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  • [Question] Do I really need dining reservations?

    We will be at WDW the second week of February. If we want to eat at non-peak times, say 3:00 - 5:00, can we get by without dinner reservations? I'd rather not have to pre-schedule all our meals.

  • #2
    Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

    we have gotten into Liberty Tree Tavern once without any. No problem.
    Also, the Sci Fi Drive In in DHS.

    BUT!!!!! If you think you can walk into ANY character dining...you're in for another thing. Even at times when the parks have been slow as heck, the character meals are PACKED. Totally booked.



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    • #3
      Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

      I'd say that you can get by without them. Especially if you are not picky about where you eat. But I would also say that if there is a particular place you want to eat to get a reservation for it.

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      • #4
        Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

        Depending on where you want to eat, reservations may be your only choice. I prefer the counter service restaurants though as... 1. I'm cheap, and 2. I eat when I'm hungry. I don't like eating on a schedule. If I'm hungry at noon, I'll have lunch then. If I'm not hungry for lunch until 2:00, I'll eat then. Same goes for dinner (I don't eat breakfast, so it doesn't apply).

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        • #5
          Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

          If you are on the Dining plan it's a must only because if you don't you may not get to use all your meals and doing that is just throwing your money away on the plan... With all the discounts and specials going on the parks will be busy in February, maybe not peak season busy but busy enough that you may not be able to get in the more popular restaurants especially in the parks.

          Do you need them? Maybe yes, maybe no, all depends on where you want to eat and how busy it is on that day, but it's better to have them and cancel them than not have them and not be able to get in.
          Hi I'm Jerren and I'm a Disneyholic...

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          • #6
            Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

            I would say definitely yes. We went at an off peak time last year, end of Feb, beginning of march and had reservations. At the last minute I tried to change a couple and the restaurants we wanted were totally booked. I would at least book one for each night and then if you change your mind and can get in somewhere else, you can cancel the reservation you had, or change to a later/earlier time if one is available. I would not risk not starting with a reservation though! We ate at Liberty Tree (meh - least memorable) Ohana, Boma, Coral Reef, Teppan Edo, and Cape May and loved them all except Liberty Tree which was alright but I would never waste the money or a table service meal there again when there are so much better choices! But all of those were booked solid by the time we arrived. I think we managed to change the time of one of the reservations but I can't remember which one.


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            • #7
              Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

              Originally posted by Jerren View Post
              ...but it's better to have them and cancel them than not have them and not be able to get in.
              I 100% agree with this statement! It is impossible to know exactly how busy the parks or a particular restaurant will be on any given day. I would suggest getting the reservations, and using them if / when you want. I don't believe there is any penalty for skipping (although they do appreciate when you tell them if you aren't going to use one).

              Enjoy!
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              • #8
                Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

                Originally posted by DanaJ View Post
                We will be at WDW the second week of February. If we want to eat at non-peak times, say 3:00 - 5:00, can we get by without dinner reservations? I'd rather not have to pre-schedule all our meals.
                If there is anywhere you want to eat for sure, I would make a reservation.
                Also a lot of the ts rest. are only open for dinner and may not be open at 3 p.m..
                Any day at Disneyland is a Happy Day!!!! :ap:

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                • #9
                  Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

                  Make the reservations, life is easier with them and chances are you'll sit down and eat while those who didnt will sign up for the wait list.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

                    Most def make some reservations. We canceled some of ours last year on the morning of and when we called the dining reservation line they were able to tell us what was avaliable for that day and where, so we could change them if we wanted to something else. I don't like making reservations, but for the resturants we knew we wanted, it was better then not getting in
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                    • #11
                      Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

                      Originally posted by WDWmemories View Post
                      I 100% agree with this statement! It is impossible to know exactly how busy the parks or a particular restaurant will be on any given day. I would suggest getting the reservations, and using them if / when you want. I don't believe there is any penalty for skipping (although they do appreciate when you tell them if you aren't going to use one).

                      Enjoy!

                      Thanks WDW, but there are penalties for *SOME* restaurants for missing a reservation. Mostly it's the Dinner shows, and popular restaurants like California grill where they will ask for a charge card or your Hotel reservation number if your on the DDP/DDDP and they will assess a penalty for no shows (I beleive it's $20/person) if you do not call ahead of the reservation and cancel it.

                      Bottom line, if you decide you don't want or need a reservation take 5 minutes and pick up a courtesy phone, drop by the guest relations or restarant greeter and cancel it so annother family can use it, its just good manners to do so. The restarants book at around 120% or more due to no shows as it is and a lot of folks just cannot get in anywhere even with that policy during free dining and peak times. (or worse when all 120% show up!)

                      I also have a theory (or is it pet peeve) that some folks book 3-4 places at the same time and day since they are not sure which park they want to go to that day and then never cancel the extras... I know it happens, I've talked to folks who do it, even one or two on here and you know who you are... The new web based reservation system and the flat 90 day reservation policy is supposed to help cut back on that kind of abuse but only time will tell...

                      For guys like me the dining at WDW is one of the best parts of the trip, I would hate to miss out on a meal due to not booking ahead! If you don't want to do it yourself ask your travel agent to book it for you that's part of the free services we do for clients!
                      Hi I'm Jerren and I'm a Disneyholic...

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                      • #12
                        Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

                        I agree- it also depends on what and where you want to eat. If you are loking for table service, than most don't open for dinner until 4:30/5PM. I have gone afewe times with no reservations and was able to get in, but there were alot of times I had only been able to get counter service. If you want a particular resturaunt, make a ressie.
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                        • #13
                          Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

                          Thanks, everyone, for your advice. We do have reservations for Boma, but we're going to just 'wing it' for the rest of our meals. Like Aimster, we prefer to eat when we're hungry.

                          We didn't get the dining plan this time, so we don't have to eat at table service every day. And we don't have kids, so we don't need to go to any character meals.

                          Most of the table service restaurants in the parks seem to be open for lunch, so we'll try to get in for a late lunch. If we can't get in, we'll go somewhere else.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

                            Fishbulb and I have found that if we do walk-up for early lunch or dinner for just two people, we can usually get in without a problem. But show up in the middle of the Lunch or Dinner rush and you'll likely be out of luck. The other thing we sometimes do is call Disney Dining about an hour before we are ready to eat and ask them what's available in the park we happen to be in. Sort of like the lottery, but it works!

                            If you get a chance try to eat at the Yak and Yeti at Animal Kingdom, we really enjoyed it. I highly recommend the fried green beans as an appetizer. Really good.
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                            • #15
                              Re: Do I really need dining reservations?

                              Originally posted by DanaJ View Post
                              Thanks, everyone, for your advice. We do have reservations for Boma, but we're going to just 'wing it' for the rest of our meals. Like Aimster, we prefer to eat when we're hungry.

                              We didn't get the dining plan this time, so we don't have to eat at table service every day. And we don't have kids, so we don't need to go to any character meals.

                              Most of the table service restaurants in the parks seem to be open for lunch, so we'll try to get in for a late lunch. If we can't get in, we'll go somewhere else.
                              Late lunch/early dinner is a good idea. That way you usually pay the lunch prices (they go up at least a few bucks for dinner) for the same food for the most part.

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