Be Our Guest Lunch Standby and Same-Day Reservation Policy Updates: September 1, 2014

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Trying to get a lunch table at Be Our Guest can be downright Beastly...unless you know the restaurant's latest policies. (photos by Seth Kubersky)
Trying to get a lunch table at Be Our Guest can be downright Beastly…unless you know the restaurant’s latest policies. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Last week’s blog post about my unsuccessful attempt to eat lunch at Be Our Guest provoked a number of comments and questions, so I spent a humid Labor Day morning trying to make sense of the latest policies and procedures at the Magic Kingdom’s newest premiere restaurant. Be warned that everything in the below Be Our Guest lunch update should be taken with a shaker of salt, since operations are being adjusted on a daily basis — much to the chagrin of front line cast members, who often don’t know exactly how things will operate on any given day until they attend their morning meeting. With that said, here is my latest first-hand experience with Be Our Guest lunch standby and return time tickets, as well as same-day dinner reservations.

Be Our Guest Lunch Standby and Return Time Tickets

One of my first stops after rope drop was Be Our Guest restaurant, where much to my amazement I found a couple of people already in the standby queue for lunch. When I initially inquired about standby and return time tickets, I was told there was no guarantee yet whether they would be used that day, and was invited to wait in line or return closer to the 10:30 a.m. opening time.

I checked back a couple more times during the next hour (in between rides on Winnie The Pooh, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Under the Sea) and was given the same information from other cast members. I took a moment to peek inside at the lobby and armor hallway, which are open for guests to to view daily from park open until 10 a.m.

Even if you aren't eating inside, you should sneak a peak at the stunning interior for free before 10 a.m.
Even if you aren’t eating inside, you should sneak a peak at the stunning interior for free before 10 a.m.

 

By 10 a.m., there were at least a dozen people in line for lunch, and the line quickly grew. The queue completely filled the bridge before the giant wooden doors opened to cheering guests at about 10:29 a.m.

A few minutes after the restaurant opened, a cast member began distributing these return time tickets:

New guests were permitted to join the standby queue for a few minutes longer, but the line was cut off before too long. Likewise, the first batch of return time tickets were all distributed with about 15 minutes.

At this point, a sign informing guests that the restaurant has “reached capacity for the day” is erected out front. Only guests with return time tickets or pre-booked FastPass+ lunch reservations (currently available online only to those with valid Disney resort reservations) are permitted to join the queue at this point. Front-line cast members were unable to say if or when additional standby return time tickets would be distributed, but indicated that the standby queue could reopen after 2 p.m. for the final minutes of lunch operation.

When I returned at my appointed time (after a quick trip through the cosmos via Space Mountain and the recently refurbished PeopleMover), I noted that a stack of return time tickets was still waiting at the greeter’s podium, but was told that no additional tickets had been distributed yet, and they could not say if more would be later.

I was admitted immediately inside the restaurant, without a single person waiting between me and my touchscreen ordering station. Incidentally, I was asked if I was a resort guest; when I said no, I was handed an RIFD “rose” so servers could locate me. From the symbols on the greeter’s computer, it seems resort guests can skip the rose and simply be found by their MagicBands.

Once in the dining room, I realized that only about half of the tables appeared occupied. Most of the seats in the small “West Wing” were taken, but there was plenty of empty space in the two larger rooms.

I can’t say if the underutilization was due to a large number of FastPass+ guests not showing up, or because of understaffing (though I saw plenty of cast members standing around), but it seemed odd to see so many tables while eager guests were being turned away outside.

As I departed, I confirmed that the day’s remaining return time tickets had indeed been distributed while I was eating, and were all gone by noon. I was told there was no set schedule as to when or how many were distributed, and that today’s pattern didn’t necessarily dictate tomorrow’s, since the procedures are being communicated to front-line cast members on a day-by-day (or even hour-by-hour) basis.

