How to Score Disney Dining Reservations At The Last Minute (even the popular ones!)
You are never out of luck when it comes to making Disney dining reservations, even at the last minute. Here are my best tips for how to get Disney dining reservations at the last minute!
Making advance Disney dining reservations for a Walt Disney World resort restaurant can be very difficult. Some restaurants, especially character meals and certain signature restaurants are way too popular. It seems like these reservations get snatched up at an unnatural speed.
The truth is, that it is a little unnatural. Lots of those reservations are fake. Not that Disney is pumping out fake availability information, but people are making reservations they aren’t going to actually use. There are a lot of reasons for this.
Either, they are securing reservations at multiple restaurants because they aren’t sure where they’ll plan to be yet, or something more sinister could be taking place. It is rumored that some people actually book reservations for popular Disney World restaurants with the intention of selling those reservations later on!
Related: How Much Should You Tip At Disney?
Disney Dining Reservations in 2022 and beyond
With people booking more reservations than they can use 60 days in advance, you have to be ready at 6:59 am (3:59 am PST) to hit the refresh button on your browser and secure your table. Otherwise, those reservations get booked up fast. If you miss that opportunity, though, all hope is not lost.
To begin with, not all signature restaurants are as difficult to book. Some of the ones at the deluxe hotels are less popular than the ones in the parks and the higher-profile locations such as California Grill or Storybook Dining at Artists Point. You may be able to secure advance reservations for great restaurants without having to beat the buzzer.
Making Last Minute Reservations with Disney– Use this trick on the app!
Basically, one of the reasons people are finding it hard to score coveted dining reservations for popular Table Service restaurants is many people are making multiple reservations for the same day/meal. If this seems somewhat shady, let’s be honest.. It kind of is.
There are numerous reasons why they do this– it could be they don’t know which one they really want to eat at so they make more than one reservation to give themselves options. Another reason why this happens is people can then go on popular Disney Facebook groups and trade reservations with other guests. Again… seems kind of shady to me, but since Disney hasn’t stopped the practice, it must not be a big no-no (just not very magical and nice. lol).
But here is the dirty little secret– you have to cancel unwanted reservations more than 24 hours before the reservation time. What many people are observing is that within 1-3 days (or even the day of) of the day you want to eat at a certain restaurant or park, if you keep refreshing in the app you will start seeing hard to get reservations pop up! Wow, right?!
When we visited Disney World recently, we used this last minute reservation loophole to snag reservations for La Creperie, The Plaza, and we changed our Be Our Guest time to something more accommodating our schedule. See what I mean? This is an awesome trick!
How to do this in the app
- Navigate to the dining reservation section of the app.
- You have the option to search by specific times or by a general timeframe (like breakfast).
- Believe it or not, searching on a specific time will get you more results. Click on a time and if there is not a time available, it will suggest alternatives (if any exist).
- Once you find a time you like, click on it and make the reservation! Easy peasy!
- Oh, and don’t be discouraged if you don’t find something right away. As with many other things on the new Disney app.. Always refresh. Keep refreshing. You might surprise yourself!
Pro tip: When reserving at the last minute, instead of picking breakfast, lunch, or dinner, click on the actual times. It seems counterintuitive but when you click on an actual time, the system shows you all availability in a time range, and more options tend to appear.
Assistance in Booking Disney Dining Reservations
If you have a travel agent helping you with your trip, they will do the work for you by securing your reservations and checking in regularly in order to book it. Travel agents usually don’t cost you any more and the booking of reservations is an invaluable service because they can save you a lot of trouble. In our experience, using a Disney travel agent is a game-changer when it comes to success in booking dining reservations.
If you don’t have an agent helping you plan your Walt Disney World vacation, you may be able to use Disney’s concierge service. The deluxe resorts offer premium concierge-level rooms that include personal service and other perks.
The Do It Yourself Approach and the Asking For Help Approach
Disney is expensive, so you might not mind the added charge to an already lengthy bill. On the other hand, you might not have room for the added splurge in your budget. If that’s the case, you’ll just have to log into your My Disney Experience app and make the attempt yourself. However, if you have the time, there is one more option to give you better odds of getting a table at the Disney World restaurant you want.
Calling in used to be a standard option for Disney dining reservations. However, with Disney’s current emphasis on creating efficiencies (due to staffing shortages and budget shortfalls) Disney tries to steer you away from making a phone call. Nevertheless, a phone number does exist!
Try (407)939-7529 to speak to a live human cast member. There are also individual restaurant numbers for the non-Disney-owned restaurants. These people may be willing and more capable of pulling some strings to make a reservation work. This isn’t as easy as it used to be, but it’s worth a shot if you really are in a bind and need some last-minute reservations. Try the app first, but if that fails it may be worth turning on the charm and schmoozing a cast member into reviving some of that old Disney magic.
Alternatives to Making a Disney Dining Reservation
Of course, if you really can’t get a reservation all hope is not lost. For starters, there are all kinds of other fantastic options that you should have as a list of backups just in case. If you really have your heart set on a particular location you can always try simply walking up.
There may be a cancellation. Even if you have to wait a while for your table to open up, it’s better than no availability at all. If that doesn’t work, you at least still have the lounge option. Most of the great Walt Disney World restaurants have lounges. These lounges often even use the same kitchen and have similar menus. Since the lounges don’t take reservations, you may be able to time your arrival so that you can easily get a table at something approximating the restaurant you were interested in.