Mom And Kids Animal Kingdom
  • On Jan 12, 2010
    Jennifer from NY Asked

    We are staying at a Disney Resort for the first time, and booked the dining plan. Do we need to plan all our meals in advance? I booked the stuff I really wanted to do, but did not plan every meal. We kind of want to not have a strict schedule.

    Hi Jennifer,

    If you are coming during a busy time of the year, which in  my opinion is basically whenever children are not in school and the holidays, then I strongly recommend that you make a reservation for for all of your Table Service (full service) restaurants.  I also recommend that you do that if your trip falls between mid-August and mid-October as Disney sometimes offers "Free Dining" in those months, and it becomes impossible to eat at a Table Service restaurant then without a reservation.  Many years ago you didn't have to make a reservation for every meal and could even just walk up to some of the more popular restaurants.  My experience the past couple of years leads me to believe that those days are long gone.

    However, Walt Disney World has a lot of restaurants and generally speaking you can make a reservation for some of them as late as the day before or sometimes even the same morning for a lunch or dinner reservation.  I usually do not have a problem making a reservation at Disney's Hollywood Studios for Hollywood & Vine, Mama Melrose's, or the Hollywood Brown Derby just before going on a trip.  Likewise at Disney's Animal Kingdom for the Rainforest Cafe (but not the Downtown Disney location), Yak and Yeti, or Tusker House.  At Epcot, I can generally get a "last minute" reservation for the Biergarten in Germany, Tokyo Dining, Nine Dragons, or Restaurant Marrakesh.  I've never had any luck in getting a reservation for a table service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom unless it is made well in advance!

    It's also easier to get a "last minute" reservation at a resort hotel than in a theme park.  However, some of the hotel restaurants are very popular and you should try to make reservations for them as soon as you can.

    Have a magical vacation!
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Meet the Panelist: Bernie, Maryland

I am an engineer with NASA with prior Air Force service. My wife and I have two boys, ages 13 and 8. At home, I'm known as the "Disney Guy" and I've enjoyed helping guests plan their Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, and Disneyland vacations. Learn More About Bernie

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