Best Guide for Making Advanced Dining Reservations
Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) are crucial to a Walt Disney World vacation. These reservations guarantee tables at the most popular Walt Disney World restaurants. Recently, Disney has changed the rules for booking ADRs. Let’s get you caught up to speed on how to plan and book Advanced Dining Reservations.
The Reservation Window
The most important aspect of ADRs is the booking window. You may schedule ADRs 180 days before your trip. Disney rewards guests staying at official hotels by extending that window a bit.
Let’s say that you’re staying at a Walt Disney World hotel for six nights. When your booking window opens, you may schedule ADRs for all six nights, something that most cannot do. This benefit effectively turns your 180-window into a 185-day window, at least in this scenario. The number can go even higher.
Prepping for Your Booking Window
The most important thing to know about the booking window is your trip’s start date. You should be ready to go on the morning 180 days before the start of your trip. Some helpful Disney fans have created reminder apps for this information. I’d highly recommend that you download one to your phone.
You may schedule ADRs starting at 6 a.m. EST when your booking window opens. Historically, Disney’s phone system would open at 7 a.m. Helpful cast members would take your call and book the ADRs for you. However, Disney recently changed its policy. Now, My Disney Experience is the only way that you can make ADRs.
Fortunately, the process is easy. You will need to do a bit of preparation, though. For starters, Disney won’t allow you to book any ADRs after day one of your trip unless the system verifies that you have an official hotel reservation.
Once you’ve received a hotel confirmation number, you should add it to My Disney Experience (MDE). Simply look at the main MDE page under Plans and Tickets. Resort Hotel is the second menu option from the left. Choose “Link a Reservation” and paste/type your confirmation number.
A Potential System Quirk
I should add a caveat here. Many guests, myself included, book split stays at Walt Disney World. During these trips, vacationers stay at multiple official Disney resorts. I highly recommend the experience and, in fact, just returned from a thoroughly enjoyable split stay. However, you should know about a system quirk.
When MDE notices two hotel reservations for your trip, it will only unlock the ADR booking window for the first one. You can’t schedule your other ADRs until the other reservation window opens. In this example, you may call Disney at 407-WDW-DINE and get a cast member to assist you.
My Disney Experience wants to maintain a competitive advantage for all guests staying at official Disney resorts. So, it’s programmed to prevent system abuse. Sadly, that extra security measure can sometimes cause aggravation for loyal vacationers.
A way to sidestep the issue altogether is to hire a Disney travel agent like the experts at MickeyTravels. These agents provide free services to you and can help you avoid potential headaches like the ones I’ve mentioned. If you forgot to link your hotel reservation or booked a split stay on your own, you’d get frustrated at 6 in the morning.
Your booking window wouldn’t be open, leaving you cranky, annoyed, and in a desperate state that even coffee won’t help. MickeyTravels agents have seen it all and would know how to book your ADRs smoothly and efficiently. And did I mention that their services are free? Yeah, you’re crazy not to take advantage of that deal.
You should understand one more thing about booking ADRs. Some dining reservations are easy to get. Others are incredibly difficult. And the list changes over the years. As an example, I used to beg friends to dine at Art Smith’s Homecomin’. Now, it’s one of the toughest meals to book at Walt Disney World.
You should do some research to identify the toughest restaurants to get a dining reservation. Generally speaking, character meals will sell out. Any restaurant with name recognition like Be Our Guest or Sci-Fi Dine-In will also require a reservation.
Before your window opens, take a few minutes to decide where you want to eat. Compile a list of appealing restaurants. I would suggest 3-5 more places than the number of meals you plan to schedule. That way, you can adapt quickly if something has already sold out. A bit of planning can save you a tremendous amount of aggravation in scheduling your ADRs.
The New Process
The good news about Disney’s recent change is that ADRs are simple to book on My Disney Experience. My wife and I recently tested this in planning our next vacation. I used a computer and an iPad. She used her phone. The phone absolutely crushed the other two in terms of speed and efficiency. So, I suggest that you grab your phone and open My Disney Experience!
On the app, look for the plus symbol at the bottom of the screen. Then, click it. Five menu options will appear. One of them, the second from the top, is Reserve Dining. When you choose this option, you can make your ADRs.
The process is exceptionally user-friendly. You’ll select your party size. Then, a calendar will appear. Select the date for the reservation that you seek. Another option will appear. It’s the Search by Time feature. You can choose a general range like Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, or Dinner.
The system does all the work from there. It will display every restaurant that has availability for that meal. You can also change to a more precise time on this screen. Once you select a time, you’re ready to complete the reservation. It’s so fast and straightforward, especially on the phone.
You shouldn’t have any problems, as long as you remember the potential sticking points I mentioned earlier.