Top 5 Questions to Ask When Planning for your 180 Day Dining Reservations

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For the Disney lover 180 days is a well-known number in planning a Disney World vacation.  But for the first-timer, it may seem absurd to even think of what parks you want to visit, let alone what type of food your party wishes to each.  However, if your expectation is to see and “do it all” you must plan for and prepare to make reservations upon your 180 days benchmark.  Keep in mind, 180 days is the benefit afforded to those guests staying on and off property. The dining plan is only for on property gusesrs. Frankly staying among the Magic is the only way I will do WDW so for those that like to visit the good-neighbor resorts, you are out of luck from this blogger.   The focus of this post will be on dining, you can also book “extras” such as tours during this timeframe, but we will discuss that another time.

Let’s get started, what are the top 5 questions to ask when preparing for your 180 day reservations!

  1. Will you use the Dining Package?  Upon booking your vacation or even after booking, guests can pre-pay for their meals through several packages under Disney’s Dining Plan.  The plan is based on number of meals and snacks per night of stay, not on the days of stay.  With the plan, you are provided meal credits to quick and/or table service restaurants located throughout Disney property.  The packages range in price for adult and children.   I will do a separate post all about the dining plan for there is a lot to know and navigate to make the plan work for you by saving you money.
  2. What is my budget? Meals can be as low as $10 or as high at $50+ so it’s important you go into your reservations with a budget in mind.  Granted if you have purchased the meal plan your meals are paid for and you can pick from the menu, all free of choice. But keep in mind the dining package does not include tip, so if your party gets the most expensive items on the menu it will reflect in your total bill, thus suggested tip.
  3. What kind of experience do you want for your vacation? Is it relaxed, you will see what you get to see and all will be perfect? Or do you wish to see all the top attractions and sites? Or maybe you have no idea for its your first time and the amount of information is overwhelming? If the later is the case than a travel agent will be able to guide and support you step by step, shameless plug you can contact me!   It’s important you know what you wish to accomplish for that can support your reservation plans.
  4. What is your park schedule? If you did not purchase the hopper pass, which gives you the ability to see multiple parks in one-day you will need to know what parks you wish to visit on what days, thus where you will eat.  For example, your goal may be to eat in Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom and you are lucky to snag an exclusive reservation; however, if you visit Epcot that day you will not be able to enter Magic Kingdom without using another park pass.  Having a reservation does not give you free access to a park.
  5. When is your 180 day reservation date? Most importantly know when your reservation window begins, which is 180 days out from your first arrival date at 6am.  There are a lot of resources on the internet that provides calculators to help determine your dates, for my clients upon booking I send them their dates with their confirmation so they can plan accordingly.  Here is a tool I use often > click here.  For those reservations at some of the popular restaurants like Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest or Chef Mickey’s it is imperative that you are at your computer or phone at 6am on your reservation to attempt to get the date/time you have planned.   I will warn you, even then you may not get the reservation based on how the time of year you visit Disney.  As your agent, I can also make your reservations so you can stay in bed a little while longer!

So there are my top 5 questions to ask when planning your 180 day reservations.  Would love to hear from you, what is your tip for planning or what further questions do you have to book your dining reservations?   I also have a tip sheet, contact me if this resource would be helpful.