Advance Dining Reservations Reopen for ALL Disney World Guests
Walt Disney World has officially reopened Advance Dining Reservations in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios for reopening dates and 60 days thereafter, plus resort hotels starting today. In this post, we’ll cover the details, offer some restaurant recommendations, and more.
To quickly recap, Walt Disney World previously cancelled all existing reservations, including Advance Dining Reservations. This also included the Disney Dining Plan and Free Dining–we mention this because there’s now a “warning banner” at the top of DisneyWorld.com letting guests know the Disney Dining Plan is not back. (It’s not expected to return until 2021 at the earliest.)
Going forward, Walt Disney World will shift from a 180-day booking window to a 60-day booking window for dining and experience bookings to allow guests to make their plans closer to their visits, which will work better with the new Disney Park Pass theme park reservation system. Let’s cover what’s open for booking right now…
Basically, current booking options include all of the table service restaurants on this List of Reopening In-Park Walt Disney World Restaurants. A handful of these locations are walk-up only, but the vast majority should now be options for Advance Dining Reservations.
If you’re an on-site resort guest, you should be able to make new dining reservations for all dates of your trip up to 60 days in advance of your arrival. (Timing-wise, we don’t have any reservations that allow us to verify whether the “60+length of stay” aspect of the system is working–please let us know if do you!)
With the opening of Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park on July 11, followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15, you’ll need valid park admission, a Disney Park Pass reservation for theme park entry, and a dining reservation to dine at an in-park, table-service restaurant. Dining reservations do not guarantee admission to the park.
If you’re planning to dine at a resort and you’re not staying at the hotel, you will absolutely need an ADR. At present, resort hopping via car is not allowed without an Advance Dining Reservation–you will be turned away at the security guard booth. Presumably, day guests will be able to walk over to resorts or take Disney transportation once that becomes an option, though.
As for the Advance Dining Reservation system, it worked pretty flawlessly for us…at 7 am this morning. This the ADR system went live early in the morning without prior announcement, that could be part of it.
After a few minutes waiting on the “We’re Almost in Orbit” page, we were able to search for restaurants, and go through the motions of the process. Every date we spot-checked had full availability. It’s possible others had issues, but we had none. Later in the day, don’t be surprised if the system crashes or has errors.
Nevertheless, we would not encourage you to call if the online Advance Dining Reservation system goes down. Disney “drop day” for anything results in jammed phone lines and multi-hour waits, and it’s simply not worth that right now.
This is especially true given the lack of demand. Many guests in the first couple of months will be Annual Passholders who will do quick service restaurants—or eating at home before arriving or after leaving the parks. Moreover, without the Disney Dining Plan a lot of demand will be eliminated for pricey table service restaurants as guests will balk at high menu prices.
As for recommendations, our biggest would be this List of Outdoor Dining Options at Walt Disney World. As our collective knowledge grows and evolves, it’s becoming increasingly clear that prolonged indoor exposure–as opposed to more fleeting encounters or outdoor activity–is one of the most likely scenarios of transmission.
If you want to do anything to mitigate your risk, dine outside. The unfortunate reality is that summertime in Florida is hot and humid, so it’s not the most comfortable time of year to be doing this. Nevertheless, the views are nice and we think it’s better to be safe than sorry. Your mileage may vary.
If you’re comfortable doing indoor dining, here are a few recommendations. First, Skipper Canteen is one of the most underrated gems at Walt Disney World, and was arguably the best restaurant in Magic Kingdom even before this. With other restaurants closed, we’re hoping it finally receives the love and fan attention it deserves.
Also in Magic Kingdom, the prix-fixe lunch and dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant is bound to be a popular pick. (This is a better value out of pocket than on the Disney Dining Plan, so now is the time to try it if you normally do the DDP.)
At Animal Kingdom, we’d honestly recommend sticking to counter service restaurants. It’s tough to beat Flame Tree Barbecue or Satu’li Canteen, and both have lovely outside seating areas.
If you’re dead-set on table service, maybe Tiffins/Nomad Lounge. Yak & Yeti Restaurant is another personal favorite during normal times–like the rest of Animal Kingdom, it’s a treasure trove of themed design and detail.
At Epcot, there are a few restaurants with outdoor seating on the aforementioned list–our top recommendations are those options. We’re going to stick to those, plus Katsura Grill, Taste of EPCOT Food & Wine Festival booths, and Regal Eagle’s Distinctly Patriotic Smokehouse: A Salute to All Foods, But Mostly Barbecued Meats ~ A Sam Eagle Craft Drafts & BBQ Joint.
Additionally, we’re fans of Via Napoli (which might have outdoor seating) and Garden Grill (the only in-park character meal) are likely to be the most popular picks.
Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we’ll be sticking to BaseLine Tap House (another gem) and Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge on the quasi-table service front. Other than that, Docking Bay 7 and Backlot Express.
We’re very eager to see how distanced dining at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant works, so that’d be a top indoor choice. On the other hand, 50’s Prime Time Café might be a bit too surreal with your “mom and dad” or “aunt and uncle” wearing masks. We’d probably skip that for now.
As for the resorts, there’s not much beyond what’s on the aforementioned outdoor dining list. As previously shared, we did the modified character dining experience at Topolino’s Terrace. We’ve also done dinner at Topolino’s Terrace, which was absolutely fantastic.
Beyond that, there’s not really any “destination dining” reopening at the resorts right now. Maybe Sanaa, but that’s about it.
If you’re looking for something outside of the Walt Disney World theme parks, our top recommendations would actually all be at Disney Springs. The Boathouse, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin, STK, Frontera Cocina, Paddlefish, Terralina, and a range of counter service restaurants are all good options. (We’ve had a ton of fun at Disney Springs recently.)
