DiningTechnologyWalt Disney World (FL)

Step-by-Step: How to Make a Disney World Dining Reservation On Your Phone

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When I’m on vacation at Disney World and trying to manage my dining, it’s easy and convenient in the My Disney Experience app. I can use my phone to make a same-day reservation for lunch at the Grand Floridian Cafe while standing in line for Peter Pan’s Flight, and have my rear in a seat 2 hours later. If my whole day is running late, I love being able to shift a dinner reservation by 15 minutes while I’m in the parks mid-afternoon.

Never tried making a dining reservation in the My Disney Experience app? I’ll walk you through it below. Most images below are in galleries; tap any image to enlarge it and use arrows to step through the process. You can practice everything here in advance of your trip (except checking in). Just make sure to cancel any reservations you don’t actually want to keep.

Click on any link below to skip ahead to that section. Looking for a website walkthrough? Check out Erin’s post.

How to search for reservations at a specific Disney World restaurant
How to search for reservations at any Disney World restaurant
How to book the Disney dining reservation you found
How to modify a Disney dining reservation
How to cancel a Disney dining reservation
How to check in for your Disney dining reservation using My Disney Experience
Frequently Asked Questions

A Quick Note

In order to use the app to book dining, you’ll need to have it installed. And it’s best if you’ve added a stored credit card as your payment method. You can do this by going to your Profile in the app or online and selecting “Payment Method”.

Currently you can make reservations for dates up to 60 days in the future, plus an extra 10 days from your arrival date if you’re staying at a Disney World Resort. (See: Disney in a Minute: What is the 60+10 Rule?)

Reservations can be canceled up to 2 hours in advance without penalty. If you’re inside the penalty window, you may need to use your phone … as a phone. You can call the restaurant directly if you have the number, or contact Disney Dining at 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463). You can also try using the Live Chat feature in the app if you’re not in a place where a phone call is reasonable.

The party-size selector goes up to 20, but many restaurants don’t allow booking parties of more than 6-8 people online. And actually, the Guest Policies specify that parties of 9 or more need to contact the restaurant directly! (Our experience is that you find it in the app, you can book it in the app.) If you’re not finding times for a large party and you want to book online, try booking two smaller parties at close times. Arrive a bit early, and let the host know when you check in that you’d like your groups to be seated nearby if possible.

Searching by Restaurant

To book at a specific restaurant, start from that restaurant’s card and tap it to open the restaurant’s page. These cards can be found on the Tip Board, on your resort hotel page – lots of places. If you’re not already at a card for the restaurant you want, then I find that search is the fastest way to get to the page. Just click on the looking glass and type the first few letters of the name. Once you’re on the page, click on “Reserve Dining” to get started.

Next you’ll select the number of people in your party, the date, and the time you’re searching for. Dates that are available will be blue; if you’re not able to select a date then you may be searching too far in advance.

As soon as you’ve selected a date, you’ll see all the available times below. They’ll be divided into groups by meal; the name of the meal corresponds to the menu being served at that time. If you don’t see a time you like, you can edit the party size or the date to see new times. If you search for a larger or smaller party you may see times that weren’t available before. For instance, when I changed this search to a party of 4 (instead of a party of 2), I was able to see some additional times for Breakfast. If you’ve found a time you like, select it and click here to jump to the section that shows you how you’ll finish booking.

Wondering what the grayed-out times correspond to? They don’t mean that if you select a different-sized party those times will become available. Instead, they mark the endpoints of the meal period and the beginning of any hours within the meal period. So here, you’ll always see 7:30 under Breakfast, because that’s when the meal period begins. You also see tiles for 8, 9, and 10 a.m., although there are no reservations available during those times. However, there’s no tile for 11 a.m. because Breakfast ends at 11.

Searching for Any Restaurant

Start on any screen and click the big “+” sign on the bottom icon bar, then click “Check Dining Availability”. You’ll enter your party size and the date. Dates that are available will be blue; if you’re not able to select a date then you may be searching too far in advance. You can search for reservations for the current day, but if you’re looking for a Walk-Up Waitlist spot you should tap “Join a Walk-Up Waitlist” underneath the date selector instead of choosing a date. (See: Using the Walk-Up Waitlist at Disney World Restaurants)

Once you’ve selected a date,  you’ll enter the time window; your options are All Day, or before 12 p.m., 12-4 p.m., and after 4 p.m. (Morning, Afternoon, and Evening). These ranges don’t necessarily correspond to the Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner periods of a specific restaurant, but when you see the search results it will be clear what meal the restaurant is serving. Pro tip: there is currently a bug with the All Day search where it doesn’t display Brunch times for restaurants that serve a menu labeled Brunch. If you’re looking for Brunch, you may be better off searching at a specific restaurant that you know serves brunch, or selecting the Morning or Afternoon times.

