10 Rookie Mistakes Guests Make While Dining at Walt Disney World and How to Avoid Them

There are so many restaurants at Walt Disney World that you’ll never be bored when it comes to eating breakfast, lunch or dinner. Disney has restaurants for every taste, every preference and every cuisine. But there are a few things to remember when dining at Disney World—and some rookie mistakes you’ll want to avoid! Here are 10 of them.

10. Not making reservations early.

Walt Disney World is a big place offering many choices in restaurants and cuisine. It is also a very busy place, especially during the summer and around holidays, which means there are tens of thousands of Guests visiting the park you’re visiting. (And they want to eat too!) Because of this, you want to be sure to make your dining reservations early—up to 180 days before your visit to the parks. This is especially important if you’re hoping to enjoy special dining experiences, such as character dining, since many of these experiences book full months in advance. Don’t miss your chance! Call (407) WDW-DINE to book or download the My Disney Experience app and make most of your dining reservations via the app.

9. Not making reservations at all.

Some people don’t realize that you won’t be able to simply walk in to a table service restaurant at Disney with a big family during the summer or holiday seasons and score a table. Most of the table service restaurants are very popular among Guests. So even if you don’t make your reservations six months in advance, be sure to make them before you get to the parks. Otherwise you may forfeit your chance to enjoy that special dining experience.

8. Not noting allergies when you book.

Whether you book your dining reservation over the phone, online or via the My Disney Experience app, you’ll be able to note allergies you or your family members may have. You can also mention your need for gluten-free options. Be sure to mention this to the vacation planner with whom you speak when you call (407) WDW-DINE, or notate it when you make your reservation online or via the app. This helps the host and staff at the restaurant to be prepared ahead of time so that they can better meet your dietary needs.

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7. Not canceling in time.

Oops! We all have times when we need to cancel a dining reservation at Disney World. Maybe you got a FastPass for Flight of Passage at the same time, so you choose to head to Animal Kingdom instead of to dinner. Perhaps you and your family just change your mind about the restaurant or you decide to enjoy it on a different day. Whatever the reason, cancellations are accepted up until 24 hours before your reservation time. If you forget to cancel 24 hours ahead of time, you may be charged a $10 no-show fee per person on your reservation. Ouch!

6. Booking dinner at a different park.

This is an easy mistake for anyone to make. You booked dinner at a restaurant at Hollywood Studios, but all your FastPass+ times that evening are for attractions at Magic Kingdom. Oops! No big deal, unless you forget to cancel your reservation. To lessen your chances of making this mistake, it can help to get a calendar and plan out your days—know which park you’re visiting, which FastPass+ selections you’ve made and which dining reservations you’ve made. Be sure you’ve got your dining reservations lined up with the park you’re visiting, especially if you don’t have the Park Hopper option on your tickets.

5. Not checking the menu first.

You may have heard about a fabulous restaurant at Disney from a friend. Maybe you’ve passed by it when you’ve visited the parks. So you decide to make a reservation at the restaurant, but you don’t check the menu first. That’s a rookie move for two reasons—first, you need to be sure that the restaurant serves options you’ll enjoy (you don’t want to head to Tony’s Town Square Restaurant if you don’t dig Italian!), and second, some of Disney’s restaurants can be pricey, and you don’t want that kind of surprise when you open your menu for the first time at the restaurant. You can view the menu for any restaurant at Disney World online at disneyworld.disney.go.com.

4. Not arriving 15 minutes before your reservation.

Disney recommends that you arrive at the restaurant where you’ll be eating at least 15 minutes before the time of your reservation. This helps the host and waitstaff to have your table ready as quickly as possible.

3. Not bringing your camera.

You’ll definitely want to bring your camera, especially when you arrive to enjoy a character dining experience. And if you don’t bring your camera, be sure your smartphone is charged and has enough space left for lots of pictures! There will be many opportunities for taking photos, so don’t forget!

2. Not bringing your autograph book.

The kids’ autograph books are just as important as your camera! If you’re enjoying a character dining experience, you will be able to get the autographs from the characters who come to your table to meet you! They’ll sign any piece of paper, but an autograph book keeps all the autographs in one place!

1. Not eating dessert.

Most Guests at Disney World are on vacation, so dessert is allowed. And even if you live near Disney and you visit the parks weekly, dessert is allowed. You’re at Disney World, and not only do calories not count at the most magical place on earth; Disney also has some of the very best desserts on earth! So don’t be a rookie—order dessert! You’ll be glad you did!

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!