Disney has been working to combat this problem in many ways. First of all, you are no longer allowed to double book dining reservations. If you create a reservation for a meal on a particular day, you are given a prompt that you already have a meal booked for that date and time. You will be asked which one you would like to keep, and the other will be canceled. This is a great feature as it not only prevents a accidental (or intentional) over booking, but it saves a step of having to cancel a previously made reservation. Nice!
Disney also has started sending out email reminders. With so many smart phones, families stay plugged in - even on vacation. A quick email is a great way to remind folks where they need to be. And if you need to cancel – they provide both a phone number and a link for you to do so. Easy! If you last minute planners are reading between the lines here, that means 24-48 hours is a great time to troll for cancelations.
Finally, and perhaps most controversially, a new policy effective October 26, 2011, will require a credit card guarantee for new reservations at Signature Dining and most Character Dining locations. Cancellations to reservations made less than one day in advance will incur a $10 charge per person listed on the reservation.
A few restaurants have already had this policy in effect, but the new policy will greatly expand the list. The $10 per penalty is not huge, but will certainly give triple bookers a cause for pause! Only serious diners need apply! While this can be a little frustrating, and some “innocent” dinners may be caught up in the penalty charges, this should mean more reservations available for those who fully intend to eat at the restaurant booked.
A word of advice: Be careful scheduling Signature and Character meals on your arrival day! A delayed flight, or excessive potty stops on your drive can mean that you not only miss a reservation, but will face a penalty if you do. Also, if you plan your trip and fully intend to go, but end up canceling your plans – be sure to cancel your dining reservations as well!
A new phone number has been added, specifically for canceling dining reservations. Avoid those penalties by calling 407-WDW-CNCL within the appropriate cancelation window.
The following locations will require the new credit card guarantee (Note: This is just a credit card guarantee, not a prepayment of your reservation):
- 1900 Park Fare
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
- Artist Point
- California Grill
- Cape May Café
- Chef Mickey’s
- The Crystal Palace
- Flying Fish Café
- The Garden Grill
- The Hollywood Brown Derby
- Hollywood & Vine
- Jiko – The Cooking Place
- Le Cellier Steakhouse
- Tusker House Restaurant
- Victoria & Albert’s – $25 per person
- Yachtsman Steakhouse
- Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
- Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
Overall, I think these changes will result in a better experience for everyone. Just remember to cancel your reservations if you do not need them – credit card guarantee, or not!