It’s barely 2016 and we are already busy working on the 2017 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. While the book itself won’t be available until August, we can give you a preview of some of the research we have been doing. One thing that we’ve been looking into quite a bit lately is the availability of Disney Dining Reservations at Walt Disney World. While some of the hard-to-get reservations will not surprise you (hello Cinderella’s Royal Table, my old friend) some might.
What follows contains excerpts from the 2017 Unofficial Guide:
The Reality of Getting Last-Minute Dining Reservations
If your trip is more than 180 days in advance and you want to dine at a popular venue such as Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table, getting up early and getting onto Disney’s reservation website at 6am Eastern time will get you the table you want more than 80% of the time.
The longer you wait, the more effort you’ll have to put in to find a reservation. For example, if you’re trying for breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table within the next 7 days, your chance of finding any table the first time you check is less than 3%, based on our tests. But if you’ve got the time and patience to visit Disney’s website around 30 times over the next week (that’s not a typo), you’ve got a 50/50 shot at finding a last-minute cancellation.
Besides Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest, the list below shows the restaurants whose capacity and demand combine to make finding a last-minute reservation very difficult. If you’re planning a trip within the next 30 days, we list some alternatives below.
Victoria & Albert’s (Grand Floridian) One of Disney World’s best restaurants, with excellent food, exquisite service, and few tables.
Beaches and Cream Soda Shop (Beach Club Resort) A 1950’s style burger joint with good food and very few tables. There’s a to-go option if you’re willing to eat elsewhere.
Le Cellier Steakhouse (Canada/Epcot, dinner) Consistently rated as one of Disney World’s best steak places, dinner is also popular because a clockwise tour of World Showcase puts you near Canada in the evening.
Via Napoli (Italy/Epcot) The best pizza in Walt Disney World is probably enough reason to go, but reader comments suggest that the waitstaff are easy on the eyes (and those Italian accents don’t hurt either).
The Plaza Restaurant (Magic Kingdom) The Plaza serves decent sandwiches in blessed, air-conditioned comfort. Its small size makes it a difficult reservation to snag.
So what are you supposed to do if you’ve been online 3 times a day for the past 3 weeks and have gained nothing but crossed eyes and a strong desire to compete in laptop discus? Here are some alternatives that we, and our readers, enjoy:
Good Restaurants with Last-Minute Availablity
|If you can’t get a reservation for||Try|
|Cinderella’s Royal Table (85% thumbs-up rating) or Be Our Guest (90%), both in the Magic Kingdom||The Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom, 90% thumbs-up) Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Epcot, 87%) or Tusker House (Animal Kingdom, 92%) for theme park character meals.
In the Magic Kingdom, the new Skipper Canteen (86%) is not accepting reservations at this time. Being walk-up only makes it a great last-minute option, especially if you’re hungry at off-peak hours.
|Victoria & Albert’s (Grand Floridian, 87%)||Our first choice for an adult night out would be Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge, 95% thumbs-up), with excellent food and an extensive wine list. If you’re staying at a Magic Kingdom resort, or you’re in the mood for seafood, try Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian, 93%). The Contemporary Resort’s California Grill (91%) is highly rated, but very loud at dinner.|
|Le Cellier Steakhouse (Canada/Epcot, 86%)||If you’re in the mood for steak near Epcot, try the Yachtsman Steakhouse (Yacht Club, 89%). For good steaks elsewhere, The Boathouse (Disney Springs, 91%) gets top marks.|
|Via Napoli (Italy/Epcot, 90%)||The nearby Tutto Italia (88%) restaurant and Tutto Gusto bar (Italy, 90%, no reservations) serves Italian appetizers and wine. A short walk from Epcot, the BoardWalk Inn’s Trattoria al Forno (85%) serves Italian comfort food.|
|Rose & Crown Dining Room (UK/Epcot, 92%)||A tough call. Spice Road Table (Morocco/Epcot, 81%) probably has more empty tables and a better view of IllumiNations, but the food and service are below average. La Hacienda de San Angel (Mexico/Epcot, 86%) has better food, but you may not have a great view of the fireworks.|
|The Plaza Restaurant (Magic Kingdom, 87%)||See the Skipper Canteen (above).|
|Beaches and Cream (Beach Club, 97%)||The nearby Crew’s Cup Lounge at Yacht Club serves a pretty tasty burger (and more) and you can always get some ice cream at Beaches and Cream‘s take-out window.|