Disney Parks Making 4 Big Dining Changes This Summer
These upgrades should make it much easier to book the restaurants you want to eat at.
When gearing up for a trip to Disney, you're likely getting excited to board your favorite rides, see your favorite characters in person, or just watch your kids and grandkids enjoy the magic for the first time. But while you're there, you'll also get to indulge in some Disney-themed snacks and perhaps sit down at one of the parks' many famed restaurants. You can book reservations online, but the process is far from perfect—which is why Disney is attempting to make dining a bit easier with some long-awaited upgrades. Read on for four big dining changes the parks are making this summer.
It'll be much simpler to book your dinner reservations.
According to Travel + Leisure, last week Disney announced a few significant changes to the reservation process, allowing you to take more control when booking. Changes are going into effect in the coming weeks, at both Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
First, you won't be required to select a certain meal time (brunch, lunch, or dinner) at a restaurant before viewing open slots. Instead, you can now see all of the available time slots for the entire day.
In addition, the update will allow you to search by meal period as opposed to looking at specific restaurants. If you select "dinner," for example, you'll see availability for that time across all restaurants in the park.
Making things even better, the update is great if you're on a budget. According to Travel + Leisure, the reservation system will clearly show which meals are being served when—and whether there will be Disney characters making their way through the dining room. This is important, because breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals range in pricing.
Parks are easing cancellation requirements.
On top of the three changes that will help you out when making reservations, cancellations will soon be a bit simpler as well. USA Today reported that visitors will be able to change their reservations up to two hours ahead of time, without being penalized.
Previously, you had to cancel at least 24 hours ahead of time in order to avoid penalties. Per Travel + Leisure, guests were charged $10 per person at most locations for missed reservations.
These changes are being rolled out over the next few weeks, but some restaurants at Disneyland and Disney World have already implemented the two-hour cancellation window, Travel + Leisure reports.
Best Life reached out to Disney for more information on the changes, and will update the story upon hearing back.
There has been confusion and frustration with the reservation process.
Booking a table at a Disney restaurant has been a point of contention for park visitors. Reservations become available at 6 a.m. daily, 60 days ahead of time. However, in the past, guests have complained that even when they've tried to book right when the slots open, they've run into issues.
"Today is our 60 day out mark to start making dining reservations," one Redditor wrote last year. "How is it possible that everything we planned to visit is completely booked this far out?! Beaches and Cream, nope. Yak and Yeti, gone. Homecomin, totally booked. Space 220, no chance."
Guests speculated about potential glitches with the Disney IT system, while others said that reservations are sometimes allowed before the 6 a.m. mark.
But while there are clearly some kinks to be worked out, it appears that Disney is currently working to improve the experience for guests. In fact, these aren't the only impending changes for Disney diners.
Disney announced different changes in the spring.
The latest changes build upon others announced in May for Walt Disney World. According to the official Disney Parks Blog, two "fan-favorite" dining plans—the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan and the Disney Dining Plan—will be available once again come Jan. 9, 2024. The option is available for those staying at Disney Resort hotels who purchase a vacation package.
"We know our guests—and families in particular—have missed dining plans, which offer guests the convenience and peace of mind of pre-paying for their meals and snacks," the blog post reads. "Both plans will be a great value for families with young children with access to many spectacular food and beverage offerings across Walt Disney World."
According to WDW Magazine, these meal plans were available to purchase as an add-on before the parks shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the parks reopened, however, the meal plans were no longer an option.