 

Be Our Guest Dinner Same-Day Reservations

While waiting for lunch, I also had the opportunity to observe cast members taking same-day dinner reservations from guests who walked up, in order to fill cancellations. The policy for an in-person Be Our Guest dinner reservation is slightly different from making one in advance online or over the phone, as no credit card deposit is required. However, the tables available to be filled all have designated party sizes (based on the sizes of parties that canceled), and you may not be given a reservation if you do not meet a minimum or maximum party size.

For example, I requested a table for myself, but only 4 seat tables (“four tops” in restaurant lingo) were available for my time frame. As a single guest, I was told I could not have a reservation slot that could otherwise seat 4; when I asked what would happen if I tried to book it and showed up alone, I was told I would not be permitted to dine.

Later, I clarified the policy with a manager, who explained that they could not seat a party at dinner with less than 50% of the table’s capacity. That is, a four top must have at least 2 guests, a six top must have at least 3, etc. If guests arrive with less than 50% of the party size for the booked table, the restaurant reserves the right to cancel the reservation. Alternatively, guests who pre-booked with a credit card could be charged $10 per missing diner.

In reality, Disney is unlikely to exercise such consumer-unfriendly measures, and I was told the most likely scenario was that the guests would be asked to wait additional time until a smaller table became available. While Disney understands that emergencies happen, deliberately deceiving cast members about the size of your party in order to secure a reservation is not advised.

I should also note that the manager cheerfully offered to help me arrange a dinner reservation for myself, which I declined.

 

The Bottom Line: Advice for Eating at Be Our Guest

If you want to have lunch at Be Our Guest and aren’t eligible for (or able to secure) an advance FastPass+ booking, your best bet is to be at the restaurant by 10:15 a.m. If you don’t mind eating that early, hop in the standby line. Otherwise, hang around the front gates and try to grab a return time ticket if and when they are given out. If you see cast members starting to set up the “closed for capacity” sign while you wait for return tickets to appear, jump in the queue just in case; until then, try to find yourself some shade within earshot. If you miss the first round of tickets and the queue is cut off, you can try waiting around until around noon to see if more tickets are distributed. As a last resort, swing by around 2 p.m. and see if they reopen the standby queue before lunch service ceases.

As for dinner, Be Our Guest reservations remain a hot commodity, so try to book online as soon as you are eligible, and check back for seatings daily. Same-day availability is erratic at best, but there are at least a few cancellations every day, so stop by in the first hour of the morning for that day’s availability. You have the best odds with a party of three or four; there are usually fewer openings for large or small groups.

 

Oh, and about the lunch itself?

This is what $28.18 worth of enchanted edibles looks like.

The featured fish in my Tuna Nicoise Salad was exquisite – sushi grade and barely seared – and though the egg was poached a bit harder than I personally prefer, and there was only one lone green bean on my plate, it is a salad worthy of an upscale restaurant.

The potato leek soup was even more delicious. I wish the meal came with bread, because I could barely refrain from licking the bowl clean!

The only disappointment was the Master’s Cupcake, which I was looking forward to since I’ve never had the famed “grey stuff” at dinner. The chocolate cake base was nicely moist but shockingly small for the price, and the signature monochromatic frosting was mostly flavorless, with little distinctive taste beyond bland sweetness. I’ve enjoyed the other desserts I’ve had at Be Our Guest more.

What have your experiences getting into Be Our Guest been like? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Seth Kubersky

Author of The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. Co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and Beyond Disney. Contributor to Unofficial Guides to WDW and Las Vegas. Live Active Cultures columnist for the Orlando Weekly. Travel and arts journalist. Theatrical director and producer.

48 thoughts on “Be Our Guest Lunch Standby and Same-Day Reservation Policy Updates: September 1, 2014

  • September 2, 2014 at 9:53 am
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    Thanks for putting all your time and energy into researching this for us. I’m missing the good old days of first come, first served around the parks.

    Having the opportunity to eat at BOG feels like a very big hassle and I’m not even at the park!

