By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

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The Basics: Key Disney World Milestone Dates

By Dave Shute


If you intend to dine at any of Disney’s best-loved restaurants, or see Disney’s most popular rides with low waits, there’s two milestone dates to keep in mind:

  • Disney World restaurants start accepting reservations 180 days before the desired dining date (for those staying at a Disney-owned hotel, at 180 days before your check in date you can book both that date and the next ten). Booking open at 6a for on-line reservations and at 7a for phoned-on reservations.
  • Disney’s FastPass+ reservations—which allow you to book a low-wait “appointment” to see certain rides—become available 60 days before planned use at 7a if you are staying at a Disney-owned hotel, the Swan or Dolphin, or (new in 2018) Shades of Green. the Four Seasons, and the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, or (new in 2019) the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando–and 30 days at 7a for everyone else.

The Basics - Key Milestone Disney World Dates from
For an 180 day calendar, see this.

Taking advantage of either of these requires that you know where you plan to be during the days of your visit—because dining where you already are saves much travel time, and you need to know what park you plan to be in to know where to book your FastPass+.

My itineraries take care of that for you, or, if you are building your own itinerary, leave a comment on this page (down at the bottom.)

Other key milestones are detailed in all the To-Do Lists on this site. Each is designed for a specific itinerary, but the general steps on the To-Do Lists apply to everyone.

A few other points deserve mention here

  • If all you’ve reserved from Disney is a room, you can cancel it up to 6 days before check-in without a penalty
  • If you’ve reserved a package—a “package,” basically, is a room plus anything else—you can cancel up until 31 days before check-in without penalty. (This used to be 45 days)

Note that if you’ve been shut out of a dining venue, start checking again at 31 days before your arrival, as some will get canceled around then from people cancelling their entire visit. Check again the day before, as there’s a penalty for not canceling by the day before.

This all is more planning ahead than many wish for, or want.

But with the advent of FastPass+ in particular, there’s never before been such a payoff to planning ahead at Disney World as there is today—and never before been such a penalty for failing to do so….



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1 Kelly Barnes { 03.15.16 at 8:42 am }

Keeping track of all these dates, what to do when, can feel overwhelming. But there is no need to worry when you book a vacation with me and Destinations in Florida. You\’ll get free itinerary planning. Free Dining planning. Free FastPass planning service. I\’ll contact in enough time to plan and then help you book all your needed reservations. And don\’t forget, as a fan of – when you book a qualified Disney vacation you get Dave\’s \”Easy Guide to WDW\” FREE.

2 Meghan { 12.03.19 at 10:12 am }

I’m traveling with a party of 11 people, and we are staying at the campgrounds in late August, early September for a week visit in 2020. I’m wondering if I will be able to book dining online, or I will need to call. When I experiment with booking dining on Disney’s website, it says I need to call to book a party of that size, but I’m not sure if that is because I’m trying to book meals so close to the present time. Will it be different when I try and book 180 + in advance? Thanks for your help!

3 Dave { 12.03.19 at 12:07 pm }

Meghan, frankly I’m not sure. The drop-down menu on the online system lets you pick 12 (and even more) but when I just tried it on a test run I got an error message that seemed general, not related to the number of folks I was looking for– “We’re sorry, there is a problem searching for reservations at this time.”

That said, I think you would be wise to call anyway. The online system is not smart enough to think of things like “can I book two tables of six close to each other that the staff can then push together” whereas the folks over the phone can problem-solve that way…

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