The big advantage that Disney Springs offers is that it’s open well past closing time of the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. As Walt Disney World’s Park Hours Will Be Dramatically Reduced for the next few months (at least), it might be smart to do a late lunch in the parks and then push dinner until after you leave the park–stretch your day out a bit longer. It also doesn’t hurt that the restaurants at Disney Springs are typically better quality and more competitively priced to their real world counterparts!
Overall, that should about cover what you need to know about Advance Dining Reservations at Walt Disney World for now. While the system is working smoothly now, we’d be more surprised if there are not problems later today. Don’t let that freak you out–even with reduced capacity and physical distancing, it seems unlikely to us that anything is going to fill up fast. Unless there’s something you absolutely must have, we’d stress patience, and simply trying later today or tomorrow if there are issues.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Will you be booking Advance Dining Reservations? Have you had any success/failure using the ADR system? Are you comfortable doing indoor dining, or will you stick to counter service and outdoor table service options? Do you have plans to visit Walt Disney World this summer or fall, or have you cancelled? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
We have an arrival of Sept 5th so it was exactly 60 days on the day they opened up to all guests and we were able to make reservations for our entire stay. I wish they would have honored their promise like they did for others who had canceled reservations by letting us and everyone else have early access but they only did for those arriving through Sept 2nd and I’m not sure why. We were lucky to be able to snag everything we wanted including Sci-Fi, Topolino’s, Boathouse, Yak and Yeti without issue but I did have to split up my party of 7 for some restaurants. We may have just gotten lucky though because we attempted booking at the 60 day window not knowing if it was really going to let us or not and nobody knew about it til after it was live. Now that everyone knows I wonder if people who have reservations later in Sept/Oct may not have as much luck since Disney isn’t honoring their promise about advance access to dining for all those who were canceled.
Does anyone know why Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant has no available reservations? Guesses are welcome. Thanks!
Are they going to be opening up pre-opening breakfast in any of the parks? I love going in before everyone else to eat and get ready for the day.
We too were just able to make our ADRs for our entire stay as today is 60 days out. Initially when I opened the app, those days were blocked out. But after a few minutes, they opened up. Scifi Drive-in was not available for any of our HS days, sadly. But we still plan to have a good time, if Florida doesn’t add a 14-day quarantine for us Texas folks!
I wonder if this will be the end of the dining plans?
Have you heard when Ohana may reopen? And do you have a similar recommendation outside Disney if it does not open in the near future? Thanks!
If you have 9 people going, you have to split your party up?
My trip starts Sept. 7 and I was given July 7 as the date my dining reservation would open up. That is not exactly 60 days I know but it is the date Disney sent me. I only see up to Sept. 5 today.
@Tom have you written an article on a price cost comparison of paying out of pocket (what we now must do) vs the Disney Dining plan which is 1 sit down 1 quick service and 2 snacks? We’re a family of 4 and now scheduled for the 1st week of November. I’m trying to get an idea of what it’ll cost us. Thank you!
I was wondering the same thing so I used this link to get a ballpark idea http://www.distripplanner.com
It gives you a breakdown of cost comparison
@Dave Z thank you for that link, I’ll check it out! As for @Tom I did find this article during a search but reading it and the Top response to your article from Ed made some valid points about comparing “Apples to Apples”. Anyway with the deletion of the dining plans and some of us looking to try and calculate a budget maybe a new article is worth doing? Thanks again Tom for the excellent blog!
@Dave Z wow HUGE thanks for that link, excellent website and resource!!!!
Does anyone know how the “if you had a reservation you get priority for rebooking will work”? I have a stag October 3-10 coming up, so it’s outside of the 60 day window and haven’t seen anything yet from Disney.
I came to ask the same question. My trip starts October 10, and we had dining reservations that were cancelled. When Disney cancelled them, they said people who had dining reservations cancelled would have first priority for booking new ones.
I was able to reserve through the app late last night and that has seemed to work better for me than the website (except for a weird redirect it makes me do every time). Pretty good availability but odd times. It’s obvious they are really staggering people so there are really early and somewhat late reservations with less in between.
I agree with SS, we were able to book dining reservations for our full trip (through 9/12) for our upcoming stay. However, we encountered challenges finding availability for a party of 7. It appears many restaurants can only support groups of 6 or less. I had to work with a cast member to split my group of 7 into two groups at both character dining locations.
Were you able to find character dining???
@Faye, Toppolino’s and Garden Grill only but I saw availability for both over labor day weekend when I was booking earlier.
I love sitting outside at The Boathouse. It has such great views of the water and is so relaxing! Plus their outdoor seating is so expansive.
If you have a reservation on your Epcot day, you simply walk from the Internation gateway. Beaches and Cream is less than 10 minutes and zero hassle walking from IG
Not working for length of stay for us, arrival sept 4. Only allowing me to book through sept 5.
I was also able to make a reservation at droid depot today. I called last week to try for a reservation but both of the days I checked were full. Today online I found plenty of availability, so that was nice!
Yes, 60 days from the start of your reservation. I did all of my dining reservations today for our vacation, and I’m exactly 60 days from our first day. 🙂
Wow, that was *fast* confirmation of that–good to hear it’s working as it should. Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂
Me too! 60 days today and made reservations for length of stay. Although I must say there is a severe lack of steak-for-breakfast options right now. Any suggestions?? My husband may force me to do quick service at this rate 😉
Seconded – The tail end of our reservation is Sept 6th (61 days from now) and we can make dining plans for that last day.
Does anyone have advice for travel options from Animal Kingdom Lodge to Beaches and Cream? Last time we drove for a Cape May reservation, it was hard finding a parking spot in the small area they set aside for people with restaurant reservations.