While it seems everyone is on an endless pursuit for their ADRs, I got to thinking about what about if you just forego making any kind of ADR for any particular place? I mean, let’s say you want to eat at, I don’t know, Sci Fi Diner, but you are (for whatever reason) unable to secure an ADR.
Can’t you still eat there just be showing up and waiting it out? Obviously not idea, but I presume they leave open a significant number of tables that they don’t provide ADRs for so that walk-ups can be served. One year, we did this for Rainforest Cafe, for example. We had to wait about an hour. Last trip, we made a reservation for Rainforest Cafe, but we still ended up with about a 15 minute wait. (Plus, actually, the time we were sitting outside waiting for our reservation time to show up, so really, all told, we ended up waiting about 30 minutes anyhow.)
I really think the answer is “it depends”. I have seen many, many people get turned away at restauarants. They do not always allow you to get on the list. Of course, it’s people cancelling, if you are watching 24-48 hours before your desired time, many ADRs open. Also, opening MDE as you are deciding what you want to eat and choosing from what is available then works too.
I don’t believe that they do leave open seats for walk-ups. The reason sometimes you can get in is people not showing up, a late cancellation, less than the # of people on the ADR showing up, or tables turning over faster than expected.
Shall I go on? I’m not even halfway through the alphabet. Certainly some of these are outside of the most popular dining hours, but many are not. There’s even a CG and a super-late CRT on there! You can go without reservations if you are willing to be flexible. But I would not go with a plan to do a walkup in most locations!
I tried good ole’ fashion walk ups at both Ohana and BOG back in 2016. They both said, booked SOLID, all night long. If you have your heart set on any particular place, then you should get an ADR. Otherwise, like @OBNurseNH points out, you can wing in if you aren’t picky about place or time.
Second week of April, while we waited for our ADR, I saw multiple groups get turned away from BOG lunch, Ohana, LTT, Mama Melrose, and Akershus dinners. Chefs de France is the only place I saw them take a name for a walk up.
I’ve seen people turned away from Chef Mickey’s, Ohana dinner, and Be Our Guest lunch. We tried a walk up to Rainforest Cafe (AK one) years ago and were told they couldn’t guarantee anything, but at minimum we’d be waiting 2-3 hours. Have never tried to approach a TS restaurant without a reservation since.
But, as others have said, I have secured reservations at the last minute from cancellations.
ETA, we did modify a reservation from 4 to 6 ppl at Garden Grill last trip. The 4 was on the app (literally like 15-20 minutes in the future). I made that reservation, walked up and asked if it could be changed to 6 (the other 2 in our party were okay eating at the food court if we couldn’t), but they changed it and we actually got in very quickly. It was an off time though I think, maybe 2:00ish.
We used to always have dinner at CM’s on our arrival night. A couple of years ago we planned a very last minute trip and I couldn’t get an ADR. We showed up around 5:30 and they said it would be a 2 hour wait (and my kids said that was fine). It turned out to be just a 40 minutes. I think we got very lucky. I wouldn’t count on that kind of luck all of the time.
We were at Sci Fi a few weeks ago and several people walked in without ADRs. They were told they could wait and they would seated at the picnic tables in the back but not in a car.
I think it’s very hit or miss, but more miss. I don’t believe that they hald any reservations back for walk-ups; if they can fi;ll the place with all ADRs, then they do. Walk-ups pretty much only get ADR no-shows. I’ve had some places take my name and warn me that the wait would likely be 90-120 minutes, and other places just say point blank no, we’re not taking any walk-ups.
This is good to know…but also annoying. Once again, it means that those who have never been to Disney are at a significant disadvantage. You have to pre-plan your meals well, including your days at the parks, if you want various table services experiences…yet, you may not really know what kind of table service experiences you want until you get there.
In the past, we would have only a SINGLE Table-service meal at the parks for our entire stay. All the rest was QS, eating in the Condo, or eating outside of Disney entirely. But with our anniversary trip, we plan to eat far more in the parks…so I guess pre-planning with ADRs is the only realistic way to go.
You could play the ADR lottery and pick from places that are available 1-2 hours before you want to eat. It could take you to places you may not normally go. If I was traveling without young kids, I would try this. I think it would be fun - and remove the stress of planning ADRs!
Just for fun, I checked to see what was available for “dinner” tonight for a party of 2. 61 restaurants, split pretty evenly between the parks and resorts/DS had at least one reservation available. So it’s certainly possible to make “same-day” ADRs to give you a bit of spontaneity, but walk-ups will always be a challenge. But keep in mind that if you want to eat in a specific place, or at a specific time, or are looking for the “most popular” locations, making ADRs well in advance is highly recommended.
A few of my “successful” walk-ups (as a single): VN once with about a 25 min wait, a second time with a 35 minute wait) and R&C (by a stroke of immense luck) with about a 5 minute wait (there was a last minute no-show and I was in the right place at the right time). The one time I tried for RR as a walk-up I was told it would be a 90-120 min wait, but again with a stroke of luck a seat opened up at the bar and I got a seat in about 10 min. I had an ADR for the Boathouse but checked to see if I could get a walk-up earlier, but they also had a 60-plus min wait.
Another possibility is to check out some of the bars associated with TSs. I’ve walked up to Tune-in and was able to order off of the 50s menu and Y&Y and order off of their menu. HBD Lounge and Tutto Gusto are both walk-up only and have food, but I’m not sure if you can order off of the “full” menu or if it is just the “bar” menu.
Absolutely. I have complained about this a lot as well. The first time I went to Disney as an adult (before that I was 12 so it had been a while), I think was about 5-7 years ago. We had no clue about ADR or how hard some things were to get reservations for. We didn’t end up doing any TS meals that trip, although we also didn’t 100% know what we were missing because we were just looking for a place to eat, so QS was just fine. That was the year we tried Rainforest Cafe which was only because we didn’t feel like walking back into AK to find a place to eat. We just assumed they were typical Disney busy, didn’t realize it was absolutely necessary to make reservations (AK was packed that particular day). Had we tried more than one TS and been turned away, and especially had that been our once in a lifetime WDW trip, it likely would have soured the experience.
I suppose the “trick” now is similar in concept to the modify trick for FP+.
That is, don’t plan an ADR. But earlier in the day, if you are in Epcot, say, and you want to eat around 5:00, you would use the MDE app to find you a reservation around that time SOMEWHERE. So, you at least have a little more spontaneity that way, but still ultimately get an ADR.
I don’t have the app right now, though. Can you, once you have an ADR, actually modify an existing reservation in the way you can with the FP+ to get a closer time? (In case someone cancels a reservation last minute, etc.)