If you're planning a trip to Disneyland then you're going to want to secure some advance dining reservations for popular table service restaurants. You can make advance dining reservations for restaurants in the theme parks, Downtown Disney and the Disney resort owned hotels. If you don't have a dining reservation, there's no guarantee you will be able to secure a table so we always recommend reserving your spot in advance.
Disneyland usually releases reservations 60 days in advance but lately we've seen reservations drop more sporadically for restaurants making the process to getting dining a bit more complicated! With that in mind, here are my top five tips to getting Disneyland dining reservations.
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1. Check Often
The first step in securing your dining reservations is to set an alert for the 60 day mark from the day you want to reserve. Disneyland dining reservations (typically) go live at 6AM EST if they are ready to be released. Lately dining reservations haven't been releasing at that exact 60 day mark BUT I would still set an alarm to check, just in case they do. Unfortunately, Disneyland dining is a bit unpredictable right now. You can book online or via the Disneyland app.
If your dining reservations don't release at that 60 day mark then the best course of action is to check frequently. I often keep an open browser to the restaurant I am trying to get and just check it as often as I think of it. Of course, they can easily become a nuisance which is why I recommend….
2. Set Up Dining Alerts
There are a couple of different websites that offer free and paid dining reservation notifications. This means that once the dining reservations do go live you will be notified immediately which is extremely convenient. This is also a great feature if you miss out on a dining reservation and you want to try and secure any cancellations.
All of these services work the same way: you set up a date/time range for the restaurant of your choice and their automated system searches the Disneyland website for any open reservations. If an open reservation appears, you will get a text message or email with a direct link to reserve your dining.
- Mouse Dining
- This free service allows you to have up to six active searches at a time. You will get an email when the system finds a reservation.
- You can also opt to pay for text message alerts for only $9 a month. I prefer to receive text messages since I will usually see those before an email.
- Mouse Watcher
- This is a paid service and each active search starts at $5 (works for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner though!). Subscriptions start at $19/month if you need multiple restaurants.
- BEST OPTION! We had the best luck with this paid service. Perfect for the most difficult to get reservations.
The main difference between these options is how often the websites search because the more often they search, the easier time you will have finding a cancellation. I have personally used of these websites and have had the most luck the Mouse Watcher reservation finder. I usually find that I get the notifications from Mouse Watcher quickest although Mouse Dining isn't too far behind.
My advice is to use them all- the more searches you have, the more likely you are to succeed in getting that cancelled time. I would reserve the paid service through Mouse Watcher for the restaurants that you cannot live without. I did notice it searched more frequently than the others but I guess you get what you pay for, right?
3. Get Creative with Party Size
One thing I noticed when getting Disneyland reservations is the app would deprioritize parties of 2 as opposed to parties of 3-4. This is likely due to just logistics and not wanting to give away a table of four to a party of two. I managed to get more opportunities at reservations by changing our party size to three and had no issue when showing up to the restaurants with only two people. They won't charge you a penalty for this, as long as you don't make the numbers skewed to an extreme, and at least most of the party shows up.
For bigger groups, rather than searching for a party of six, try two searches for a party of three and three or four and two. Sometimes you just have to try and work around Disneyland's dining system. Then when you arrive at the restaurant, let them know you're altogether and see if they can work something out to seat you as a group. Keep in mind this might not be guaranteed though! If you do manage to get two separate reservations that equal your party total, you can also call the Disney World dining line in advance and see if they can group your reservation together or stop by the restaurant the morning of your reservation.
4. Keep Searching When You Arrive
Many guests may arrive at Disneyland and stop searching for those must-do dining reservations. I mean, this makes sense because you're busy and you may not want to spend time doing this on your trip. But even if you set aside a few minutes in the morning and evening to check, you may find the dining reservation you were looking for!
Since Disneyland's policy is to charge $10 per person cancellation fee for no shows if guests don't cancel 24 hours prior to their reservation you may have the most luck for cancellations 24 hours before your ideal time. I managed to find two of my sought after reservation times while we were already at Disney because I took the time to keep checking and it paid off.
5. Use the Walk Up List
If all else fails and you cannot secure a dining reservation then plan on going to the restaurant you want to dine at first thing in the morning when you arrive at the park. Usually most Disneyland restaurants will offer a walk up list. They will take your contact information and send you a text if they can get you a table. But remember, you need to do this as soon as possible in the morning otherwise the walk up list can fill up.
There's never a guarantee you can get a reservation this way but many people have had success with this option that it's worth a try.
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