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

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f. When Your Plans Need to be Firm

By Dave Shute

When Your Disney World Plans Need to be Firm from yourfirstvsit.netYour plans should be firm–that is, you should be able to commit to all required Walt Disney World reservations–more than 180 days in advance of your arrival date.

If it’s already fewer than 180 days from your arrival date, see this.


The specific driver of this timing is the need to make what Walt Disney World calls “Advance Dining Reservations.”

Dining reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance of your arrival date.

Many of the recommended dining events and shows are signature Disney events, and have their capacity filled very quickly.

Other reservations need narrow time windows during your visit to properly fit them around scheduled events in the parks (such as parades and fireworks), and these windows are popular with others for the same reason.

To guarantee the right meals at the right times, you have to have your plans set in stone more than 180 days before your trip, so that you can be on Disney’s online dining reservation system exactly at 6am EST 180 days before your arrival date. All required steps are on the To-Do List.

Scan down to your dates, or click the image to open it.
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180 Day Calendar.



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1 Jane { 05.21.15 at 10:25 am }

Hi Dave, as my 180 day dining window approaches, I am getting more nervous. You say that you should have your Cindy res spooled up and ready to go at 5:50 AM (and that is the one we’ve decided to try for the most). How does this work? Will the computer automatically recognize me since my resort reservations are in my My Disney Experience account, and automatically open up any restaurant’s availability to the # of days out that my resort is for (it is 7)? Can I put it on the correct day at 5:50 or will I have to wait until exactly 6:00 to do so? I know this sounds pretty paranoid, but last time I spent a long time on the computer getting cancellations, so I want to get it right this time. I am worried that website glitches will ruin it. (But I had no trouble getting FP reservations last time following your instructions, and all worked as it should….) Thanks!

2 Dave { 05.21.15 at 11:49 am }

Jane, from your My Disney Experience account, do some test reservations–e.g. for dates 170 days from today! Then what “setting it up” means will become clear–it’s getting the right restaurant, party size, and date all lined up. Then get Cindy lined up at 5.50, and around 6a start banging the refresh button on your browser. The site should let you book to ten days from your arrival date. Only do the hard to get ressies this way–for the rest, call 7a or later that morning.

3 Jane { 05.21.15 at 12:28 pm }

Hi Dave, thanks! I will definitely do a test reservation, as I will be traveling and will have to use my Dad’s (old!) computer. I want to be sure this works, or I’ll have to come up with another plan. Is there any particular reason to wait and call to do the rest of the reservations? Last time I did all of them over the net, except the Thanksgiving dinner which I needed recommendations for (BTW we are planning Whispering Canyon for that this time).

4 Jane { 05.25.15 at 11:13 pm }

Hi Dave, I just wanted to thank you for your advice. I got us all of the ADRs we were looking for. Had to be a little creative (like with 2 parties at BOG at different times) and move some things around, but it turned out for the best. Thank you!

5 Dave { 05.26.15 at 8:15 am }

Yay, Jane!!!

6 Chelsie { 09.30.16 at 5:29 am }


I stumbled onto your site, and hope you are still responding to comments. My family is wanting to go on vacation to Florida December 7/8 to December 14 2017, with December 9 being our first night in disney to December 12 being our last night (a few other things we want to do in fl). How quickly do those dates fill up? Since it’s in December, do we need more than 180 days in advance?

7 Dave { 09.30.16 at 10:06 am }

Chelsie that is a very popular time among knowledgeable Disney World repeat visitors–the same folk who know to book in advance. So yes, the most popular venue do fill up and 180 days is a good target.

8 Jim { 03.05.17 at 10:20 pm }

Hi Dave,

I absolutely love your website and planning tools on the site. So much valuable information and overwhelming at he same time. We are taking a 8 day 7 night trip but only have a 5 day pass (we building a 2 relaxing days and a trip to universal also since we traveling with an almost 4 year old). We arrive fri may 12, 2017 and leave fri may 19 at night. I couldn\’t find any tailored itineraries so was wondering if you would let me know if you would change anything to the one I customized to try to get the most out of it and least crowds as possible.
Fri AK
Sat universal
Sun MK
Mon rest
Tues Hollywood
Wed Epcot
Thurs rest
Fri MK

All our days are flexible so let me know what you think?

Also we just recently booked any suggestions since we are well within the 180 day dinner reservations? Thanks

9 Dave { 03.06.17 at 8:36 am }

Hey Jim, for some reason you went to my spam folder.

Anyway restricting myself to the WDW part of your itinerary, I’d aim for Tuesday and Thursday at MK, and fit the rest in around it. Friday could be AK or HS, Weds could be your rest day, and Sun could be AK or Epcot.

On dining, there will still be some availability. You might want to scan the reviews in my book and use those to target.

10 Jim { 03.06.17 at 12:18 pm }

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the quick reply. You wouldn’t stay away from MK on tues even with the early morning magic hours? Would you prefer a wed or sun for Epcot? Thanks for all he help


11 Dave { 03.07.17 at 8:28 am }

Jim, MK does not have EMH on Tuesdays anymore. That week it has evening EMH Weds 5/17 and morning Fri 5/19…

12 Jim { 03.07.17 at 5:08 pm }


Not the EMH it’s the special event morning magic hours listed on their calendar. It’s the one people have to pay extra for. With that in mind would you still target Tuesday?

13 Dave { 03.08.17 at 10:32 am }

Oh, sorry Jim! The special event has too few people to affect crowds.

14 Jim { 03.09.17 at 8:15 pm }

Awesome! Thank you for the advice!

15 Nikki { 03.10.18 at 4:21 pm }

Hi! We will be taking our first family Trip to Walt Disney World October 1- 6, 2018. Staying at Art of Anim(or may upgrade to PORiverside). MK Tues, AK Wed, rest thurs, HS Fri
With 2 boys ages 6&8, could you recommend a few “must dos”(food&rides) at each park for our family??

16 Dave { 03.11.18 at 10:38 am }

Hi Nikki!!

I have ride rankings in the matrix on this page. Focus on the rides in the right column!

I have dining rankings on this page. The ones at the top are more fun.

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