Which dining reservations to keep

Have multiple dining reservations, but not sure if I need them all. CRT on our last morning (flying home after lunch) at 8:00 am, but the park opens at 8:00 that day. Is this time a waste of park opening? I also have a CRT lunch reservation on another day.
Next to decide on, Rose and Crown at 8:00. Worth it to see illuminations? Or should we just eat at Biergarten (love German) or one of the other options and claim a spot for viewing. Or maybe just head back to hotel after alternative dinner to get a decent bedtime in for kids (7 and 9).
We also have 8:15 garden grill reservations that morning. Will we be done with breakfast by the time visitors are entering park? (9:00 opening) And if we eat at garden grill, should we also keep Tusker House lunch and/or Crystal palace?
Final question. First day plan to head to HS and wrap up by early afternoon. 5:00 reservation at California Grill. Are the balcony fireworks and dinner experience worth losing the evening to tour a park ( $$)? We are staying at BLT. Would it be crazy to take boat to Epcot for early dinner then back for Fantasmic (7:00 show)? (otherwise would plan to maybe head to MK vs. Epcot after touring HS, possible hotel break and see Fantasmic another night.

So many questions. :slight_smile: I will only comment on the character meals.

Do you have another RD day at MK? If not, I personally wouldn’t waste 1.5 hours at CRT at RD although I love CRT as it just seems so Disney. If so, then you could CRT and 3 FPP on your departure day for a fun end to the trip.

I thought GG was a fun breakfast (much preferred to CM for sure) but it took us more than an hour to see all the characters although depending on how things work out, your experience could be faster. TH is a good lunch with good characters–different than usually buffet with the African theme. My opinion is CP food is average and the character interactions are fine but nothing exciting or special but the location is good. We did CRT, GG, and TH last trip. I would repeat them all without hesitation.

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Will you be able to be all packed up & at the park by 8am on checkout day? This was the original reason I moved our CRT- I just couldn’t count on being out of the hotel in time. It’s a good thing too because our resort airline checkin was a hot mess & I couldn’t get the family out of bed! I wore them out haha.

As for specific meals- my kids were 1 & 3 when we went, so characters were a huge part of the trip for us. They absolutely loved all the character meals we did (from your list we did CRT, TH, CP in addition to several others). TH buffet was quite delicious & we were able to have both breakfast & lunch with a 10:30 reservation.

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I will jump in here. I would cancel your 8:00 CRT. For you garden grill you can enter for an 8:00 time slot, be at the gate early. You will be able to eat and get at least one ride on Soarin. That is a great ADR! I do not think you need CG if you are staying at BTL.

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From my experience, anyone with any reservation time prior to park open will be allowed through the tapstiles starting at 7:45 for a 9am opening. Once you get to GG, they take you based on your arrival to the host desk, not your reservation time (for that hour or so). If you can get in on that first wave of seating, AND ask to pay your bill at the beginning of your meal, you should be able to head down the stairs to Soarin’ before the RD masses get there.

Best of luck.

I won’t comment on CMs because I consider them all to be over-priced money grabs and I avoid them at all costs.

I have never seen the charm/interest/desire to eat dinner while watching night time shows. To me, each is an event in it’s own right, and I want to be able to fully enjoy both without them being distractions from each other. I would definitely go to BG first then get a place after, not only for the reason stated above, but because I find the food at BG to be FAR superior to R&C.

Your last paragraph has left me completely confused.5:00 dinner at GC means you’ll be done around 6:30. Fireworks start somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00, depending on what’s going on at the MK. What are your plans for the 2-3 hours in between? When I book a signature dinner, especially if it’s at a resort, I make it the last thing I do for the day. I’ll finish my touring between 6:00 and 7:00, go back to the room and relax, shower and change, and then head to my 8:00 or 9:00 ADR. A signature meal is something to be savored in it’s own right - not something crammed in between FPPs and show times.

Specifically for CG, I’ll make my ADR for 75-90 minutes before the start of the night time show. This gives me time for a drink, an app and the entrée before the FW start. I then go out on the balcony to watch them, and then return to the table for dessert and coffee, and maybe an after dinner drink. I find watching the FW as part of the dining experience to be very enjoyable, but if for some reason I ate at CG at 5:00 and then went back into a park, I doubt I would go back to CG to just watch the FW.

