Reservations open 60-180 days beforehand, and some people stay up so they can book at exactly midnight, so if you have something you are eyeing, try to make your reservation as soon as you can. Since Disney allows you to cancel up to 24 hours before the day of the reservation you can always cancel. (Some restaurants, such as Cinderella’s Table, require you to make a payment in full rather than just giving a credit card on file when making a reservation, but if you cancel in time it will be refunded.)
So how do you get that hard to get reservation? There are numerous strategies that can aid you in your quest:
Stay up and book
Remember those people we mentioned who stay up till midnight the first day you can book a restaurant? Well, you can be one of those people. Even this strategy is not a guarantee with the real hot ticket items, but it certainly increases your chances.
When the parks are less crowded it stands to reason that the restaurants themselves will be less crowded too. Some people have reported being able to book those hard to get places as late as 30 days beforehand (“Yeshiva break” in January, as well as late August when camp gets out before school starts, are known to be lower traffic times especially in WDW since many southern schools start their school year in mid-August)
Certain restaurants have better experiences at different meal times. For example everyone clamors for dinner at Be Our Guest since the food is “to die for”. However, for the kosher traveler, it really boils down to seeing the Beast and Belle which you can’t do during breakfast or lunch. So if you want to experience the restaurant itself, try booking breakfast (there aren’t really options for a full meal at lunch).
Last Minute Cancellations
As mentioned before you need to cancel your reservation 24 hours before the meal so you do not incur a penalty. Therefore, a lot of people try and cancel their reservations 24-72hours beforehand. Even some of the most sought after reservations sometimes free up on the exact day you are looking for, especially relatively expensive meals like Cinderella’s Table.