There are some great dining options at Disneyland California and we love the variety and the quality of the food which is really way above the usual Themepark fare of tried food burgers and hotdogs. Food at Disneyland is as much a part of the experience as the characters and the rides. However, this makes some restaurants extremely popular.
Since the Parks have re-opened after the Covid Shutdowns, this has gotten even worse as the capacities are still slightly reduced and visitor numbers as high as ever. Getting into the most popular restaurants can seem an impossible task. However it’s not impossible, infact with a little planning it’s pretty easy, but even the least organized can get in with a little perseverance and luck. This guide will show you exactly how to snag those Hard To Get Dining Reservations at Disneyland California.
From the best way to book from the 60-day window to last-minute desperation; We show you exactly how to get into your top choice restaurant and avoid all the disappointment of missing out.
Hard To Get Dining Reservations at Disneyland California
- Blue Bayou – Disneyland Park*
- Oga’s Cantina – Disneyland Park*
- Trader Sams Tiki Room – Disneyland HOTEL
- Lamplight Lounge – Disney California Adventure*
- Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures – Grand California Hotel
*Park Ticket and Reservations Required or Park hopping for afternoon/evening bookings
While the above are the most difficult to get reservations, even pretty average restaurants sell out way in advance, often the day the reservations are released. If you miss the initial opening window your options could be very limited indeed, especially at busy times.
The single best way to get the reservations that you want is to be ready and prepared for when they go live. We will cover this first and if you follow our guide you are almost certain to get the reservations and dining experiences you want! We know that’s a big claim but the reality is these are not that hard to get, you just have a very short window, and if you miss it then you are in trouble. We look at your options if you have missed the window below, but let’s look at the first and best chance to stop you from being in that situation in the first place.
For the hardest-to-get reservations you need to book them as soon as they go live, when is this?
6:00 am Pacific Time 60 days before the day you want to book.
You need to be on your computer, or phone, a few minutes prior to this ready to go. The window can last anywhere from less than a minute to 5-10 max. After this, the reservations will be gone!
If you have missed this window, your odds have drastically dropped, but there is still hope, skip on to read how to get the reservations outside this short window – SKIP
A little preparation helps you understand this and we advise practicing a few days before, so you can get used to what it is you have to do to secure your bookings. Let’s look at the process in depth.
First, know what you want. Know where you want to eat and on what days and times. This is all a bit regimented and pre-planned, but by winging it you will not get the best reservations. The best plan is to pick ONE priority dining option per day. Make this your focus.
Before 6:00 am PT log on and head to Things to do – Dinding – Make Reservations
On this page, the date you want will be selectable in the drop-down, however when you search for times the message “We’re sorry, there is a problem searching for reservations at this time” This is because the reservations are not live yet.
At this point check that you are properly logged in, sometimes it looks like you are but when you try and do something you get a log-in prompt, this could lose you a reservation! So go to the day before, and do a practice reservation for any restaurant and it will ensure you are logged in properly.
Next set up your Plan-A reservation. Set the date and the time you want to visit. There are options for Breakfast, Lunch, Brunch, and Dinner, but we find choosing a particular time is more effective, more people use the broad times and you will have more people competing for the same time slots, so focus on when you want to dine, it will still search a 3-hour window.
As the time approaches 6:00 am start clicking the search times button, sometimes the reservations go live just a few seconds after 6:00 am, so keep searching. Eventually, the error will clear and the reservation times appear in the list below.
You should have familiarised yourself with where in the list your Plan-A restaurant is, it’s alphabetical so scroll down and select the most appropriate time displayed. Chances are this will fail! You will be led to an error message saying sorry for the PAWS but the reservation no longer exists! The Horror!!!!
Relax, every person looking for a reservation has all be shown the same ones and it’s a case of the fastest finger first. Just go back to the page, hit search, and there will be another option 10-20mins either side of the first. When you select this one you will be sent to the reservations page. You can now relax as you have temporarily secured the booking while you input your details and Credit Card to secure the reservation.
