By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

The Comprehensive Guide to Walt Disney World Dining

By Dave Shute


The Comprehensive Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 3-14 from yourfirstvisit.netThe image rates the Walt Disney World table service restaurants based on both appeal to kids and appeal to adults.

Click the image to open it; when open, click again to enlarge.

This information allows you to pick your dining choices based on kid appeal, adult appeal, or both!




1 Carolyn { 01.11.11 at 12:43 pm }

Found this site today. Have been going to WDW with the kids for over 15 years now and still found this site helpful! Great, I repeat Great site. I wished I found it sooner. Best wishes to you!

2 nicole { 08.12.12 at 7:46 am }

hi i consider myself a disney veteran but i have never seen your website before and inatantly became a fan! i am traveling with my husband, 16yr old and 9 yr old daughters. i told my kiss durinf our last visit 2 yrs ago we are going to do our 2012 visit big since its the last time my youngest will be a disney child. we are going the first week if free dining plan at the end of august for 7 days. with the followiing dining reservations 8/25 5pm akershus, 8/26 9am crystal palace, 8/27 1pm tusker, 8/28 1pm teppen edo and 8/30 spirit of aloha, and 8/31 7pm 1900 park fair. i have myw base but reallybwant to include a water park but unsure i will have time to do disney quest. our last day i definitely want to spend at mk.

3 nicole { 08.12.12 at 7:49 am }

do you have any thoughts on an itinerary for me? should i switch days in parks due to projected crowd schedule? should i get the water parks option o just pay for one day admission. do you know of any offsite promos for water park tickets? we want to see as much as possible since i dont plan on visiting again for 5 years

4 Dave { 08.12.12 at 8:16 am }

Hi Nicole, and thanks! I’m not quite sure, though, if you are asking a question?

5 Dave { 08.13.12 at 9:35 am }

Hi Nicole–it looks like you were writing your second comment just as I was sending my response to the first, so now I get your question!

It looks like from your dining reservations that you are targeting parks on their EMH days. Unless you buy park hoppers and then hop away late am or early pm, this is generally a mistake, as parks are more crowded when they host EMH–especially AM EMH–than on days they don’t.

So I’d shift your dates around so you avoid EMH, especially am EMH.

Also I note you have a 9a meal targeted. My advice is to eat breakfast before 8 or after 10.30. The most valuable time in the parks in terms of crowds is the first hour or 90 minutes after open, and a 9a breakfast eliminates the availabilty of that time to you…

Finally, I’d not worry about waterparks etc now. If you go to just one, it’s cheaper to pay at the gate than add it to your ticket.

Hope this helps and have a great trip!

6 Sydney's Dad (Ryan) { 10.11.12 at 9:12 am }

I’m taking my fam to disney for the first time in November, and have found this site invaluable, and recommended it to so many friends. Now I have a bit of a problem, though. We are going the day after thanksgiving and have the Royal table booked our first evening for my 3yo daughter who is all about princesses! Start things off with a bang, right?

Well, Delta just changed our flight so we are arriving 2 hrs later than previously scheduled. I checked, and there are no further reservations for this during our stay. We are now scheduled to arrive at the airport at 12:50, and they recommend we show up to Cinderella’s castle by 4:10. We are staying at Port Orleans Riverside, and traveling with 2 young kids.

Is this cutting it too close? So we will need to depart the plane, get to the hotel, and get over to MK in about 3 hrs. We are usually pretty good at getting from place to place with the kids in general, but I just don’t know what to expect. And I really don’t want to cancel, because we’ve already hyped it up to my daughter. Let me know what you think – please HELP!

7 Dave { 10.11.12 at 11:15 am }

Hey Ryan first, thanks for the kind words and the recommendations!!

Second, on your question, it all depends on a. whether or not you are checking bags (likely) and b. how you are planning to get to POR from MCO–if you are using Magical Express it may be hard. If you cab from MCO to POR, check in and drop your bags (with the bell if your room isn’t ready) and then cab to MK, you will be fine! Let me know your airport transport plans and how flexible they are…

8 Ryan { 10.22.12 at 6:38 pm }


Alright, thanks for the help. We will check a couple of suitcases so will need time to wrangle those. And I was planning to use the Magical Express, but maybe that could be adjusted if there just isn’t time. Let me know what you think – I was hoping to avoid cabs so we wouldn’t have to bother with car seats. Can cabs provide car seats? I’m sure my wife would know, but I am a clueless dad. And could we use a cab for just one of the segments if really needed, and if so which one. This flight reschedule is really giving me more grays!

9 Dave { 10.22.12 at 7:12 pm }

Ryan two things:

One is I’m wrong on cab 2–from the hotel to MK. I forgot that cabs drop you off in the wrong spot, and waiting 20 mins for a bus is still net a better (that is, faster) plan. So cab from the airport, but bus after you’ve dropped your bags in your room or at the bell stand.

I should know the answer on the cabs/kid car seats question, but I don’t, so I’ll find out and add another comment!

10 Dave Taite { 12.08.12 at 11:25 pm }

Going to WDW in Feb 2013 fo 10 days, looking to a disney resort book meal plan and park tickets for 8 of 10 days and then just the same resort for 2 days at the end, would any unused meal plan meals be still useable on the last 2 days?

11 Dave { 12.09.12 at 7:26 am }

Hi Dave! No, they won’t. Any unused credits expire at midnight of the day you check out of the hotel stay for which you bought the dining plan, so you can’t use them your last two days.

