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.Book Right Away
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 PT. There is a chance there may be a delay for certain restaurants so don't panic if you don't see a restaurant you have your heart set on appear!
Disneyland App or Website?
You can book online or via the Disneyland app. I personally find the website to be more reliable than the app as lately I will often find it will load all the reservations before the app does giving you an advantage. The app can be quicker to get your reservation confirmed though so there is a pro/con approach to using both. On my last experience using the website, despite having my credit card information saved to my Disneyland account, I was still prompted to fill in all my payment information to confirm my reservation which did slow me down. But when I checked the Disneyland app, not all of the restaurants were showing up yet even though they were available on the website.
Disneyland Hardest to Get Reservations
There are a few restaurants that are in high demand to secure dining reservations at Disneyland and if these are on your list you need to be prepared! All of the reservations for the following reservations will be gone within minutes:
- Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar
- This is one of the hardest dining reservations to get at Disneyland and these will disappear in minutes so you need to be fast to secure yours! Remember: the interior of the bar (where all the fun is!) is 21 and up after 8PM so keep that in mind when making your reservation.
- Oga's Cantina
- Second in line in the hardest to get dining reservations category is Oga's Cantina. Just as popular as Trader Sam's but with longer operating hours so there's more availability to choose from.
- River Belle Terrace- Premium Fantasmic! Package
- Since the return of Fantasmic! this dining package has been more popular than ever becoming one of the most coveted dining package experiences at Disneyland right now. Since there are a limited number of tables on the patio at River Belle Terrace, and this package is only for one time at 7:15PM, these go lightning fast.
- Blue Bayou Fantasmic! Dining Package
- While not as hard to get it as the premium River Belle Terrace package, the Blue Bayou Fantasmic! dining package is a close second in dining experience popularity right now so you can expect this one to run out in minutes.
If your dining reservations don't release at that 60 day mark or you miss out 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, that 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 is 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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