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Strategy for Picking Dining at Walt Disney World
Dining at Tusker House

[This article was original published in 2018. Dining reservations at WDW are currently made 60 days before your trip.]

We are approaching 180 days until an upcoming Walt Disney World trip! “Normal” people may not understand the significance of being a half year away from a trip. Disney addicts however know this means that we can make our dining reservations at 180 days before our trip. In order to make our reservations, I need to know where we are going to eat. Here’s my strategy for preparing to make dining reservations at WDW.

Before we can decide where we are going to eat, we need to decide which park we are going to go to each day. I use the crowd calendars from Touring Plans to determine which park we are going to go to each day.  The crowd calendars show the suspected hours that the parks will be open, which park has Extra Magic Hours (EMH) on which day, and what they suspect the crowd level will be that day for the park. I look at my calendar and from there pick which days I will go to which parks. I avoid Extra Magic Hour parks (where a park is open for an extended period of time for on site Disney resort guests) when I don’t intend to use that park for that time. So if it’s an early extra magic hour (before the park opens to the general public) and I don’t intend to arrive at the park for that earlier opening, I avoid this park. This is because it is sometimes more crowded to attend that day. Extra people still seem to go to that park, even when they don’t show up for the EMH.

Also before I choose a restaurant, I look at whether I have the dining plan. I don’t often choose to have it, but if I do, then I want to add in more character dining as those are usually more expensive meals. If I don’t have the dining plan, I eat wherever I want and I just know that I am paying out of pocket for it. Once I’ve taken all of those things into consideration, I then know I need to fill in my restaurants on my park days, at my resort/potentially other resorts, and Disney Springs. In trying to decide which restaurants to eat at, I heavily review menus.  I use Touring PlansAll Ears, and because I need gluten free options, Alexis Gluten Free Adventures and Gluten Free and Dairy Free at WDW. I do also read the reviews and tips in the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, written by the Touring Plans folks.

Gluten Free Mickey Waffles
No trip is Complete Without Mickey Waffles!

That’s it. I just pick what I think I will want to eat 180 days before it’s time to eat it! What’s your strategy to prepare to make your dining reservations at WDW?  Any questions? What restaurant(s) are you the most excited about? Any place you haven’t tried but want to? Feel free to comment below.

Once it’s trip time, don’t forget to #packyourpixiedust

[Pack Your Pixie Dust

Author: Christy P

Christy is a Mom, Wife, Travel Planner, Attorney, Podcast Enthusiast & Co-Host (DCL Podcast) and a sometimes blogger. She writes about family travel, gluten free travel, and life as a travel addict. Her motto is "work hard to play harder!" Whatever you do, don't forget to Pack Your Pixie Dust.

2 Replies to “Preparing to Make Dining Reservations at WDW

  1. tried a few new places on our last trip. Storybook Dining with Snow White, Trails end buffeteria for Breakfast and also a quick service meal at Contempo Cafe Storybook was great but I think it will be a one time only event for us ( like a castle meal) Loved Trails end and I was very impressed with my meal at the Contempo café- My husband and I agree that Disney Quick service meals are well done especially when look beyond the burgers and fries and reasonably priced for what you get Cant wait to see what you choose

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