Our family of 3 is headed to WDW between November 12 and 20th, but we have just booked this recently and nearly all times that we can legitimately sit down for supper are taken at any given restaurant. We have the regular dining plan, but I'm worried that we won't be able to find anywhere decent to use those credits on. I'm fully expecting to be exhausted on our park nights, and not wanting to wait in line for hours just to get a table somewhere. Are my fears founded? or will we be able to find places to eat most nights? Of course there are counter service places everywhere where we can find a bite, but I'm just talking table services here. What do you all think? Thanks!
Do you have any reservation finder searches set up? If not, you can do two at a time, so I'd choose two of your top pick restaurants and set those searches up, it comes through very frequently!
As for everything else? Where are you staying? I know Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge is sometimes easier to snag b/c it's at a resort, not the park and not everyone knows about it. It is fantastic, one of my family's favorites. Maybe look at dinner at Kona Cafe, at the Poly too. Do you want character meals or does that matter?
Put 'Facebook November Liners sub group', into search on TP and it will direct you to the group. People book extra ADR's, so ask there.
You need ADRs. Walkups cannot be counted upon. Set up ResFinder and consider dining at less popular times.
Best of luck!
I'm surprised you weren't finding any reservations. I've been looking at the week after you're there (we're going nov 18-25) and there are still several options for a lot of meals. Especially at resorts, Disney springs and Epcot. You might have to be flexible but you can find some good restaurants. For example, for the 13th I found a 5:30 or 7ish at beaches and cream, artist point, boma, biergarten, coral reef, kona and others. Those are all fun and or great food. Also agree about using reservation finder. Also, keep checking. Things open up even the night before.
Are you only looking for reservations in the parks? Are you visiting Epcot? Do not leave table service credits unused!
Use the ResFinder on TouringPlans to find reservations you want. You will want to eat somewhere convenient to where you plan on being. Absolutely do not count on walk ups but there will be tons open up in the day(s) before, although that is a free dining period so possibly less than some. I would seriously consider NOT doing the dining plan if you don't have good ADRs ahead of time. You really have to know what you are doing to get a good value of out of it, the best value is young kids at the character meals.
I was just going to say this as well....especially at popular in-park restaurants or character meals. I don't know anyone who has reported having much success with walk-ups.
We're going to be visiting all of the parks, MK twice. I read that it's tough to go to other hotels because it takes a lot of extra time with transfers and stuff. We will be relying exclusively on Disney transportation, but I will try to get reservations at Kona and Whispering Canyon for sure! We're staying at the all star resorts there's no table services there, but I'm happy to travel especially on the days that we're not going to a park. Thank you all for your advice. I'll redouble my efforts to get some quality ADRs.
Some resorts are easy to get to from parks. Like the boardwalk area is walking distance from Epcot. You can get to monorail resorts pretty easily from MK, so Kona is a good idea on MK day (or Ohana, or GF cafe, or the wave at CR). HS to Disney springs or boardwalk area isn't too bad either, IIRC. And AKL (Sanaa or Boma) is a nice break from AK. Good luck!
With buses running from the parks to Disney Spring after 4:00 if you and done with the parks it is much easier to go there for a meal too.
Two things you can always count on dining at Disney.
1) People change their plans constantly. They decide to do a different park, they decide they are too exhausted to keep their dinner plans, they decide the German food they thought they wanted six months ago no longer sounds appealing.
2) People that don't research and freak out because they've spent way more than expected and start cancelling everything
My advice. Don't be afraid to eat out of the parks. Some of the best food is available elsewhere, especially Disney Springs, they have opened up so many amazing eateries this year. While I'm not a huge fan of Disney transportation you can get a bus to any resort from any park so it's not a major ordeal.
Don't worry about ADR's. Routinely check for the ones that you want but know that if you have a day where you couldn't seem to get anything you wanted just keep checking. Chances go from about 10% to about 90% to get anything you want in the few hours leading up til midnight on the day before you're looking. People are tired, or decide to go to a different park, or whatever and they decide to cancel and they have to cancel by midnight to avoid the cancellation fee. Our first trip the only BoG dinner I could get for us was at like 4 in the afternoon which was crazy. The night before I checked and had my pick of times. Moved it to 7:00 and could have chosen from several other times. Obviously there is no guarantee but you've got a good shot. Look for today and see what's open for dinner. You'll probably see a lot more than you might have expected. Just a brief glance at tonight I see 1900 Park Fair, Akershus, Be Our Guest, California Grill, Chef Mickeys, Crystal Palace, Liberty Tree Tavern, 'Ohana, and Via Nappoli, which are all popular choices that can be difficult to book in advance.
