by: guide4wdw – Collin
How to Get Walk-Up Reservations at Disney Table Service Locations in 2018
With the near insane crowds that have essentially become the norm in the last five years of the Disney parks, it’s no surprise that most guests assume walk-up reservations have become a thing of the past. Truthfully, that isn’t necessarily the case if you know where to ask and how to ask. On a similar note, never give up on securing reservations because often times last minute reservations pop up for the most unexpected of dining locations.
Today, I’m just going to jump right into it and skip my usual introductory remarks. Truthfully, there really is no perfect introduction to set the scene but rather a simple statement. Walk up reservations at Walt Disney World aren’t near as readily available as they are at Disneyland and other Disney parks, and in all reality the only “fool proof” way to secure reservations is to book them as early as you possibly can in your reservation booking window. This process and these tips for walk-ups should be an afterthought and at times walk-up availably is the exception rather that the rule. At the same time, it is vastly doable and I can honestly say we’ve had more last minute reservations in the last year that we have in the past 5 years combined (including a walk up on New Years Eve at Crystal Palace!) What made the difference? Well, here’s what we figured out.
1. Dont Be Afraid to Ask… and then ask someone else
I know, in the most basic sense, this sounds counter productive but knowing who to ask and trying more that once can make all the difference. If you go to a restaurant, you’re likely to find a check in area out front. In this case we’ll use Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom as the example. For that particular restaurant, there are two reservation/check in areas. One down at the bottom of the staircase and one on the patio area with a designated line. First, ask the cast member at the bottom of the staircase and if you get a “no” or very little information from them, go ask the other counter. Personally, I don’t know if they’re looking at the same information or not, but the answers you face can be vastly different. You never know unless you ask!
2. Be Willing to Wait Around For a Few Minutes
If you ask for a walk up reservation, a vast majority of the time you’ll be given a pager or the cast member will take your phone number and text you when a table opens up and they can get you seated. If you don’t have a fastpass in the near future, take your pager and wait around for a few minutes. Sometimes they wont be able to tell you when or how long it will be until you will be seated, but if you’re willing to wait, a lot of times the wait is far less that you expect it to be.
There tends to be an extraordinary amount of things to see and do within a two minute walk of most table service locations, so put your name on the list and go explore something you’ve never taken the time to do.
3. Eat at Strange Times of Day
When eating at weird times of day and being willing to deviate from a set dining schedule, you really open up the realm of possibilities and your walk up success odds. So many people get in a rut and eat at the same time every single day. You’re on vacation! Switch it up and eat a late lunch at 3:00 in the afternoon or catch a breakfast at 10:30 in the morning. If you eat good table service meals you can essentially cover two meals with a late lunch or an early dinner. Our family is notorious for eating a late breakfast, skipping lunch, and eating an early dinner. Not only does it cut some costs but it also makes reservations a breeze and vastly increases the chances of a walk up.
4. Ask for A Better Time to Check Back
This is my go to tip for anyone who couldn’t get the reservation they wanted. If you walk over to the counter and get a snappy response about the location not taking “walkups” (which is rarely true except for Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and other very high volume spots), first use tip number 1 and if that doesn’t work, ask if there’s a better time you can return for a better chance at a cancelation or filling in for a “no show.” The cast members who run these reservation counters and check in locations tend to know the guest patterns as a result of working the dining location almost daily. If you’re pleasant and ask carefully, they may share a tid bit of info with you about when to return and how to give yourself the best chance of a walk up.
Once again, Crystal Palace is great about this. We were told a few years ago that if you arrive near the end of breakfast and the start of lunch, walk ups tend to be readily available. We decided to give it a shot and after a short wait of about 15 minutes (about the same wait time as you still face with a reservation to begin with), we were seated. If you’re flexible, you may be surprised at what information the cast can share and will share with you to make the most of your dining experience.
5. Try Something New
Many table service restaurants always have availability. If you know where to look and where to attempt to walk up, reservations are readily available if you are willing to try something new or something “off the beaten path.” A few good options I can name off hand are Via Napoli (outdoor seating only sometimes), Nine Dragons, Yak And Yeti (no wait with the Landry’s Select Club!), Skipper Canteen, The Plaza, Beaches and Cream, the Boathouse, Paddlefish, and basically any table service location at Disney Springs. The only park that can be a struggle to secure a meal at the last minute is Hollywood Studios. It can be done at Sci-Fi, but it is extremely hit and miss. Another option is the Brown Derby Lounge, which never requires reservations to begin with. If you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, you may be shocked at what dining offerings you may come across and what location may become a new personal favorite for you.
6. Dont Give Up On Online Reservations
If you really want one specific reservation and all the above tips have failed, keep checking the My Disney Experience App for cancelations. Personally, I’ve seen Be Our Guest reservations pop up the day of or the day before the meal would take place and it’s not all that uncommon! At times, guest flights get cancelled, trips get cancelled last minute, or unfortunate circumstances develop that require a guest to give up entirely on the meal they had previously planned. On top of that, many guests will hold dining reservations and drop them right before they get charged if they don’t cancel in an allotted time period.
I’m not an advocate of having your phone in your hand every minute of every day, but if you have a few minutes waiting in line or waiting for a show to begin scroll through the app and see what you can find. If something you want pops up, book it quickly, but also be aware that if you do not show up for the reservation you book you will be charged $10 per guest in the booking party.
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you’re there, and we’ll keep the conversation going in the future. We’re not the largest Disney community, but we’re one that’s there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!
Need a Travel Planner?
If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They’ll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you’d like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thatks for supporting those who support us.