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Advance Reservations are, like Fastpass, a free and convenient service that rescues you from line-ups.
Despite the name, in most cases Advance Reservations don't function as a true reservation system: i.e., the restaurant will not be holding a table for your arrival. Rather, when you arrive at the restaurant, you'll be fast-tracked to the next available table. Guests should arrive about 15 minutes before the alloted time, and will probably be seated in 15 to 30 minutes. We waited only about five minutes for a dinner at Crystal Palace (right).
A nice thing about about this type of Advance Reservation is that you're under no obligation to show up; Disney World is a giant place, and at meal-time you may end up miles away, and in a completely different theme park, from where you'd planned to dine.
However, a growing number of restaurants at Walt Disney World are moving to a true reservation system; some even require a deposit at booking time.
For example: to book for the popular Character Breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table, you'll need to make a credit card deposit (perhaps $10/adult, $5/child) ; if your plans change, you can get a refund if you cancel 24 hours before.*
Advance Reservations can be booked at 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463), or the Central Reservations Office, at 407-WDW-DISNEY (407-934-7639.)
You can also book via your phone in a Disney World Resort, or at several customer assistance desks in the parks. In Disney's Hollywood Studios, for instance, we booked for the busy 50's-themed Prime-Time Diner just fifteen minutes before we wanted to eat.
Note that you can make Advance Reservations for Disney World restaurants up to 180 days before your visit!
- see helpful details about Advance Reservations at AllEarsNet.