12 Dave Taite { 12.09.12 at 8:57 am }

Thanks for the quick response. Slight slant on the question, we will not be checking out, but staying at the same resort and hopefully the same room, will that make a difference.

13 Dave { 12.09.12 at 9:27 am }

Hi Dave, no it doesn’t. On a reservation you have to buy the dining plan for every night of your stay, for every person over 3 in the room. The credits then expire at MN of check out day, regardless of what you do next…even if you stay in the same exact room on a second reservation…

14 Jennifer M { 02.01.13 at 1:19 pm }

I was wondering which would be better for a princess character dinner. Cinderella’s Royal Table or Akershus? I would really like to do one for the kids. Just want to get the most out of the trip.

15 Dave { 02.02.13 at 7:19 am }

Jennifer that’s a great question, and the answer depends at least partly on the ages of your kids. If they are say 6 or younger, then you probably don’t want to spend a ticket on Epcot (unless you have hopper tickets), and that would rule Akershus out.

Akerhshus is less expensive, has a less exciting session, and has better food for parents, equally good for kids. Cindy is more expensive, more dramatic, and at MK, which as noted is better for the younger set than Epcot…

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16 Mike { 03.08.13 at 11:35 am }

Hello Dave, when your 180 day till vacation comes, you can start to book your adrs. Can you book the whole week or must you come back everyday to make your adr for each 180 day ?

17 Dave { 03.08.13 at 11:58 am }

Mike, if you are staying in a Disney owned and operated hotel, you can book up to the next ten days once you arrival date 180 hits. If you are not staying in such, then it’s pure 180, so you’d come back every day…

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18 Mike { 03.08.13 at 1:28 pm }

Thank you Dave, one last one maybe, how do you get from Hollywood Studios to Epcot ? thank you

19 Dave { 03.09.13 at 7:42 am }

Mike, there’s a walking path, and also a boat, that connect the two. I usually walk, and both take about the same time–15 to 20 minutes.

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20 Mike { 03.09.13 at 8:52 am }

Thank you Dave, your site is the best.

21 Dave { 03.09.13 at 9:01 am }

Thanks, Mike!

22 Shana { 03.25.13 at 3:55 pm }

Hi Dave, I have some dining questions. We are staying for 6 nights in October. I’m struggling with how to divide up our table-service credits. We have a 5 year old “princess” and doing the Royal Table is a must, so that takes 2 of the credits. For the remaining 4, I wanted to do Chef Mickey’s, Akershus and then I read a fantastic review on HoopDeDoo Review and want to do that as well…..which will also take 2 credits. So, we’re using 6 table service credits for 4 meals. Is that smart? Any other suggestions? I was planning to use table service mainly for dinner, so if I go with the picks above, I’ll need to either pay cash or use quick-service for the other 2 dinner meals during our stay. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

23 Dave { 03.25.13 at 4:31 pm }

Shana the way to do this is to use the credits to absorb the meals that would otherwise cost you the most cash per credit. It isn’t always true that a 2 credit meal would cost you twice as much in cash as a would one credit meal. If you do the math, you may end up deciding to use the credits for the one-credit meals first…

24 Leeann { 04.30.13 at 10:51 am }

Dave—Love your sight!! Have only been to Disney once and am going this time with my husband who has never been. We are not taking the kids this trip. Unfortunately AAA didn’t tell me I picked one of the worst weeks which is arrival 5/26 (sun) @ 10:50 am departing 5/31 (fri) @ 9:10pm. So I am so confused and need help badly! We are staying on Disney Grounds at the Sports value resort and we have purchased the Park Hopper pass and Disney Dining Plan. I reviewed the magic hours but need help creating an itenary and where to eat. Only think I know I want to do based on reviews is the Hoop De Doo Revue (spelling?) What night would be best to do that as I hear it is time consuming with the travel etc.? Any help on a plan of action would be great, without the kids we have much more flexibility I just want to make sure he sees everything since he’s never been. Thanks in Advance 🙂

25 Dave { 05.01.13 at 7:34 am }

Hi Leann and thanks!!

The hopper creates a lot of flexibility if you two are willing to get up early. For example, you can go to parks on their morning extra magic hour days–planning to arrive at the turnstiles 30 minutes or so before the park opens, stay at that park through lunch, head back to Sports for a break, then hit a different, less crowded park in the late afternoon/evening.

If you do this, then I’d suggest AK the morning of the 27th (7a open for EMH), with Epcot in the evening; Epcot the morning of the 28th (8a open for EMH), with MK in the afternoon/evening, HS the 29th all day (9a open, no EMH), MK the morning of the 30th (8a open for EMH) with Hoop in the evening, and Friday reserved for returning to your favorite, or the one where you have missed some stuff–likely MK.

Note that currently scheduled 9a openings may be moved to 8a, with EMH then beginning at 7a…

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26 Leeann { 05.01.13 at 1:27 pm }

Wow those early magic hours if they move up will definitely make for a long day! Thank you so much, this helps alot. Are there any specific places to eat with the dining plan that you would recommend that would be more likely to have availabilities at this time.. I’m assuming we will be dining in the parks you suggested for the evening hours so what time should I be looking at to eat? I know Hoop takes 2 of our meals.

