Travel Tuesday Tales: The Fine Art of Negotiating Disney World ADRs

One of the things about planning Disney vacations that I take extremely seriously is booking our dining reservations. Known as Advanced Dining Reservations or ADRs, getting these scheduled well in advance of your trip can make life on your Disney vacation soooo much easier…and if you are traveling during Free Dining or a peak time like Christmas/New Years week, then making them is crucial.

In fact, for many restaurants, making them on the very earliest day possible can mean the difference between eating dinner where you want at a time that you would actually want to eat dinner….vs. eating dinner at like, 10 p.m….if you even get in at all.

The official earliest day you can make ADRs is 180 days before you check in (if a Disney resort guest).

You already know we are going over New Years, so clearly I had the 180 date highlighted on my calendar: July 3. I would be ready.

Except that we couldn’t decide where we wanted to eat. I brought it up every couple of days, and each time I did, I ended up with different answers!! Seriously folks, we need to get our act together here, July 3 will be here before we know it.

We agreed early on that our first two nights we would eat in Epcot. We will arrive on Dec. 30 which is the last day of the Candlelight Processional, and that is a must. Disney will be offering Candlelight Processional packages, where you reserve dinner at a particular restaurant, and you get priority seating for the Candlelight Processional. It’s very worth it to do this, especially since you can use the Disney Dining Plan for your CP meal….so it’s just a matter of choosing where you want to eat in Epcot.

However, since those packages had not yet been released, I still wanted to book an ADR for that night, in Epcot “just in case”. (Moms make their families always prepare for “just in case”. We really can’t help ourselves you know, it just happens.)

Our second night will be New Years Eve, and we’ll be celebrating in Epcot. On NYE, once you get to the park of your choice, you don’t leave. So we’ll be eating there as well.

It was decided that our 3rd night will be spent at Magic Kingdom, and then on our last night we will visit Hollywood Studios.

And as of June 16, that is about as far as we had gotten.

Choosing where to eat at Disney World is serious business in our family and negotiations can get intense. DH rarely has a strong opinion (unless it is about staying in Animal Kingdom Villas lol) but DD and I do have differing tastes and ideas. One of my big things is that on this trip, I really wanted to try some places we had NOT eaten before. Meanwhile, DD is bringing a friend and she had some places that she specifically wanted him to experience. Seems he also had a few opinions about where he did and didn’t want to eat.

Soooo, let’s see what we have here:

Me: Some new places, specifically Ohana (yes we have NOT eaten here yet! I know, shocking), and Sanaa, and hopefully the new Mexican restaurant Hacienda de San Angel (once they start taking ADRs there). Pretty much every place in World Showcase was fine too. 🙂

DD: California Grill one night with friend only (date night for us!! 🙂 ), Mexican is good, Ohana is not. Not sure about Sanaa. No Norway or Germany or England or Morocco. Interested in sushi in Japan. Nothing in Hollywood Studios or Magic Kingdom….  Alrighty then.

DF: Wanted to eat Mexican and eat sushi at some point. And keep DD happy. 🙂 (Smart young man I would say….)

DH: As long as we weren’t staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, he was happy.

The thing is, we had a couple of weeks before I could book our ADRs on July 3, at exactly 180 days out from our arrival date…so I figured we had plenty of time to hash things out and get it all figured out.

And then I found out that people were (maybe accidentally, maybe on purpose?) able to book their ADRs at 190 days out if they did it online.

Whoa Nellie that’s in a couple of days! Fun time is over people, we have some decisions to make.

So let the negotiations begin!

With some shady backroom deals and dubious trading (“I’ll give you one Mexico for an extra ride on Soarin’….”), lots of talks, research on the web (thank you Disney Food Blog and Chip and Co.!), and multiple spreadsheet revisions…..this is what we managed to come up with:

Night One: book at San Angel Inn for now (you know, “just in case”) until the Candlelight Processional packages are released and/or Hacienda de Saint Angel opens for booking.

  • Fulfils Mexican requirement and if Hacienda, some place new.

New Year’s Eve: Chefs de France.

  • We all like this one, and DD told DF that he “will” like it too. 🙂

Night Three: We will have our “date nights” on this night. DD and DF will be eating at California Grill where they will eat sushi to their heart’s delight. DH and I will be finally eating at Ohana.

  • Cali Grill and sushi for DD/DF? Check.
  • Ohana/someplace new for me? Check.

Last Night: Back to Epcot for dinner at Coral Reef, then on to Hollywood Studios for the evening.

  • Not sure who exactly this one is for, other than we are all happy about it, so it’s all good. 🙂

We got it all figured out and agreed upon on the evening of June 22. My date to try booking at the new 190 days out was June 23, at 6 a.m.

And I was ready.

Hopefully we would get all the restaurants we worked so hard to agree on…

……..To be continued…….

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2 Responses to Travel Tuesday Tales: The Fine Art of Negotiating Disney World ADRs

  1. Pingback: To ADR or not ADR, That is the Question | Chip and Co.

  2. Pingback: Disney Week in Review – July 4th – July 11th | Chip and Co.

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