Do you have to make dining reservations?

Hi all - as a Disney newbie, just wondering if you have to make lunch reservations at the theme parks or if you can just walk in? I know popular places will of course be full but wondering if thus applies to all venues?

Many thanks

There are lots of counter service options, which don’t have reservations (except for BOG and, apparently, Skippers Cantina.) For table service places, reservations are generally necessary unless you are willing to wait quite a while. The counter service options are pretty good, though.

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If you want a table service restaurant in the parks you basically have to make a reservation. 180 days out for the more popular ones. The planning involved can be painful.

When it is busy, which is now almost always, even the counter service options can take awhile. Consider not always eating around noon-1:30 or 5-7.

I just went to the WDW site and looked to see which restaurants had openings for lunch for 2 today between 11am-3pm. I am only listing restaurants in the parks, not the resorts or DTD.

Chefs de France
Coral Reef
San Angel
Spice Road Table
Rose and Crown
Teppan Edo
Tutto Italia
Restaurant Marrakesh
Tokyo Dining
Le Cellier
Nine Dragons Restaurant
Mama Melrose
Hollywood and Vine
50’s Prime Time
Brown Derby
Sci-Fi Dine-In
The Plaza
Tony’s Town Square
Tusker House

That said, I always make reservations because I don’t like to scramble at the last minute and my family has favorite places to eat.

And. I just changed the parameters to a table for 5 and came up with 15 restaurants. None in the Magic Kingdom, though!

So, generally, you might be able to find a table for your party but it may not be the restaurant you want, and almost definitely not a popular restaurant. There are no character meals on that list!

I would make the reservations. Better safe than sorry!

The counter service options at Disney are also very good. If making reservations feels too restrictive (which I can totally understand!), you can always go the CS route.

You will not starve without a reservation, but you will find it difficult to get a table-service restaurant in MK. Many of the more popular table services in the other parks (and anything with characters) will likely be unavailable. However, there are reasonable food options for counter service, and sometimes last-minute (or night before) options for TS reservations. If you don’t have reservations, it’s a good idea to understand your counter service food options, so you aren’t stuck eating hot dogs or turkey legs if that’s not your cup of tea.

We like the flexibility of counter service for most meals, and usually only use 2 to 4 ADR’s for “big deal” meals for a trip - e.g. Character meals, Via Napoli, Boma, California Grill, although we often make 3-5 ADRs ahead of time. As the trip unfolds, we may book more ADRs last minute (i.e. the night before when we’re on site), or drop a few.
There are ALWAYS lots of ADRs available last-minute as people change plans since you have until midnight the night before to cancel a reservation without penalty.

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I think the answer is always “it depends”. Do you want to eat in the MK on a weekend, holiday, or lately- just about any day since the CL have been crazy? I will never forget seeing a family in MK on the 4th of July who expected to walk up to LTT.

Thanks so much everyone for your feedback. Counter service is probably fine for us to be honest so I might explore that route more thoroughly.

I noticed the Unofficial Guide also suggested eating off site eg take the monorail from Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary Resort, as service would be quicker etc. In your experiences is that worth doing for counter service meals?

Really appreciate your thoughts, thanks again!

PS: was thinking of eg the Contempo Cafe…

In Magic Kingdon I think it is worth it (at least for me). It is very easy to hop on the resort monorail (two monorails, one goes back and forth to the TTC and the other stops at the resorts. You could walk to the CR. I personally will hop on the monorail and go to the Poly. I love the pork nachos!

Sadly now back home after our holiday but just wanted to say thanks to everyone who posted advice on here in answer to my questions - it was much appreciated! Thank you :grinning:

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