Making Park Selections/Dining Reservations

Heading to the parks in early February and am almost a week away from my 180 window to make dining reservations. My question is should i make them this far in advance? I am tracking the days we are supposed to visit the parks and the crowd calender keeps changing and this may dictate which park we visit, but don’t want to be tied down to a park due to dining reservations if the crowd level then goes from a 4 to an 8. Any opinions or advice? Should i just focus on getting the dining reservations and then roll the dice that the crowd levels don’t change too much?

thanks,
Patrick

Yeah, I’m dealing with this too. Just did my ADRs. Booked them for my current schedule. I figure I can change them as necessary. But mine aren’t any of the super hard to get ones.

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Make as many reservations as you think you may want for all possible scenarios you can think up. Everything is cancellable and none except a few of the shows are charged in advance.

Just remember to cancel when you finalize your plans to 1 free them up for others, and 2 make sure they don’t charge you the $10 per person cancellation charge.

(Note, you can use different accounts to book overlapping times)

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(Note, you can use different accounts to book overlapping times)

Not specifically true. An account with a linked resort reservation opens a 10 day window starting at 180 days from the arival date. An account without a linked reservation only allows you to book 180 days out from each individual day.

Make them, especially if you are looking for the “hard to get” ADRs. If you try to base things on the constantly changing CL levels, you’ll go insane before the trip starts. And truth be told, a couple of point differences one way or another aren’t really all that big a deal (2 vs. 9, yes; 4 vs. 6, not so much).

I always have a rough “what park what day” plan in place before ADR day. I base my decisions mostly on park hours (which can also change), EMH (which rarely changes), and what days I might want to uses as a “non-park” rest days in the middle. I use that plan to make my ADRs. On the rare occasion that there are one or two that I must have, and can’t get them for my planned date, then I’ll get them for when I can and adjust my big plan accordingly.

For example… On my last trip the V&A Chef’s Table was a must do for me. I knew that there were 5 nights of my trip where it would be available, so I made 5 separate 7-day plans (I had 14 ADRs planned for that trip), each based on which day I might be able to get the V&A ADR. I got that ADR (15 seconds past 6:00), and then used that schedule for the rest of my planning. Yes, it was a lot of work playing around with spreadsheets, but I was able to get all 14 ADRs on the days I wanted them at the time I wanted.

All of that being said, I’d say probably 75-80% of the restaurants will have availability much closer to the dates of your trip (I’ve booked some 2 days before the actual date), and within that 180 days you can always change them - but I personally feel much better knowing that I at least have them.

If you have questions about the relative difficulty of getting specific ADRs, I’m sure we can give you advice :slight_smile:

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I used my wife’s account, which is on the reservation to book secondary plans. Worked out fine for me. Could have used son’s account to book tertiary reservations if I needed them.

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If there are ADR’s you must have, then yes, you need to make them now. Ohana, Be Our Guest, Storybook Dining, Sci Fi Dine In, Chef Miceky, and several others fill up very quickly. You can always try to modify an ADR or use the reservation finder. I don’t use the crowd calendar to choose park days. If you use a personalize TP, it won’t make too much of a difference.

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Holding my tongue.

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Yes. You won’t get some otherwise. Don’t worry about the crowd levels. A good touring plan can make a 10 feel like a 5. Worst case, if you change something, use reservation finder.

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We just passed our 180 day mark and only made one reservation - Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera resort - because we have no idea how popular it will be and I really want to eat there. I don’t agree with making more reservations than are needed. If our plans change and a reservation is not available, we adapt, often finding places that are underrated. As others have mentioned, Be Our Guest, O’Hana dinner, Victoria and Alberts, Bon Voyage Breakfast, Akershus and California Grill are the most difficult to get. If you can’t get any of the hardest to get reservations, there are alternatives that can be just as good and are just under the radar. We typically rough draft which park for each day based on the crowd levels. The only thing that will change the park day for us is FPP. That’s when everything goes pear shaped.

