Dining at Disney World: The ADR Strikes Back

Please join me in the “wayback” machine and lets go to the summer of 2012. I had planned a late November/December trip to Walt Disney World, when all of a sudden it was announced that ADRs for the brand new Be Our Guest restaurant would be opening: I had been lucky enough to have planned my trip the same week New Fantasyland opened.

I hate to say this, but since I am not at that same job any longer, who cares….. I had planned my day around being on the phone to get these coveted reservations. I downloaded a re-dialer app on my cell phone, had my office phone on redial, and I was ready. As soon as the phone lines opened I started calling like a collections agency. It took three hours and around 140 dials to get through. I was told that all of the reservations while I would be there were gone, and that it was booked through April 2013. Two of the days were closed to the public for press events. Needless to say I did not have a magical day.

I had to cancel the trip due to changing jobs (no not because of the phone bill). So, when I was planning my next trip, the hunt was back on. And since I am a self diagnosed over planner, I wanted to have a back up plan just in case.

I found three other restaurants that I thought Minnie and I would like: Le Cellier, Jiko, and Artist Point. I printed the menus for the three restaurants. I blacked out the names, location, and prices. Just so Minnie wouldn’t be influenced by anything other than the menu itself. I then asked her to put them in order. She chose Artist Point, Le Cellier, and Jiko (I would have switched Jiko and Le Cellier).

I was all set for the whistle to blow at 7:00 am on the 180th day. I called Disney as soon as they opened the phone lines, and was told that I was on 181 days. I would have to call back the following day. So a word of advice, even if your countdown app says 180 call a couple days before to make sure.

I called back the following day and got right through. I asked for the reservation to Be Our Guest on January 29th. I was told that the only opening they had was 4:00 pm. As a chef I hate going to restaurants right when they open. However, when I asked if there were any openings later I was told I should take that one. I took it and was excited. I was smiling for at least an hour at work. I had tamed the ADR beast!

I then wanted to revisit the menu to see what I would order. I began to read through the menu and the smile began to fade slowly. Maybe it was because I had studied the other restaurants, but I didn’t feel the menu was as strong. Then I began to feel that maybe I was so excited to eat there because of the “exclusivity” of the restaurant. Or maybe it was because the thrill of the hunt got the better of me. 

I have learned many things from being a chef. One of them is, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the physical restaurant is. If you aren’t completely satisfied with the food, your experience won’t be as special. I want to be very clear about this before I move on. I am sure the food at Be Our Guest is very good. I have heard many good things about it. Just viewing it from a menu perspective I think the others are better suited for a romantic dinner for two.

I then realized that I could still experience the restaurant at lunch, and get a very good meal. I know the lines have been long, but I have heard they are considering putting a fast pass in for lunch. Usually I don’t like to wait for meals, but judging the time of year I don’t think it will be a big challenge.

So I went home that day and told Minnie I didn’t get the ADR and I wanted to re do the menu shuffle. I printed menus for two random restaurants and Be Our Guest. I gave them back to her and asked her to put them in order again. She put Be Our Guest last in line. That concreted my decision and I told her the story. I then got an ADR for Artist Point and we couldn’t be happier.

The next time you are in the ADR vortex, make sure you look at it from all angles to get the most for your hard earned money.

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Keith was born and raised in Northeast Ohio.He now lives with his wife a few miles from his childhood home. His first trip to the Magic Kingdom was at the age of two and while the only memories are in pictures, the magic laid dormant within him. Until he saw the animated movie Robin Hood, and his love began to grow. He has always had an interest in food and the togetherness it brings. He became a classically trained chef and all around foodie. His last trip to Disney World was in 2011 and he has been learning, researching, and keeping up on all things Disney since. He hopes to bring you all of the food news from the parks, tips on how to save money on food, and all the tastes and smells from the House of Mouse (especially when smell o vision is invented). You can follow Keith on Twitter @DarthChef79.

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