Disney Shuts Down Disney Dining Buddy

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Disney World can be magical, but it is also crazy-making in its own way.  Not only do you need to make advance hotel and airline reservations, and get your park tickets, but exactly 180 days at 6AM Eastern you need to be online to get your dining reservations, then 60 or 30 days before you now need to be online to get your FastPass+ reservations.  Lord help you if you aren’t staying at a Disney property and you are “behind the curve” of those travelers who are, and consequently get a jump start on the “hard to get reservations”.  Lord doubly help you if you have young kids and can’t plan your life around being online exactly when reservations open…oh wait, that makes up most who go to Disney!

We have a Disney trip coming up this fall and while I have been relatively diligent about being online to make the necessary dining FastPass+ reservations at the appointed times, I haven’t been OCD about it and am not staying at a Disney property, so I haven’t been able to get at the front of the line for our reservations.  That means I don’t have things like FastPasses to the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom, don’t have a lunch reservation at the Be Our Guest restaurant, don’t have a very ideal time for our dinner at ‘Ohana, among other things.  None of those are “trip busters”, but they are things I would love to improve upon if given the opportunity.

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However, I do not have the time in my life to stalk the Disney website looking for changes in availability at restaurants multiple times per day.  I’m lucky if I can remember to check once a week or so, which is unlikely to really pay off given the high demand for the reservations I am after.  This is why I was very happy that I found the service called Disney Dining Buddy that would automatically check the Disney website for restaurant reservation availability on the appointed dates/times that you requested.

There was an $8 fee for each reservation that you request assistance with, and they do not actually make the reservation for you but rather send you an email and text when the availability you are after appears.  I signed up for the service to help with our ‘Ohana reservation and several times I received a text and email notification about reservation availability for my date over the last couple of months.   That said, I was never actually able to lock in a better time as the availability was almost always gone before I could log-on.  The times that it was still available the time that was free for booking wasn’t any better than what we already had so I passed.

Even still, I was pleased with the service as it was at least giving me an opportunity to book what I was after, and I was hopeful that as the trip date neared and more cancellations popped up that we would be able to get what we wanted.  However, that is not to be as yesterday I received an email from Disney Dining Buddy informing me that their service is discontinuing because of a request from Disney.  Here is the statement on their website:

Dear Loyal Customers,

Disney has requested that we discontinue our services as currently provided, and we have honored that request. We understand this may be disappointing to those of you who have found through us a solution to the stresses of dining planning. We share your disappointment.

We appreciate the grateful and positive comments we have received from you. Please know that we have truly enjoyed serving you.

If you have an active request for services from us, you can request a refund at ddbrefunds.com.

This is hardly surprising given that the service was essentially making money off of using Disney’s website, which I’m sure Disney didn’t love, but I’m still disappointed.  I hope Disney is killing off sites like this one because they plan to offer a similar service themselves, as it would fill a needed hole.  It’s great that you can do more in advance of your trip online, but it also kind of takes a bit of the magic out of the trip because you have to keep track of so many online tasks in advance…and then keep stalking the Disney website if you aren’t lucky enough to get what you were after on the first attempt.

I don’t plan to request a refund for my active request since I was happy with the service I received while the site was active, but if you have any pending requests you can request a refund at ddbrefunds.com.

Comments

  1. It looks like they also shut down dis dining agent, which actually would scoop up the reservations and then sell them to people. I had a real problem with that model as it takes reservation inventory out of play and made people pay for something that should be free.

    A good free resource is the dining reservations cancellation threads on disboards.com. They are separated by month and posters go on and say what days they have reservations that they want to cancel. People then pm each other and they coordinate when they will cancel so the other person can grab the reservation. I scored a BOG ressie this way.

  2. No wonder Dis closed it down. Consider, DDB charged $8 per reservation, maybe with many hundreds of people wanting the same day/time, then emailed them all when it opened up. Only if you were sitting at your computer, staring at your email account at that very moment, would you have any chance to be the first one to see that email.

    A bigger problem is that if you didn’t pay for the service, you would likely never get a chance to get a reservation. That’s actually worse than the “service” Shaun mentioned above, since they only charged you when they gave you a reservation. Whereas Dining “Buddy” charged you upfront for something that was highly unlikely to ever be of value to you. And prevented anyone who didn’t want to pay their fee from any possibility of getting a reservation.

    I’m usually opposed to companies closing genuine services, the way some airlines have with Award Wallet. But these were predatory businesses, comparable to scalpers buying up all of the tickets to a popular concert, and then jacking up the prices for them. Dis did the right thing putting them out of business.

  3. I don’t have the time or inclination to stalk more than occasionally – but I also decided none of the WDW meal experiences were worth paying money to a 3rd party for. Plus my life does not allow me to immediately respond to a text alert (if I am in meetings….)
    We are right around 180 days out from our next trip, at peak Easter/Spring Break time. All I know is the same timeframe last year, I could barely get anything. This time there is availability for ‘big name’ places a day or two after slots open – and at great times! The change in availability has convinced me that the services were holding ‘fake’ reservations that they would then release (or outright sell).

  4. We used the Dining Buddy last fall. I don’t have time to “sit” on the web site waiting for an opening for dinner at a decent hour (particularly with small children in tow). It worked perfectly for our visit and the cost was a mere $8 which I consider a tip. So sad they are doing away with it as we’re returning next spring and I was going to have them book other dinners. The only people who are mad are the Disney Travel Agents…grrrrr

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