27 Leeann { 05.01.13 at 7:43 pm }

Sorry to keep asking questions but maybe they updated the magic hours because I am finding different information than you have which is no big deal but I’m just wondering, I see you’ve addressed to go to all the AM magic hours, what about the PM hours, should I just follow the parks based on who has the magic hours and go there for ex. 5/27 AK 7a–8a then go to HS @ noc for magic hours 10p-12a?

28 Dave { 05.02.13 at 6:53 am }

Leann, it’s so close that a lot of the favorite dining places will be booked up. All you can do is try. Use this to prioritize:

29 Dave { 05.02.13 at 7:05 am }

Oh Leann, I’m sorry, I did mess up. Epcot has pm EMH, not am on Tuesday, and HS does have am EMH on Weds. PM extra magic hours draw crowds but add little, whereas am extra magic hours–if you get up–can let you see 6 or 7 things in the rifts two hours that would take 4 or 5 hours later in the day…

30 Leeann { 05.02.13 at 10:08 am }

Ok, thank you that was my main question regarding the pm magic hours. We will focus on getting up early instead of staying out late 🙂 Appreciate your help.

31 Jill { 06.04.13 at 1:28 pm }

What a wonderful website we’ve used it as our guide for planning our Nov 30th 2013 vacation to WDW! Since I just booked my restaurants online 180 days in advance wanted to share some things I was not prepare for so that you can elaborate in this section.
1) Be our Guest Dinner is not mentioned, maybe on purpose, but I think this has become one of the hardest reservations to get and so should be included on your list..
2) We were told by Disney on the phone that we could not link our dining plan when reserving online and we would need to call at 7am for the restaurants that require prepay – Cindy’s royal table and Hoop Dee Do for us at least. That was FALSE information. We could use our Disney Dining Plan and not a credit card!
3) The website is VERY GLITCHY. It only opened 1 instead of 10 days out at 6am which I did not realize at 1st and so I keep trying to reserve days post that time for harder restaurants and only after a while did I realize I could reserve the 1st day. The other days opened up and I quickly reserved as many as I could, the only 1 sold out on our preferred day was be our guest, but since we’re doing 2 days at magic kingdom we were able to swap days and get a reserve. The ability to reserve will magically stop working for 10-15minute periods perhaps trying to get you to give up! I found it very confusing and frustrating, but got all my reservations made by 6;30AM.
4) Disney gave us WRONG information about reserving the BBB, we were told we could only reserve 180 days from the day of the actual appointment and not 10 days in advance of 180. We called at 7am to check on the 10 days 180 morning and found we could make a reserve. We were happy we were so distrusting…

Ok that’s it. Hope it helps everyone else who has these questions!

32 Dave { 06.05.13 at 6:43 am }

Jill thanks so much for your kind words, thoughts and comments! And yes, I do view BOG–with its limited kids menu–as optional…

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33 Jemima { 06.22.13 at 2:22 pm }

Hi Dave

Great site for us first timers.
We are planning on going to WDW the first or second week of December 2013. Please advise which would be best. We are from South Africa and this is our first time….super excited!!! My question to you is this: my kids are 18 and 14 (son and a daughter). I am not sure if booking any of the Disney Dining plans would be worth it considering their age. Do you have any tips to make this once in a lifetime trip a fabulous one?

34 Dave { 06.23.13 at 12:31 pm }

Hi Jemima–those are both great weeks, but I like the first better–see this:

The dining plan likely won’t save you much, if any money–it’s more of a convenience…

And as for making the trip fabulous…well start at the home page and work through the topics there! See especially this, which was designed from the start for those dates:

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35 Tom { 07.02.13 at 4:51 pm }

Dave, is it true that the first Starbucks has opened on Main St USA? Exactly where? Any comments about it?

36 Dave { 07.03.13 at 7:57 am }

Heya Tom, nice to see you again. Yes the old Main Street Bakery is now Starbucks. Josh has a detailed–and hilarious–post on this here:

37 DisneyDiningAgent { 07.08.13 at 8:51 am }

The Candlelight Processional starts booking 7/9/13 at 6:00am at and 7:00am over the phone (407-939-3463). I don’t see the narrators posted anywhere, so here they are:

TBD: 11/30-12/3
Ashley Judd 12/4-12/5
Whoopi Goldberg 12/6-12/7
TBD 12/8-12/10
Dennis Haysbert 12/11-12/13
James Denton 12/14-12/16
Edward James Olmos 12/17-12/19
Trace Atkins 12/20-12/22
TBD 12/23-12/25
Blair Underwood 12/26-12/28
TBD 12/29
Amy Grant 12/30

The experience is credit guaranteed when you book.

More tips:

Le Cellier will NOT be participating in the Candlelight Processional this year.

The California Grill is still not booking for the fall yet. We do not know when they will reopen or the date we will start taking reservations. When we know the date we will start booking it will be posted on the Disney blog:

Be Our Guest is getting fully booked past the 180 day mark because of Disney resort guests. The perk you get for being a Disney resort guest is that you can can start booking only at the 180 day mark, but you get to book 10 additional days after that 180th day. So if you call in to book BOG on the 180th day, please realize that many other people have been booking before you and the restaurant is most likely already full by the 180th day mark. Lunch at BOG is quick service, walk-up only, no reservations. So you can always try and walk up with no reservation.

