How to Avoid Crowds when Dining in Walt Disney World
Eat Plan

How to Avoid Crowds when Dining in Walt Disney World

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During our frequent trips to the parks, our focus is on the food and the fun. But you know what lesson we NEVER learn? How to avoid crowds!

Ever been in this situation?

You woke up at dawn 180 days out to make the PERFECT reservation for a 515pm Be Our Guest dinner ADR. Awesome right?

You spend your trip looking forward to dining in the Beast’s Castle and then you walk up at 5pm, get a buzzer…and you wait….and you wait…and you wait some more. 545pm comes around and you finally have the opportunity to get into the castle for a little magic. Your server is smiling, but just barely, because they won’t spoil the magic…but you know it’s a busy day.

Reservation Device @ Be Our Guest (Copyright How To MCO)

Is this normal? ABSOLUTELY! When Disney allows you to book reservations 6-months out, it creates a backlog of guests who want a specific dining experience to make sure that their trip is “worth it”.

How do you escape the stress? Our recommendations will give you an opportunity to have amazing dining experiences during any time, even the holidays!

*Take our recommendations at face value and with as much or little value depending on your current planning stage. These strategies aren’t for everyone, but we just love to share our experiences:) *

3 Tips to Help you Avoid Crowds at Walt Disney World

Dine at “Off-Times” and “Use Your Full Schedule”

Breakfast is at 745 – 9am, Lunch is 12-1pm and Dinner is at 5-630pm

Our recommendation is to not make your reservations for these booking windows, as you’re just asking for stress.

Book your brunch (aka Breakfast meeting Lunch at WDW involves a possible bacon love story;)) for 1030-11am. Schedule your lunch as a “Late Lunch” at 3 or 4pm and have a “Late Dinner” at 8 or 9pm. This will allow you to be proactive in getting as much done when everyone else is eating…like meeting Buzz/Woody in Pixar Place @ DHS!

TIP: If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, use your snack credits to bridge a longer period between meals.

Main dining area of Le Cellier Steakhouse at Epcot
Main dining area of Le Cellier Steakhouse at Epcot (Copyright Disney)

2. Go to Disney World during the Off-Season

We love LOVE love going to Walt Disney World in February and September. This allows you to get the best prices for your vacation…and maybe even get a Free Dining perk for booking. Remember that it’s all about having the best experience, and sometimes it involves a little vacation during the off-season to get those hard-to-get ADRs.

TIP: If you can’t make it during off-peak season, book your ADRs in advance but be open to changing up to 2-3 days out from your vacation. It’s amazing how many last minute Cinderella’s Royal Table or California Grill reservations come up 24-36 hours prior. Be flexible and you’re good!

Interior of California Grill featuring booth, table and bar seating, floor to ceiling windows overlooking Walt Disney World Resort and more
California Grill featuring booth, table and bar seating, floor to ceiling windows overlooking Walt Disney World Resort (Copyright Disney)

3. Dine at the Resorts

Oh my goodness, this is probably my favourite recommendation of all! Dining at some of the resorts actually provide you with an even better experience than some of the restaurants in the parks.

Some of our favourite spots include Kona Cafe @ Polynesian Village Resort, Captain’s Grille @ Yacht Club and Boma @ Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge!

TIP: Remember that there are plenty of Resorts within walking distance of the Theme Parks. EPCOT has the Boardwalk & the Yacht and Beach Resorts, while the Magic Kingdom has the Resort Monorail that services the Poly, the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary…and they all have GREAT options for dining!

An open-air dining room featuring dozens of nautically themed tables, chairs and table settings
Captain’s Grille at the Yacht Club Resort (Copyright Disney)

What more tips?

We’re proud of these tips…but we’ve got more! Check out our other Dining articles like:

Top Ten Character Meals at Disney World

Top Ten Disney Advance Dining Reservations to get ASAP

Must Eat Walt Disney World Treats

 

During our frequent trips to the parks, our focus is on the food and the fun. But you know what lesson we NEVER learn? How to avoid crowds!
During our frequent trips to the parks, our focus is on the food and the fun. But you know what lesson we NEVER learn? How to avoid crowds!

Dustin

Dustin's a former Walt Disney World and Disney Store Canada Cast Member. Since leaving the company in 2011, he's graduated from the College of Disney Knowledge and now enjoys sharing tips and tricks with friends, family and now all of our guests at How To MCO.

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