Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Making ADRs - Part 1

One of my favorite parts of planning trips to Walt Disney World is making our ADRs, or advanced dining reservations.  ADRs are not technically exact reservation times.  You check in 10 minutes prior to your ADR and you are seated at the next available table.  Sometimes you will be seated right away, other times you could wait beyond your time.  For us, we have never had to wait more than 20 minutes beyond our ADR, though I have read stories of people who have.

First, if you haven't been to Walt Disney World, you can book your ADRs 180 days in advance.  Don't break out your calendar and start counting 180 days.  Use the PS Calculator.  Simply enter your arrival date and you will be given the date you can make your ADRs for things that can be booked 30 days up to 495 days out.  For most dining reservations, simply look at the 180 day mark.  Even better, if you are staying on Disney property you can book up to 10 days of reservations.  This means for each day of your vacation you do not have to map out the 180th day. 

There are a couple of ways to book your ADRs.  The first is by calling (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463).  You can call between 7am and 10pm (EST) to speak with a cast member that will get you a confirmation number for each ADR.  This would also be the time to make special requests for dietary concerns, high chairs/booster seats or special celebrations.  Make sure you keep these confirmation numbers with you. We witnessed a very sad scene at California Grill one night with a family of about 10 who claimed to have an ADR but cast members couldn't find it.  They also didn't have their confirmation number, so the manager had no way of looking it up to see what may have happened. 

If you are traveling with a large group, call the regular dining line and let them know you are booking for a large group.  In the past, there has always been a separate number to call, but it wasn't listed on the Disney site, so that may have changed since our last trip.  Be aware that depending on the size of your group, you may not all be seated at one table.  They will let you know when you get your confirmation number how your group will be configured.  I will say that cast members are always doing their best to get you together, so even times when we were told we were at two different tables over the phone, when we arrived at the restaurant they were able to put us at one.

Finally, you can also book your ADRs online.  Go directly to the Disney website to the page Where to Eat: Dining & Reservations.  You can search for restaurants by category to see your options, or you can type the name of the specific restaurant you are looking for.  Enter the date and time you would like to eat there, the number of guests in your party (up to 14 guests, more than that you will have to call WDW directly), and hit search.  You will then see a list of available times.  Once you select the option you like, click Make Reservation.  You will then have the choice to log in and/or enter your information. 

For us, we use both systems.  Even after we have our reservations, we always keep checking back online to see if there is a better time.  It makes it very easy to make adjustments to your ADRs if you need to.  If you attempt to make an ADR and your first choice of restaurant or time is not available, keep checking.  We do this right up until the day we leave to make sure we get just what we want.  I would highly recommend, especially if your are traveling during peak season, to make your ADRs at 7am the 180th day before your arrival.  That will give you the best chance of getting what you want.

We are in the process of planning our ADRs for our fall trip.  My next post will give you a look at some of our favorites and some of the new experiences we will test out this time around.

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