T-Rex and both Rainforest Cafe locations are NOT Disney owned restaurants. Most have trouble booking for T-Rex because they don’t give many tables for Disney Dining to book. If you’re unable to secure a reservation at these locations you can always call the locations directly to make a reservation.

T-Rex: 407-828-8739
Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney: 407-827-8500
Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom: 407-938-9100

Disney Dining is not permitted to make SAME DAY reservations at any othe the above locations. You MUST call them directly for a same day reservations. has been having major issues since the migration to the “My Disney Experience” site. If you are booking past the 180 day mark (because you’re a resort guest) or you have more than 3 reservations to book, I highly recommend you call us to book your reservations at 407-939-3463. Be aware that when you book with us over the phone we can’t manually e-mail you and you won’t receive an e-mail at the time of booking (you will get a reminder e-mailed to you by the Disney server right before the reservation). However, you will be able to see the reservations we make for you in your My Disney Experience under the My Reservations section. *Note: You will only be able to see reservations there that can be made online, you won’t see children’s activities there or anything else there that you can’t also book online.

Be careful when booking prepaid experiences like Cinderella’s Royal Table or the 3 dinner shows online if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. Many times will not recognize your dining plan and will attempt to charge your credit card for the experience when it should be taking your card only because of the cancellation policy. It’s strongly recommended you call us at 407-939-3463 to book the above experiences. But at the very least if you try and book it yourself online PLEASE ensure you take note if is trying to charge your card when you really wanted to use your dining plan instead. If that happens please don’t book it and pay for it, just stop booking and call us to book it for you instead. We will take your credit card as a guarantee because of the 1 day full cancellation policy, but we will ensure your card doesn’t get charged.

38 DisneyDiningAgent { 07.08.13 at 9:21 am }

Jill { 06.04.13 at 1:28 pm }

What a wonderful website we’ve used it as our guide for planning our Nov 30th 2013 vacation to WDW! Since I just booked my restaurants online 180 days in advance wanted to share some things I was not prepare for so that you can elaborate in this section.
1) Be our Guest Dinner is not mentioned, maybe on purpose, but I think this has become one of the hardest reservations to get and so should be included on your list..
2) We were told by Disney on the phone that we could not link our dining plan when reserving online and we would need to call at 7am for the restaurants that require prepay – Cindy’s royal table and Hoop Dee Do for us at least. That was FALSE information. We could use our Disney Dining Plan and not a credit card!
3) The website is VERY GLITCHY. It only opened 1 instead of 10 days out at 6am which I did not realize at 1st and so I keep trying to reserve days post that time for harder restaurants and only after a while did I realize I could reserve the 1st day. The other days opened up and I quickly reserved as many as I could, the only 1 sold out on our preferred day was be our guest, but since we’re doing 2 days at magic kingdom we were able to swap days and get a reserve. The ability to reserve will magically stop working for 10-15minute periods perhaps trying to get you to give up! I found it very confusing and frustrating, but got all my reservations made by 6;30AM.
4) Disney gave us WRONG information about reserving the BBB, we were told we could only reserve 180 days from the day of the actual appointment and not 10 days in advance of 180. We called at 7am to check on the 10 days 180 morning and found we could make a reserve. We were happy we were so distrusting…

Ok that’s it. Hope it helps everyone else who has these questions!

I need to clarify a few things from Jill’s post:

1) SOME people can hook the Disney Dining Plan when making a res online, some cannot (tech support can NOT do anything about those that can’t). You can always try and book those prepaid experiences online, but if it tries to charge you then you must call Disney Dining to book those at 407-939-3463. Either way you DO have to give a credit card because of the cancellation policy…you can’t book those without giving a credit card.

2) BBB can be booked STARTING at the 180 day mark, but you get 10 additional days to book after that if you’re a Disney resort guest (just like almost all other res—not Cirque though). But it is NOT 10 days prior to the 180 day, it’s 10 days AFTER the 180th day.

39 Dave { 07.09.13 at 6:53 am }

DisneyDiningAgent, as always this is INCREDIBLY helpful! On behalf of the readers of this site, thanks so much!!!

I published about your Candlelight material yesterday, and will post more on some of these other big topics as well so that they get the attention they deserve! See this for the candlelight post:

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40 Dave { 07.09.13 at 7:00 am }

Thanks again!!

41 Tom { 07.16.13 at 10:57 am }

Hi Dave! Yeah, I kept on reading this site, but my contributions were scarce due to time constraints (ehem job reasons). Now I’m planning a 2014 summer trip for the very first time and eagerly waiting for the damp Orlando weather once more!

42 Dave { 07.17.13 at 7:41 am }

Great, Tom!

43 Tom { 07.17.13 at 10:49 am }

By the way, forgot to say that next September I will be visiting Disneyland Paris!

44 Dave { 07.18.13 at 7:48 am }


45 Jennifer M { 08.14.13 at 2:56 pm }

Hi Dave, since the Disney Dining Plan won’t save any money, would we be better off not getting it? Also, can we put all of our meals on our room card and not have to carry cash or credit cards in the parks?

46 Dave { 08.15.13 at 7:34 am }

Jennifer, I’d bring some cash just in case…and the DDP is a toss up. There’s something to say for using it as a budgeting tool, so that you don’t have to worry each meal about meal costs…

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47 Mike { 08.25.13 at 6:20 pm }

Dave sorry I keep forgetting but at 6 am can I call to make ADR or do I make them on the computer? Keep forgetting, one you can do at 6 am and the other at 7 am.

