When I talk to people about planning their Disney vacation, I'm often asked why they need advanced dining reservations. For years we all just went on vacation and stopped to eat when we were hungry. Of course, back then there were mostly walk-up fast food places to duck in for a quick bite between rides and attractions. Disney realized that offering more dining options would not only be profitable but insure a more pleasant experience for guests. Yes there were a few table service restaurants but they were few and far between. As more dinner shows and buffets cropped up, you started seeing character visits and themed dining options. With that the crowds followed. Thus, Disney saw the need for reservations to insure the guest a table without waiting for hours in long lines and missing out on valuable park time. So if you are wondering why you need reservations, then here is my top five:
- Reservations prevent wasting valuable time waiting in long lines to get a table if you desire a table service meal. Table service is going in and sitting down and being waited on versus walking up to a counter to order your meal.
- By strongly advising advanced dining reservations, we are inspired to research all the dining options they have to offer. It's always a good idea to search them out by location. Choose your preferences at each park and don't forget to check out the ones at the resorts. Some of my favorite ones are at the resorts. For your research be sure to visit Disney Dining website that lists every eating place at Disney World. You will be able to filter the list so you won't have to go through them all at once.
- Which brings me to location. We used to plan our trips around what park we wanted to visit on what day. That can still be done, but it will take some very dedicated planning and jumping on your dining reservations at the earliest opportunity. However, it seems to be easier to me to make my dining reservations according to my dining choices that I'm able to obtain and then plan our days. For example, if you planned to go to Epcot on Monday, but the only reservation you could get for Cinderella's Royal Table (your #1 choice) is on Monday, then you would probably want to plan to visit the Magic Kingdom on Monday.
- If you included the Disney Dining Plan in your vacation package when you booked your reservation, then you know that you have one table service meal with your plan for each night of your reservation. You were told that you can make your advanced dining reservations 180 days before your arrival. Believe me when I tell you that you need to take advantage of this to reserve your favorite choices. I know of some that blew this off and waited around and did not get any of the reservations that they wanted and had to settle for others. Ok so there are so many choices that it won't ruin your vacation if you need to change your preferences, but why take the chance if you don't have to.
- If you don't have the dining plan included on your package you can still make advanced dining reservations online on their dining site or by calling (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463) starting at 7AM. You still have the option of booking them 180 days in advance of your arrival. If you are still trying to decide if you should or shouldn't make advanced reservations, read their blogs on Disney's Food Blog. You can find everything you need to know about dining.
I hope this article has helped you realize that you can enhance your Disney vacation with some research and planning. I have been to Disney World many times without the dining plan and only one reservation. That was in the past and even then I could see the need for better planning. The dining plans can save some money, but more importantly they help you plan your vacations so you can get the most out of the parks AND dining. Dining has become so much more than just about food. Your meals have become part of the fun and experience. I welcome any comments and questions you might have to help you decide.