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January 26, 2016

Changing Walt Disney World dining reservations just got easier

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Making dining reservations at Walt Disney World just got a little easier. The resort has added a new tool to its online site that allows guests to make changes to existing reservations, which eliminates a lot of confusion and extra steps.

The introduction of its online reservation system in My Disney Experience gave guests more flexibility about when they could book their meals for upcoming vacations. They no longer had to wait for a phone operator, and reservations could be secured even after the phone line closed each night at 11 p.m. ET.

Still, there wasn’t the same comprehensive interaction that a guest would have had with a live assistant. In order to change a reservation, a guest first had to search for the new reservation. If it were available, the online system prompted the user to cancel the old reservation before it would allow the new reservation to be booked, if the times overlapped. (My Disney Experience will not allow a guest to book multiple reservations within the same two-hour window.)

For example, let’s say you made hard-to-get reservations for Cinderella’s Royal Table when the booking window opened 180 days before your visit. As your vacation approached, local friends also decided that Spring Break at Walt Disney World sounded like a good idea and they’d love to join you for dinner. In the past, you couldn’t just add four more people to your reservation; you had to cancel your old reservation before confirming a new reservation and risk losing the original booking if the new one was snapped up before you could confirm it. The same scenario would occur if your day’s schedule changed and you needed to shift your dining time.

Now, however, the online system allows you to see what, if any, other reservations are available and makes the change you select at the same time it cancels your existing reservation. That’s definitely an improvement!

Dining reservations still can be made through the phone line (407-WDW-DINE) from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET.

Here are a series of screenshots to illustrate the step=by-step process of making a change:

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In other Disney Dining news, Walt Disney World has just announced a new discount for vacationers staying at a Disney value resort this summer. The Summer Meal Offer gives each person age 3 or older one free quick service meal per night they stay. Guests must purchase a Magic Your Way vacation package at a Disney Value Resort of at least three nights in length with at least two-day base tickets. Guests must arrive between 5/29/16 and 6/30/16 or 7/5/16 and 8/13/16.

Tip: If you plan to arrive on a date not covered in these weeks, you can book a split stay to take advantage of the deal. In other words, you make two hotel reservations so that you are checking in on a date that falls in the weeks covered by the Summer Meal Offer. Also, as long as you check in on a date that the deal is offered, you can take advantage of the deal for your entire vacation, even if you stay past the dates the deal is offered.

The Summer Meal Offer is NOT the same as the free Quick Service Dining Plan that has been offered at value resorts for fall vacations for the past several years. The Summer Meal Offer is just one meal (one entrée, one dessert and one non-alcoholic beverage) per night and there is no snack or refillable mug included.

The Summer Meal Offer is valid for stays at All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Pop Century and Art of Animation suites. (It cannot be used or stays in Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation.) You must book by Feb. 29.



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November 2, 2013

Walt Disney World to expand cancellation policy for dining reservations at table-service restaurants

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You've got your Walt Disney World vacation booked. You have a resort room reserved and your park tickets are set up, as well. All you need next is a taxi from the airport, a tube of sun block and " oh, yea, dinner reservations.

It used to be that making dining reservations at Walt Disney World wasn't imperative, unless you wanted to attend a character meal or dinner show. Those days, though, are as long gone as the Magic Kingdom's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction. Now, for most of Walt Disney World's table-service restaurants and special meals, guests need to make Advance Dining Reservations (called ADRs by Disney aficionados) before they arrive at the resort to guarantee they will be able to eat at the restaurants of their choosing. This is especially true of the busier times of the year, such as the upcoming holidays, at Disney World.

It can be difficult, though, to determine where a family will want to eat six months beforehand. Because of this, some guests in the past routinely have double- or even triple-booked meals at various locations and then just let the reservations they didn't use lapse. Unfortunately, this means other families who wanted those reservations couldn't get them *and* Disney World restaurants lost money on unoccupied tables. (The reservation system does not set aside any tables for walk-ins, so if a restaurant is completely booked, guests who ask in the parks will be told it is full. This might not be the case, though, if parties don't show up for their reservations.)

So, to tackle this issue of unused reservations, Walt Disney World is poised to expand its dining cancellation policy that took effect with signature restaurants two years ago -- and it will cost indecisive guests. The policy change was scheduled to take effect last week but has been delayed temporarily.

Once in place, the dining policy for all sit-down restaurants will require that guests cancel their reservations one day prior to the scheduled meal. This means you have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the day prior to your reservation to make up your mind.

Guests who cancel after that time or who do not use their reservations will face a $10-per-person no-show fee for that dining reservation. Cancellations will be accepted by calling 407-WDW-CNCL, through the My Disney Experience website or app, and at Guest Relations in the parks and hotels.

The pre-paid policy for certain special dining experiences, such as character meals at Cinderella's Royal Table, remains unchanged. Guests who have booked those meals have one day to cancel for a full refund.

Remember that an ADR does not mean that a table will be waiting for your party at the appointed time. Rather, it means that you will be the next seated. So, you may have a short wait after you check in. It's not a perfect system, but it beats having to rely on Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe for your family's fine-dining experience. (Sorry, Sonny Eclipse, but your cosmic burger and chicken joint is no Be Our Guest dinner dining experience.)

Guests can book reservations 180 days ahead of time; those staying at Disney World hotels can book 190 days in advance. The online system opens at 6 a.m. ET and 407-WDW-DINE begins at 7 a.m. ET.

When this cancellation policy is applied to all table-service restaurants, will it change the way you plan your meals? We want to know what you think! Please tell us in the comments.



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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Disney Dining category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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