Christmas Dinner at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

As exciting as Space Mountain and other rides at Walt Disney World are, the many restaurants at Disney are attractions themselves. As such, getting a reservation for a Walt Disney World restaurant can be tough. If the restaurant you desire for your Disney date is booked up, you still have options. Here's what to do if you can't get a Disney dining reservation.

Disney Dining Reservation Guidelines and Reminders

Let's start with the basics. The process for booking a Disney dining reservation has changed in recent years.

  • Start with the restaurants you want to visit most, along with your ideal date and timeframe
  • Dining reservations can be booked up to 60 days in advance
  • You can book online, on the My Disney Experience app, or over the phone (online is recommended)
  • To dine at any in-park restaurant you will need valid park admission
  • A credit card is required to hold the reservation
  • Any reservation canceled less than 2 hours in advance is subject to a cancelation fee

Other tips…

  • Most restaurants do not include gratuity, though some third-park restaurants do, be sure to thoroughly review your receipt
  • Many Disney Springs restaurants not owned by Disney utilize OpenTable for online reservations

TIP: Wondering which Disney restaurant is best for a date night? These 10 Romantic Restaurants at Disney Hotels are great for date night, and you don't need a theme park ticket!

Or, take a look at the best restaurants for wine at Walt Disney World. Not only do these restaurants and bars have great wine lists, but their menus are also some of the best on Disney property.

Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' at Disney Springs
Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' | Image credit: Stephanie Patterson

Learn How to Use Third-Party Disney Reservation Services

If you are not able to get a reservation at the Disney restaurant of your choice, consider using a third-party service to assist you with dining alerts. There are a few websites available to alert you when the reservation you desire becomes available. These services utilize technology that checks the availability of Disney dining reservations based on the parameters you set.

If a reservation becomes available, you will be alerted either through text or email. You will then need to book the reservation yourself.

You must set parameters and a communication method that will enable you to respond as quickly as possible. An alert from any of these services does not guarantee an actual reservation.

Please be sure to read the terms and conditions of any service before using it. There are free options as well as paid-for options. Consider a paid-for option to help support these businesses and the service they provide.

Check Walk-Up Availability

Sometimes same-day slots open up at certain Disney restaurants. Getting into a Disney restaurant on the same day is done through a mobile dine walk-up system. If you walk up to the greeter stand outside of any Disney restaurant, they will direct you to the mobile walk-up availability tool inside the My Disney Experience app.

Check availability at participating restaurants via the app or by scanning a QR code located in the restaurant’s lobby. Then, use the app to add your party to the walk-up list of available restaurants.

Once your table is ready, you’ll be notified to proceed to the greeter stand or other specified location. Make sure your mobile notifications are turned on so you can be properly alerted when your spot becomes available.

When trying to decide which restaurant you want to dine at Walt Disney World, consider what is most important to you and your sweetheart. Is it the atmosphere? Is it the menu?

If the exact restaurant you want to book is not available, there might be another Disney restaurant with a similar atmosphere or menu that will still feel like a dream come true. You could also take it as an opportunity to explore some hidden gems around Walt Disney World for dining or drinks.

Alternatives to Cinderella's Royal Table at Magic Kingdom:

Alternatives to San Angel Inn at EPCOT: La Hacienda de San Angel 

Alternatives to Le Cellier Steakhouse at EPCOT: Shula's Steakhouse at the Walt Disney World Dolphin

Alternatives to 50’s Prime Time Cafe and Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios: Nothing beats the atmosphere of the above two restaurants, but Mama Melrose's Restaurant Italiano has good food and decor that is reminiscent of the early Disney-MGM Studios days

Shula's Steak House - Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin
Shula's Steak House

Related: The Most Underrated Restaurants at Walt Disney World

Disney Restaurants with Fireworks Views (reservations required)

A reminder to plan ahead, and if you want to dine at Disney during a busy season like any major holiday, be flexible. When the time comes for your dining experience be sure to plan for travel and transportation time.