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 4:06 pm
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      My pleasure, thanks for reading Duffy! It honestly is hassle, thankfully Columbia Harbor House still serves the old fashioned way 😉

      Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 10:15 am
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    We go in two days. We discovered the option for an extra fast pass by reading your book and blog. We are staying at a WD resort. We had to call the resort to get the right identification number, but it did work. Then, made the reservation and then each person selected out meal choices in advance. It is referred to as a “test” on the faqs. I did experience a glitch on the kids meal choices pop up window using Chrome. I had to re log in and enter information in IE and it worked. We eat at 10 5p this Friday!

    Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 10:48 am
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    Nice to meet you yesterday at Be Our Guest, Seth. Looks like my family made it into one of your pictures 🙂 (the very last picture that you posted in the dining room)

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 12:30 pm
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      That’s awesome that you recognized yourself! I always wonder if there’s people in the background of my pictures who will find themselves online, or if they will have no idea… 🙂

      Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 11:10 am
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    We used the resort guest fast pass+ and sashayed past the hungry people waiting dozens deep like we were Brad and Angelina on the red carpet. Glad we did because we found the lunch experience to be very cafeteria like. The food we ate was just awful. Sandwiches were lukewarm and greasy and bland. Chalk it up to experience. We can say we ate there.

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 5:08 pm
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      Robin,
      I’m really sorry to hear that!
      We were lucky enough to eat there for QS lunch last July, but it was a girl’s trip, so the husband missed it. We’re hoping to get ADRs when someone cancels for our 12/15-22 trip, but if not, we’re planning on trying lunch again. Our experience was wonderful, I hope the craziness of the popularity isn’t bringing the quality down!

      Reply
    • September 3, 2014 at 5:10 pm
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      Robin, your experience sounds remarkably like mine last week. We found the food to be sub-par all around and a large disappointment from last year when we all agreed it was the best QS meal we ever had. Not sure we will be going back for lunch.

      Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 11:16 am
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    We are visiting the park in December, and had planned on having dinner at BOG. We were very surprised to find that even this far out that we could not get a table. Out of curiosity I have been checking how far out one needs to book to get a dinner reservation at BOG. What I have found is that the dinner reservations are all booked by about 10 am eastern time for the day that became available for reservations. So even six months out one must get the reservation early in the morning. Hot ticket indeed!

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 4:13 pm
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      Yes, I was told by a CM to check for reservations at midnight, and then again around 6 a.m. Because that makes for a healthy sleep schedule… 😉

      Reply
      • September 3, 2014 at 5:11 pm
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        I tried to make a reservation for nine days in a row 180 days out and never had any luck.

        Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 11:23 am
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    I read about the fast pass option for resort guests a few weeks ago and tried to make a reservation, but the site said there were no fast passes available for any of the days of our trip. We don’t arrive until Nov 14th, is the BOG fast pass option not available until 60 days out?

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 11:41 am
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      The fastpasses for lunch don’t open up until about 27 days out from the day you want to eat there (not when you arrive)

      Reply
      • September 3, 2014 at 2:56 pm
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        Thank you,
        I am 40 days out, and I still havent been able to do this, so its good to know the 27 day info 🙂

        Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm
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      I have been checking for the lunch fp every day for about a month. We arrive in 25 days. Today my fp opened up and I was able to book. My advice is to check often because you never know when they might change it.

      Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 11:34 am
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    It doesn’t look like FP+ is available for lunch any more. I just tried to book for an upcoming vacation and don’t see it listed.

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 2:18 pm
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      It is not on fp+.it is a separate website for an additional fp. Maybe the author can post it. I don’t have it on me.

      Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 10:44 pm
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      Beourguestlunch.disney.go.com

      Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 12:38 pm
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    Thank you so much for your extensive (but delicious) research! Looks like we’ll have to play it by ear and be flexible with our plan if we want to eat at BOG for lunch (we are staying off site).

    You may not know, since you were by yourself, but can one member of a party pick up return time tickets for the entire party (i.e., be a fastpass runner)?

