We’re getting close to being 180 days out from our next trip to Walt Disney World, and for any of you who have been to Disney before, you’ll be aware that 180 Days is a magic number in holiday planning. It is at this point that you’ll get to see Park Hours for your upcoming trip, and booking also opens; most notably for Restaurants. While hitting this 180 Day mark fills me with excitement as it means the planning of our holidays finer details have commenced, many people don’t understand why it’s necessary to look into booking things like restaurants just under 6 months in advance .
While everyone will plan and organise their holiday differently, I have always been ready to make our reservations at 180 Days out. Here are a few reasons why I feel getting our reservations sorted the day they open is important to our holiday
Let the Excitement Begin!
Most people from the UK & Ireland will have booked their holiday to Walt Disney World around a year in advance, and it can be nice to to have bits and pieces of planning to do throughout the period between book and travelling. Generally, there is a ramp-up of holiday planning from 6 months out, getting car hire, park tickets, ESTAs etc..organised. I love marking the beginning of these last 180 Days before we leave, and that comes in the form of booking our restaurants. It keeps the excitement of going to Walt Disney World with you, whilst giving you plenty to do and plan to ensure those last few months don’t drag in!
Pick of Restaurants & Times
Many Restaurants in Walt Disney World book up very quickly. In particular, there are a few very popular restaurants that can be very hard to get reservations for. Picking a few key reservations and sitting down to book them 180 Days in Advance when booking opens can help ensure you get some of these hard-to-get reservations. In particular, ‘Ohana, Cinderella’s Table, Le Cellier and Chef Mickeys can all book up very quickly, so if you are keen to eat in a restaurant which you know will be popular, it is very worth while getting them booked as early as possible.
Getting your Restaurant Reservations booked at 180 Days out will also allow you a better pick of times. While many people don’t mind what time they eat at, if you prefer an early (or later!) meal, these reservations for particular times will be easier to get if you book as soon as times are available. This is of particular importance to families travelling with young children who can’t eat later at night, or for people with medical conditions who have to be careful of eating times.
Align Dining Times with Park Hours
With so much you’ll want to see and do, it is best to try and align your dining with Park Hours to ensure you make the fullest of your day. For example, if you plan on spending your day in Animal Kingdom and it closes at 5pm, you should book dinner elsewhere for after 6pm; this allows you the maximum time possible to enjoy Animal Kingdom before it closes as opposed to wasting this precious time on your meal. However, you really are only able to pick and choose your restaurants and times if you are ready to book them when reservations on 180 Days in advance. When I come to book our restaurants, I always do it with a copy of the Park Hours for our trip in front of me; time here really is valuable so I try very hard to ensure none of ours is wasted!
Along similar lines, there are some restaurants which have fantastic views of Fireworks, either at Magic Kingdom or Epcot. If you time reservations at these restaurants right, you’ll be in for a spectacular display during your meal. Most experienced Disney travellers are aware of these sittings, so to be in with a chance of enjoying a dinner with a Fireworks view, being on the ball and booking early is essential!
Have Your Days Ready for FastPass+ Reservations
Another important reason why I have our dining reservations completed at 180 Days is that it allows me to know what our days are shaping up like before I have to make any FastPass+ Reservations. Walt Disney World Resorts Guests can begin making FastPass+ Reservations 60 Days prior to arrival, and just like dining reservations, these slots book up quickly! Having all of our restaurants times sorted and organised (and aligned with Park Hours!) allows me to be able to go straight into booking essential FastPass+ rides the minute I’m able to do so. Having a longer gap between booking our restaurants and then FastPasses is also very handy as it allows me to think about our schedule and maybe cancel/change/add in any restaurants before FastPass+ Reservations are made. There’s a very thin line between have too many reservations and being too scheduled and not having enough, so it’s important to ‘sleep on it’ and tweak reservations as necessary
180 Days Out Is Not Just For Restaurants
While bookings for Restaurants opens 180 Days in Advance, it is also important to remember booking for other things, such as Pirate’s League, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Private Cabanas are also available at this crucial date. Most of these experiences which require booking also come with a premium fee, and therefore it works well booking them 180 Days before your holiday as it allows you to better factor them into your finances. For certain experiences, payment is required up-front, so make sure you have money sitting ready for them; paying 6 months in advance is really a blessing in disguise as at least you don’t need to worry about factoring it into your spending money. For others, however, you’ll need to pay for upon arrival, and again booking these 180 Days out is also helpful as it can help you better allocate and control your holiday finances. Consider having a look at all of these premium optional extras and deciding which ones you’d be interested in doing so you can book them as soon as reservations become available.