As you may know, some advanced dining reservations (ADR’s) at Walt Disney World (Disney) are tough to get, even at six months prior to your vacation. Many travel agents will make these reservations for you, but if you didn’t use a travel agent or if you are interested in making your ADRs yourself, here are some tips to help you along the way.
DIStracted Tip: If you are staying on Disney property, you may start to make your ADRs at the 180-day mark, and you can make them for the first ten days of your vacation. If you are not staying on property, you may make your first day’s reservations at the 180-day mark too, but you will need to log back in every day after that to make the next day’s reservations.
- If you haven’t already, create an account on the DisneyWorld.com website and familiarize yourself with the site and the dining section. If you are going to be making your reservations on your phone on the My Disney Experience app, familiarize yourself with the way it works. It is much easier to navigate when you know where you’re going. For what it’s worth, I have found it is easier to make reservations on my desktop/laptop than my phone.
DIStracted Tip: Make sure you have added a credit card to your Disney website account. This will make it much easier to complete your reservations, as all require a credit card guarantee and some (like Cinderella’s Royal Table) require prepayment in full at the time of booking.
DIStracted Tip: Also make sure you have added your family members to your account. When going through the reservation process, it will ask you to choose who is dining with you before you can proceed. The system used to let you bypass this and add people later, but last week I discovered that I had to add my family members for each reservation.
- Plan your days. If you’re not utilizing the park-hopper feature with your tickets you will need to know which park you are going to be visiting each day – that way you’ll know which restaurant choices are available to you.
- Make a list of all of the restaurants where you wish to eat. Include dates and times on your list (trust me – it is very difficult when you’re racing the clock to get them all made and all you have written down is “Monday dinner” or “Wednesday breakfast”).
- Do your research. If you’ve heard great things about a particular restaurant but you’re not sure the cuisine will suit your family, look up the menu online. Also, if you’re not utilizing the Disney Dining Plan, the menus will give you prices so that you can plan your budget.
- Prioritize the list. This is probably the most important step. No matter which dates you wish to eat somewhere, make the most difficult reservations to obtain first. For example, if you want to score a dinner reservation at Be Our Guest on the last night of your vacation, MAKE THAT RESERVATION FIRST! If you wait and make them in chronological order, there might not be any reservations left by the time you get to the last day.
- Have a backup plan. Just in case you can’t get that coveted reservation on the day you wanted, have an acceptable second choice ready. Make the reservation for your second choice so that you have a reservation for that day/time. You can always check back later (see the last tip).
- If you can, be flexible. If you want to eat breakfast at ‘Ohana on day 3 of your trip but there are no times available, but there is availability on day 2 and day 5, pick one of those!
DIStracted Tip: On the drop-down menu for dining times, depending on the restaurant, there are choices for “Breakfast,” “Lunch” and “Dinner.” There are also specific times listed, in 30-minute increments. If you want a specific time, such as 6:30, pick that as the parameter for your search. If you just choose “Dinner” it may give you 7:00, 7:30, and 8:00 as the available choices, and you won’t know that the time you wanted is actually available. If 6:30 is not available, it will offer you three other choices nearest to that time – and they might be 6:25, 6:35, and 6:40 so you’ll still be close to the time that you wanted.
- If you are not using a travel agent, you’re going to have to get up early. The online reservation system goes live at 6:00 a.m. ET on your 180-day mark. For me in Arizona, that meant getting up at 2:45 a.m. to boot up the computer and get logged in to begin making reservations at 3:00 a.m. Many travel agents will book your dining reservations for you. Caroline Knowles, owner of Magical DIStractions Vacations is awake bright and early booking dining reservations for her clients the moment they go live.
DIStracted Tip: If you are staying on property, when you go to the site to begin making your ADRs, remember to log in to your DisneyWorld.com account before you start so that the 10 days open up for you. If you just go to the site without logging in you will only be able to make the first day’s reservation and you’ll lose valuable time having to log in to continue.
DIStracted Tip: The phone reservation system does not go live until 7:00 a.m. ET, so if you’re really counting on a difficult reservation it is best to try the online system first. If you have trouble, you can always call at 7:00 a.m. The number is 407-939-1947.
- Don’t forget extra events if you plan on scheduling them. The Fantasmic! Dinner Package, the Candlelight Processional Dining Package, the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party, and the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party can all be booked via the dining section of the website too.
- Persevere. If you were not able to get your desired ADR and have a backup booked, check back as often as possible to see if something has opened up for your date. I have heard of people getting a reservation at Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table the week before their vacation.
DIStracted Tip: The paid-in-full date for reservations is 45 days prior (for 2015) and 30 days prior (for 2016). Unfortunately, some people need to cancel their trips at this time, so be sure to check at the 30/45-day mark, as sometimes dining reservations are cancelled too.
Good luck, and enjoy your meals!