Talk to me about maximizing flexibility

Just booked a quick trip (3 park days) for DM and I for the week after Thanksgiving. #1 priority is SW:GE. So much is up in the air about how WDW is going to handle that – will they use DLR’s boarding group system? how crowded will it be? The EEMH end before we go – but could they maybe do a “normal” 1 hour EMH every day like they did at first with Toy Story Land? As a result, I have decided to go against my normal Type-A planner nature (so hard!) and keep everything for this trip maximally flexible. So far, that means no ADRs and getting park hopper tickets – both things that we’ve never done before! (We are usually 1 TS a day people and we never hop). So give me your best tips for staying flexible – how do I plan not to plan??? :slight_smile:

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First? Stay off this forum! :wink: You are surrounded by a bunch of planners who will only exacerbate your Type A tendencies!

Second, don’t pay attention to anything going on at Disney (changes, etc) until you are very close to your FPP day. If you follow each and every change Disney makes, you start to worry if they will offer this, or if they might take that away, etc. This only seems to cause one to panic and feel the need to OVER PLAN. This is the antithesis of flexibility!

Third, don’t be afraid to book ADRs. You aren’t tied to them at all. Cancel them at any time. They are just in case. BUT, if this causes you to violate the second point above, forget about it and wait to book ADRs AFTER you get your FPPs.

Ideally, other than the things you HAVE to book, or your FPPs, everything else can be put off until the day you arrive. Crazy talk, I know. But that’s the goal my wife and I have, more or less, for our December 2020 trip. And even then, I am trying to only think about FPPs as there if we want them. We aren’t tied to those, either, frankly, and can decide in the moment to just skip the attraction.

Until Disney releases their hours/schedule for various parks and activities (such as After Hours, etc), there really isn’t a whole lot of practical reason to plan ahead other than because you are a plan ahead kind of person.


^This. Make ADRs as usual. In fact, make primary ADRs based on how you would ideally want to do things, plus some backup ones to add flexibility.

Don’t do this right away. You can always add the Park Hopper option later if you decide that you really need it.


My ADR day is coming up and there is so much uncertainty on how park days may work out. We usually don’t worry about ADRs and go with whatever options we have. Eating outside normal times helps too.

I really only want to book lunch ADR for what I think will be our HS day and a NYE dinner. I’m going to overplan by selecting a couple of lunch options and adjust as needed.

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Talk about great advice that I’m (almost certainly) not going to be able to make myself follow! This is exactly what I should do, but it’s way more likely that I’ll make a plan, obsessively follow every rumor and update, and change everything approximately 47,000 times . . . at least I know myself?

I do think I’m going to wait on ADRs until much closer to the trip (if at all). It helps that our three favorite TS from last trip were Morimoto Asia, Skipper Canteen, and Sanaa. So it’s not like we’re after CRT or something.

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Does having ADRs not reduce your flexibility on the day of, though, because of the no-show fee? In other words, if we’re at HS and it’s just way too crowded and we want to bail, having an ADR for HBD would make that difficult. Or, conversely, if we decide we want to stay longer in SWGE than we planned, I don’t want to feel like we need to leave early to make an ADR we have in Epcot, etc.

Yes but only if you don’t cancel them beforehand. But you can cancel up to 24 hours in advance with zero penalty. So there is no harm in having ADRs 180 days out as long as you remember to cancel the ones you don’t end up wanting when you get closer to your trip.

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I’ve also seen the modify and run method mentioned. Modify ADR before the time then cancel 24hrs before the new time.

Anyone been successful with this workaround?

I was actually able to do this last trip when we were way too full from food booths at Epcot for our scheduled dinner at Homecomin’. Modified it to a future date and then cancelled the next morning. But I thought I had read somewhere that they were cracking down on this by removing the modify option in MDE once you got too close to your ADR time?

Not really, IMO. As others have mentioned, you can cancel up to 24 hours before with no fee. I would much rather have something in place and cancel it the day before if I decide that I still am not sure what I will be doing the next day.

However, if you want to cancel on the day, you can either eat the $10 charge (not really that much when you think of it), or try the modify trick (haven’t done this so I can’t comment). Also, I have heard of people having success with just calling the restaurant on the day and cancelling and asking nicely if the fee can be waived.

I have experience in this & so will share in detail below, but yes, this is absolutely possible.

We loosely planned a trip for August 2018 that was meant to go with 2 other families. Since I was the only one thinking way ahead around ADR day, I made a bunch of different dining reservations (think Plan A, Plan B and Plan C) so often 2-4 ADRs a day for a trip that was either 5 days or 9 (I can’t remember how many I booked for now). Anywho, my husband & I along with one of the other families decided that we wouldn’t be able to make the trip but the 3rd family still was going around the same time, so when we let them know I told her she was welcome to any of the reservations made & I would just cancel them before the trip if she didn’t want any of them. But we kinda forgot to ever really hash it out & I totally forgot I had made them all.

Well, the morning of what was supposed to be the first day of our trip, I checked my email & happened to see about 15 jillion notification emails about upcoming WDW ADRs. I about crapped my pants right then & there. Called the dining line immediately as the first ADR was that day, less than 3 hrs away for 13 people, wondering how on earth would I explain the $130 no-show charge to my hubby. The reservations agent was so helpful, able to cancel all of them & even though I was sure I would have to beg & plead my case for the day-of ones, made no fuss about cancelling & waiving the charges. She even commented “You sound like you can’t breathe, it’s all right. We got this so you can breathe.” I was so relieved & grateful & got a good laugh from her when I told her my nervousness was mostly about how I would explain such a such a charge on the CC to the hubby.

So yes, absolutely can be done day-of!! I think they do understand things come up & as long as you’re not blatantly no-showing without notification allowing them to offer some same-day availability, they’ll waive the charge. At least in my experience!


Isn’t the charge $10 per reservation, not $10 per person?

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I’ve always understood it to be $10 per person… but maybe I’ve been misunderstanding all these years. I do breeze right over the T&C’s when I make them so I’ve never closely studied them. I’ll be back in a minute to report.

ETA: Coming back to add that it is indeed $10 per person on both Disneyland and Walt Disney World reservations ( I checked in case my misunderstanding was skewed to a coast specific policy that I had may unintentionally umbrella’d to both).


Can you modify to 1 person and eat the $10 fee to avoid paying $10/person but avoid the guilt of gaming the system to breaking point? (But still a little :wink:)

I could, I’m sure. And to be frank this trip is just DM & I, so it’d only be $20 total anyway. I think I’ll just make ADRs and cancel the night before if need be. By the time we’re actually heading down to Disney, I imagine that I’ll have a much better idea of the best way to tackle the parks post-Galaxy’s Edge.

I guess I’m just angsting about having to “plan blind” for now . . . we go every year or two, so I’m used to feeling like I know what I’m doing. It’s been a long time since I planned a WDW trip with this little idea of what we’re doing and how we’ll do it.

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What a sweet person! I’m so glad it worked out. And thank you for the reminder – I had a couple of back-up ADRs left over from switching some days around and I just cancelled them now. Our very last ADR is the only uncertain one now and we should know by 4 days ahead if we still want it or not.

I was searching on flexibility since I still feel like I want a bit more in my plans. My Type-A tendencies are currently manifesting as wanting to keep as many options open as possible.