Be adventurous. There is a lot of great food in the bubble. So don't automatically discount something just because it's unfamiliar. Remember that it's still Disney so it's mostly gonna be made kid friendly. A lot of people are turned off by the description of Boma which is an African inspired buffet but it's one of the best on property with lots of options and kid friendly choices.
Since you're going for 8 days and will have a considerable amount of credits consider doing a two credit meal and then either using snack credits to replace a meal or pay out of pocket for a reasonable meal like at Via Nappoli. If it's just adults I would suggest a two credit signature meal like California Grill. If you have kids then something fun for everyone like Hoop De Doo Revue where adult drinks are included.
Also since you're arriving on the 12th plan one of your early days at Epcot and use some of those snack credits to eat lunch at the Food and Wine booths. It's a great use of a snack credit and there is some incredible food to be had.
But mostly just relax you won't find yourself without a place to eat. It might not be the one you wanted most or the identical time you were hoping for you but there are soooo many restaurants at Disney I promise you won't go hungry.
Here's a few suggestions for restaurants we like that are usually easy to get an ADR for:
Grand Floridian Cafe
Rose & Crown
Yak & Yeti
The only thing I'll add to the excellent advice above is to be flexible on time - you're going to have an easier time snagging a last-minute ADR or a walk-up if you're willing to eat at an unusual time of day.
As one example, while it may seem strange to be eating lunch or dinner (whichever you want to call it) at, say, 3pm, if you're only doing one "sit down" meal a day, you can work it in just fine if you're mentally prepared for it, using snacks or a light meal to get through the "normal" lunch time and still be hungry enough to eat, and then having a later counter service meal (after peak CS times) to finish off the day.
Do you have a park hopper pass? Going to different parks and/ or hotels for meals is part of the fun of being in Disney. Take some time and explore all that it has to offer! I agree, ADRs are critical. There is no such thing as "bad food" in Disney.... just some better than others!
Wow thank you guys! We do have a 5 day park hopper. Since I've posted this, I've now got ADR's for Nov 12 to 15 and 19th. I was reading on how to get the most value out of the dining plan, and to do it, it's mostly about eating steak. I'm all for a good steak, but we're more interested in the experience and trying new things. So far we're going to Kona, Whispering Canyon, Chef Mickeys (for the characters? I might change this one) and Sanaa at lunch. Thank you for the great advice, that reservation finder is amazing. The planning for Disney is way more than I thought, but I'm excited to have so many things setup for us when we get there. I just hope that we can keep those reservations. I've also used the site itineraries which sped things up a lot. Our 4 yr old daughter is going to have a permanent smile! Thanks again everyone!
This is hands down what I enjoy most about doing all the planning (well, aside from the anticipation it builds). Not having to make decisions once there is really nice. My DH and I just took a just us long weekend trip to WDW and were on the QS plan - and I have decided we won't do that again, not because the food wasn't good or plenty of choices, but having to make choices was overwhelming. I like looking at my spreadsheet to know what to do next
@Outer has given you some great advice though. He's kind of a smart dude.
I like that, you have time to plan before, and it's much more enjoyable then, than it is on the day.
@OBNurseNH exactly!!! I even research quick service places and schedule them. I don't like walking aimlessly while hungry. I get hangry real quick!!!!
I was listening to a WDW Today podcast recently and they talked about this exact scenario with Len. I agree with what they came up with which is that Disney can be done without ADR's. You might miss out on some of the popular restaurants but it just gives you a reason to go back again in the future. There are a bunch of really good QS locations throughout the park. Some of my favorites include:
MK - Be Our Guest (Lunch), Columbia Harbor House, and Tortuga Tavern
EP - Sunshine Seasons, Via Napoli
AK - Flame Tree, Yak and Yeti
Keep checking for ADR's like everyone else said, I'm sure something will show up. But don't fret, you will still have an amazing time and eat good food even without ADR's if that is what ends up happening.
BOG may technically be QS, but it takes ADR's, which are just about a necessity for lunch there - or any meal at any time.