef Mickey’s or Cinderella’s Royal Table.
As for our relative, rest assurred she has her reservations in place. She was even able to secure, much to her delight, a lunch at Akershus Royal Banquet, something I am certain her little girls will LOVE.Share