I think what you are asking is if you are at DHS during the day, would it be crazy to take a boat to EP, have dinner, and then head back to DHS for Fantasmic. Lets walk the time backwards. For a 7:00 F! show, with no FPP or dining package you’ll want to be at the arena by 6:00., which means that you’ll be wanting to get off the boat by 5:30. You have to allow at least 30 min for the boat (may be less if you get there just as one is departing, more if you just miss one), so that means being at the EP boat dock at 5:00. If you eat at R&C or Les Chefs (neither of which I especially recommend) you’re pretty close to the dock, but if you eat at Mexico - or worse, in FW - you have to plan a 20-30 min walk back to the dock after dinner. Lets split the difference and say it’s a 15 min walk back to the dock, which means you’ll have to be done eating by 4:45. For pretty much any TS you have to plan at least 60 min, so that means you need a 3:45 ADR. - and I’m not certain which EP restaurants even have a 3:45 dinner ADR. Without going through each step in reverse, you’d be looking at having to leave DHS around 2:30 to make it to that ADR. “Crazy”? I don’t know. Would I do this? NO. An infinitely better plan would be to eat dinner at DHS, ideally with a F! dinner package; this would save you several hours of transportation time, and would give you preferred seating at F!, meaning you could get there at 6:45 and have a great seat.

Leaving DHS and hopping to MK is perfectly reasonable (I’ve done this several times). Although I do not typically take resort breaks in the middle of the day, that would also be a reasonable option.

A slight edit to the above. I do enjoy TH for lunch. It’s not horribly overpriced, the food is much better than most park buffets, and the classic characters are kind of a fun “plus”.

It depends how you want your last morning to go. Personally, I would enjoy the relaxing breakfast and then do one or two attractions before heading out. Others would prefer to go all out for the last hours of their trip. Personal preference. Breakfast is decidedly more affordable than lunch if that is a factor at all.

8pm R&C will be prime for Illuminations time, the question/issue is whether you’ll have a good spot for viewing or will need to leave your table to watch. I personally would rather not interrupt my meal, so I would move that to earlier and indicate your preference for a table with Illuminations view, being prepared to wait to obtain that. But as you point out there are plenty of spots not connected with a meal that provide excellent viewing of Illuminations. Whether early to bed is better for your party is your call, and may be dependent upon where you’re at in your trip (the further in we go, the more we are tired and likely to bail on a later night activity)

I always say that it’s best to plan 75-90 minutes for character dining, but people have reported excellent efficiency with breakfast at GG. That being said, I don’t get it - why rush through an experience? I would rather plan well and enjoy everything. TH and CP have different characters, so by keeping all you’ll get a good mix. TH lunch has some more adventurous choices (but plenty of mainstream options for the less adventurous), and CP is very basic. For your kids’ ages I think it’s worth it to keep all. Again, though, I would not rush GG to beat the crowd - if that’s important consider pushing it to late morning, which we have enjoyed doing a lot.

If you’re staying BLT I would think you could have multiple fireworks viewing opportunities. A 5pm CG will require you to dine, leave, and return later - which is a viable option, particularly if you’re staying right there - but many would be deterred by the coming/going of it all. I think you’d be rushing to go to Epcot for dinner and back for a 7pm show. Why not plan a later HS arrival and stay through Fantasmic, with perhaps a TS at one of the in-park restaurants?

I’d drop any breakfast ADR’s that are at the same time as opening. Most people manage to finish a character breakfast before the park opens, but for me I didn’t like the idea of rushing an expensive character meal, I wanted to saviour them later in the day, when I’d appreciate the break more. We did a pre rope drop ADR at BOG, and it was brilliant, we were among the first to ride PP. If your kids like to join in they will enjoy biergarten, trying to eat and see the fireworks at the same time generally involves a bit of risk and probably a long wait, which you might not want with children, though R&C does have a bar. Is this your first trip?

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It is our first trip. Can’t wait. Thanks for he heloZ. I think we’ll drop the 8am CRT, would have been perfect if the Park was opening at 9, but what ca ya do. We have 3 RD mornings and 7DMT fast passes for a few days. Do you prefer it or the ‘mountain’ rides?

Thank you for the input. I dropped R&C and CG. Have decided to keep Biergarten for our day at Epcot and leave a few dinner slots open to pick the best night, weather wise, for Fantasmic. We want to get to HS in Thursday at rope drop for the Star Wars Jedi training sign up, so we will likely be finished touring and want to hop to another park in the afternoon and plan to come back another night for F! and fireworks.

DD5 prefered 7DMT to the mountains, but DD7 preferred the mountains. DD7 did space mountain once but didn’t want to do it again, DD5 did Splash and BTMR both once but didn’t want to repeat them. DD5’s favorite things were the carousel and swimming. Some of their favorite rides were TSMM, Buzz, Dumbo, Aladdins carpets, they liked being able to shoot at things or make them go up and down. Are you wanting to meet characters? How old are your kids, are they boys or girls?