Let’s face facts: Planning is an essential part of a Disney World vacation. You need reservations to get into the parks, to eat at the best restaurants, and, when FastPass returns, to ride the best rides without an extremely long wait. But let’s also face it: sometimes you can’t plan everything. Whether you’re making a last minute spontaneous trip to WDW, or you just couldn’t snag that coveted Be Our Guest dinner ressie, you might find yourself without a reservation.

Here are a few tips on what to do if you don’t have a reservation at Disney World. Try these out and you might end up getting your dream dinner after all.

Keep Checking, Especially 24 Hours Before

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again! This adage isn’t just good advice in general, but it also applies to grabbing Disney World reservations.

For Park Pass reservations, Disney is constantly refreshing the availability of certain parks on certain days, especially as capacity rules change. If you can’t secure a Park Pass for the park and day you want, just check back in a few days. There are even certain unofficial Twitter accounts you can follow that will let you know when Park Passes are available for certain parks again, like @WDWStats. If you are determined to get a Park Pass, then follow that account and set an alert on your phone.

For dining reservations, use the Disney World website or app to check back 24 hours before when you want to go. Disney World has a cancellation fee if you cancel a dining reservation less than 24 hours before, so many people who decide not to use their reservation will cancel them the day before. This will leave a lot of reservations temporarily open the day before, so you can snag that table. There will also be some reservations available same-day at less in-demand restaurants, so you can also use the app to find a table that way.

For FastPass (when it returns), Disney periodically releases FastPass availability and people cancel their FastPasses, so checking again and again for a hard to get FastPass can be worth it, especially early in the morning on the day you want your FastPass. This tip might need to be updated if the FastPass system returns in a different state, which is quite possible.

Join the Virtual Walk-Up Wait List with the Disney World App

Check Dining Availability - Disney World App

If you haven’t been to Disney World in awhile, here’s a fairly new system. Some WDW restaurants have a Virtual Walk-Up Wait List for guests who don’t have a reservation. To join the list, open the MyDisneyExperience app on your phone, click the Plus button in the middle of the bottom menu, then click “Check Dining Availability.” Select today’s date and “Now” under “Search by Time.” You’ll see a list of restaurants with Walk-Up Wait List availability. In order to join the Walk-Up Wait List, you must be within a certain proximity of the restaurant, and the app will tell you if you need to move closer to it in order to join the wait list.

Use OpenTable for Disney Springs and Boardwalk Restaurants

OpenTable Disney Springs

Don’t see any dining reservations in the Disney World app? Check again on OpenTable. Many Disney Springs and Boardwalk restaurants also use OpenTable for dining reservations, and we’ve had a lot of good luck grabbing last minute lunch or dinner reservations using OpenTable. As an extra bonus, OpenTable offers rewards and a more lenient cancellation policy, so you might want to use their system over the Disney World app or website when you can.

Here are a few of the Disney World restaurants that are available on OpenTable:

  • Wine Bar George
  • STK
  • Terralina
  • Big River Grille (Boardwalk)
  • Raglan Road
  • Paradiso 37
  • Splitsville
  • House of Blues

Use Mobile Order

Disney World Tip: Use Mobile Ordering

If you’re not dead set on sitting down to eat, but you want to avoid a wait, a little planning ahead can save a lot of time. Use the MyDisneyExperience app to place a mobile order ahead of time. For the most popular restaurants, time slots go quickly, but you can select your arrival window well ahead of time, so ordering your lunch as soon as you get into the park isn’t a bad idea if you usually eat lunch at a certain time.

Disney World Mobile Order App To make a mobile order, open the MyDisneyExperience app on your phone, click the Plus button in the middle of the bottom menu, then click “Order Food.” You’ll see a list of restaurants and the soonest available pickup window. Click “More Times” to see other pickup windows available throughout the day.

For more about dining reservations, be sure to check out other entries in our Guide 2 Disney World Dining Reservations.

Do you have any tips on what to do if you don’t have a reservation at Disney World? Let me know in the comments below!