Give us an A, give us a D, give us a R…..what does that spell? ADR, or as Disney likes to call it Advanced Dining Reservation. Over the years we here at travelwiththetribe.com have become pretty skilled at making these reservations. Now, there may be the type of visitor who likes to fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to making dining reservations at Walt Disney World restaurants, who prefers to go with the flow and see what’s available when they get to Orlando with their little tribe, and for some people that works perfectly for their holiday. We’re not saying that ADR’s are for everyone, but if you’re like our family group, (who have spent many a year planning holiday trips to Walt Disney World) and like to be super organised, one thing for us which is an important part of our Disney experience is to make our dining reservations way before we get to our resort. ADR planning for a lot of people is an important part of most Disney holidays, and in our opinion pretty essential if you want to eat anywhere, and understanding the in’s and out’s of how to plan and book your dining is admittedly a rather odd talent to acquire, but nonetheless super useful to have!
On our first trip to Walt Disney World in 2009, we didn’t make any ADR’s before our trip, as we were newbies to the whole Walt Disney World experience, and we still remember the many conversations we had about dining, some of which went as follows – “Where are we going to eat tonight?” “I’ve heard this restaurant is good, maybe we should try there” and “I’m sure we’ll be able to get a table at The Crystal Palace at 6pm for 8 people seated near where the Winnie The Pooh walks out…..no problem”!! Hmmmn. So, to help you guys along the way, and to avoid having to walk around searching for a restaurant with availability (let’s face it, you do enough steps in the day as it is!), here are our top ADR Planning Tips to getting exactly what dining experience you want – happy
Think Ahead – Think Way Ahead!
The most essential piece of information to know when making ADR’s for Walt Disney World restaurants, is that as Disney guests can book dining reservations 180 days from the first day of your stay. 180 days before! So our holiday started on the 14 th August this year, so we were able to book our restaurants 180 days before then, on 15th February. When your 180 day window opens, you can log onto your My Disney Experience App, and book dining for the duration of your stay. When our ADR day arrives, we here at Travelwiththetribe like to get together and use our touring plans to see what we are doing in the day, and where would be good to eat at night, trying to alternate parks – so for example, if we’ve spent the day in Magic Kingdom, we may choose to eat in EPCOT (although EPCOT is a popular one for us as there are so many restaurants we there.) By booking 180 days in advance, you are more likely to get a greater variety of choice with the restaurants, get the times you’d like to be eating, (we like to eat a little later now that our little dears are teens and tweens) and you also have a good shot at trying to get some of the more popular restaurant choices, including Signature (double credit) restaurants.
How to get the restaurant reservation you want.
It really does depend upon the time of year you visit Disney, but clearly there are some restaurants which are becoming consistently more and more difficult to book because of their popularity with guests and visitors.
Restaurants we have found difficult to reserve even at the 180 day point include the following. Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom, which since July 2018 became a Signature dining restaurant and increasingly difficult to get a reservation for Dinner (even Lunch is now bookable and availability is limited), California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort, another Signature dining experience which gets booked up very quickly, especially as it has a great viewing platform to watch Happily Ever After, Cinderella’s Royal Table which although we are not personally a fan of, does for obvious reasons get very busy, and Victoria and Albert’s which from many sources suggest is the most difficult restaurant to get your hand on a dining reservation, and even has their own reservation number which is separate from the main Disney reservation line – 407-939-3862.
Maximising the use of the My Disney Experience App
We think it is definitely worth playing around with this app, as it is useful for so many things, not just dining reservations, and the more confident you become in using it, the more user friendly it will become. Use the menus to look at the dining options all of the Disney Parks and Disney Springs have, there really are some fabulous places to eat in all of them, and you’ll certainly never feel hungry! Through using the app, you’ll be able to learn and explore the exciting diverse dining options Disney has to offer in it’s restaurants. By the end of our holiday, we have been even known to change our dining plans as we have found the amount of food consumed over an almost 2 week period to be more than enough! This leads us onto our next point – when planning your dining reservations, be realistic about how much you and your companions can actually eat…..when you consider that you could book a ADR Character buffet breakfast at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, eat a counter service lunch at Flame Tree BBQ (very generous sized portions of food), and then have a Table Service ADR booked for Yak and Yeti in the evening, you could end up eating more food than you actually want to. We suggest limiting your ADR’s to 1 every day, either breakfast or dinner, with lunch and snacks in between, this is more than enough for even the hungriest of appetites.
Have a plan, but go with the flow
Plans can, and often will change. Invariably, even with the time and energy spent planning and booking restaurants for your holiday using the 180 days in advance window, there will be times during your holiday in Walt Disney World where you realise that the plans you made 6 months ago don’t quite fit in with your current schedule. With the best will in the world, sometimes plans for whatever reason have to change while you’re out there. Even if you like to plan like we do, and have spent hours in the UK at home planning, planning and doing even more planning on what you think is the most organised, perfect plan, there may well be times when you don’t feel like following the said plan. Can we say now, this is perfectly OK!! Having done all the planning beforehand, you know that whatever you and your family choose to do, the plan is always there, which is great, but sticking to the plan is not always the best option. As Elsa says, sometimes you have to “let it go” (sorry, terrible link there!). If you do choose to change your plans however, remember that Disney operates a cancellation policy with its ADR’s, so if you choose to cancel make sure you do it the day before the actual reservation, otherwise you will find a cancellation fee added to your credit card of $10 per person. Be really mindful of this, and make also make sure if you do decide to cancel, you have a Plan B, because we know it’s always useful to have a back up system…..after all, do you really want to have to eat your dinner at Restaurant Marrakesh…..that’s another story!
Good luck with your planning, keep the Disney faith, and if everything fails, there’s always Poutine, Zebra Domes, Mickey Pretzels, Cheddar Cheese Soup, Funnel Cake, and Pina Colada Cupcakes which will, we promise, fill any appetite gaps you may have.