What Happens When You Can’t Get an Advance Dining Reservation in Disney World?

by | Mar 13, 2023 | Walt Disney World Food, WDW Blog

Advance Dining Reservations are critical when visiting some of the most popular Disney World restaurants on property. But what happens if you can’t snag the reservation you’ve been hunting for? 

The conundrum of advance dining reservations at Disney: If you can get the ones you are looking for, they are super useful. But sometimes, even after days and weeks of planning, your 60-day mark comes and you aren’t able to grab that dinner reservation for popular restaurants like ‘Ohana or Space 220. Now, what do you do? We’ve compiled a list of tips to grab some of the hardest-to-get reservations in Disney World.

What Are Advance Dining Reservations?

First things first, what are advance dining reservations? At Disney World, you have the option of a variety of different restaurants and food spots. For sit-down meals, you’ll have the option of table-service dining. These restaurants will often require advance dining reservations that can be made in advance through the Disney World website, My Disney Experience app, or by calling Disney World or your travel agent. Guests who have hotel reservations at a Disney Resort Hotel can make reservations for the entire length of their trip (up to a 10-night stay) up to 60 days before their arrival. All other guests can make reservations up to 60 days in advance.

If you are dining in the parks, you will still need a Park Pass reservation and ticket, as your dining reservation will not guarantee entry.

Daily Advance Dining Reservation Check-Ins

disney world advance dining reservations ability calendar

Image from Disney World website

So, your 60-day mark came and went without successfully grabbing any of your targeted reservations. Listen, it happens to the best of us! What should you do now as you approach your trip to Disney World? Don’t give up hope!

Like hotel reservations or experiences, unfortunately, people sometimes need to cancel their plans. When they cancel, those reservations open back up. By checking both early in the morning and later in the day, you might be able to grab a canceled reservation. And this can continue up until the last minute! Disney recently implemented a 2-hour cancelation policy that allows most dining to be canceled all the way up to two hours before your reservation without penalty. That means there are likely more last-minute cancelations than before that you can snag!

Walk-Up Wait Lists 

'ohana is a popular spot for advance dining reservations in disney world

Photo by Brett Svenson

On the My Disney Experience, you can find a cool feature that has only become available in the last few years — a Walk-Up Wait List! By visiting the “Check Dining Availability” area on the My Disney Experience app, guests can select the current date and “now” as the time. This will show which restaurants have walk-up availability at that time. 

Just recently, we were able to use this feature to snag a last-minute reservation at ‘Ohana the night of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party — which is a time that traditionally means plenty of people around Seven Seas Lagoon. The only caveat is that you must be physically near the restaurant to join the Walk-Up list. In this case, we tried to snag the ‘Ohana walk-up while our Monorail was stopped at the TTC, and the app would not allow us to continue. 

It is important to keep in mind that the Walk-Up Wait List is far from a guarantee. Not only do you need to be physically near the restaurant you’re looking for, but it also must be around the time you are looking to go. For that reason, the Walk-Up Wait List is never something to rely on for a guaranteed experience. However, if you have some flexibility to your trip, it’s a great way to sometimes snag a harder reservation!

Bar Seating Without Needing Advance Dining Reservations

nomad lounge advance dining reservations disney world

Nomad Lounge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Photo by Danny Shuster

If you couldn’t snag an ADR or a spot on the Walk-Up Wait List, it may be worth trying for a spot at the Lounge or bar at your restaurant of choice! Restaurants like California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Space 220 in EPCOT, and Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort offer bar seating for guests even without a reservation. With access to the restaurant’s menu, bar seating is a great way to experience the restaurant without an ADR. 

In addition to bar seating at popular restaurants, you can also try out menu bars and lounges around WDW for a bite to eat? Bar Riva, for example, at Disney’s Riviera Resort is a bar that also has a full menu and access to Primo Piatto’s menu. Bar Riva has typically less people than other venues and the vibe is extremely relaxed. 

Other great lounges to visit around WDW include the Enchanted Rose at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, the Tune-In Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Nomad Lounge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the Tambu Lounge at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. 

Calling the Restaurant or Using OpenTable 

Outside Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' at Disney Springs advence dining reservations

Dine in southern comfort at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’. Photo by Judd Helms

One hack that a lot of people don’t know is that you can call some of the Disney World restaurants to get a reservation. Many restaurants in Disney Springs are independently owned, so you don’t need to book these through the My Disney Experience app. 

Restaurants like Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ in Disney Springs are available to call for reservations rather than using the app. Other restaurants include Planet Hollywood and Terralina Crafted Italian. Guests who are Landry’s Select Club Members can also call Yak and Yeti and Rainforest Cafe in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or Rainforest Cafe and T-Rex Cafe in Disney Springs for reservations with their club number. 

In addition to calling restaurants, several Disney Springs restaurants are on OpenTable. This means you can select your desired restaurant on the same day as your search. STK Orlando, Jaleo, Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill, and Wine Bar George are a few popular options on OpenTable. Even the Boathouse restaurant is on OpenTable, so always check the app too! 

Visiting the Restaurant and Asking

Inside California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort advence dining reservations

Inside California Grill. Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

If you’ve tried all of the above tips and you just can’t get that reservation, it’s always worth asking in person! While that sounds simple, if you are near the restaurant you are looking to dine at, just visit the Maître d desk. While we can’t guarantee you’ll get in this way, there’s no harm in asking if they have any seating available day-of.

We’ve heard reports of people who asked at Space 220 in the morning and were given a return time. Again, this isn’t’ something that’s guaranteed, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try!

Have you had trouble obtaining ADR’s? What did you do to combat these problems? Let us know. 

Posts by Jenn Marrazzo

Jennifer Marrazzo is a writer and adjunct professor and knows way too many facts about Disney and cruises. She’s a DVC Member and WDW Annual Passholder and has a vast collection of Disney merchandise from Beauty and the Beast to Baby Yoda. Jennifer has her own blog, The Happiest Travels on Earth, where she offers reviews and tips for Disney and cruises!

Authored by
Jenn Marrazzo

Jennifer Marrazzo is a writer and adjunct professor and knows way too many facts about Disney and cruises. She’s a DVC Member and WDW Annual Passholder and has a vast collection of Disney merchandise from Beauty and the Beast to Baby Yoda. Jennifer has her own blog, The Happiest Travels on Earth, where she offers reviews and tips for Disney and cruises!
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