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For the Walt Disney World visitor, planning out your dining reservations is a huge deal. You need to be online or on the phone 180 days before your visit, booking your dining options if you want the best chance of getting your top picks. Even then, you may find you are out of luck.
When a Walt Disney Worlder books a trip to Disneyland, the change in booking your dining options can lead to an anxiety attack. Then you have those planning their Disneyland trip as their first Disney vacation and may not know about dining reservations. So here I am to give you some tips, whether you are a Walt Disney World vet heading to the west coast, or just planning your first Disneyland visit, these tips will help you in making your dining reservations.
- Know which dining experiences require reservations. Very few do. Unlike Walt Disney World, the majority of Disneyland’s restaurants are “quick service,” counter service, or walk-up restaurants. They do not require reservations. You WILL want to make dining reservations for some restaurants such as The Blue Bayou, character meals (Ariel’s Grotto, Plaza Inn with Minnie and friends, etc), Carthay Circle, and more. A good rule of thumb is the fancier the restaurant, the more likely you need reservations. When in doubt, a Disney Reservations Cast Member can let you know if a reservation is required, encouraged, or not needed.
- Reservations can only be made 60 days in advance. Unlike Walt Disney World, there is no +10, meaning even if you arrive to Disneyland in 60 days, you can not book a meal for the 3rd day (63 days away) of your vacation. But guess what, you don’t need to. Which leads us to our next tip.
- Don’t set your alarm on your phone to get up early to make reservations. In fact, don’t sweat reservations that aren’t made when you are only 45 days away. One thing I love about Disneyland is it is much more laid back. You don’t NEED to make dining plans months in advance. In most cases, you can call 1-2 days in advance, sometimes even that morning, and get reservations. Maybe not the exact time you want, but probably close. The exception of course is during busy seasons. If you are going when it is busy, you might want to book at least a few weeks in advance.
- You may or may not be given your confirmation number. If you want it- please be sure to ask for it if it is not offered automatically. Disneyland does not require confirmation numbers to check in, and rarely has issues with losing reservations. Or maybe they lose them but because they are rarely booked, they have no problem with someone walking up and saying “Party of 5 at 9:00 am” UPDATE: If you will be entering the park through the “Character Dining Entrance” you will need your confirmation number.
- Be prepared to give this information- A name, number of guests, ages, etc. Also be prepared to mention any special occasions you may be celebrating. Even if the agent does not ask, be sure to tell them if a meal is a celebration of a birthday, anniversary, etc. It may not make a difference, but it may add to a little extra magic.
Finally, be prepared to give your credit card information. Recently, in the Spring, sources stated that Disneyland would begin requiring this for reservations (and guests would be charged $10 for not showing). That said, I never have had them ask for it. Even when I just called to make a dining reservation for our November trip. Still, better to have your card with you, just in case. UPDATE: You must give a credit card now, and if you miss your reservation or cancel less than 24 hours in advance you will be charged.
- Park Hours and Dining Reservations. Disneyland only releases park hours 6 weeks in advance. This leaves a few weeks where reservations can be made before you know the park hours. I like to use this to my advantage. Calling to book a breakfast at Plaza Inn and asking for the earliest time gives me a good idea of when the park will open. If the first breakfast is at 7:00 am, then the park opens at 8:00. Or in our case, breakfast starts at 9:30 am, which means the park most likely opens a 10:00 am. The bad with this is it makes it hard to decide what time you want to eat. If you really want to hit rope drop, you don’t want to have a dining reservation scheduled 20 minutes before.
So when planning your Disneyland vacation, take a deep breath and relax. There is no rush in booking your reservation.
To make dining reservations for your Disneyland vacation you can call (714)781-DINE (3463).
Do you have any additional tips for dining reservations for Disneyland?