Which Walt Disney World Restaurants Require a Reservation?
One of the questions that I get asked most often involves Walt Disney World dining. My friends always want to know which restaurants are the most crowded. What they’re really asking is which ones will require an Advanced Dining Reservation. Well, I have a few thoughts… Here is my list of 12 Walt Disney World restaurants that will require a reservation to get a table there.
Something that will become clear on this list is that character meals are wildly popular. As much as half of this list consists of restaurants that have characters available. Only three out of the six feature characters during every meal, though.
Fans of Disney Princesses will like Akershus, well, second-best out of all character meals. With up to five beloved Disney Princesses appearing, Akershus combines exceptional photo opportunities with exquisite Norwegian cuisine. And it’s also right beside Frozen Ever After, allowing vacationers to combine a phenomenal meal with the most popular ride at Epcot.
2. Art Smith’s Homecomin’
Once Oprah’s personal chef, Art Smith has become a celebrity in his own right. A former product of Disney’s College Program, Smith accepted an offer to operate a restaurant at Disney Springs. The aptly named Homecomin’ reflects Smith’s passion for comfort foods like chicken and waffles and pound cake.
The locals have embraced their fellow Florida native. His southern delights have built a grassroots buzz. In the early days of Art Smith’s Homecomin’, I could walk into the restaurant and get seated immediately. Now, it’s one of the most treasured Advanced Dining Reservations. This place is always mobbed and justifiably so. A meal here will make you believe that food equals love.
3. Be Our Guest Restaurant
Since the day that it opened, Be Our Guest has existed on an entirely different level than the rest of Walt Disney World’s restaurants. Disney built an entire artificial mountain to sell the Beauty and the Beast premise. Guests immediately clamored for a seat at the table in one of the dining areas at Beast’s Castle.
Last year, Disney altered the rules of Be Our Guest such that dinner is a prix fixe menu. This change came at a high cost for Disney Dining Plan users, as the meal costs two entitlements. That’s the same as Signature Dining restaurants, which shows how highly Disney thinks of the experience.
Still, park guests didn’t flinch. They continue to maintain the crowds at Be Our Guest, which is still probably the hardest reservation to get at Walt Disney World.
4. Beaches & Cream Soda Shop
Most of the restaurants here feature ginormous dining rooms that can seat hundreds of guests. Beaches & Cream works differently.
It’s in all likelihood the smallest Table Service restaurant on the Disney campus. Since this joint has many fans, particularly people staying at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, it operates near maximum capacity all day every day.
5. California Grill
Before Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera and Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood, only one Disney restaurant afforded guests a rooftop view of a theme park. And the mere existence of those two eateries works as proof of concept about the success of California Grill.
This restaurant was the first and, to many guests, it will always be the best place to enjoy a skyscraper’s view of nighttime fireworks. For this reason, you’ll need a reservation, especially when you want the Sunday brunch, one of the toughest tickets to get at Walt Disney World.
6. Chef Mickey’s
Do you love Mickey Mouse? Would you like to take pictures of him dressed as a chef? Do you, your significant other, and/or any children want to play with Mickey in said costume? And would you like to stare in wonder as a monorail zooms by your seating area?
Unless you’re made of stone and utterly lacking in childish whimsy, the answers to all of these questions are yes. That’s why Chef Mickey’s sells out from the moment that it opens until the last customer gets seated for the night.
7. Cinderella’s Royal Table
This establishment shares similarities with Be Our Guest and Akershus. The meal takes place in a castle, and Disney Princesses are everywhere. However, any self-respecting Disney fan knows that Cinderella’s Royal Table towers above the others in terms of mystique. That’s because it offers something that no other restaurant can. During a meal here, you’re eating inside Cinderella Castle, the most famous landmark at Magic Kingdom.
Let’s be honest. EVERYONE wants to say that they’ve eaten at Cinderella Castle. It’s a rite of passage for many park visitors, especially ones who have never been to Magic Kingdom before. So, the demand for this restaurant is outrageous.
8. Le Cellier Steakhouse
This one’s kind of sneaky-popular. You’ll hear long-time visitors to Walt Disney World claim that Le Cellier has slipped in recent years. You’ll listen as people vent about menu changes and lesser quality chefs. Once you’re done with these complaints, you’ll wonder whether you should even bother to eat at Le Cellier.
Then, you’ll pull up the reservation system for the restaurant, only to discover that availability is scarce if not completely gone. That happens because the people who complain about Le Cellier still eat here regularly. The cuisine’s too tasty for anyone to stay away for long, even when they get mad at the place.
I’ve eaten a recent wedding anniversary dinner at Le Cellier. That’s how highly I regard this place, and I’m not the only one. Don’t listen to the naysayers, but do book early. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on a sublime meal.
I like to think of Disney dining reservations in tiers. I do this because the ordering informs my decisions about which restaurants I should try to book first. Even on this list, some eateries should have plenty of availability at the 180-day window. Then, there are the top ones, the places where everyone wants to go.
I’ve mentioned three restaurants so far that fall into this category: Be Our Guest, Chef Mickey’s, and Cinderella’s Royal Table. Another is the final entry on this list. Rounding out the top five is ‘Ohana, a dining experience that proves that the meal matters more than everything else.
At ‘Ohana, you’ll taste the flavors of the South Seas, fitting for a restaurant at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Cast members will serve you food in phases. You’ll get plates of salads and vegetables and shrimps and porks and steaks and desserts and…Well, that’s it, but your mouth should already be salivating at the thought of eating here.
You receive a multi-course meal of the Polynesian’s finest. You’re gonna want this, just like everyone else. So, competition is fierce. It’s one of the toughest reservations on the entire Disney campus.
10. Rose & Crown Dining Room
The United Kingdom pavilion’s anchor restaurant overlooks World Showcase Lagoon. Due to its waterfront location, some of its tables provide the best possible view of Epcot’s nighttime show.
For many years, that’s meant IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. Currently, it’s Epcot Forever, and it will become HarmoniUS in 2020. Whatever the event, Rose & Crown is the best place to watch. For this reason, you’ll need a reservation here to give yourself a chance at one of the waterside tables.
11. Storybook Dining at Artist Point
The hottest place at Walt Disney World right now was once the coldest place. Artist Point is a Signature Dining experience at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge that’s dazzled foodies for many years. Unfortunately, its quality never matched its demand. Everyone who visits Disney frequently has known that Artist Point is a place to go when you need an open table.
Frustrated by a lack of customers, Artist Point’s management team forged a new plan. The restaurant introduced a novel character meal, Storybook Dining at Artist Point. This meal, which is only available at dinner, has become THE place to eat.
Reservations go fast to the point that this should be the first ADR you (attempt to) book for your vacation. Five minutes after your 180-day window opens, this meal could already be booked. The demand is that high.
12. Yak & Yeti Restaurant
I’ve spent years praising Yak & Yeti, begging people to give it a try. Now, I’ve started to regret everything, as word has gotten out about this place. Like Art Smith’s Homecomin’, its popularity has steeply inclined recently. This has happened for the best possible reason.
Virtually everyone who dines at Yak & Yeti falls in love with the robust Asian fusion that blankets the menu. This restaurant brings out the glutton in all of us, which explains why it’s become a trendy spot in recent years.