The 180-day window is a holiday for Disney fans—a very stressful holiday. Guests staying onsite may begin booking their dining reservations 180 days from their check-in and 10 days thereafter. With the growing popularity of Disney restaurants, it’s becoming more and more difficult to secure reservations, especially during the most crowded time of the year: Christmas.
You just booked your Christmas trip or you’re still deciding whether to go. By now, you’ve already done the research. You’ve accepted the grim reality that finding an ADR at your favorite restaurant is going to be very difficult. But all hope is not lost. Here are some tips for scoring a few great restaurant reservations for Christmas week, even if it’s well beyond your ADR window opening.
Seriously. Don’t X-out, but do head over to the Disney website or call the reservation line as soon as possible. You can still book ADRs, even if you’re still debating your trip or haven’t made your resort reservation yet. The off-site window has opened, meaning those without a Walt Disney World Resort reservation can now book ADRs. Book your ADRs now and save your confirmation numbers. You can link your dining reservations once you book your trip or cancel them if you decide to skip it.
There are still some pretty good reservations available. As I’m typing this, Christmas dinner reservations are still available for Artist Point, Citricos, Brown Derby and Sanaa. Of course, signatures like Narcoossee’s and California Grill and the more popular Table Service restaurants like Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table are booked, but…
At this point (especially if you’re reading this in September or October,) your choices are slim. But things happen. People unfortunately have to cancel their trips or they find another reservation and drop that coveted ADR. It requires a ton of patience and dedication—I’ve spent weeks checking the Disney site 2 or 3 times a day—but it’s totally worth it when you score that reservation. Don’t go empty handed. Book something. The last thing you want is to rely on Quick Service spots throughout your trip (unless that’s your thing,) so book something and cancel it if your first choice becomes available.
Take Advantage of New and Refurbished Restaurants
Back in 2013 we were late to book our trip. I was between jobs and our trip was uncertain. We finally booked in early August and our coveted Narcoossee’s Christmas dinner reservation wasn’t available. We booked Artist Point at the time, then I read that California Grill would soon be opening following its refurbishment and would begin accepting reservations in August. I was able to snag an ADR for Christmas dinner and it was an incredible experience.
Right now, Flying Fish is closed for refurbishment. It is due to open back up in late summer. Late summer for Disney usually goes until early October. Once it opens up, so will the ADRs. If you’re looking for a nice seafood dinner and can’t get into California Grill or Narcoossee’s, go for Flying Fish.
Disney is also adding a ton of new restaurants. Homecoming is a great example. It just started accepting reservations and I’m sure there will be another restaurant or two popping up soon.
Try Something New
We’re all creatures of habit and have our favorite restaurants. Narcoossee’s is our go-to. Of course, Narcoossee’s is one of the most popular restaurants on property. We were fortunate enough to get our Christmas ADR this year, but not so lucky last year. Instead, we went with Artist Point. The rustic, “healthier” menu at Artist Point intimidated us for so long. Well, Artist Point wound up being our favorite meal and one we continue to talk about. You’d be surprised what you find when you open yourself up a bit and try new things.
Obviously your options are limited if you don’t have a car. Swan and Dolphin, which is technically an off-site resort (but on Disney property) has plenty of popular options. Some would even argue that Swan and Dolphin restaurants are better than Disney! Todd English’s bluezoo, Il Mulino and Shula’s are some of the Signature-esque restaurants at the Swan and Dolphin. The resort also features Fountain, which is often compared to Beaches and Cream; and Garden Grove, which hosts a character dining experience.
The restaurants don’t accept the Disney Dining Plan, so you’ll have to pay out of pocket.
Hopefully these tips help. Remember, most restaurants are good at Disney and will get the job done. There are some exceptions (ahem, Tony’s) but you can’t go wrong with most choices—or second or third choices. Good luck!