Dining Choices and Some Timing Decisions

I have a leading reservation for our 9/30-10/1 trip. I booked it before we added the 30th so I can start making ADRs on 7/23 for 10/1. It will just be dd (20yo) and I traveling. We are staying at the Poly for 3 nights and switching to AoA for the last two nights.

This trip is all about firsts. As many times as I have visited, there are TONS of things I have never experienced so every ADR is for a new to us restaurant. So general thoughts on dining choices, and I do have a few things (bolded) that I would love input on.

Thursday, 9/30 - We will not be arriving/checking in at the Polynesian until 3:30-4:00pm. After check in we need to return our rental car to the Car Care Center before they close at 5:30pm. I don’t want to wait until the following day as it will interfere w/ rope dropping at AK.

Looking for Feedback on the four different scenarios I camp up with to spend our first evening.

  1. Entire time at MK with a quick CS meal on the go, watch last HEA fireworks from somewhere in the park
  2. A quick (<1.5 hours) visit to MK, dinner at 'Ohana, watch last HEA from the beach at the Poly
  3. An early dinner at 'Ohana, then visit MK and watch last HEA from somewhere inside the park
  4. Spend entire evening at the Poly including dinner at 'Ohana and watching last HEA from the beach

(All of the above HEA viewing options will be superceded by a fireworks cruise if available!!)

Friday, 10/1 - Rope dropping AK. While breakfast is TBD, I am looking at Yak & Yeti for lunch and, the entire reason for the leading reservation…California Grill for dinner.

Question…What would be the best window of time to make the CG ADR?

This is the first night for the Enchantment fireworks and since we opted to not deal w/ MK or EPCOT crowds, I thought this might be the perfect way to spend the first evening of the anniversary events.

Saturday, 10/2 - Rope dropping MK. All day in park. Plans are for Sleepy Hollow, Skipper’s Canteen, and Liberty Tree Tavern.

Sunday, 10/3 - Dropping our bags off at Bell Services to be delivered to AoA and then rope dropping DHS (dd’s favorite park). Dining Plans include Docking Bay 7 for lunch and Olga’s Canteen at some point.

Recommendations? Ideas?
I am unsure of dinner for this evening. We could stay in the park for Sci Fi (have pretty much opted for 50’s PTC EVERY other trip), explore one of the many dining options somewhere between DHS and AoA (the only previous TS that we have done in the area are B&C and Cape May), or if Hoop-Dee-Doo is back, carve out some time to experience this for the first time. (HDD is one of my bucket list items)

Monday, 10/4 - Rope dropping EPCOT. All day in park. Plans are for breakfast at AoA and to graze at F&W booths for both lunch and dinner.

Tuesday, 10/5 - DHS for second chance at RotR. Dining plans flexible. Could switch to MK if cannot get boarding group at 7am.

Need to leave park by 3/3:30. DME that afternoon (guessing 5pm) for 8pm flight.

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For the 30th if you want to watch HEA from inside the park I would rule out option 3. Although you’re guaranteed to get in if you have a park reservation it could be a nightmare to fight your way anywhere.
For the same reason I’d avoid option 2, I don’t know how much you’d get done in under 90 minutes.

So my suggestions would be:

If you want to watch HEA from inside the park then go with option 1.
If you’d be happy to watch from outside the park then go with option 4.

For the 1st I’d try for 8pm at Cali Grill.

On DHS day have a look at some of the options at Swan & Dolphin. Il Mulino gets good reviews, Blue Zoo. Or Yachtsman Steakhouse. Or Topolino’s at Riviera.

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If 'Ohana is a must do I say spend all time at Poly and watch HEA from the beach.
Definitely do HDDR if available, but Sci-Fi if not. Since HS is your daughter’s fave I would avoid having to leave just to go someplace and eat. HDDR is the only exception, IMO.


I am a big fan of 'Ohana, and really enjoy eating there when we are staying at the Poly. So convenient! BUT, the reviews coming back from the opening meals there indicate the food may not be on par with the amount of money it costs. If that’s not an issue for you, or you definitely want to try it anyway, then I agree with @Nickysyme - option 4 makes the most sense. If you really loved HEA, or wanted to skip 'Ohana, then option 1 would be my suggestion. With trying to return the car, Option 2 and 3 feel stressful to me.

For HS - SciFi is our absolute favorite there. We’ve done it every trip and loved it. The atmosphere is relaxing, and it’s a treat to just sit back and eat.


