Avoiding a Disney Dining Crisis (Alternatives to Popular Disney Restaurants)


You get up at 5 am on your 180 day out from check in.  Why?  To make those Disney Dining reservations of course!  Or, not.  If you’re like me, making ADRs at your 180 day mark doesn’t always happen.  So, what should you do when the restaurants you were hoping for are booked?  Not only do you “just keep swimming” and keep checking back consistently until you find one you are hoping to get. OR, you look for an alternative!  Today, I’m going to share with you some Alternatives to Popular Disney Restaurants.  Hopefully these will help you avoid a Disney Dining crisis, and maybe even find a new favorite restaurant!

Chef Mickey’s is VERY popular for many reasons!  Of course the Fab 5 are there, and it’s in a fabulous location!  For some fabulous character interaction from the Fab 5, consider Cape May Cafe for breakfast.  Mickey, Minnie, and their friends make this breakfast and lunch a FABulous time!  Another great alternative is Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park.  Dressed in their safari finest, Donald, Daisy, and their buddies will start your day off with some magical fun at breakfast or a fun midday break for lunch.

Cinderella’s Royal Table is the elusive location for dining in Cinderella’s castle at the Magic Kingdom.  While this does provide a huge “wow” factor, it’s also very hard to get a reservation here.  Do you want to dine with princesses?  Then consider Akerhaus for the Storybook breakfast or lunch.  There are often at least 5 princesses here to enchant you.  Belle, Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty are usually there.  Jasmine and Mary Poppins have also been known to make an appearance.  Another great alternative is 1900 Park Fare for dinner.  This dinner features Cinderella and Prince Charming.  Reservations at either 1900 Park Fare or Akerhaus will get you your princess fix if Cinderella’s Royal Table isn’t available.

California Grill was popular before it was reimagined, and now it’s extremely popular again!  This eclectic, very adult friendly, dining location at the Contemporary Resort is a “must do” on many visitors’ lists.  Perhaps it’s the atmosphere, the fabulous menu, or the premier viewing location for Wishes that makes it so popular.   A nice alternative is Jiko-the Cooking Place.  Located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jiko is a dining experience to be enjoyed as an alternative to California Grill.  You will enjoy a unique menu, as well as a perfectly themed atmosphere!

How do you handle your Disney Dining reservations?  Are you a “get up at 5 am on day 180”, or a “just wait and see what’s available” planner?  With these options and alternatives, you can easily find something to fit your plans and your dining desires!

Do you want to take the hassle out of booking your Disney Dining reservations?  Do you have other things to do than sit and watch for times to open up?  Then contact me and I will be happy to help you with every aspect of your next trip to Walt Disney World-or anywhere!  Email me at carrie@destinationsinflorida.com for a FREE quote and magical trip planning extras!

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Travel Agent at Destinations in Florida
Carrie is a mom, wife, and avid Disney fan.She shares her Disney love here on Chip and Co, and on her own blog-My Favorite Finds.She's always planning her family's next Disney vacation, and helping others make magical vacation memories as a travel agent with Destinations in Florida,An Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.Call Carrie at 937-209-9473 or email her at carrie@destinationsinflorida.com to book your next Disney trip, cruise, or any adventure!
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  • lbaxter80

    We’re certainly not “wait-and-seers”. We usually book our ADRs close to the 180 day mark, right after we make a rough draft of the park schedule we want to follow. Then, looking at what ADRs are available, we change our park schedule. :)

    I can also vouch that Akershus is great for princess interaction (including a parade around the tables with all of them), and Park Fare for dinner with Cinderella and her family is great. (My 6 year old wound up “engaged” to Anastasia by telling her he’d marry her if she sang him a song. She made QUITE a spectacle of herself for him. Later, Cinderella said she would put a word in with Fairy Godmother to undo the engagement. It was so much fun!)

    In December, we’re trying Tusker House and Ohana character meals for the first time.

  • steve singer

    Two things I would like to share. First, I have found that getting reservations at Jiko to be as hard, if not harder than at California Grill. Second, a GREAT spot for character dining, if you like Pooh, is the Crystal Palace in MK. We took our son for his first haircut to the main street barber. After, we were hungry and decided to see if Crystal Palace was available. They gave us a pager, and 15 minutes later we were watching the Pooh characters parade by. I have found that if there a place you want to eat, you have a chance to get in if you walk up, as many people do cancel reservations, even up to the last minute.

  • pa350z

    Hate to say it, if you are an on property hotel guest… especially if staying in a deluxe hotel… the Concierge will get you in most dining places, if you don’t have ressies. Now, this is a last resort tactic, but it has worked for me on a number of occasions for even the very popular restaurants. IMHO

  • WojoATC

    FWIW, we were there in 2012 during Thanksgiving week. We stayed offsite, and did NOT visit any parks. Originally, the plan was to go to Cracker Barrel for Thanksgiving Day dinner. But I did give the kids a choice to pick somewhere else. They picked Chef Mickeys. I had tried several times to book a table there and was told every time to forget it. On Thanksgiving Day, we went to the Contemporary Hotel in hopes of landing a seat. Every cast member said it was impossible. Went to the kiosk at 2:40PM, 20 minutes before they opened and asked for a table for 8. They gave me a pager and said don’t leave the floor and it may be 2 hours before I got a table. They opened at 3:00PM. At 3:01, the pager went off and we were seated. Don’t EVER underestimate the power of Disney Magic!