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Disney World adds fee to Prime Dining Reservations

Planning to visit Walt Disney World in the next 6 months? You might want to make you dining reservations today. As of October 26th Disney will roll out an adjustment to their restaurant reservation policy by adding cancellation fees for certain popular restaurants. At the time of booking, Guests will have to leave a credit card to hold the reservation. There will be a $10 per person charge if the reservation is not canceled at least one day in advance.

Rumors of Disney wanting this change have been circulating for at least a year. But they needed to upgrade their technology to make it work. The new policy helps solve one of Disney’s big problems, locations end up with empty tables and walk-up guests being turned away because reservations have booked the restaurant to its capacity.

Disney forces this situation with its Disney Dining Plan, often offered as a ‘free’ incentive to get guests to stay at the resort during low-season. In order to ‘maximize’ the value of this plan, guests feel like they have to eat at sit-down restaurants much more frequently than they normally would on vacation. They’re also forced to make these reservations way in advance (sometimes 190 days) just to hold a seat at the popular restaurants on the off chance they’re even in the park that day. That practice should be curtailed a bit.

Of course, savvy travel planners will quickly figure out there is a gap in this policy big enough to drive a food delivery truck through. But it might deter the casual Disney traveler from just making a ton of reservations. It also means last minute reservations will start to open up again, which will make locals (like me) much happier. I’m also hoping that some of these restaurants will start taking walk-ups again.

The list of restaurants is:

• 1900 Park Fare
• Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
• Artist Point
• California Grill
• Cape May Café
• Chef Mickey’s
• Cítricos
• The Crystal Palace
• Flying Fish Café
• The Garden Grill
• Hollywood & Vine
• Jiko – The Cooking Place
• Le Cellier Steakhouse
• Narcoossee’s
• ‘Ohana
• Tusker House Restaurant
• The Hollywood Brown Derby
• Yachtsman Steakhouse
• Victoria & Albert’s (cancellation policy is $25/per person)

Pre-paid dining locations will continue to charge the full amount if the reservation is not cancelled at least a day in advance. Those locations are:

• Cinderella’s Royal Table
• Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
• Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
• Mickey’s Backyard BBQ

Reservations can be cancelled at any table-service restaurant podium, any resort front desk, concierge or guest relations, online at or by calling the dining cancellation number 407-WDW-CNCL.

I’m not a big fan of having to make reservations to get a table anywhere on Disney property. I’d rather just go out and have fun, then dine where I happen to be at around 6pm. I can’t do that with the current DDP/Reservation combination. So if this policy is a step toward a more free vacation style, I’m all for it.

Of course, what really is going to happen, is that the Jones party of 4 from Topeka plans their big Disney vacation that they take once every 3 years and now feels more forced into a plan than ever before. If they get stuck on a ride, their car breaks down off property, or some other unexpected event delays them, they’ll be charged $40 by Disney for missing their reservation. It’s going to take all the spontaneity and serendipity out of the vacation, force everyone to become perfect planners, and, in my opinion, remove an element of fun from Walt Disney World. When a Disney vacation becomes less fun families like the Jones’ will be less likely to drop thousands of dollars and return.

What do you think about the change? Will it affect how you make reservations for dining at Disney World?