Many of us have dined at restaurants where you arrive, put your name on the list, and return to the hostess stand when your table is called. The Walk-Up Waitlist at Disney World works exactly in this manner, except that you can get your name on the list without having to actually go to the restaurant in person. It’s a great way to find a table at a Disney World restaurant where you don’t have a reservation; if you’re a fan of finding a place to eat at the last minute, you’ll want to know how to use this feature in the My Disney Experience app. Read on!
For everyone who’s in a hurry, I’m going to walk through a booking below first thing. You can tap any image in this article to expand it; where images are grouped together you can use the arrows to progress through the gallery. After looking at how to make a reservation with the Walk-Up Waitlist, I’ll talk about some more advanced tips and details for using the waitlist. One thing to note: Disney officially calls the Walk-Up Waitlist the “Mobile Dine Walk-Up Availability” feature. But since it’s referred to as Walk-Up List or Walk-Up Waitlist everywhere in the app itself, that’s what I’ll be calling it here.
How to Join the Walk-Up Waitlist
You must have location services enabled on My Disney Experience in order to use the Walk-Up Waitlist feature. This is because you need to be pretty close to the restaurant whose Walk-Up List you’re trying to join. If the app can’t tell that you’re nearby, you won’t be allowed to join the waitlist.
There are a number of places where you can access the Walk-Up Waitlist. Here I’m going to assume you’re starting from the restaurant page; I’ll talk about other ways to find waitlist restaurants later. From the restaurant page, tap the option that says “Join Walk-Up List”. If you’re not close enough to join the list, you’ll immediately see a message that you need to move closer before you can join.
Next you’ll see a screen where you can enter your estimated party size to see the wait. In theory, the estimated wait time should adjust based on your party size. After clicking Continue, you’ll be asked to enter your party size and composition. If you’re two adults, it’s going to feel like this is just the same screen you already did. But if you’re 2 adults, 2 kids, and an infant your answers will be very different.
If you’ve previously checked in for a Disney World reservation using the app, you might have thought that the screen above where you enter party composition looked familiar. That screen, and the three below that ask for mobility, allergy, and occasion information, are identical to the online check-in process. The information is collected now so that when your table is called the host will be immediately ready to seat you.
The last step is to provide contact information; both a name and phone number. You’ll then see that you’re on the list! Easy peasy!
In addition to the notification from My Disney Experience shown above, you’ll also get a text alert to the number you provided, letting you know that you’re on the list. The full text is shown below: if you need to leave the Walk-Up List you can reply to the text to cancel.
When your Walk-Up Waitlist table is ready, you’ll receive both a text and a notification from the restaurant. Head back to the host stand to be seated. If you’re paying close attention to the times visible in the screenshots above, you’ll notice that my “10 minute wait” was actually only two minutes. It is very, very common to be called back for a Walk-Up Waitlist reservation in much less time than your estimated wait.
Finding Walk-Up Waitlist Availability
If you’re looking to see what’s available, there are a few ways to find restaurants with Walk-Up Waitlist availability. If you’re in a park, you can see Walk-Up Waitlist availability from the Tip Board. You can also see this kind of listing by using the Map feature of the app and selecting “Dining”; if you use the map you’ll also be able to see listings for resorts.
Last but not least, you can search for all restaurants with availability by tapping the plus sign at the bottom of the app and selecting “Check Dining Availability”. After selecting your party size, the date selector will open. Underneath, you’ll see a banner that asks if you’re “Hungry Now?” with a button to Join a Walk-Up List. Pressing the button will display a list of restaurants that offer the Walk-Up Waitlist Feature, with their status and the option to join if available. If you use this method to search for all restaurants, they will be sorted in increasing distance from your current location. So the restaurants on the top will be the ones closest to you.
If you use the Dining Search method above, you may see that some entries in the list of Walk-Up List results helpfully tell you to move closer to the restaurant in order to join. That does not guarantee that if you don’t see that message, you are close enough. In one search I did, the button from Sanaa was active when I was in the lobby of Jambo House. But when I pressed it, I was not able to join because I was too far away.
Walk-Up Waitlist Tips & Tricks
How close do you need to be to join the Walk-Up List? Very close. If you’re not in the same park or resort as the restaurant you’re aiming for, forget about it. As an example, I was able to join the Waitlist for the Ale & Compass Restaurant in Yacht Club from the main lobby of Beach Club – but not from my room in the Beach Club Villas just a little farther away. Even within a park, you may need to walk to the specific land that the restaurant is in before you’ll be close enough.
If needing to be near the restaurant is a problem, you might check for regular reservations. Almost by definition, you’ll be using the Walk-Up Waitlist only if you haven’t made an Advanced Dining Reservation. But it’s not uncommon to find that a restaurant with a short Walk-Up Waitlist time may have a reservation available in the very near future – and you don’t need to be nearby to book one of those.
The estimated wait times are often wildly inaccurate. You’re unlikely to wait much longer than what you’re shown, although it does happen, but it could be quite a bit less. Don’t go far; even if your estimated wait is 45 minutes you could be called back in 5. We asked how long your table will be held once it’s called, and hosts in different locations all told us that they won’t seat another party at “your” table for 15 minutes, but even if you show up after that they’ll try to get you in as soon as possible. You can also text back to the notification number that you’re on your way.
If you’re with a very large group (6 or more) don’t forget that you can join as two smaller parties and ask to be seated near each other. Especially if the estimated time is small, both parties are likely to be called at about the same time. In order to make this work you’ll need to be using two different My Disney Experience accounts, as you are only allowed to be on one Walk-Up Waitlist at a time.
What if you don’t see the Walk-Up List button for a restaurant? If you don’t see it, the restaurant doesn’t offer this option. Most restaurants in the parks and resorts offer the Walk-Up Waitlist, but restaurants in Disney Springs do not.
Have you used the Walk-Up Waitlist? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!