48 Shana { 08.26.13 at 9:14 am }

Due to a work conflict, I had to reschedule our trip planned for October. Now, we are going the last week in February so I’m re-doing all of our dining reservations. ACK! I was planning to just copy what I did before, but now I’m rethinking it and wanted to ask your advice. Originally, I planned on doing HoopDeDoo Review on our last night there (we are staying at WL, so it’s close). Now, I think I might want to use those 2 credits for Chef Mickey’s and one of the restaurants in World Showcase. Our daughter is 5 years old and I am also planning Akershus and Royal Table, so we are covered on the princess front. Would a 5 year old even enjoy HoopDeDoo Review? I think it looks fun, but it’s a long show and they don’t have a lot in the way of kids food, so maybe we save that for another visit. Thoughts?

49 Dave { 08.26.13 at 9:29 am }

Mike, Computer at 6, people at 7. I remember this by “which way reduces Disney’s labor costs?”

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50 Dave { 08.26.13 at 9:31 am }

Shana, if you know you will be able to return, then it doesn’t much matter! Put it off til she’s seven or 8…

51 Julie { 09.01.13 at 8:42 am }

Great site – have used it daily to plan our upcoming Oct trip. Wondering if u can tell me if these ADRs are a good use of dining plan. Husband, 4 yo girl and 6 yo boy joining me. Aekershus bkfst, Cape May bkfst, Mama Melrose Fantasmic dinner package, Chef Mickey bkfst, and CRT for day of daughters 5th bday. We are big bkfst eaters so wanted to downy bigger meals there, but now wondering if we won’t get our money’s worth since we are doing mostly bkfst. We will do mostly counter service dinners except for ESPN on our arrival night. Thx!

52 Julie { 09.01.13 at 8:43 am }

Sorry – forgot to mention CRT is dinner reservation.

53 Dave { 09.02.13 at 9:02 am }

Well Julie…in general you will waste money by using table service dining credits on breakfast, and if you won’t use them for dinner, would be much better off paying cash and canceling the dining plan…It looks though like you got a mix, so maybe this will make sense for you.

Was this even remotely helpful? Then mosey on over to the home page, and like it on Facebook or pin it on Pinterest!

54 Nick { 09.02.13 at 2:31 pm }

Hi Dave,
How long should we anticipate for lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table? I realize this is a loaded question. We have 6 in our party and I have booked it for the day we return home. RT reservations are at 2:10, flight out of Orlando is at 5:45. Trying to find new times for RT but in the event I cannot, hoping we can still make it.

55 Dave { 09.03.13 at 7:13 am }

Nick I’d plan on about an hour or so. When you are done, you will hit the 3p parade crowds…which will slow down your exit from the park, and, if the the meal takes even a little bit longer, means the transportation back to the TTC parking lot will be mobbed, as many leave right after the parade. (If you aren’t driving to MK, I wouldn’t even dream of trying to hit this schedule…)

I would not do this, myself…you really need another hour to manage all the uncertainties…

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56 Nick { 09.03.13 at 8:12 am }

I figured as much, just a shot in the dark.
As always, many thanks!

57 Dave { 09.03.13 at 2:17 pm }

Nick, let me know what the scoop is when you find out! I’m sure the same question will come up again…

58 DisneyDiningAgent { 10.01.13 at 12:16 pm }

It appears there has been a significant change for the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party. In the past you could only book this a maximum of 90 days out. But as of today we are booking all the way through the end of March. Disney hasn’t notified us officially that this will now book out 180 days like the other restaurants, but it appears that might be the case (since you can book all the way to March 30th right now which is exactly 180 days from today).

Also, the cancel window has changed, it now has a FIVE DAY FULL cancellation policy. It also has a “Third party payments not accepted” policy now (which means the name on the reservation must match the name on the credit card you use to pay and you’ll have to show ID at the restaurant).

59 Dave { 10.01.13 at 4:04 pm }
60 DisneyDiningAgent { 10.04.13 at 9:19 am }

There is a significant policy change coming 10-31-13. ALL TABLE SERVICE LOCATIONS WILL BE CREDIT CARD GUARANTEED. All locations will have a cancellation policy and the ones that didn’t before will have a 1 day/$10 per person cancellation policy. This is for ALL locations, including non-Disney owned restaurants.

Please see the advisory below:

To provide consistency across our operation, adjustments will be made to the Walt Disney World Resort cancellation policy beginning October 31. At that time, all table-service locations at Walt Disney World Resort (including Operating Participants) will begin using the cancellation policy already in place at select restaurants on property. Beginning October 31, when booking a reservation at these restaurants, Guests will be required to provide a credit card to hold a reservation. A charge of $10 per person will be applied if the cancellation is not made at least one day in advance.

Pre-paid locations will continue to retain the full, pre-paid amount if Guests are unable to honor the reservation and are unable to cancel the reservation one day in advance. Special dining events and packages such as Fantasmic! packages, New Year™s Eve dinners, Victoria & Albert™s reservations may have different cancellation requirements.

A special phone line that only handles dining cancellations is available for Guest convenience: 407-WDW-CNCL.