Flying (and renting a car) or driving in from elsewhere? If flying, I wouldn’t want to have an ADR in case of any flight delays etc - unless you’re good at changing it to a later date then cancelling if necessary. I like either 1 or 4 because they don’t seem as rushed.

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We are driving up from Tampa. I am checking out of my conference hotel in Clearwater that morning, and picking dd up at the Tampa airport. She has a direct flight from Philly landing at 1pm.

GPS says that the trip should be 1 hr 15 to 1hr 45… depending on traffic.


9/30: Option 1 This will involve the least running around and once you’re in you’re in. Set a mobile order ahead of time.

10/1: Depends on time for the show, but I would aim for about 8:30. If it’s at 9:15 as it has been now, you’ll get through drinks, bread, and probably apps before it’s time to go out for the show. They will hold your meal until after and it will magically appear on your return to your table. If it’s at 10 you’ll probably get through your entrees too, and be left for dessert and coffee/after dinner drinks.


I was thinking it’d be at 9pm. It’ll be darker in the evenings by then.

Also with the “Boo Bash”, 9pm is right at the end of the regular guests’ time in the park, so they can run Enchantment at 9pm and then have everyone leave.


Park hours at MK run until 9:00pm, with no word from WDW as to what the schedule is for the fireworks. TP predicted “Fantasy in the Sky” at 8:45pm.

I am making my ADR for 10/1 on Friday morning. Do we think it is safe to stick to 8:30pm for CG or should we pull it back a little earlier in case they are at 8:45pm?

Or then again we have two whole days for WDW to release even more information…as it seems they are doing on a daily basis lately!

I would leave it at 8:30.

If it’s at 8:45 you get a drink and the show, and then proceed from there.

These few minutes aren’t going to matter much. In fact I think it was @LTinNC82 that had a reservation time just after the show but was able to get up there anyway. A friend had a time after the show and was able to go up and then was sent downstairs after the show finished, and then brought up to the table a few minutes later.


Thank you…all very good info!

This will be our first CG visit…hopefully I can get our ADR!! It is the entire reason I did a leading reservation!

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My reservation was at 9:40 on a night where fireworks were at 9:15. We checked in around 8:55 and waited in line to get up in the elevator. After the show we waited by the elevator for a few minutes until our table was ready. It was actually such a treat to close out the night there and as a bonus we could see the Epcot fireworks from our table.

I wouldn’t think 8:30 or 8:45 would make too much of a difference. They’ll take good care of you either way.


Okay…so tomorrow is day 1 to start making my ADRs (leading reservation, so have to call each day for 60+10). Here are the planned ADRs …each one is a new to us restaurant! :sunglasses:

10/1 - AK
(scheduling in a visit to the Nomad Lounge at 11am)
1:30pm Yak & Yeti
8:30pm California Grill

10/2 - MK
12:30pm Skipper’s Canteen
6:00pm Liberty Tree Tavern

10/3 - DHS
(Lunch will be at Docking Bay 7)
6:00pm Sci Fi Drive In
Late ADR for Olga’s Canteen (Park closing is at 9pm, will see what is available. Any recommendations?)

10/4 - EPCOT
No ADRs - All Food & Wine, All Day Long

10/5 - DHS or MK
Undecided. We fly out at 6pm


Funny note… I had an almost identical day 1 on my last trip. Didn’t make it to Nomad, but I had Y&Y at 2:40 and CR at 9:40.

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I had two laptops and my cell phone ready.

10/1 showed up as a choice on my cell phone at 5:45am, but kept saying the server was busy try again (for any time or meal).

10/1 didn’t appear on either laptop browser until exactly 6am, and when I clicked through into California Grill nothing was available. :sob:

I set up a search in the Reservation Finder…but it noted that it won’t start looking until 8/2.

I am definitely bummed.

…interestingly I am looking broadly at “dinner” and BOG, Cindy’s, Crystal Palace, Chef Mickey’s, Citricos, Chefs de France, and Brown Derby are going in and out of availablility.

Yak & Yeti is done

I grabbed a 7pm at 'Ohana and an 8:25pm at Narcoossee’s.

Still hoping I can get CG.

Is that delayed search new? I guess it’s been a while since I put in a res finder search request on ADR day (if ever). Has it always delayed some days before initiating the search??

I don’t think so.

I just set one up and didn’t get that message (now cancelled).

So is it delayed only for particular venues or dates?

I am trying to remember the wording… something about how the date was far out in the future so it would start checking on 8/2.

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