Actually, you can use the SAME account. I just learned a trick for this shortly before my ADR day. When you search and get the options for available times, right-click the time you want and open in a new tab. It somehow bypasses the “check” for overlapping times. I have a few “alternate” reservations, in case our park days change and also some depend on how FPP goes, and many of mine overlap. Thanks to @robin.brown who taught me this extremely useful little work-around! :grin:

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Thanks for all the advice and tips. We are planning on dining at TS restaurants while we are in the parks all week( to get some nice a/c and ensure we can eat when we want) for lunch and dinner. I am sure if the crowd levels change dramatically and we have to change parks we could find a place to eat.

Curious what method you use for selecting parks. I sometimes use early park openings, but never the late ones, they seem to be busier.

Mainly off of predicted crowd levels. Hitting parks Monday-Friday and doing the Magic Kingdom twice.
We will have a 4 & 2 year old so later hours wont’ matter to us. Early hours would be very attractive, though. One thing that probably won’t change is that we would like to visit the Magic Kingdom on our fist day.

I agree on hitting MK on the first full day, but my next trip with DS family children (9,6,2). I think we will do HS first an with the new FP tiers + SW we may even do 1 1/2 days and MK 1 1/2 days too. Leaving 1/2 days at the other 2 parks.

I would do your projected TPs first before making dining ADRs, especially for a shorter trip. Otherwise you might be chasing ADRs, making your park time inefficient. When I did my loose TPs, it occurred to me that some of the places I might want to eat were impractical (and this was QS). Ie. Why eat at Sunshine Seasons for lunch when we will be in Mexico at noon (result: pivot to La Cantina). Both are good. I plan to get two TPs for Epcot day 2 though- one where we eat at 5pm at Spice Road, and one where we eat at new space restaurant (assuming it’s open by next fall) at 6.30pm. TPs are different though to get us to end up at different places at different times.

We are a family though that fits dining in to our touring priorities though, not the other way around. I figured this out on my last trip where I literally cancelled all but one of my ADRs when I realized that chasing ADRs was not our thing. So, now, if we are in EP, we plan to eat in EP near where we will likely be in the park (as above). If we are in MK, we eat in MK (ie. Skippers one evening when doing that side of park and Pecos another day before FOF parade). If we are in AK, we plan to eat there as well (ie. Satuli, Yak and Yeti, and on 2nd day TH breakfast/lunch). We are planning one resort day where we are heading to Sana’a, (we are staying at Kidani though so super easy). However, you won’t see us taking a detour to Disney Springs for an ADR for example. If we were going anyway (which we are not) we would consider what’s there of course). When we are at BLT, we plan to QS at Contemporary or TS at Wave unless we want to do sushi at kona (but only if we are willing to forgo pool time to hop on monorail!). The only forced ADR I am currently planning is Mama’s for F! - definitely not on my dining hit list, and has add’l consequence of having me having to schedule our HS TP/park time around it…and the food isn’t our jam, but oh well.

We aren’t character meal / buffet people though (we have just one planned all trip at Tusker, and it’s at the end as a good bye if sorts to WDW). And it’s fitting in to our AK TP nicely!

On our last WDW trip, I snagged BOG early lunch after my TPs /FPS were done, and I scrambled to redo them so we’d be near BOG at that time. I was lucky as the only FP I couldn’t adjust was Belle, even though close to arrival day. I was with grandparents though, and cross crossing park just to go to BOG wasn’t going to fly, and my reworked plans worked great, but I decided if they hadn’t worked, that ADR wouldn’t have been worth it (apologies to all BOG fans out there!).

Definitely AM EMHs. PMs are nice because you can hop to a park staying open late when the others have closed. That’s probably why PM EMH is always a bit more crowded.

Great tip! I noticed that when I got an alert from the reservation finder, the link they gave me bypassed the “check” also, so I was able to book the newly found reservation without canceling my backup plan.

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ADR’s have been a challenge: today was my 180 window and 2/10 reservations where fine; but can’t get reservations for my next 4 days. have been trying their website and the mobile app. Is this typical? I have called Disney and they said they are trying to fix their system. Assuming i will just have to wake up early the next 4 mornings and do each days reservations. Hope this isn’t indicative of how 60 day fp+ will go.

I would try again later today and keep trying periodically.