Dining reservations may be booked or cancelled by visiting any table-service restaurant podium, Walt Disney World Resort Hotel concierge or Guest Relations, or by calling 407-WDW-DINE or DVC Member Services (for Members only, 800-800-9800). Guests may also make and cancel reservations by visiting

Guests with questions about a cancellation policy for a dining reservation are encouraged to visit any table-service restaurant podium, Walt Disney World Resort Hotel Concierge or Guest Relations, or by calling 407-WDW-DINE or DVC Member Services (for Members only, 800-500-9800).

61 Christie { 10.15.13 at 11:34 am }

Hi Dave! Super AWESOME site 🙂

We are planning on trip for Mar 2013 at the Polynesian Resort (which we have not been too since the 80’s…LOL). I’m confused on the Dining Plan (not sure if it is the right value for us or not). There are a few of the character meals that we want to do (Cinderlla’s, Crystal Palace, and maybe Chef Mickeys). It’s me, my husband, and 8 year old. Two questions:

1.) With wanting to do these specifically, would it be cost efficient for us to buy the meal plan even if we plan to eat off the grounds as well (Planet Hollywood, Johnny Rockets, etc)?

2.) On your list of the “must do’s”, it mentions that Cinerella’s is 2 credits for the meal plan…Can you also pay cash or credit or is this strickly a meal plan place?

On the parks we were thinking MK, Epcot, and Universal. I read above where you advise my age child not to do Universal. Would it be better to do HS or MGM? Any suggestions on what not to do?

Any advice or thoughts are highly recommended 🙂 Thanks so much!

62 Dave { 10.16.13 at 7:13 am }

Hi Christie, and thanks!!

First the dining plan hardly saves money any more, so I’d skip it. And all restaurants that take the dining plan also take cash!

I would see all four Disney parks–Epcot, HS, AK, and MK. (“MGM” is now “HS.”) MK is a two day park, the other can be seen in a day–tho more than a day at Epcot is better. Unless the 8 year old is a huge Harry Potter fan, I’d skip Universal for a few years…

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63 Christie { 10.16.13 at 8:45 am }

Yes, Dave! Extremely helpful! The biggest decision we had was the meal plan! You ROCK! Might have additional questions once we get closer! Thanks for all that you do 🙂

64 Dave { 10.17.13 at 9:48 am }

You bet Christie, keep the questions coming!

65 Jay { 11.05.13 at 10:13 am }

Hi Dave, we just booked a dinner on Friday May 9th at BE OUT GUEST at 4:15. We have two girls age 8. I’ve heard that their are long lines to get in. What is the best recommendation logistically to avoid this.
Also, in addition, we will be taking a bus all week, would it be advisable to take the monorail after the dinner and go to the Epcot Illumination fireworks. Our resort is the Port Orleans and then after fireworks it would be easier to take a bus back to the resort.
What are your feelings about doing this?

66 Dave { 11.06.13 at 6:50 am }

Hey Jay, with that early a reservation, you should be fine if you arrive at BOG a little before 4. And taking the monorail to Epcot is a great idea, but just to double check, you know that you’ll need a park-hopper ticket to see two parks in one day?

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67 Devster { 01.21.14 at 3:10 pm }

1st trip, PO:Riverside 17-Apr-14 thru 25-Apr-14. (only just booked)

6yo daughter so really want to hit Be Our Guest, but all dinner reservations are booked up during our stay. How tricky is it to get in for lunch, since it seems not to take reservations at lunch? Long lines?

68 Dave { 01.22.14 at 7:36 am }

Devster, your dates are among the 4-5 busiest weeks of the year at Disney World. So my guess is that lunch lines for BOG will be very long–at least an hour, and perhaps much longer…Things will settle down the week after Easter, so you might want to target the 24th or 25th…

69 DisneyDiningAgent { 02.07.14 at 11:02 am }

Some tips/facts I know about Cinderella’s Royal Table (CRT):

-2 table services per person off the Disney Dining plan
-Must be paid for in full at time of booking if you’re not on the dining plan
-Price includes tax and gratuity
-Third party payments not accepted (same credit card use to pay for or guarantee the reservation must match the lead guest’s name on the reservation)
-They will check your photo ID at check-in
-It has a one day full cancellation policy. You are free to cancel the reservation without penalty at ANY TIME the day before the reservation or before that and we’ll issue a full refund (it’s done by days not by hours, so it does not matter what time your reservation is). If you booked under the Dining Plan then the penalty is that they will charge the full amount of the meal to the card you guaranteed the reservation with and NOT take the table services.

