With 180 days to go til our trip, any seasoned Disney World tripper knows it’s ADR time!
‘What’s an ADR?’ I hear you ask. Well at certain restaurants in Disney World, it’s fairly crucial you make Advanced Dining Reservations, and these can be made up to 180 days before your trip.
Now while these shouldn’t be wasted, I definitely wouldn’t recommend overdoing it for a few reasons.
Firstly, while I’m a big fan of planning and timetables, you don’t want to be tied down to meal commitments, especially when enjoying yourself in the parks. This does depend on your holiday though – if you’re only spending a short time at Disney and want to get everything done, or you’re travelling with small children who don’t like long waits, timetabling your trip can be a real godsend (there are some fab websites designed specifically to produce timetables for you that minimise your wait times on rides), and if that’s how you want to go then daily ADRs could work in your favour. If, like me however, you’re going to be in the happiest place on Earth for a good length of time (2 weeks in my case!), time isn’t of the essence – you’re on holiday, you can afford to chill out a little, eat when you feel like it and not worry about having to wait a little while for a table.
My second reason for not going nuts with ADRs is that you have to give credit card details in order to place a reservation, and depending on the restaurant, if you don’t show up you may be charged. You can cancel any ADRs without being charged until 11.59pm Eastern Time on the night before you’re arrival, but any later than that may result in your credit card being billed. Although this may not seem like such a big deal, you’ll be on time for your meal no problem, you never know if you’ll be trapped in the queue for a broken down ride, or caught up in parade traffic, and if you have ADRs every night, you increase the risk of losing money.
All this considered though, you shouldn’t waste the opportunities for fabulous meals your family will remember forever, so plan carefully. So here’s how to play it:
1. Decide what restaurants you really want to go to – www.disneyfoodblog.com has a full list of all the places to eat at Walt Disney World, with reviews, menus and dining advice for each. There are hundreds, but the majority of them are counter service or snack vendors which don’t require reservations. Flick through them all, and make a note of those that require reservations.
2. Think about what meal you want to book for – if you want to watch a parade on a certain night, you may decide to make lunchtime reservations so that in the evening you can grab a snack and make your way to a prime viewing spot.
3. Where will you be?- If you want to go to a certain park on a certain day, maybe if there are Extra Magic Hours, then booking lunch in another park could make you lose hours from your day by travelling between parks.
4. Think kids first – if your little ones are used to having their meals at specific times, or having a big lunch/dinner, plan to what they’re used to most. The last thing you need is over-tired, over-excited children upset because they’ve missed their main meal of the day.
5. Consider your dining plan – if you have the Quick-Service dining plan, you’ll be paying extra for all of your Table-Service meals, and therefore you might not want to go too crazy with bookings; it could end up being more expensive than upgrading your dining plan.
6. Friends and family experiences – it may be, like us, that someone you know has recently come back from their trip. Find out what they did, what they thought and what they recommend; our friends sung great praises of Coral Reef (Epcot) which is somewhere I hadn’t considered before.
Now I’ve put great thought into our ADRs. There are plenty of restaurants I’d like to visit, but overall I’m not fussed about when specifically we go to them. There are, however a few must-dos..
1. Crystal Palace – You can book for breakfast at Crystal Palace before the Magic Kingdom opens, meaning first access to the park (you can get some great empty park photos and avoid the early queues). Book this for your first proper morning at Disney World (we arrive at Disney late afternoon/early evening, so won’t be venturing into the park straight away due to jet-lag) so that on your first steps into the Magic Kingdom – especially if you’re a first-timer – are completely clear, and you can enjoy the park in all its glory before the masses descend. My girls who have never been to Disney World before will love this!
2. Chef Mickey’s – I last visited Disney World when I was 5, so most memories are fairly foggy, but one of my few clearer memories is Chef Mickey’s. Mickey, Minnie and the gang come to the tables, pose for photos, and perform the famous napkin dance!
3. Spirit of Aloha Polynesian Luau – probably the best dinner show at Disney.
4. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – located in Norway at Epcot, if travelling with little girls who love the princesses, this is one for you. Not only do all the princesses hang out here, but of all the princess meals in Disney World, this is the best value for money.
5. Sci-Fi Dine In – set up like an old fashioned drive-in movie theatre, you eat your dinner in car booths while classic Disney plays on the big screen.
I have a load of dining myths to test on our trip, so we’ll be eating at all of these plus many more, but for now.. Get booking!