It has to be said that over the last few years, new policies and procedures at Disneyland and Walt Disney World haven’t exactly made your theme park vacation easy. From the frustrating reservation system to the addition of Genie+, to the new variable pricing of Genie+, along with increased prices overall, planning your Disney trip has gotten complicated. But the newest change may actually make things a bit easier, as you can now cancel your dining reservations on the same day without paying an added fee.
Previously, dining reservations at Walt Disney World or Disneyland generally required that any cancellations happen 24 hours or more in advance, otherwise, you’d be charged $10 per person in the reservation. However, a new update to the apps for both resorts (via Scott Gustin) now changes the cancellation deadline to only two hours prior to the reservation. The only caveat being that some locations actually require prepayment rather than just a credit card hold, and it doesn’t appear there is a refund if you cancel those.
Disney theme parks usually require a lot of planning. You need to know what attractions are closed at Disney World so you don't make plans around them. And of course you may plan an entire trip around new attractions that opened at Disney World since your last visit. And if you want to eat a special meal in a popular place, you need to make dining reservations 60 days in advance. This means you’re deciding where you plan to eat your meals a couple of months before you actually go. While it can be nice for some to have things planned out, plans can obviously change for any number of reasons, which made the cancellation policy frustrating for many.
There was a little trick that some guests in the know implemented to get around the cancellation charges. While you couldn’t cancel your reservation on the day of without getting billed, you could change your reservation without penalty. This meant that you could simply rebook your reservation for a different day in the future, and then cancel it without paying anything extra. Now guests won’t need to circumvent the system. It’s possible that guests doing exactly this was the reason for the change, as it made the 24 hour deadline pointless.
On the one hand, this should make things a bit easier for guests who need to cancel reservations because plans changed while on vacation at the last minute. You don't need to plan to go to a certain park simply because you had previously planned to eat there. For some a vacation where everything is planned in advance is the opposite of relaxing. Disneyland especially used to be a place that was a lot more flexible, but in recent months it's started to become a lot more like Walt Disney World in the way planning ahead is required to get the most out of your trip.
At the same time, there is a downside. Without the potential penalty guests could book multiple reservations without the intention of using all of them, simply cancelling those they decide not to use at the last minute. This could mean booking reservations in advance could actually become tougher for those that know what they want.
On the other hand, even if exactly that scenario takes place, it will mean more reservations being made available at essentially the last minute, which means that if you miss your shot booking early, there might still be a chance that something could open up at that place you’re hoping to eat.
It will certainly be interesting to see how this change impacts dining reservations overall. As with most things at Disney World or Disneyland, it has the potential to make things a lot easier, assuming that there aren’t too many people who discover ways to abuse the system.
CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.
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