-CRT does have tables that hold more than 6 people. If you make a reservation for more than 6 people you will be seated at separate tables. Of course if you have all of your party of 7+ on a reservation then CRT knows you want to sit together and they’ll do everything possible to seat you next to each other. However, you can’t do anything about that ahead of time. When you show up at the podium they will make the arrangements then. Special seating requests at ALL Disney restaurants can only be accommodated when you arrive.
-You cannot see the fireworks from CRT (the fireworks happen over head of the castle).
-Walkups are technically possible at all Disney restaurants (except reservations are REQUIRED at ALL dinner shows). However, the more popular the place the more difficult time you will have with a walkup. CRT is the most popular character dining restaurant so walkups are rare. Also, most of the top restaurants have their own policy about walkups and CRT is no exception. CRT only takes walkups at the beginning of the meal period. If you’re walking up you need to be there for B/L/D at 8:00am/11:45am/3:50pm respectively. And, yes, guests have told me before that they have gotten in before without a reservation…but don’t get your hopes too high!
-An imaging package is included. Guests at Cinderella’s Royal Table receive one professional Imaging Package per group of 4 paying Guests, 2 packages for groups of 5 to 8 Guests, and 3 packages for groups of 9 to 12 Guests. Each Imaging Package includes one 6″ x 8″ and four 4″ x 6″ prints, and one 6″ x 8″ print of Cinderella Castle, all in a Cinderella-themed photo holder. You will take a picture with Cinderella before your meal.
-The characters there will be Cinderella and 3 or 4 other Disney princesses (you don’t know who you’re going to get, they rotate daily—but it probably will be princesses like Aurora, Snow White, Ariel).
-They have a set menu for all meals (breakfast is no longer buffet style). You can see current menus at
-Reservations are taken starting at 8:05am. As with all restaurants that serve breakfast you can get in to the park early to dine regardless of the park opening time. You can come through the gate with your reservation confirmation number 15 minutes before your dining time.
-You can start booking for CRT and all other restaurants 180 days and CRT fills up quickly.
-Prices for restaurants are not posted online. When you make a booking of course it tells you how much it’s going to charge you. But the prices aren’t posted for you to see otherwise. You must call us at 407-939-3463 and we will give you the exact prices for any set price restaurants for when you’re going. The prices change seasonally, that’s why they aren’t posted.

70 Dave { 02.08.14 at 9:06 am }

This is tremendously helpful! Thank you!!

71 Dan { 02.19.14 at 10:43 pm }

I recently made my dining plan reservations for 8-13 thru 8-23 and because of lack of evening choices through I made my T-Rex reservation directly with T-Rex Cafe on the 180 day mark. Do you know if I should be able to link a reservation made directly with T-Rex to the My Disney Experience reservations page? They use last name as confirmation and so far I have not been able to link.

72 Dave { 02.20.14 at 10:33 am }

Dan, since it’s not a Disney reservation, you likely can’t.

73 Nalini { 03.31.14 at 3:02 am }

Hi, I am thinking of doing the dining plan. Can I only purchase this if I book the Disney hotel through the Disney site or can I still purchase it after booking the Disney hotel through sites like etc. Would appreciate some help please.

74 Dave { 03.31.14 at 8:14 am }

Nalini, only if you book through Disney.

75 Nalini { 03.31.14 at 12:59 pm }

Thank you so much Dave. Looking forward to my trip and loving your website!!

76 Dave { 04.01.14 at 7:02 am }


77 Melissa { 04.09.14 at 12:53 pm }

You helped me with 1 question, so now I have another. We are planning on doing the dining plan with the sit down dinner for our family of 4- 2 under the age of 3. In order to get the most for our money, we want to do buffets primarily. Which buffets to you recommend?

78 Dave { 04.10.14 at 11:23 am }

Melissa, all the breakfast buffets are similar, also you’d pick among those based on theme. For lunch/dinner Crystal Palace, Chef Mickey’s, and Biergarten would all be great choices…

79 DisneyDiningAgent { 04.23.14 at 3:13 pm }

A tip on when to call to get your best shot at getting a great dining agent:

Dining agents get graded on their performance. There are many factors that go in to the grade, but the ones most relevant are: 1) Guest satisfaction survey and 2) Reservations per hour. The agents that score the highest in those two categories get to “preselect” their hours posted for work a week at a time. Disney Dining is open 7:00am-11:00pm EST and the top agents get their choice of hours before anyone else can post their hours. The most coveted hours are between 7:00am until 10:00am or 11:00am. Those hours are usually gobbled up by the top agents at “preselect” time and everyone else gets to fight for the scraps later. So very few of the lesser agents are working during that time. This isn’t necessarily true during our peak times, but as an overall statement if you call between 7:00am-10:00am your chances of getting a top quality agent are very good.

I’m sharing this information for two reasons: 1) I want the guests to get the best experience possible and 2) I want guests to understand how important the survey is that I offer after our call is over. I know it takes a while to take the survey, but if guests don’t take the survey then there is no way to reward good agents and punish bad ones.

I know that many of you (especially travel agents) call DD all time, so let me give you a tip about the survey: on all questions choosing option #1 is excellent, going all the way down to option #5, which is the worst. The survey covers many different aspects of the call, including the automated system, Disney itself and the agent. ONLY QUESTION NUMBER FIVE counts in the grading of an agent. If you were to take the survey and rate EVERY QUESTION a “5” (the worst), but on question number five you rate that a “1” (the best) then the agent will receive a good score on the call. This is important to know because as agents we get rated poorly for many factors beyond our control. For example, the system goes down occasionally and guests get upset about that. They take their frustration out on the survey and don’t think about Question #5, which states “How helpful was the agent?” They then give a “5” on that question, which wasn’t fair because the system being down is beyond the agent’s control (and BTW, when the system goes down Disney doesn’t tell us when it will come back up, it just happens at some point).

As guests you need to understand that we want to help you and do a great job for you. It makes us feel good and our job depends on doing a good job. Please be supportive and take the survey so our best agents can be rewarded and so the lesser agents are exposed and weeded out. And when taking that survey remember that we will do everything in our power to help you, but that sometimes we can only do so much. ANYTHING below a “1” score for an agent on question #5 reflects negatively on the agent. If you score a “2” for the agent it might as well be a “5”.

