Best Disney Dining Reservation Backup Plans
Getting a reservation at a favorite Walt Disney World restaurant takes careful planning. The Walt Disney Company opens the Advanced Dining Reservation window at 180 days, and diehard Disney fans book at the first possible moment. Sometimes, those of us who prefer less planning on our vacations wind up investigating Plan B options. Fortunately, those are universally great, too. Let’s take a lot at the best Disney dining reservation backup plans with your preferred Disney restaurant has already sold out.
If you can’t eat at Sci-Fi Dine-In, choose 50’s Prime Time Café
Imaginary time travel is fun! Thanks to the impeccable theming at Walt Disney World restaurants, you can bask in the sensation of living in the 1950s. At Sci-Fi Dine-In, your goal is to recreate a date from that era. You jump into a convertible and watch classic science fiction B-movies and cartoons. Alas, the overwhelming popularity of that restaurant causes tables (cars?) to book fast.
When you want a similar vibe that’s also goofy fun, take a chance on 50’s Prime Time Café. It has all the trappings of life in the 1950s, but it takes on the premise from a different perspective. You’re no longer out on a date. Instead, you’re hanging out with the fam during a meal. And the people serving your food are a bit pushy. You have to eat your vegetables, and table manners are imperative.
The idea is that you’re in something akin to a rerun of Leave It to Beaver or The Donna Reed Show. You’ll eat lots of dense, protein-rich foods, and you’ll be on your best behavior. Otherwise, you will receive harsh (but entertaining) instructions about how to act. It’s an amusing setting with great food. Plus, 50’s Prime Time Café is much easier to book than Sci-Fi Dine-In.
If you can’t eat at Chef Mickey’s, choose Hollywood & Vine
This one’s important because Chef Mickey’s is one of the toughest ADRs at Walt Disney World. Everyone wants to see Mickey and the gang in their adorable restaurant outfits. Once you get past the costumes, however, Chef Mickey’s is a standard Disney buffet complete with several character meetings. The primary selling points are the location (right by the monorail stop in Disney’s Contemporary Resort) and the cast.
Well, there’s no way to duplicate the location, but the character aspect is something that you can top! At Chef Mickey’s the costumes are static. No matter when you visit, you’ll see the same outfits. At Hollywood & Vine, a restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’ll see the main roster of Mickey and friends. They’ll wear different clothes depending on the time of the year, though.
This meal is Minnie’s Seasonal Dining, and its core concept is similar to Chef Mickey’s. Minnie Mouse is throwing a party, with her boyfriend and her friends all attending. You’ll see Donald and Daisy Duck plus Goofy, with Minnie hosting and Mickey as her date. Their attire depends on the season. My favorite is fall when they wear Halloween costumes, but all four seasons are fantastic.
Whenever you go, the basics at Hollywood & Vine are identical to Chef Mickey’s. It’s a buffet service with a photo op. You’ll take a picture as you enter the building. Then, the five characters will wander over to your table to interact with you at various points during the meal. And this dinner even has one advantage over Chef Mickey’s. You can add a Fantasmic! package that includes reserved seating for the nightly fireworks exhibition.
If you can’t eat at California Grill, choose Yachtsman Steakhouse
Yes, a couple of the restaurants here cannot match the underlying amenities of their counterparts. There’s a reason why these establishments are so beloved. They’re lovely places that many Disney fanatics deem an integral part of any Orlando vacation.
California Grill certainly fits the bill. Since its inception, this restaurant has lorded over other Disney restaurants from high on its perch at the top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Everyone who eats here feels like they’ve gone behind the velvet rope. It’s one of the most special meals at Disney, along with Cinderella’s Royal Castle, which we’ll discuss in a bit.
The problem is that California Grill books quickly, leaving you with two options. You can hang out at the bar, or you can go elsewhere. I recommend the latter, and I have a specific destination in mind. Yachtsman Steakhouse
If you can’t eat at ‘Ohana, choose Spirit of Aloha
These final two suggestions are kind of cheating, which is why I’m slotting them together. ‘Ohana is one of the hottest meals at Walt Disney World. It has a cult following due to the massive plates of food and serene setting. What you may not realize is that Disney serves EXACTLY the same food at the Spirit of Aloha show. Since this event has multiple shows nightly and is more expensive, it’s a much easier reservation to get. You will pay somewhere between $15-30 more for the show, though.
As such, this recommendation is shakier than the others here. You’ll tie up two hours of time for Spirit of Aloha. Some guests don’t want to waste that much time on a meal. Others love the relaxing end to the night, and I fall into this group. Plus, when the timing works out perfectly, you can exit Spirit of Aloha to see the Happily Ever After fireworks display. You’ll discover a terrific view on the beach right by the concert stage. To me, the bonus features at Spirit of Aloha make it superior to dinner at ‘Ohana, but I understand that this is not a universal opinion. Try it sometime to see if you agree.
If you can’t eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table, choose Akershus
Similarly, Cinderella’s Royal Table is an almost impossible get at this point. Everyone wants to dine in the castle at least once. I still remember the special thrill that I felt the first time I did it. Beyond the castle vibe, however, the meal here is easy to duplicate.
At its base, Cinderella’s Royal Table is a meal fit for a queen that happens to include a bunch of princess interactions, too. Well, the same is true at Akershus, only the food is better. Hosted at the Norway Pavilion, this restaurant serves authentic Scandinavian cuisine. And anything that was good enough for Norse Vikings should work well for your family.
The serving setup is similar to Cinderella’s Royal Table, only slightly improved. You’ll still pick out the dishes that you want from each course. The difference is that Akershus is home to a “salad bar” as well. Only, this bar features a slew of the finest Norwegian meats and cheeses, and the desserts are superior, too.
The only reason why I’m saying that it’s kind of a cheat is the introduction of Frozen Ever After. Since that attraction opened, Akershus has become a much harder ADR to snag than it was previously. While it’s easier to attain than Cinderella’s Royal Table, it will still require a bit of diligence and planning on your part. Akershus is totally worth the effort, though. The food here is mind-blowing, and as many as five different princesses could visit your table during a given meal.
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