Planning Dining Reservations

Planning Dining Reservations

I love food. I love eating. And I love eating wonderful food in Disney. It’s a perfect match. ❤ I also love planning, so I am in charge of planning and booking all our dining reservations when we go to Disney. This post will give you some insight on what I think about when I’m planning dining reservations and when I do what.

Dessert tray from my beloved Alfredo’s – now Tutto Italia in the Italy Pavilion

When planning dining, two key factors I keep in mind are park schedules and proximity. We always add the Park Hopper option to our tickets, but it still helps to consider location and ease of transportation if you plan to eat somewhere other than the park you visit that day. Knowing where you are and what you are near is a huge help when figuring out dining; referencing a map like the one below can help!

Resort maps, like this one from WDW Info, are great to use while planning

Here’s my process as I plan dining:

  • I start with how many days we will be in Disney (with the dining plan, meals are determined by how many nights spent in a Disney resort)
    • That tells me roughly how many quick service meals we’ll have and how many table service meals
    • For us, quick service usually means lunch and table service usually means dinner
    • We usually bring boxes of cereal and plastic bowls with us and buy milk and grab plastic spoons from the food court to save money
  • Then I check out All Ears or the Disney website for menus by location
    • When I come across a menu I like, I add the restaurant’s name and location to my list
  • I try to keep a variety of different types of food and always make an effort to try some places we’ve never been before
  • Then I sit down with my husband and tell him I’ve got it all planned out and ask if he wants to see some menus and give his opinion on where we eat
  • Once we know the park schedule, I can start mapping out what meals will work on which day, based on where we want to go and when, using my knowledge of that park map
  • I cannot stress this enough: plan back-ups
    • When reservations open up 180 days before arrival, I almost always find that some restaurants we wanted to eat at are booked or I may not get a reservation for the time or day I wanted
    • I have to be flexible and have second choices in mind
  • Dining reservations can be made online on the My Disney Experience site or over the phone
    • Online reservations open up at 6 AM WDW time
    • Phone reservations up at at 7 AM WDW time
Mickey Mouse treats from The Boardwalk Bakery are the best

Here are some examples of nearby locations you can take advantage of if you want to open your dining options up beyond where you’re spending your day:

  • Hollywood Studios is the closest park to Animal Kingdom, so you can make plans between those two on their given park days
  • My favorite to take advantage of is how close Epcot and Hollywood Studios are to each other
    • You can take a boat or walk from to the International Gateway at the back of Epcot (near France)
    • This takes you through the Boardwalk area, opening up meals at Beach Club, Yacht Club, or on the Boardwalk, in addition to either park
  • Disney Springs is closest to Typhoon Lagoon and Epcot
    • Folks seems to spend less time at Typhoon Lagoon than the main 4 parks, so you can easily jump on over to Disney Springs to shop and eat afterwards
    • While Epcot has so many great restaurants, Disney Springs has upped its game lately and, if you’re like us and spend most of your time in Epcot, you may want a change of pace and scenery for dinner
  • Magic Kingdom is only a monorail ride away from Epcot
    • I really recommend this one if you’re going between Future World in Epcot since the World Showcase is so far from the monorail station and you have the Epcot area resorts and Hollywood Studios so easily accessible from the World Showcase
  • Magic Kingdom also has three great resorts along its monorail loop
    • You can easily get to the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian
    • From the Contemporary, you are also putting yourself very close to the Wilderness Lodge

It’s all a lot to think about and master, but just know you are never limited on choices, just because you decided to visit a certain park on a certain day.

The Master’s Cupcake at Be Our Guest – topped with the Grey Stuff (it’s delicious!)

I’ll spend a whole post talking about the Disney Dining Plan and provide my thoughts on whether or not it’s worth the price. We do have the dining plan for this particular trip I’m planning, but we got it for free! 🙂

Chocolate Mousse dessert from The Coral Reef Restaurant in Epcot

Questions? Let me know in the comments! If there’s enough interest, maybe I’ll devote another post to talking more about dining.

Happy eating!


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