As soon as you’ve selected the time, search results will appear. You can edit the search by tapping on the top right. If many times are available for a restaurant, you can swipe back and forth to see the full list of times. As you scroll left and right, times within each meal period may be collapsed; you can see these by tapping “Show More”. You can also filter the list to hide restaurants that aren’t interesting to you. Filter options include location, cuisine, price range, and whether or not a restaurant offers the Disney Dining Plan. Select any time to begin booking the reservation.

Booking the Reservation

After you select a time, you’ll have 10 minutes to complete the reservation before it is released. You’ll start with an option to add a celebration cake (not all restaurants offer this, but many do), make dietary requests, and indicate whether you need a wheelchair-accessible table. If the date is within 4 days, you may not be able to request a cake, but you can ask about availability when you arrive at the restaurant. Under dietary requests, it is possible to select multiple allergens. If you forget to add an allergy or accessibility request, you can modify the reservation later. You can also make these requests when you check in at the restaurant, and for allergies the hostess or server will usually confirm when seating you.

After you’ve clicked continue, you’ll be taken to the order summary page. You’ll be able to see how much time is left on your reservation hold, and you’ll enter contact information – both email and a mobile number – and payment information. If you’ve stored contact info in your profile, your mobile number should appear by default. It is no longer possible to change the primary guest on a reservation during booking, or afterwards in the app. After clicking Next, make sure to scroll down and check the box that says you’ve agreed to the Guest Policies. If you have not done this, the “Confirm” button will not activate.

After tapping Confirm, you’ll see a confirmation number in the app, and you’ll receive a confirmation email to the address you gave when booking. If you want other people on the reservation to see it in their plans, you’ll need to update the party to include them. Find the restaurant card in your Future Plans (or your Genie My Day tab if it’s the current day) and tap it. The reservation page will open. Select “Update Party” at the top right of the guest list, then check the box next to the people you’d like to add. Tap “Save Party” to complete the update.

Modifying a Reservation

This is absolutely my favorite trick if I’m running behind schedule. It’s never guaranteed that you can turn your 6:15 ressie into a 6:30, but it doesn’t hurt to try. If you’re within two hours of your reservation time you won’t be able to modify, so don’t wait until the last minute to try shifting your reservation. You can also modify to update allergy and accessibility information before your arrival.

Find the reservation card. If it’s the current day, you might find it on your home screen and you can definitely find it under “My Genie Day”. If it’s a future date, you can find it on your Future Plans.

Tap on the reservation card to open up the reservation, then press Modify. On the first screen, you’ll see the details of the current reservation – if you want to keep the same time, then make a note of it here. In the next screen, you’ll immediately see times for the party size and date of your original reservation. You should always see that the time of your original reservation is available; if you just want to update dietary or mobility requests, select it. Otherwise, make any adjustments and then select an appropriate time from those available.

Once you’ve selected a time, you’ll be able to adjust the dietary and accessibility requests. You won’t be able to add a cake if you didn’t include it in the original reservation. After tapping “Book Now” you’ll immediately see a confirmation screen. You’ll get an email confirmation noting that the reservation has been changed, and with the new details.

Although you can change the date of a reservation this way, I don’t recommend it. I’ve had issues with reservations where I modified the day not appearing in the restaurant records when I showed up on the new date. In these cases, I recommend simply booking a new reservation on the new date and canceling the old one.

Canceling a Reservation

Start by finding the reservation card. If it’s the current day, you might find it on your home screen and you can definitely find it under “My Genie Day”. If it’s a future date, you can find it on your Future Plans. Click on the restaurant card, then select “Cancel”, and confirm in the following screen. You’ll receive an email confirming the cancellation. Reservations should be canceled more than two hours in advance to avoid a fee.

Checking In For Your Reservation

Checking in on the app, instead of at the hostess stand, is called Mobile Dine Check-In. I like to check in while I’m walking in from the parking lot or the monorail station, sometimes my table will be ready as I’m coming through the restaurant door!

