So I woke up at 5 a.m. (Central) today to make my 180 day out dining reservations (online) for our February trip. I was able to get every location we wanted within 15 minutes of our desired dining time. Here's what I booked:
Day 1: Going to a few of our fav quick service locations in Magic Kingdom: Cosmic Ray's & Casey's Corner.
Day 2: Lunch at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater - this is one of our favorite locations for burgers and shakes.
Day 3: Lunch at Coral Reef Restaurant - we like to sit and watch the sealife while we enjoy a mouthwatering steak.
Day 4: Breakfast at Boma - I crave their breakfast buffet every day after we return home.
Day 4: Dinner at Planet Hollywood - this is kind of a tradition for us, we've been eating here since our first trip. And my filmmaker sons love seeing all the movie memorabilia.
Day 5: Lunch at 50's Primetime Cafe - unbelievable fried chicken and mashed potatoes with a side of sarcasm (all in good fun) from whatever "relative" serves us. ;)
Day 6: Breakfast at The Crystal Palace - not only is the food fantastic, we get to enter the park early for that rare snapshot of the castle without the crowds gathered in front.
Day 7: Quick service before heading home. :' (
Here's a few tips for booking online:
1. Make sure you log-in to your Disney account.
2. If you have a Disney resort reservation then you will need to also log in with your reservation #. To do this, click on the "Use my dining plan to book pre-paid reservations" (located at the bottom of the Make a Reservation page, below the restaurant name) even if you DON'T have the dining plan. This needs to be done BEFORE searching for availability. When you click the link it will take you to a page where you can enter your resort reservation #, name and phone number. This will attach your dining reservations to your resort reservation and allow you to see them all in one place. It is also the only way the system will allow you to book your entire length of your stay on your 180th day out.
3. Have a credit or debit card handy. There are many character locations and special dining events (like Fantasmic! packages) that require a credit card guarantee to hold the reservation. Nothing is charged for guarantees unless you cancel within the penalty period or are a "no-show". There are also a few locations that require payment at time of booking (like Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party). Make sure and read each restaurant's policy when booking as they vary by location.
4. Book your reservations of the most popular locations first! For example, if you arrive on Monday but don't plan on dining at Chef Mickey's until Thursday, look for availability at Chef Mickey's first. Why? Because it is an extremely popular location and if you start booking the begining of the week, it may be all booked up by the time you get to Thursday. Like for my reservations shown above, I searched for Crystal Palace first even though we don't plan on going until our last day in the park.
5. If you have special requests like allergies or dietary restrictions, enter them on EACH reservation at time of booking. Also, read the policies carefully regarding your special request.
6. Write down each and every reservation number!! I can't stress this enough. The dining reservation system is wacky and has lots of issues. You definitely want to have more than just your name when you show up at the podium. Include the time, date, party size and any other pertinent information (like cancel policies) in your notes.
7. Print out your dining reservations. This is in addition to #6. Sometimes reservations can accidentally disappear or change altogether. Let's just call this dining insurance. ;)
8. Check your reservations occasionally to make sure nothing has changed and especially right before your trip.
9. If your party size changes, modify your reservation to accommodate the new party size. Otherwise there is no guarantee you will be seated with a different number of guests.
10. Finally, make sure to cancel any pre-paid or guaranteed reservations BEFORE their penalty time begins. Disney is very strict on this policy. You don't want to be charged or lose out on money just because you forgot to call in. That money could be used towards important things like Mickey Ice Cream Bars or Dole Whips. :D
I hope these tips will help you when booking your Disney Dining Reservations. :)