Best Last-Minute Dining Reservations for Thanksgiving 2021
Advance planning is your best strategy for dining at Disney World on a major holiday, but life happens to all of us. If the turkey you planned to cook in your DVC Villa had an unfortunate accident and you find yourself looking for a last-minute table for Thanksgiving dinner, we’ve got you covered. We’ve been monitoring reservations since last Friday to see what’s commonly available; while we can’t guarantee any particular reservation, we can tell you which restaurants we saw frequently. We also have information on Quick Service and other options if you can’t find a reservation that’s to your liking.
Three restaurants came back in every single search, and so we’re pretty confident that you might see them too. Two of these restaurants were Planet Hollywood and Paradiso 37, Taste of the Americas. It’s beyond me to tell you what you can and can’t do, but I can certainly make recommendations — and in this case my recommendation would be Don’t Eat Here unless you’re looking for a Thanksgiving adventure.
We haven’t reviewed either of these eateries recently, but we do have survey results. Planet Hollywood scores a not-very-impressive 68%, and Paradiso 37 rings in with an opposite-of-whopping 61%. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good meal there; over half of guests gave a thumbs up to each location. But those odds are not what I would personally want to gamble on for my Thanksgiving dinner.
Both the Rix Sports Bar & Grill and Trail’s End came back in all of our breakfast searches. Rix serves an a la carte breakfast menu of American standards with a couple of Mexican-inspired dishes, and scores 84% with our readers. Unless you’re staying at Fort Wilderness, Trail’s End is easiest to access by boat from Magic Kingdom, Wilderness Lodge, or the Contemporary, but it offers an All You Care to Enjoy breakfast that includes Mickey Waffles and Smoked Brisket.
Although these were the only two restaurants to appear in over 50% of searches, searches in the last couple of days have been returning many, many more results. I’m not sure why this is — it could be that Disney has opened up some additional capacity in restaurants in anticipation of last-minute demand — but it’s very noticeable. In the last couple of days we’ve seen multiple reservations for Whispering Canyon Cafe, Olivia’s Cafe, Trattoria al Forno, Ale & Compass, and Cape May Cafe. All of these are solid breakfast options.
The previously mentioned Rix Sports Bar & Grill was the only location to come back in all our lunch searches. It offers a solid menu of bar food, again with a Mexican slant. The only other place where we found seats more than 50% of the time was the Splitsville Dining Room at Disney Springs. Splitsville gets a 93% thumbs up from our readers and is ranked #20 at Disney World based on survey results, so you’ll find a tasty meal here. Now is probably the time to throw in a reminder that many restaurants at Disney World put turkey on the menu somehow for Thanksgiving, even if it isn’t advertised in advance. Be prepared to see the sushi and pizza you would normally expect Splitsville to serve, but don’t be surprised to see a turkey sandwich of some kind also.
If you’re looking for a last minute dinner reservation, plan on eating late. The pickings were scant in general, with usually 10 or fewer restaurants coming back in any search (for comparison, normal is at least 30 and often 50 or more), and reservation times were almost uniformly 9 p.m. or later.
Once again we saw the Rix come back in every single search, so if you’re staying at Coronado Springs and want to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner here on Thanksgiving day you’re in luck. There were two other terrific choices that we saw more than 50% of the time: The Boathouse and Wine Bar George. Both of these restaurants are currently ranked in the top 10 at Disney World based on our survey results. Neither has formally announced a Thanksgiving menu, but in past years both have offered a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day.
The number of reservations still available for tomorrow is extremely low, but there are a few out there. The restaurants above are our most reliable picks but you truly don’t know what you’ll see — people cancel all the time. My search returns this week included occasional hits on Cinderella’s Royal Table, Citricos, Toledo Tapas & Steak, and several other very fine dining establishments.
One other option that can be hit or miss for some restaurants on Disney property that are not Disney-owned is using OpenTable to search for reservations. Use the location “Lake Buena Vista, FL” and you often can find restaurants with availability at Disney Springs.
If you’d like a table service reservation, be prepared to eat outside of the parks, because that’s where almost all of them are. And if you’re looking for dinner, be prepared to eat late — 9 p.m. or later. If you’re not successful in finding a reservation that suits you, there are a couple of other options that don’t require venturing out of the Disney bubble: Quick Service, and Mobile Order from a Table Service location.
Table Service To Go
In response to varying levels of comfort with indoor dining and capacity constraints, Disney rolled out Mobile Ordering from select table service restaurants in late 2020. Not every restaurant participates, and guests are sometimes told that they can’t order from restaurants outside of their own resort. But if this sounds interesting to you, your best bet is simply to ask ASAP — you might find options here that you hadn’t even considered a possibility.
If you’re thinking that a Quick Service meal may offer an experience that meets your needs better than a sit-down restaurant, the following locations are offering some form of Thanksgiving fare in addition to their usual menus. Don’t forget to check with the one at your resort as well, as many Thanksgiving menu offerings are not announced in advance.
Restaurantosaurus at Animal Kingdom — Open-Faced Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich: Grilled multigrain bread with roasted garlic mayonnaise, cornbread stuffing waffle, sliced smoked turkey breast, herb gravy, cranberry sauce, and a fried sage leaf
Satu’li Canteen at Animal Kingdom — Thanksgiving Bowl: Cornbread stuffing, sliced roasted turkey, cranberry boba pearls, gravy, and slaw
Food Courts at the All-Star Resorts — Thanksgiving Dinner: Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, and cranberry relish with choice of apple or pumpkin tart
P&J’s Southern Takeout at Fort Wilderness Resort — Holiday Turkey Dinner: House-smoked Turkey, Cornbread Stuffing, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, and a side of Cranberry Sauce
Did you look for a last minute reservation for tomorrow? How did you make out? Let us know in the comments!