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 4:14 pm
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      Yes, I saw other guests asking for and getting multiple return tickets for their family. I don’t know if there is a limit on how many 1 person can get.

      Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 1:32 pm
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    Seth, I am glad to see that I’m not the only person that disagrees with the dishes…I too was underwhelmed by the grey stuff. It wasn’t bad but I would in no way call it delicious either. I much prefer the strawberry and lemon cupcakes.

    Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 2:17 pm
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    I have made fastpass reservations for BOG, however, it doesn’t seem to link to my itinerary on my disney experience, as all my other fast passes have. I rechecked the link and can see our reservation, including our meal choices. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 4:16 pm
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      Nope, I’ve been told the BoG database is totally separate from MDE, at least for now it won’t show up but it’s still there.

      Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 2:31 pm
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    My wife was also unimpressed with the gray stuff, although the strawberry cream cheese cake was delicious! The best dessert we’ve had thus far are the Frozen cupcakes at DHS. They are considered to be a standard dessert as part of the Dining plan, so we got three of them today at lunch.

    The ham and gruyere sandwich at BOG is quite tasty, albeit a bit greasy.

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 4:19 pm
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      The croque monseuir (ham & cheese) and slow roasted pork are my two favorite entrees at BoG (including dinner). I wanted to give the Nicoise a shot since Len liked it, it wasn’t bad for a light meal.

      The carrot cake cupcake with creme cheese frosting at DHS was fantastic. Best of all you get to eat Olaf’s head!

      Reply
      • September 3, 2014 at 5:13 pm
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        Our croque monseuir last week was barely warm and the ham was salty and otherwise flavorless.

        Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 3:41 pm
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    After reading this blog, I decided to make Fastpass+ reservations. They don’t make it easy! The hardest part was finding my resort reservation number. It’s not the same as your Confirmation number, and it wasn’t anywhere on My Disney Experience. For those looking, check your Magical Express packet. You can find that number buried in there near some bar codes. After getting reservations, I noticed that it didn’t show up on My Disney Experience. I called and talked to an agent and they said that it wouldn’t show up because the two systems are not linked yet. She also said not to worry, the reservations are valid.

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 4:20 pm
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      Glad you finally got it to work! I’ve heard that the # on your luggage tag can be used for BoG reservations.

      Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 4:04 pm
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    We ate dinner there this past July, at the summer height. We ate in the Rose Room, our reservation was for 6:55 pm, again height of dinner hour. The entire time we were eating, the room was less than half full. We wondered why? Now you say lunch was very empty. What can Disney be thinking???

    Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 4:10 pm
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    Wow, thanks Seth!

    For those asking, there are instructions about how to get FP+ reservations on this site. I was able to get reservations for this Saturday 27 days out by following that.

    Here is the link – http://forum.touringplans.com/t/be-our-guest-fastpass-lunch-reservations-heres-the-link/62

    I’m very excited, but I doubt I would go to all this trouble even for what appears to be a very nice lunch. Columbia Harbour House is quite good, and they don’t have constantly changing rules or crazy lines.

    Also, I agree on the grey stuff – it tastes like whipped cream. It’s good, but nothing special.

    Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 4:20 pm
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    When can you make the fast pass reservation for BOG? We don’t arrive until Nov 14th, and when I tried to make a reservation the website told me there were no fast passes available for any of the days of our visit. Will this open up 60 days out from our trip, or are all the fast passes gone?

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 4:22 pm
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      Never mind, I see my question has been answered.

      Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 4:26 pm
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    I am so not impressed by BOG. I have eaten there twice for dinner. It was beautiful, but too large and cafeteria like. The food was neither awful or fantastic. I much rather eat at other locations

    I am currently holding a lunch reservation for late September and a dinner reservation for January. Both will more than likely canceled, but I am going with people who have not been. I booked the reservations to give them the option.

    (I do cancel my reservations I do not use within a week of the reservation. Giving someone out there a pixie dust moment.)

