How necessary are dining reservations?

We’re going for the last week of August so it should be a pretty slow time in the parks. The 60 day window for ADRs are coming up soon. I know that I need to book any popular or special restaurants as soon as possible, but what about meals in general if we’re flexible? In the past (pre-Covid) we would make a couple of advanced reservations and then wing it. We’d find a restaurant in whatever park we were in that had seating around the time we wanted. Is this still a possibility, or do we need to book everything now to have any shot of eating at a sit down restaurant?

1 Like

It is never needed but we particularly enjoy sitting down and take a breather from touring. Since the cancellation policy is so lax, I suggest to make the reservations anyways and cancel as you see fit.

My question is more will we be able to find walk-in seating still in the parks or are they virtually nonexistent now?

You can find day of reservations but it’s really hit or miss. Often they were odd times or not in or close to the parks. We just made a couple of table service reservations ahead of time and relied on quick service and festival booths for the rest of our meals.


Some restaurants have a walk up list in the app that you can join. I’ve never used one though so not sure on details.


There are a bunch of “sit down” Quick Service Restaurants in each park where you can walk in whenever, order at the counter and have a sit down break in AC. The wait is usually not too long for these places. One example is Backlot Express at HS. You can even “Mobile Order” food ahead of time on the Disney app from these places so save some time in line.

If it is only Table Service Restaurants you desire, go right ahead and make those additional reservations if you can find availability. Booking “popular or special” restaurants at 60 days out will be difficult. Plan on using Disney World Dining Reservation Finder. You can have TP search for 2 at a time. Sometimes they will find it for you the day before you visit that park.

There is another option for Table Service Restaurants. Some locations offer day-of reservations. Before your trip, go to, scroll down to " Find Mobile Dine Walk-up Availability" and check each park where this service is available so you can have a plan. The morning/day of your visit, search for your restaurant in the app, and see if you are able to join the “Walk-Up List” at a time you want.


Yes you can join a walk up list through the app however keep in mind that you may not get what you want when you want it. I’ve heard of success stories when going at an odd time (mid afternoon) or right as restaurant is opening. Many times I’ve also seen people turned away when they walk up and want a table and are told they are no longer taking walk ups.


Well… there really aren’t slow times anymore.

If you’re truly flexible you’ll be able to eat somewhere each day but may not be able to be at all selective about timing. You may also be able to join walk-up when available.

It’s really pretty variable. I would be prepared to be happy with QS if you don’t want to commit to a reservation


If you want to guarantee you sit in the air conditioning and eat something other than burgers and chicken tenders, I would definitely book ADRs. If you are fine knowing that you may not be able to get a table service meal without pre-booking and are willing to take the risk of just eating counter service meals then you can wing it. I like knowing that we have a guaranteed seat out of the sun and heat before we go.


Cancelation is not lax. If you want to cancel you need to do it 24 hours in advance. Otherwise their is a $10 per person charged to your garrantee credit card.

1 Like

You can bump and run.

If I recall correctly you can cancel the night before without penalty. I remember doing this multiple times without being charged.

…but let’s get real, even 24hrs is pretty lax anything else would essentially be no cancellation policy


People still make many reservations they never intend to use. I do myself. Gives you flexability. I sometime make more than one reservation an hour apart. I cancel many days before once I decide on which one’s I will keep and which ones I will let go. This gives other late reservations a chance to get them like in this app. I always get up early 60 days before to make them at 4am. I don’t leave them to chance as so many walk-ups get turned away.

We went February 2020 right before the shut down. At that time, we would check the app in the afternoon and make an ADR for that evening based on what was available. Only once did we make an ADR in advance and that was the day before. Is that not a thing any more?

It can be. But see above regarding limitations and the need for intense flexibility if this is your approach. And the need to be prepared to be okay with QS if no reservation is available that suits your needs or preferences


Not a chance. There are there are those places like resorts that you stand a chance of walk-ups. Anything popular forget it. Heck 60 days out is getting hard to get what you want. Example: Ohana Good luck getting in there withot a DDR.

I did a lot of just checking stuff the night before and seeing what was available. I would not try to do walk ups.

I was able to do this last minute at Cape Mays Cafe in the Beach Club resort. Sea food with huge shrimp and clam chowder. So good and now a buffet again. Hidden gem

Very hit or miss, mostly miss - especially at the more popular or smaller locations.

1 Like

Thanks for the advice. I ended up booking 1 table service meal per day.

1 Like