by: guide4wdw – Collin

Just a few short days ago I was talking with a reader about making dining reservations at Walt Disney World. While this happens fairly frequently, the particular conversation sparked an idea in my mind which lead to this article topic, securing popular reservations. We’ve all been there, you decide at the very last minute to book a Disney vacation (which is becoming harder and harder to do) but unfortunately now have a huge disadvantage to overcome, the reservation window. Personally, I suggest that all guests attempt to book at least 4-6 months in advance for any Disney vacation experience. To be quite honest with you, that recommendation is on the conservative side if you want to secure even the most sought after reservations. I know what you’re thinking, “you just told me it was possible” and to be quite honest with you it is entirely possible. However, it’s best if I explain the situation through recommendations.

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For Booking Your Resort

Booking reservations for a Walt Disney World resort can certainly be tough when you start the booking process late in the suggested window. Everyone has their favorite resort, and staying at your favorite resort can sometimes be a sole selling point in the thought of traveling to Walt Disney World in the first place. Accommodations can really make a huge difference in the big picture. So, here’s the secret to overcoming limited reservations in regards to resort accommodations. You have to be repetitive in searching. Check the online site for accommodations many times a day and be sure to check at random times. I know it may be difficult to do so, but booking late at night or very early in the morning on a week night can make an incredible difference in availability based on my experience. This is one of the many reasons I recommend a travel agency, especially for last minute vacations, because they will follow cancellations and availability for you as closely as they can. Personally I use and recommend Destinations to Travel (quote request form below), not only because they help us out in return but because they really do go above and beyond in situations like this.  

Also worth noting is that you have to be flexible to a certain extent. If you’re used to staying at a deluxe tier resort, you may have to “settle” for a resort you may have never stayed at before. If that is the case when booking, I would personally take whatever reservation I could find at my price point then continuously check the site and call the Disney reservation phone number to see if anything pops up that was not previously available. Sometimes it’s surprising what may pop up on the screen of a cast member answering calls at the call center and what may be on your screen listed as available at home. It sounds crazy, but bookings and availability changes happen incredibly frequently and incredibly quickly at Walt Disney World. Also, and as a final tip, I highly suggest that you check the reservations system for dropped reservations at each of the required payment or cancellation windows (31 days out for resort accommodations without incurring a small fee for cancellation). Many guests will give up on their vacation last minute for various reasons and will typically cancel right before it costs them any money to do so. 

For Booking Your Dining Reservations
Beyond resort accommodations, dining reservations are an entirely different circumstance and in many cases more difficult to reserve. One of the biggest questions in the realm of Disney dining over the last few years has been, “how do I get a reservation for Be Our Guest.” The location has been the “must-do” dining option on everyones list since the day it opened and for good reason. The theming is second to none and something that every Disney guest should get to see at least once. 

I was lucky enough be there just a short time after it opened and managed a walk-up lunch meal, but that is no longer an option at this time to my knowledge. Setting that short story aside, the solution to that often proposed question truly has a few answers. The first and possibly the easiest way to guarantee a time and date you want is to book the meal 180 days out and make the reservation online at around 6am on that 180 day mark. It seems obsessive, but it does work. The phone booking system wont open until an hour later, so it really is your best bet to get exactly what you want. Unfortunately, in our proposed case scenario, that may not be an option. 

The second best way to find a reservation you want is to continue checking back on the site between 6:00am and 7:00am each and every day until you secure the reservation you so desire (this applies for all dining locations that take reservations). I’m not entirely sure if it is true, but we were told at one point by a reservations cast member that the booking system updates the reservations added and dropped from the overnight window one hour before the phone system goes live for the day. While that may or may not be the exact reasoning, the strategy works and I’ve utilized it many times first-hand to secure difficult reservations even a few days before our vacation began. Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to check the day of your desired reservation if all else fails. It is a bit amazing how many things open up the day of or the night before when failing to cancel begins to cost guests money. It’s not a fool proof plan to wait that late in the game, but it can be effective if all else fails. 

(click the post above for a 360 degree view of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort) 

Achieving Desired Specific Resort Room Placement
Specific room requests and location requests are something that gets talked about quite frequently on sites across the internet. Many claim that there is a fool proof method of achieving the room location or view that you want but in all reality that’s never the case. Personally, we’ve tried all the tips, left requests on our reservation and many other things, but the only one that has been even remotely successful has been calling the day of your reservation check-in date, or the day before. Occasionally a cast member can pull a few strings and manipulate the system a little bit, but unless you pay for a preferred room, there really are no guarantees. Of course, that’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but hopefully it takes you a step in the right direction. 

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So, there you have it, a few of our best tips in securing the perfect reservations of your choice. Hopefully this helps you out in some way or simply allows you to capture the reservation you never thought you could for your upcoming vacation. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful rest of the day!