As you can see it’s a little clunky, this is why we recommend practicing for a few days beforehand with Dummy reservations to ensure you know what to expect and how to secure the correct bookings.
As you can see from our reservation page below, this process certainly can work!
If you are looking for other reservations on the same day you can now head back and see if there is anything left. You may get lucky but at other times all the coveted Reservations will have gone, hence why we say focus on one Plan-A reservation.
Should you be REALLY desperate to get two hard-to-get reservations on the same day, and you have only got one, or something went wrong and you missed your top choice despite following the above process? NOW is the best time to keep at it!
As we stated above, once you get to the page where you enter details and add your credit card guarantee, the reservation is temporarily held. Most of these are successfully completed and the reservation secured, but some will fail, maybe they don’t have a CC, maybe they were just test bookings, or maybe there is a technical glitch. Whatever, a certain number will fail and be thrown back into the pot, this all happens in the first 15-30 mins after the reservations go live, so if you are not happy keep checking now, as reservations WILL pop up over the next 30 mins or so.
A couple of things to note:
For restaurants in the Parks, you need a Valid Ticket and Park Reservation (Or a park Hopper Ticket for reservations after 1 pm) to visit the restaurant, however, you DO NOT need one to book. So if you haven’t decided which park you will visit on which days you can wait, assuming availability is good, until you have made your Dining Reservations and plan the parks based on that.
A Credit Card is needed to secure the bookings but is not charged until you visit the restaurant. It will be charged a nominal amount if you do not show, so make sure you cancel any reservations you will not use before the allotted cancellation period, which is now up to 2 hours before your reservation. If you choose to cancel within 2 hours of your booking then you will be charged. Examples below:
- Blue Bayou – Cancel up to 2 hours Prior or pay a $10 per person fee for No-Show
- Oga’s Cantina – Cancel up to 2 hours Prior or pay a $10 per person fee for No-Show
- Trader Sams Tiki Room – Cancel up to 2 hours Prior or pay a $10 per person fee for No-Show
- Lamplight Lounge – Cancel up to 2 hours Prior or pay a $10 per person fee for No-Show
- Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures – Cancel up to 2 hours Prior or pay a $25 per person fee for No-Show
Ok, you have missed this window relax, as all is not lost just yet, but things have got a little more complicated. Honestly, most people reading this fall into this capacity as you have come onto the Disney reservations page and can’t get the Reservations you wanted. Not everyone knows how difficult these can be. And not everyone plans to visit so far ahead of time.
We have also highlighted the hardest-to-get reservations, but almost all restaurants can sell out. Miss the reservation window by only a couple of days and you can be left with some pretty miserable options remaining!
The key now is not to give up. You need to be tenacious in checking and rechecking for reservations at all hours of the day. This will largely be a fruitless search, but you need to be relentless. People can and do change their plans and give up their reservations and you need to be ready to pounce!
Reservation Alert Services
The other option is to get someone to search for you, or more accurately a service. These services offer automated alerts when dining becomes available.
Mousedining.com – Offers a FREE alert service, this is Email-Only, you need a subscription to get text alerts.
MouseWatcher.com – Paid only
MouseSeats.com – Free Trial – Paid
There are several paid subscriptions for these services, and most of these allow more alerts and Text Message Alerts as well as Email. We are pretty loathed to pay for them as we have tried the FREE services and they were really ineffective!
The issue is the alerts are pretty limited, and when they do come through you need to be ultra-fast to have a hope-in-hells chance of getting one. Our test alert received 5 alerts in the 2-month period, all gone way before we got near.
They are DEFINITELY worth trying out on the free services, as you have little to lose. But make sure you use an Email that uses Push notifications so you get the alerts straight away.
The Day Before
After all this time you still have not got reservations you are probably losing hope. But DON’T as the above is a long shot, we rarely get reservations this way (although we tend to be organized and get them in the window). As the day of your visit draws near, then the odds of a reservation opening up, skyrocket. Why?