80 Dave { 04.24.14 at 8:35 am }
81 Ed { 09.23.14 at 2:07 pm }

Dave, I missed the 181 day dead line for making dining reservations for our trip Nov 29th – Dec 10th…ish. I know that Cinderella’s royal table won’t happen, but Akershush was easy to get reservations to last time i was there the week of our trip, now its totally booked out. Are there any alternative ways to get reservations if we try to use an agent like “ears”? Character dining was a highlight of our trip in 2012 and I really want to do at least a few while we are there this trip. Any insight is appreciated. Thanks in advance!

82 Dave { 09.24.14 at 7:27 am }

Ed, no, no one has any better access than you do. Suggest 1900 Park Fare– Cinderella and her fam at the Grand Floridian, great food, reasonable prices compared to CRT.

83 Rose { 10.12.14 at 6:51 pm }


So confused by dinning plan. We are going first week of February 2015…. Do I need to make reservations before I arrive? We have two boys 6 and 9 so not sure if there is a cool character dinner…. We are not schedule people and would rather plan each day as we feel, can we do this or do I need to plan every day and every meal?

84 Dave { 10.13.14 at 8:43 am }

Rose, you don’t need the dining plan to make reservations. The best loved Disney restaurants start filling up six months in advance, so if you want to eat at those you need to make reservations soon/now. This is more important if you buy the dining plan, as otherwise you will have credits to use and nowhere to use them at. You need to plan your “table service” meals–typically one a day–and also what parks you will be in each day, as otherwise you can’t select your FastPass+. See this for an example:

85 Marcy { 01.13.15 at 10:14 pm }

Hi, what is your thoughts on the luau show at the Polynesian? We are staying there so thought about attending the 5:15 showing one day. Also, we have one 1/2 day in Mk and I can’t figure out where to eat. I tentatively booked Liberty Tree but not crazy about the menu or the price (oh, and I’m traveling with my husband and a 2-year old). Thanks!

86 Dave { 01.14.15 at 1:46 pm }

Hi Marcy, I am not keen on the luau. At MK I would aim for the Crystal Palace.

87 Marcy { 01.14.15 at 8:36 pm }

Thanks Dave! We already have a Crystal Palace reservation (for 8:15am, so we can be in the park early one day). Think we may just have avocados and bread for dinner in our hotel room that night!

88 Dave { 01.15.15 at 8:14 am }

OK! Or you can scan through the dining reviews in my book! The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit 2015

89 Kim { 01.21.15 at 9:26 pm }

Looking to visit Disney 11-28-15 to 12-5-15. What do you think the odds are that a free dining offer would be available?

90 Dave { 01.22.15 at 7:13 am }

Kim, those dates have been excluded the last several years…

91 Mike { 04.14.15 at 12:29 pm }

Which resturant has the very best sushi on property at WDW ?

92 Dave { 04.15.15 at 9:21 am }

Mike I dunno, as when I go raw it’s for Carpaccio! I hear good things about the sushi at California Grill, Kona Cafe, Tokyo Dining, and Kimono

93 mike { 04.15.15 at 3:55 pm }

thanks Dave, my daugher had this question since she is the sushi eater. e do plan on eating at the Cali Grille when we visit in November. Thanks again and we will have more questions

94 Emily { 05.08.15 at 4:06 pm }

Hi Dave, Loved your book! I have already recommended it to several friends!
I was hoping you could help me with a Hollywood Studios dining question. We will be at WDW the week of Nov 8th. Fantasmic is at 7pm each night. How long is the show? We are wondering whether to eat before or after it since you have to be there quite a long time in advance to line up for Fantasmic. What would you suggest? We are thinking 50s prime time cafe and have a 8yo and 5yo. Thanks so much!

95 Dave { 05.09.15 at 8:30 am }

Hi Emily and thanks!!

Fantasmic is about 30 minutes…Either Prime Time or Sci Fi would be a good dining choice!

96 Mike { 05.12.15 at 8:32 pm }

Dave how and when can you get a reservation for Wishes fireworks ? We are looking for the reservations on the terrance with cookies and all that.. I know it is expensive but can never get it. Thanks

97 Dave { 05.14.15 at 7:58 am }

Mike, see this.

98 Shelby { 06.27.15 at 5:23 pm }

Wonderful Information and very user friendly site!!!!!
I am researching in hopes of planning my dining choices for our upcoming visit. We are using the dining plan option and would like to use our table service for the Fantasmic dinner option and the Luau at the Polynesian. What recommendations do you have for us? We are a party of 3. Myself (40 + visits), Spouse (1st time visiting) and 13 yr old daughter (10 visits =/-) and we are going on December 26th – January 2nd. I have reviewed the suggested itinerary but the options we wanted were not mentioned. I am open to all advice!

99 Dave { 06.28.15 at 5:18 pm }

Hi Shelby, and thanks!!

The Luau is so-so but expensive, so you won’t find it highly rated by me.

The Fantasmic dinner option is a good approach given the mobs and mobs of people who will be in the parks those dates. The problem with it are the the restaurants in it (so-so Mama Melrose and Hollywood and Vine, great but expensive and dull dining at the Brown Derby.)

100 Jennifer Vernetti { 07.10.17 at 11:59 am }

Hi I am going to Disney in late January and staying not on the resort. Can we still do character meals if we don’t have a dining plan?

101 Dave { 07.11.17 at 7:31 am }

Absolutely, Jennifer. Anyone can book anything, so long as seats are available.

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