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 4:32 pm
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      I’ve actually enjoyed lunches and BoG better than dinners (especially considering the price) but I’ll probably be going back to Harbor House on my next visit…

      Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 5:41 pm
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    We are on the deluxe meal plan. Is an appetizer (soup) included at BOG Lunch? We have FP+ reservations for lunch this Friday and did not want to pre-order something that was not included in the package.

    Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 5:50 pm
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    Decision made! Thank you Seth for mentioning the visitation hours, because honestly that’s more important to me than spending any more time researching or calling to try and get reservation numbers or holding my hands in the air, spinning, while my eyes are crossed whistling “Dixie” in order to get in to BOG. We will gladly stack our burgers high at Pecos, and maybe in a couple of years when Disney decides to actually serve HOO of the park like Crystal Palace, then we will enjoy a meal there. Those empty tables are just unreal, and unacceptable in my way of thinking…wondering if they are being held for Grand Floridian or VIP guests…makes you wonder.

    Reply
    • September 2, 2014 at 9:15 pm
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      I went back to Seth’s picture of the empty tables, and it still makes me mad. Families lined up in the heat and you have that many tops open? This is beneath Disney, what the heck is going on? You have special events that Disney is charging an arm and a leg for that are extremely mis-managed. Then, a premier restaurant that has empty tables but a line of people out the door? Even taking Fast Pass people not showing up as the answer, there’s an easy remedy…seat people that are already in line. Then, the test fast pass option that’s available a third of the people can’t get into because they made reservations through a travel company. When I called to get my reservation ID number, I was told that they couldn’t give it out to me over the phone and I was transf’d to My Disney Experience support where I waited on the line for 30 minutes and gave up. I don’t mind not being able to get a reservation for somewhere, and if they had just made BOG priority seating only, then it would just be what it is, like Cinderella’s Royal Table. However, the counter service option, with no breakfast option, which would help alleviate some of the strain on lunch/dinner times just seems like a line of really bad management decisions. This is not magical, this isn’t even acceptable in a local restaurant, which is a shame , because one of things that used to set Disney apart from other parks was their customer service. However, you can have the best people on the planet working for you, but if the infrastructure is not there to support it, then the customer experience will always be bad, for any company.

      Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 8:43 pm
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    I ate at BOG 2 years ago at December a few days after Christmas. My daughter (20 at the time) and I decided last minute to go to MK on our way home from my parent’s. (She wanted to see some princesses.) We found the food good and the ordering concept was unique but I was not overly impressed – maybe it was what we ordered. I was shocked to find out that it is now what I would refer to as an “E” ticket.

    Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 9:58 pm
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    We did dinner Sunday aug 31 at 4pm. If wanting a dinner reservation go to the podium
    To see what’s available. The cm we spoke to along with a family
    That did this stated that people must cancel the night before it be charged
    So a few people will cancel and these spots can be had at park opening

    Reply
  • September 3, 2014 at 2:20 pm
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    All I have to say is I am glad that we will be taking our last trip to Disney this January. I know I am blessed to be able to make these trips but the nonsense has taken all the fun out it. Cram as many people into a park as you can – make people jump through 900 hoops to make a meal reservation and forget about eating in a park if you didn’t plan it 6 months ahead of time. It’s all just too much. I wish the powers that be at Disney would wake up.

    Reply
  • September 3, 2014 at 9:36 pm
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    What is best strategy for a mixed party of resort and non resort guests who want to eat together? My husband and I have a reserved lunch time. 2 people that are also staying at a resort were unable to get a time, they’ll continue to try. Also, 2 people who are not resort guests. Will CM’s give us a card that matches our reserved time? Should we get cards for 4 people or 6 (we ignore our reserved time). Can we just add them to our lunch, and ignore all this card nonsense altogether?

    Reply
  • September 9, 2014 at 10:06 am
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    I’m wondering if there is a way to get the fastpass lunch for the 8th day of a 10 day stay? We will be visiting all the parks, ADR’s and fastpass + all planned. The other day we are going to MK we will be having lunch at Chef Mickey’s because it was the only day I could get the ADR there.

    Reply

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