You may get a notification from the app that you can tap; otherwise, find the restaurant card on your home screen or the “My Genie Day” tab. If it’s within 15 minutes of your reservation time, you’ll see the button to begin checking in. You’ll start by selecting your party size. If some people on your original reservation aren’t with you, now is the time to adjust the number. (If you have extra people who weren’t on the reservation, you’ll need to check in at the host stand to see if they can be accommodated.)

If you didn’t specify allergy or mobility requests when you made the reservation, you can add them here. You can also select how you’ll get status updates. Push notifications from MDE are automatic, and you may find that your mobile number is already filled in from your contact info. When you’re all done, press Submit. Within a few seconds, you’ll see notifications that you’re checked in, in addition to the confirmation screen.

Frequently Asked Questions

How far in advance can I make a dining reservation?

Currently, you can make reservations for dates up to 60 days in the future, plus an extra 10 days from your arrival date if you’re staying at a Disney World Resort. See: Disney in a Minute: What is the 60+10 Rule?

If I cancel my reservation in the app, will I be charged the cancellation fee if it’s less than 2 hours away?

You can cancel without penalty until two hours in advance. If you’re less than two hours out, canceling in the app doesn’t save you from the $10 fee – and you might not even see the option to cancel. Your best bet is to call the restaurant directly (or Disney Dining at 407-WDW-DINE) and see what can be done. You can also try using the Live Chat feature in the app.

I’m within 2 hours of my reservation time: if I modify it to a later time or a different day and then cancel, will I be charged the cancellation fee?

If you’re within 2 hours of your reservation time, you shouldn’t see the option to modify in the app.

I need to change the number of people in my group. How do I do this?

In the past, this didn’t work in the app. Now it does! Simply follow the instructions above to modify and change the number of guests. But, it’s still not perfect. For instance, if you’re changing from 4 people to 2 people, you may find that your original time is not available. You may find that no times are available! If you can find a new time that works for you, or your original time is available, great. Otherwise just know that it’s not really a problem to show up at the restaurant with fewer people than you originally reserved for.

You can also do this “just show up” trick if you’re going from an odd number of people up to the next even number, say from 3 to 4 guests. But if it’s more than that, it might be that there’s no table for your larger party. Your best bet is to call Disney Dining (407-WDW-DINE), use the Chat feature in the app, or stop in at the restaurant if you’re already at Disney.

I’m going to be late for my reservation, what will happen?

First of all, take a deep breath. Next, see if you’re able to modify the time in the app, assuming you are more than two hours from the time. Even if that’s not possible, there won’t be an issue if you’re within 15 minutes of your reservation time. If you’re later than that, my experience is that Disney World restaurants are very accustomed to having guests appear late because they were stuck on the monorail/bus/Spaceship Earth/etc. There’s never a guarantee, but usually it’s not a problem.

If you know that you’re going to be more than 15 minutes late, you can also try calling the restaurant directly. They may be able to modify your reservation even if you can’t do it in the app.

I keep searching, but I can’t find a time. What can I do?

For popular spots, this is a common complaint. You can try our free Reservation Finder tool that will search for you and let you know if a reservation is found. You can also try checking the day before and the day of; spots tend to open up last minute as people change their plans.

I forgot about an allergy when I made my reservation. Can I add it?

Yes, you can. See the instructions above for modifying a reservation. You’ll also be able to make these requests when you check in at the restaurant, and your server or the host will likely ask you about it while they’re seating you as well.

I forgot to add a cake to my reservation. Is there any way to add it now?

If you’re more than 4 days out from your reservation, the easy way is to see if you can make a new reservation, with the cake, and cancel the old one. Failing that, you can ask about availability when you arrive at the restaurant. Or, you can call the Cake Hotline at (407) 827-2253 up to 48 hours in advance to discuss a specialty cake.

My teen can’t make a dining reservation. It looks like it’s working, then it says it can’t proceed.

Yes. It’s not clear whether this is due to some legal issue around minors and contracts, or the fact that teens can’t store payment information in the app. But, we have confirmed this on both Android and iPhone versions of the app.

What are your thoughts on managing Disney Dining in the app? Do you have a favorite tip? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Jennifer Heymont

Jennifer has a background in math and biology, so 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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