Walt Disney World’s reopening has brought with it some significant changes to the way guests plan their vacations, particularly when it comes to dining.

Before the parks and resorts reopened, it was announced that all existing dining reservations and Disney Dining Plans would be canceled. Once dining reservations were again made available, the 180-day booking window was shortened to 60 days.

With reduced park hours, no park hopping or FastPass+, and limited, “modified” character meals, even seasoned Disney visitors have faced uncertainty over how to structure their Disney World vacation and dining plans.

Some good news—reduced park and resort capacity have made it easier for guests to take a more flexible approach to their Disney World vacations.

And now, a new update to the My Disney Experience app makes it possible for guests to search immediate “walk-up” availability at table-service restaurants, giving them even more flexibility to play their days by ear. Here’s how it works.

How to Search Walk-Up List Availability

To see which restaurants are accepting walk-ups, launch the My Disney Experience app, click the plus symbol at the bottom of the screen, and select “Check Dining Availability.”

Disney dining app
Disney dining app

Select your party size, choose today’s date, and select “Now” for the time.

Disney dining app
Checking availability on the Disney dining app (photo by Brooke McDonald)

You’ll be shown a list of restaurants with Walk-Up Availability.

Disney dining app
Selecting available walk-up list on the Disney dining app (photo by Brooke McDonald)

If you see a restaurant with availability and you’d like to join the walk-up list, you’ll need to be close enough to it to be allowed to do so. I tested this twice and was able to join the list at Ale & Compass restaurant at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort when I was 0.3 miles away on foot; I was able to join the list at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort while I was on the monorail pulling into the Contemporary.

Disney dining app
The Disney dining app

Once you’re close enough and the walk-up list is available to join, enter your party size and you’ll be shown an estimated wait time. You’ll be given the option to confirm and enter your phone number and any special notes about your party’s needs or dietary restrictions.

Disney dining app
Estimated wait times on the Disney dining app

You’ll then receive a confirmation that you’re on the list and will receive a text notification when your table is ready, just as you do with a traditional Disney World dining reservation.

Disney dining app
Confirmation for your dining on the Disney dining app

More Choices and Flexibility for Guests

With dramatically reduced crowds plus the elimination of timed events to plan around like parades, fireworks, and FastPass+ reservations, guests are likely to find themselves with more free time and flexibility than they’ve been used to during a Disney World vacation. In addition to giving guests an easy way to find a last-minute place to eat, this new feature provides an excellent opportunity to snag a table at some of the most coveted restaurants at Walt Disney World.

During my visit this week, I was able to get a table with only a five-minute wait at California Grill, one of Disney World’s most popular and hard-to-get-into restaurants. Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera at Disney’s Riviera Resort, one of only two restaurants currently offering modified character dining experiences, has also shown regular walk-up availability on the app. Other popular restaurants showing walk-up availability this week included Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Chef Mickey’s, also at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

It’s worth noting that some table-service restaurants, including Be Our Guest, Liberty Tree Tavern and Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, all at Magic Kingdom, were not showing walk-up availability on the app but were still accepting walk-ins with little to no wait. So, if you’re near a restaurant you’d like to try but it’s not showing up on the app, it’s still worth asking if there’s availability!

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