Certain Disney World restaurants are just TOUGH to get into! Especially during the height of the pandemic, it was darn near IMPOSSIBLE to get into some of the most popular restaurants, in particular!
But at risk of jinxing things…has it actually gotten EASIER to get into these hot spots?! Pardon us while we go knock on wood.
From Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater to Oga’s Cantina and Be Our Guest, pandemic-induced social distancing and capacity restrictions made restaurants that were already hard to get into even HARDER. Quite simply, the supply could not meet the demand! And by “demand,” we mean us.
But as everything else has changed at Disney World, so too have these in-demand restaurants. They’re certainly still popular, but it’s actually easier than EVER to eat at these places? Let’s investigate!
Restrictions Have Changed
If you’re skimming hopelessly through your My Disney Experience app for a coveted dining reservation at say, Homecomin’ or Space 220, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised to see more availability lately! Looks like it wasn’t so hopeless after all!
The biggest factor here is quite simply the changing and easing of restrictions in Disney World in generalbut especially in these spaces that are naturally hindered by capacity and physical constraints.
Now that Disney World allows more guests — and diners — at a single time, that means there are more tables and chairs to accommodate themthus opening up reservation slots for restaurants that previously had basically none!
This is true of social distancing, too. Now that 6-foot spaces between guests are no longer mandated, these buzzy restaurants can fill said space with more tablesand thus, more hungry people!
New Restaurants Come With New Lounges
One delightful trend we’ve noticed with Disney World’s hottest new restaurants is that they all seem to come with casual — ie reservations not required — lounges attached to them!
While it might still be tricky to snag a prime-time table for Space 220 or Steakhouse 71, both restaurants have adjoining lounges that allow walk-insand are MUCH easier to get into on a consistent basis.
The best part? Lounges like these, and like Nomad Lounge next to Tiffins in Animal Kingdom, offer similar menus to their Table Service counterpartsso you can get the same vibe and same flavors in a more accessible manner!
More Meal Periods Are Coming Back
Another pandemic side effect was how many restaurants pared back on their meal offeringsso as to focus on their most popular menus and overall limit the flow of people in and out.
But just as restrictions on capacity, masks, and social distancing have waned, restaurants are easing further back into normalcy by incorporate more meal periods into their daysand allowing more opportunity for guests to experience it!
We saw this recently with Be Our Guest possibly easing back toward serving breakfast by introducing brunch itemsand the return of breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Tableso we expect to see more of this in the future!
Festivals Open the Door to More Reservations
With EPCOT in particular, the near-constant presence of food-centric festivals in the park means a lot of guests will opt to dine, snack, and drink that wayrather than book a table at Rose & Crown, Space 220, or Biergarten.
So with food booths scattered throughout the park almost year-round at this point, and many guests visiting EPCOT explicitly FOR these festivals, that just means the Table Service restaurants that are always there will continue to have more room!
Y’all can have your Chorizo, Egg, and Cheese Arepa at a festival boothand we’ll just be over here minding our own business with these Space 220 Steak Frites.
Similarly, the other parks have all brought back a bevy of entertainment and attractions that’ll serve to draw guests away from the restaurants — to watch Nighttime Spectaculars, fireworks, parades, etc.
So once again, These are prime times to check availability for that restaurant you’ve been wanting to trywhile everyone else is distracted by KiteTails!
More people, more cancellations
It might seem counterintuitive that more people at Disney World would equate to more dining availability, but it’s true! And particularly for last minute slots!
If you’re looking for a lunch reservation the day before or even the day of, Don’t be surprised if you see a table open up for, say, The Hollywood Brown Derby. Why? More people in the parks means more people will be canceling reservations closer to the date!
Sure, there will still be a lot of people MAKING reservations, but the simple math of it means more last-minute slots will be opening on a more routine basis than ever before — and that’s GREAT news for you! Disney guests are charged a cancellation fee if they don’t cancel 24 hours before the reservation, so the day before you want to go can be a good time to see if you can snag a table at a Disney World hot spot.
With more people in the park than ever before, it might seem strange that now is the prime time for Disney World’s most popular restaurantsbut between the easing of capacity restrictions, the ongoing festivals, and the casual lounge alternatives, it does seem easier to snag one of those in-demand tables!
3 HUGE Tips For Snagging Hard-to-Get Reservations at Disney World
Have you found it easier or harder to get into one of Disney World’s most popular restaurants lately? Let us know in the comments!