By The Numbers: Dining Reservations for Large Parties

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In the world of reduced dining capacity, dining reservations are hard to find. We discussed this at length recently when we examined the toughest reservations to find. But as several readers pointed out, dining reservations for larger parties are even more difficult. So are there certain trends regarding which meals to book or which locations to try in order to have more success as a large party? Let’s find out! For the sake of analysis, I’m going to call a “large party” any group of 8 or more.

Explain the Math!

The math for this post was already explained in the previous post about dining reservations. So if you read that, you get extra credit! Advance to Go (or the next section), Collect $200. If not, no big deal – I’ll cover it here.

For any reservation request, the Reservation Finder can either successfully find a qualifying reservation, or it can expire. We need to find the percent of reservation requests that are successful. To calculate that, we take the number of reservation requests that end in finding a reservation and divide it by the total number of reservation requests.

  • If there were 50 reservation requests for breakfast at Boma (please come back, Boma), and only 8 of them were successfully found by the tool, that gives us an “ease” score of 16%. Reservations that are really tough to get will have low percentages.
  • If there were 50 reservation requests for dinner at Via Napoli, and 47 of them were successfully found by the tool, that gives use an “ease” score of 94%. Reservations that are relatively easy to get will have high percentages.

All of the normal asterisks apply here. Successful reservation finding doesn’t mean successful reservation booking. You have to do the booking yourself! And our data is biased because typically you wouldn’t put a request into the tool unless you couldn’t find it yourself.

Dining Reservations for Large Parties vs Small Parties

About 6.5% of all reservation requests entered into the tool are for parties of 8 or more. This isn’t a large percentage, but it is a large number – thousands of them each year. So we can see some trends when we compare overall reservation success between large and smaller parties.

We’ve made it this long without me posting any cheesy graphs to demonstrate the data. So, in a By The Numbers first … some graphs.

Dining reservation success rates for small and large parties for 2 years pre-closure

The difference between small and large parties wasn’t good for larger parties, but things weren’t terrible. Especially at breakfast, chances were high that you could get the reservation you wanted. Lunch was the hardest to reserve, and dinner wasn’t much better.

Dining reservation success rates for small and large parties for all dates post-reopening

Post-reopening, things look … much worse. Definitely much worse. Breakfast is now nearly impossible to reserve. Lunch and dinner are less, but equally, difficult. It’s not surprising that limited dining capacity would mean that dining locations have even fewer large reservations available. But it’s still potentially discouraging if you’re one of those large parties trying to find a place to eat.

Reservations By Location

Dining capacity limits have obviously significantly altered reservation availability for large parties. But signs are pointing toward those limits easing. So for this analysis I’m going to examine the pre-closure trends. There’s no guarantee that these will continue to hold true when limits are lifted. But I’m going to guess it’ll be closer to true and better than posting the post-reopening trends and having them shift overnight.

Toughest Reservations for Large Parties

  • Large party? No Yak and Yeti for you.

    Hardest reservation to get as a large party? Look no further than Yak and Yeti Restaurant. Even pre-closure, this location found ZERO reservations for large parties, out of over a hundred spread across lunch and dinner. No other restaurant with that many requests had zero success. Probably not even worth trying if you’re a large party. Look elsewhere.

  • Another no-go? Le Cellier Steakhouse. Fewer requests here – but still over 75 for the 2 years leading up to park closures. Out of all of those requests, only 1 was ever successful. Not great odds of getting some Canadian steak if you’re a large party.
  • Another tough spot is Cinderella’s Royal Table. It’s not hopeless, unlike the first two examples. But with almost a thousand total requests for large parties, there was only 39% success at breakfast, 27% success at lunch, and 47% success at dinner.

Easier Reservations for Large Parties

It’s not all bad news – there are some locations that seem better equipped to handle reservations for large parties.

  • If you’ve got 8 or more people and want to see characters while you eat, try for Chef Mickey’s.

    Want a character meal with your large party? You’re actually in luck. The dining location with the most successful large party reservations is Chef Mickey’s. In the two years prior to park closure, there were over a thousand requests for large parties. 93% of breakfast/brunch reservations were successful, and 91% of dinner reservations were successful. This is well above the property-wide average for both of those meals.

  • Next-easiest happens to be a character meal (in normal times). The Crystal Palace is also happy to welcome large parties. Out of almost 500 requests, there was a 91% success rate for breakfast, 95% success for lunch, and 89% success for dinner. But maybe wait until things get more back to normal there – the interim post-reopening quality seems … lacking.
  • Rounding out our easiest reservation to get is another character meal! (Seeing a theme?) Akershus Royal Banquet Hall has not reopened. But when it does, you’re likely to have a good chance to grab a reservation there for a large party. Prior to park closure, there was an 88% success rate for breakfast, 97% success for lunch, and 85% success for dinner. A much better bet for large groups of princess fans than Cinderella’s Royal Table.

What Does This Mean For You?

  1. If you’re a large party visiting during limited dining capacity, getting reservations is going to be tough no matter where you look. Keep trying, use the Reservation Finder, but have backup plans.
  2. Once capacity limits are lifted, try to book a breakfast for your large group. But while those limits are in place, don’t get your hopes up for a breakfast reservation.
  3. If you’ve got a large gaggle of princess enthusiasts, look for Akershus to open rather than trying to get into the much tougher Cinderella’s Royal Table.
  4. In general, it seems like character meal locations are better-equipped to handle large parties. Consider splurging for one or two and relying more on counter service meals so that you don’t have to worry about other reservations.

Have you had success scoring reservations for larger parties? Or struggles finding a spot to eat for your crew? Are there other ways you’d like to see this reservation data analyzed or presented? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/

4 thoughts on “By The Numbers: Dining Reservations for Large Parties

  • May 1, 2021 at 3:59 pm
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    Thank you Becky Gandillon for sharing Dining Reservations for Large vs small Parties, really informative read

    Reply
  • May 1, 2021 at 6:17 pm
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    We found that calling for reservations worked. They were able to book 2 tables of 4 at similar times. When we got to the restaurants, they were able to seat us together as a party of 8! Not a guarantee, but it worked last week at the plaza restaurant and Rose and Crown.

    Reply
    • May 1, 2021 at 6:50 pm
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      Good to know, Kelly! I considered suggesting that strategy, but if you use the reservation finder you’re only guaranteed finding one spot for a party of 4, instead of 2 concurrent. If you’ve got the time to call, it certainly seems worth the effort.

      Reply
  • May 3, 2021 at 2:13 pm
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    Becky – Thanks so much for this analysis. I was one of the original commenters about large party. I can only imagine how abysmal the booking chances are for someone without using the finder. It is probably close to Zero on all accounts.

    Reply

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