Mon dieu, just try getting a table for dinner at Be Our Guest, the fancy French restaurant at the Magic Kingdom.
You'll have to be a skillful planner and know your schedule six months ahead. That's how far in advance Walt Disney World takes reservations for restaurants. The most popular ones fill quickly, and Be Our Guest is perhaps the resort's hottest ticket for dining.
Hannah Grantz of Winter Park had been excited about eating at Be Our Guest since 2009, when Disney announced that a restaurant based on the movie "Beauty and the Beast" would be part of the Magic Kingdom's expansion of Fantasyland. She tried to get seats online.
"I tried over and over again and didn't have much luck," said Grantz, 24. She's a Disney annual passholder with a flexible schedule, but she still couldn't land a date for the 526-seat restaurant, which opened in December 2012.
She tried late at night and early in the morning. "I just wanted to go, but it was impossible," Grantz said.
Her persistence finally paid off last month, when she secured a table by chance just two days in advance. Her dinner was served at 4:30 p.m.
"I think it goes with anything that's new — there's just a lot of pent-up demand," said Maribeth Bisienere, vice president of food and beverage for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "I suppose if there's a good side, it has opened up some of our reservations in our other popular restaurants."
Still, demand for seating isn't limited to the new restaurant — or even to Disney parks. Disneygoers also clamor for meals at California Grill, Chef Mickey's, Cinderella's Royal Table and character breakfasts. Reservations are also recommended at Emeril's at Universal CityWalk, particularly at peak times.
But, these days, Be Our Guest is the biggest draw. Reviewers and guests say the food and the building's elaborate theme are draws. The Be Our Guest menu includes chicken breast Provençal, thyme-scented pork rack chop, shrimp and scallops with lobster sauce and ratatouille. Dinner entrees range from $23 to $33, and admission to the park also is required.
"It's so immersive," Bisienere said. "You walk in and you really feel like you're in Beast's castle."
Another part of the draw: Be Our Guest was the first place in the Magic Kingdom to serve alcohol. It offers beer and wine with dinner only.
Disney World's phased introduction of MyMagic+, a planning and reservation system, allows out-of-town visitors to book everything from meals to roller-coaster rides long before they arrive in Central Florida.
The long lead time for reservations is a challenge for residents, who just want to go out to dinner, not take a vacation.
"I think locals are going to have to more and more start to realize that Disney is not going to cater to them in the same way," said A.J. Wolfe, editor of the Disney Food Blog, which is unaffiliated with Walt Disney Co. "It's not in their best interest to cater to locals as much as it is to cater from people coming from all over the world," she said.
"It's hard to plan that I'm going to want steak at 2:45 on Sept. 17."
Jonathan Davila of Orlando wanted to have an anniversary dinner with his wife, Karina, at Be Our Guest last March. He landed a table but then ended up with a scheduling conflict.
"We were lucky — then unlucky," said Davila, 26. They couldn't switch the reservation to a nearby day, so they moved to Les Chefs de France, a restaurant at Epcot.
"My wife was big on French cuisine and big on 'Beauty and the Beast' as well," Davila said. "It would have been perfect, but we settled on just the French cuisine part."
Eventually, the Davilas hit Be Our Guest for lunch, when the menu is lighter and reservations are not accepted. The line of guests typically stretches from the door across the Fantasyland bridge.
Disney is testing a system that would shorten the lunch line, Bisienere said.
"It's a little bit like FastPass at lunchtime with a window of opportunity to sit down," she said.
Last year, Disney World also changed its cancellation policy. Now customers, who must leave credit-card info when making reservations, are charged $10 a person if they don't show up. The cancellation calls help last-minute diners.
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Disney dining reservations
Tips for getting a seat at Walt Disney World restaurants:
•Call 180 days before the desired date. That's the earliest Disney World will make a dining reservation.
•Be persistent. Cancellations are made every day, and Disney's new policy encourages guests to cancel, as opposed to just not showing up.
•Be flexible. Peak dinner times fill up quickly, so be open to unusually early or late meal times.
•Try off-peak times of year. When the theme parks are less crowded, so are the restaurants. Off-peak months such as January or September are good times to try.
Reservations for select Disney World restaurants can be made at 407-939-3463 or disneyworld.com/dining.