Best Last-Minute Dining Reservations for Disney World’s 50th Anniversary

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The big day is tomorrow, but you’ve been here since Tuesday.  You’d been planning to stick to quick service, but now you’re thinking about the crowds on October 1st.  You have a vision of circling the seating area like a hawk, tray in hand, waiting for a spot to open up as your food grows cold.  Suddenly a sit-down meal sounds kind of … nice.  But where are you going to find a reservation on such short notice?  Is it even worth looking?  Never fear, TouringPlans is here!  We’ve been monitoring reservations since last Saturday, searching each meal period every day.  Here are some top picks that showed up repeatedly in our searches.

Breakfast

If you’re looking for a breakfast reservation inside the Magic Kingdom, you’re flat out of luck.  That’s the bad news — the good news is there is some great breakfast just a boat ride away.  Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge has a selection of  All You Care to Enjoy breakfast skillets as well as a la carte items, and serves unlimited refill milkshakes.

If you’re heading to EPCOT, Ale & Compass is a short walk away in the Yacht Club resort, and offers awesome chocolate waffles on the breakfast menu.  What more can you ask for? Ale & Compass also serves a relatively late breakfast, available from 7:00 a.m. all the way to 1:30 p.m., so you may choose to eat lunch here instead.

Ale & Compass chocolate waffles

At Hollywood Studios you can actually eat in the park, with reservations frequently available at Hollywood & Vine.  This is a character meal though and has the price tag that comes with it, so unless you’re committed to being in park you might go with the chocolate waffles above instead.

At Animal Kingdom you can again find breakfast in the park, with Tusker House commonly available.  The breakfast here has received mixed reviews, so if you can grab a seat at Boma (which we did see come up a couple of times and is just a short bus ride away) that might be your better bet.

Lunch

Once again we find the Magic Kingdom restaurants all booked up; even Skipper Canteen, which usually has good last-minute availability, did not turn up in a single search.

At EPCOT, Biergarten was the sole eatery with good lunch availability; it’s recently returned to buffet and was rated a terrific meal when our team reviewed it last month.  Not only does Biergarten offer something for everyone — even those who aren’t into traditional German fare — but it’s one of the less expensive buffet options in all of Disney World.

Biergarten desserts

At the Studios, 50’s Prime Time Cafe is one of my favorites and has appeared in all five searches for lunch reservations. I’m a fried chicken aficionado, and theirs is some of the best.  If you’re going for a slightly more upscale experience where you still shouldn’t put your elbows on the table, the Hollywood Brown Derby (known for its Cobb Salad and Grapefruit Cake) also popped up in every search for lunch.

Sampling of Mom’s Favorite – includes the yummy fried chicken, with pot roast and meatloaf to boot!

Over at Animal Kingdom, Yak & Yeti didn’t have great availability, appearing in only two of five lunch searches. It’s all relative though — usually this restaurant does not appear in last minute searches at all and it consistently receives good reviews.  If you see a reservation, you might grab it while you can get it.  Elsewhere in the park Tusker House routinely had open spots, as did Tiffins and the Rainforest Cafe.  Over the summer Rainforest Cafe was a hard-to-get reservation, but recently it’s been pretty easy to find — if I had to guess I’d say this is related to kids being back in school.  Of the three, Tusker House and Tiffins are better bets than Rainforest Cafe, where the food is serviceable but high-priced for what you get.

Dinner

You might be sensing a theme here, but there are no restaurants in the Magic Kingdom with good last-minute dining availability for dinner.  It’s the OG park at Disney World, so I guess it’s not surprising that this is where a lot of people seem to be headed for the 50th.

Moving on to EPCOT, Via Napoli returned a reservation spot every time we searched. The Italian cuisine here is both traditional and high quality, and the pizzas are top notch.

Charcuterie board at Via Napoli

Italian is the most common find at Hollywood Studios too, with Mama Melrose’s the only restaurant to pop up in all our dinner searches here.  Both Hollywood Brown Derby and 50’s Prime Time showed up in about half of our dinner searches, a marked decrease compared to lunch but still a ressie that you might easily snag.

Most of the restaurants in Animal Kingdom had good availability for lunch, and that continues through dinner with Tiffins, Tusker House, and Rainforest Cafe again appearing in all five searches.

The Lion King Dessert – Tiffins

If you’re planning to take an afternoon break before heading back to take in one of the new fireworks shows, there are a couple of standout options that we saw come up again and again. At Caribbean Beach, Sebastian’s Bistro is a solid meal and only a quick Skyliner ride from EPCOT.  The pull-apart rolls here are often listed as a favorite with diners, but our review team loved the salad and the Mojo pork.

Rioja-braised chicken at Toledo Tapas & Steak

At Coronado’s Gran Destino Tower we saw lots of reservations for Toledo Tapas, Steak & Seafood. You may want to check out the review because our team found some of the food to be well worth the price and other items to be just meh. But if you’re too wiped to make it back to the parks and you snag a seat at the right time, you should see some of the EPCOT fireworks from the 16th floor venue.

Are you looking for a last-minute meal on the 50th?  What great reservation did you get?  Let us know in the comments. 

 

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Jennifer Heymont

Jennifer Heymont has a background in math and biology, but since she couldn't pick between the two she ended up in Data Science where she gets to do both. She lives just north of Boston with her husband, kids, and assorted animal members of the family. Although it took three visits for the Disney bug to "take", she now really wishes she lived a lot closer to the Parks.

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