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Making Dining Reservations for Universal is Easy

Making Dining Reservations for Universal is Easy

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If you are considering a trip to Universal Orlando soon and you are a Disney regular, you might be wondering about things like how to make dining reservations. We have great news for you. It is EASY. Here is everything you need to know about dining while you are having fun in Universal Orlando.

Universal Planning vs. Disney Planning

Everything You Need to Know About Universal's Disability Access
Credit: Kate

If you are a Disney regular, and you have been researching a trip to Universal Orlando, you may have heard it said that planning to visit Universal Orlando is much easier than planning a visit to Walt Disney World. And, in many ways it is indeed easier!

One of the reasons that Universal is simpler to plan for lies in the simplicity of dining reservations. This is because sometimes you don’t even need them to begin with.

However, we do highly recommend reservations JUST IN CASE. If you do have the wish, dream, or desire to plan your meals in advance of your visit, Universal has you covered as many of the restaurants do take advanced dining reservations.

An Unexpected Restaurant Closure at Universal Orlando
Credit: Kate

Here is everything you need to know to make the most of them! Feel Free to jump to the section you need:

Walk-Ups and Priority Seating

The Cowfish restaurant exterior
Credit: Kate

First of all, you may not even need a reservation at all for some table-service restaurants in Universal Orlando’s theme parks, hotels, and at CityWalk. While most restaurants strongly recommend reservations, it is possible to walk up and put your name on a waitlist.

My (Kate’s) travel party and I had great success with the wait list at both Cowfish and Vivo Italian Kitchen at CityWalk. We were seated nearly immediately at Vivo.

hard rock cafe restaurant feature
Credit: Susan

Also, if you are staying at a Premier Resort such as Loews Portofino Bay Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort, priority seating is one of the resort benefits. This benefit does not guarantee you a seat, but it DOES mean you will be seated ahead of visitors without a resort reservation at Portofino Bay, Hard Rock, or Royal Pacific.

Keep in mind that same-day dining availability diminishes during peak season. And, we will almost certainly see it decrease even more as Epic Universe opens and as more and more theme park goers begin to look beyond Disney’s theme parks for fun.

Which Restaurants Accept Reservations

Vivo Italian Kitchen
Credit: Kate

Nearly all table service restaurants accept reservations. Within the theme parks, this includes:

  • Mythos (Islands of Adventure)
  • Confisco Grille (Islands of Adventure)
  • Finnegan’s Bar and Grill (Universal Studios)
  • Lombard’s Seafood Grille (Universal Studios)
  • Marvel Character Dining in Marvel Super Hero Island (Islands of Adventure)

At CityWalk, you can reserve several restaurants as well:

universal city walk nbc sports grill brew
Credit: Susan
  • Bigfire
  • Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food
  • Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom
  • Cowfish
  • NBC Sports Grill & Brew
  • Pat O’Brien’s
  • Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen
  • VIVO Italian Kitchen
  • Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
  • Hard Rock Cafe Orlando

And, of course, there are plenty of hotel restaurants you can book as well. These include:

  • Loews Portofino Bay Resort
    • Mama Della’s Ristorante
    • Trattoria del Porto
    • Bice Ristorante
  • Hardrock Hotel
    • The Kitchen
    • The Palm
  • Loews Royal Pacific Resort
    • Islands Dining Room
    • Jake’s American Bar
  • Loews Saphire Falls Resort
    • Amatista Cookhouse
    • Strong Water Tavern

Dining Reservation Windows

universal mythos restaurant
Credit: Susan

Booking windows open as much as 6 months in advance if you would like to book early. And, you may want to book at least a month out, especially during busy times for travel for the best availability. However, we have had lots of luck getting reservations a week out.

There is no stipulation on having theme park tickets or a hotel reservation for the restaurants. You can go to a CityWalk or a hotel restaurant any time. You WILL eventually need valid park admission to dine in the theme park restaurants, but you can reserve them before you book your tickets if you like.

How to Make the Reservations

Honest Review: Is Universal's Express Pass Worth the Price?
Credit: Monica

If you want to make a reservation through Universal, you will need a Universal account to log in with. However, you will want to set this up anyway so that you can use it to navigate the app during your trip.

Universal uses a third party called Next Table for bookings. However, reservations are accessible through the Universal website to make things easy.

From there, you can simply make reservations for theme park dining, CityWalk Dining, or hotel dining. You will need to enter the number of people in your party and then select your date and time.

Unlike Disney, Universal does not require a credit card to book most reservations. You can just book them with a name and phone number.

universal marvel cafe 4 restaurant
Credit: Susan

Be sure to screenshot your confirmations complete with the confirmation number just in case. I have never had issues with a Universal reservation, but luck favors the prepared!

The primary exception to this is Marvel character dining or other exclusive dining events. You must purchase these meals in advance and pay in full.

Booking Contact Information

universal city walk toothsome chocolate emporium restaurant
Credit: Susan
  • You can book reservations here: Universal Dining
  • Character Dining can be purchased here: Character Dining
  • You can book some restaurants like Hard Rock or select hotel restaurants through Open Table
  • You can also call 407-503-DINE (for MOST restaurants)
  • Lastly, you can work with a Travel Advisor for your whole trip, and they can do the work for you!

Canceling Your Reservation

Great Theming and Entertainment Make Universal Studios a Must Do for Harry Potter Fans
Credit: Monica

Sometimes plans change, especially when you are having FUN. If you need to cancel your reservation, there is typically no penalty. In fact, unlike Walt Disney World, there is no penalty for no-shows either!

However, it is still respectful to other guests and to the restaurant itself if you do remember to cancel, even at the last minute. So, please do try to cancel unneeded reservations.

Again, this does not apply to Marvel Character dining and other dining events. This must be done separately and is subject to a cancellation policy.

Other Options

Credit: Kate

Of course, you don’t need to reserve dining at all. There are plenty of counter-service options throughout Universal Orlando’s theme parks, and some of them are pretty good, especially options such as Three Broom Sticks or Leaky Cauldron in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Plus, CityWalk has plenty of familiar chains available if that is what your family prefers. And, you can find easy counter-service dining at all of the resorts. We were pleasantly surprised by Bayliner Diner at Cabana Bay.

Universal's Three Broomsticks is the Best Harry Potter Dining
Credit: Susan

Regardless, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding something good to eat during your visit. The biggest challenge is deciding which fun options to skip.

Using a Travel Agent can help you navigate the ins and outs of planning! I am here to help! Please fill out this form and put my name (Kate) in the Special Request box.

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