Dealing With Early Morning Dining Reservations at The World

It’s one of those classic Disney conundrums: What do you do when you have an early morning breakfast reservation at another resort but you don’t have a car? Without question, one of the trickiest aspects of getting around Disney World is the fact that there’s no resort to resort transportation, forcing you to treat the parks as transportation “hubs” from which you transfer to other resorts. This usually poses no problem at all, but what do you do when the parks aren’t open yet? Well, you get a little crafty.

Probably the easiest solution is to take a cab, but it’s also the most expensive option, at around $25 for a ride anywhere on property. The good news is that it’s a direct route, so you’ll get there a lot faster. This is ideal if your family is like mine and likes to lollygag in the morning. Even better, because Disney is always looking out for guests, you can be assured that cab drivers who are allowed to operate on Disney property are fair. Nonetheless, make sure you establish a price before you get into the cab. Tips are welcome but not required.

The more complicated solution is to take Disney transportation. As noted above, since there’s no resort to resort transportation, you’ll have to take a bus (or boat or monorail) to the park nearest to your destination and then go from there. Officially, Disney transportation starts running 60 minutes prior to park opening, which isn’t at all reassuring when your reservation starts at 8:00 and the park opens at 9:00. Worse still, you have to allow time to get not only from your resort to the park and then to the other resort! The good news is that Disney “unofficially” runs buses sporadically about 90 minutes prior to opening. The bad news is that part where I mentioned the word “sporadically. I’ve been late more than once to a reservation because I missed the one bus that was running that early.

So what’s the solution? The best way is to make sure you tell the desk the night before that you’ll need transportation prior to park opening. Some guests want to arrange this prior to their stay and they’ll call the resort with the intent to do so—sadly, you’re most likely talking to a main switchboard in another town and not the actual resort staff, so you’re better off making these plans face to face when you get on property. While I’ve found this method to be pretty foolproof, if you miss the bus, make sure you contact the desk immediately rather than lose your reservation and potentially pay a penalty on top of it. Quite often you’ll be given a ride in one of the resort vans.

Keep in mind that there are some restaurants for which using Disney transportation first thing in the morning is just not an option. The fun character breakfast at Cape May Cafe, located in the Beach Club, is just a short walk from Epcot, but it’s the ultimate “you can’t get there from here” scenario. In these situations, it’s better to spring for a cab or make your reservation for after the park opens. Finally, remember that Disney’s suggestion that you allow yourself 90 minutes travel time to your dining destination is a practical one, especially for these early morning reservations. Better to be a little early than late.

Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do to make it work? What would you recommend to other guests?

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About Christina Wood

For more travel planning articles by Chris, check out her Disney travel blog, Everything Walt Disney World. Chris is also a member of the Mouse Chat podcast team and an authorized Disney travel planner with Pixie Vacations, and visits the parks about 55 days each year. To get free planning and assistance with your next Disney vacation, please call her at 919-889-5281 or email at ChrisW@PixieVacations.com. You may also fill out a quick Disney Vacation Quote form here.
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9 Responses to Dealing With Early Morning Dining Reservations at The World

  1. Lynne says:

    I was in WDW for my anniversary this past December. We had a 7:35 AM reservation at ‘Ohana and were staying at Art of Animation. We actually caught a bus to Magic Kingdom between 6:30 and 6:45 (even though MK didn’t open until 8:00) and then jumped on the monorail to the Polynesian. We arrived in plenty of time. I was going to take a cab to save time and stress, but I’m glad I didn’t waste my money on it.

  2. Brian says:

    For my honeymoon (2011) I decided our first stop on the way to the parks had to be Chef Mickey’s. I made our breakfast reservations for 30 minutes (I think) before Magic Kingdom opened. We took the bus bus from Animal Kingdom Lodge to Magic Kingdom and just walked across the street to the Contemporary. We made it in time and just grabbed the Monorail after breakfast to go to the park. Worked perfect for us (as long as we didn’t mind crossing the street, haha).

  3. We recently stayed at Treehouse Villas where it is hard to get anywhere. I rented a car for one day from National Car Rental at The Dolphin resort and planned events around this. Having a car for one day opens up a lot of opportunities for when Disney makes moving around challenging, and while you cant get to the rental office in The Dolphin from your resort, it can be accessed via the boat from Hollywood Studios.

  4. DisneyMike says:

    Honestly, I don’t understand why people put themselves into these situations to begin with. Perhaps that’s because no one in my family is a big “morning person,” so we’re perfectly happy to wait until later in the day for a special meal. Perhaps it’s because we stay in different resorts each trip, and we try to take advantage of what’s nearby (if we’re at the Contemporary, we eat at Chef Mickey’s, if we’re at the Beach Club, we eat at the Cape May Cafe, etc.).

    If you’re in need of a super-early dining experience, why not plan something for your resort or in one of the parks? Why would you purposefully make your vacation much more difficult? Why on earth would you want to spend 90 minutes getting to a meal? We go on vacation to relax, not get all stressed out about dining reservations.

    • Fred says:

      I agree with DisneyMike. I’m usually up fairly early, but that’s no need to schedule a character breakfast right away. I’m content with eating a doughnut, taking my time, and making sure everyone in my family is up and ready not having to rush out the door for a reservation. Especially when everyone needs to take a shower or use the bathroom in the morning. I always preferred a character breakfast to be a little later anyway. The kids are more awake and ready to enjoy the memory. not like a zombie that as made to wake up at 6 AM for school.

  5. Sally says:

    Excuse me, Mike- but how often do you go to Disney? Some of us go once or twice every ten years and while our kids are young, we like to be able to go to different character breakfasts no matter how long it takes to get there. Open your mind a little, pal. What’s good for you may not work for everyone else. So what? Great article. Thanks for the input!

  6. Liane says:

    It’s not only early morning meal reservations at resorts that present travel challenges. We frequently attend our children’s sporting events at Wide World of Sports when we visit, and if we are staying on our DVC points rather than using the event’s transportation, getting back and forth on Disney Transportation is a huge challenge. We attended College National Cheer & Dance Competition this past January, and found that the Mobile Magic App contains a transportation wizard that could help us get from where we were to where we needed to be, although it required multiple transfers from our resort to Downtown Disney to another resort to WWoS. Another thing to pay attention to is what time your event at WWoS ends and what time Disney Transport ends. One year, the transportation hub to WWoS was at Hollywood Studios. We finished at WWoS at 9 p.m., but the park had closed at 7, so there were no busses to take us back. We learned an expensive lesson that day, having to take a cab back to our resort! The bottom line is to plan ahead if you are using Disney Transportation, and 90 minutes is the minimum you should allot. REnting a car for the day may or may not be an option, but if you can it will save your sanity.

  7. Antoinette Marie says:

    Is there a map somewhere or a way to figure out distances? I live in a city, so I walk quite a bit on a regular basis. If we stay at Art of Animation, will we also be needing to rent a car?

    • John Frost says:

      Walt Disney World is twice the size of Manhattan. Mostly it’s unwalkable as Disney has deliberately not added sidewalks or jogging paths. There are exceptions to this. The Downtown Disney Area which is walkable to and from Saratoga Springs DVC Resort and Downtown Disney Hotels (although some are at a distance). You can also walk between EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (and the resorts in between). Conceivably you could walk from DHS through EPCOT and take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. This won’t work for Breakfast reservations, however. You can walk from Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness Campground (this is lovely to bicycle through too). You could walk from the Grand Floridian to the Polynesian and then on to the Contemporary or Magic Kingdom, but who would want to with the Resort Monorail running up above (or boats on the lake).

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