Well as we said above, there is a charge for failing to cancel and not showing up, so reservations that are unwanted are often canceled to avoid the No-Show fee. So the day before is the most active time.
Increase the frequency of your searches and keep your fingers crossed.
On The Day
Still not got your reservation, there is still hope! Disney has now introduced their Mobile Dine Walk-Up functionality on the Disneyland App. This has all but eliminated walk-up availability and means on-the-day reservations do not appear.
However, in November Disneyland announced a new 2- hour cancellation window where Guests would not get charged for a NO SHOW if they canceled before 2 hours of their reservation. Anyone who has visited Disneyland parks before will know that even the best-laid plans can go awry and this now gives guests the freedom to cancel their reservation on the day. This now gives you a really good chance at bagging a table if you are persistent in checking. Unfortunately, this can be quite intrusive on your day as you are constantly on the app hoping your desired restaurant opens up availability.
Availability for all but the hardest restaurants to get almost always open up on the day via the App, it’s just the really hard-to-get ones that may not. People are far less likely to fail to turn up for the popular bookings than the less desirable venues. But it does happen so there is always hope.
At The Time
Finally, and it’s a long shot, but the ultra persistent may just get the cheese! Just try the host’s stand. This worked best at less desirable times. Late on in the day, during fireworks shows, outside of regular meal times.
Just head on over and see what they say. They may just direct you to the App, they may add you to the wait list via their tablet devices, and they may be able to seat you straight away. They also may just say no…they most likely will just say no, but as the day wears on, or lunchtime fades into that afternoon period when no one eats large meals, then availability can open up. People will naturally find other places to eat their meals and demand slowly wanes.
This old-school direct approach always has a chance of working, it’s not always a good chance, but it’s worth a shot if you really want to get into Ogas Cantina or the Blue Bayou…
Be aware, that in these situations you will catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Meaning, be nice, be polite, maybe a little desperate, and make them feel sorry for you. Act entitled or abrasive and they will happily tell you there is no room at the inn!
Staying In a Resort?
This rarely works for in-park dining, so you won’t get a Blue Bayou or Oga’s Cantina this way. But if you are staying in-Resort you may have luck with the Hotel Concierge getting you into one of the Hotel’s Hard to book locations. Napa Rose, Trader Sam’s Tiki Room, or a character breakfast.
Again there are no guarantees here, you are unlikely to be the only one asking, but the worst case is they say they can’t help. And as always, being friendly and humble is a far better plan than being demanding.
If none of the above works, we are afraid that you are pretty much out of options. If the App is not showing Wait-list times and the Host stand is turning you away there really is no other choice! Of course, you do not need to be hungry, there are loads of dining options in the Park and Quick Service is always available and you can order via the App for pick-up at your leisure. There are also some workarounds.
For Sam’s Tiki Room, you can order the same drinks at the Bar or get seated easier in Tangaroa Terrace with the same drinks menu and better food.
For the Blue Bayou, most of the menu can be found at the various New Orleans restaurants such as Cafe Orleans and the French Market, and Mint Julep Bar, you just won’t get the great experience of dining by the Bayou.
For Oga’s Cantina, well you are a bit more out of luck. The only spot in Galaxies Edge, where you can order alcohol is in Oga’s but you can get better food in Docking Bay 7 where Blue Milk is available as well as at the Blue Milk Stand. But if you are wanting a Tarkenian Night Flower, Fuzzy Tauntaun, Jedi Mind Trick, or a Nub Yub, you need to get into Oga’s, same with the Lamp Light Lounge.
While there are other Character Dining Options, nothing quite matches the Princess Adventures at Napa Rose, although Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park at Plaza Inn is a close second!
And there is always one FINAL FINAL FINAL Option…
If all else fails, if all avenues of success elude you, if you end up dining down the street at The Cheesecake Factory instead, fear not…It just means you have to come back another time!
Have Your Say
Let us know your success stories at bagging the top restaurants, we especially would like to hear from those who missed the 60-day window but still snagged the top reservations, how did you go about it? Also, we would love to hear the other side too, did you just end up missing out on something special?