Travel Tuesday Tales: What Do You Mean There Are No ADRs Available?

In last week’s Travel Tuesday Tales, I described the discussions my family and I had in deciding which restaurants we wanted to eat at for our New Year’s trip.  Knowing that I had the ability to book online at 190 days rather than the official 180 days in advance, I had worked hard to get a consensus of what our choices would be.

To review:

Night One: book at San Angel Inn for now until the Candlelight Processional packages are released and/or Hacienda de Saint Angel opens for booking.

Night Two (New Year’s Eve): Chefs de France.

Night Three: DD and DF want California Grill. DH and I chose Ohana.

Last Night: Coral Reef.

I should probably note here that this was my first official experience using the online Disney Dining platform, and was admittedly a bit nervous. Disney had just made some changes to the process. And then this 190 day “glitch” popped up which had thrown an additional layer of preparation into the mix. So I did some research, checking various Disney message boards to see the experiences of a number of folks who had successfully reserved online at 190 days.

(I have to say here that I felt a little “sneaky” as this is an unofficial option. Disney still officially allows you to make ADRs at 180 days in advance…and if you call Disney Dining to make your reservations, that is what they will tell you. But if you book online, the system does allow you to manipulate the dates…and for some to put in a fake Disney resort reservation…that makes it possible for you to make your ADRs at 190 days. Very weird, I know. And since folks have been able to do this for nearly a month now, one would presume that this “glitch” is on purpose as Disney is aware of it, and has not changed it. Yet. Still, it felt sneaky to me. I am SUCH a rule follower 🙂 )

Anyway, to continue with our story…

The online booking window for a new day opens at 6 a.m., so on my appointed 190th day, I was up, sitting at my computer at 5:45, waiting for the magic hour when I, along with who knows how many countless hundreds out there in cyber-space, would be attempting to book an Advanced Dining Reservation for December 30. (One thing about this “glitch” is that you must book each day individually, so I could only book December 30 that first morning.)

I reviewed our choice for that first night: San Angel Inn, temporarily until the Candlelight Processional packages and/or the new Hacienda de San Angel is available to book. So in essence, this first night would be practice for me for the “big event” the next day when I would be reserving our New Years Eve dinner. Still, I anxiously kept refreshing the stupid Disney website, wondering why we all had to wait until 6 a.m.

Ah Hah! Finally, 6 a.m. and our date of 12/30 showed up as an available booking date! Charge!!!! Quickly I put in our reservation number, chose the date I wanted again, and waited for the screen to show up with San Angel Inn as a dining option. I pictured hundreds of other Disney-obsessed folks doing the same thing, and I have to admit, it was a bit of a bonding moment as I imagined all these other Disney folks doing the same thing…. Yeah, I’m weird like that.

The screen finally came up and…..whhaaaaaatttt? Nothing available at San Angel Inn for 12/30 for my time? Geez, how did people beat me out that quick? Let’s try another time…. And another one…. Nothing. Holy cow, it’s only San Angel Inn, not exactly the most popular dining option at Disney World! I started putting in every time I could think of. Nothing! Wait a minute, something’s really strange here. I then took a look to see what I *could* book at Epcot that night, trying not to be *too concerned* as this reservation was only temporary.

And to my utter shock there was absolutely nothing available at any single restaurant in World Showcase, for the entire day…other than Norway and Germany, the two restaurants that no one in my group wanted to eat at.

Now what? Finding it hard to believe that ALL availability had been taken for all of World Showcase for the entire day, I was finally able to book an ADR for Cape May Café at the Beach Club…which was at least in walking distance to Epcot.

I closed out my session in disbelief, and attempted to regroup and analyze the situation.

Clearly there was something wrong, as there was just NO WAY that all those restaurants were already full. Maybe they had been blocked out by Disney for Candlelight Processional packages….that was somewhat plausible. But the WHOLE DAY? Hmmmm…..

I needed firm, concrete information, so I did what all self-respecting Disney planners do when faced with a Disney planning crisis: I checked out some Disney message boards. And sure enough, this problem was not just me. Whew….

But it also happened to a number of folks who had been reserving just fine all week long, wherever they wanted. And the problem was not just Epcot: only 17 restaurants had been available for anyone to book that morning for Dec. 30…51 were not available at all.

Yikes! What did this mean? And more importantly, what would it mean for tomorrow, when it actually mattered to me what we booked? The consensus on the boards was that it was a temporary glitch to the glitch, and to keep trying the rest of the day, it would probably fix itself later on.

OK….So I tried again at 9, at 11, at 1, at 3…and so on, until nearly 11 p.m. that night. No change.

Which really left me wondering what would happen the next day, when I (along with all of my newfound Disney cyberspace buddies) would be trying for New Years Eve?

The next morning I was at my computer again at 5:45, again refreshing the page, waiting, waiting, waiting. And really hoping that yesterday’s problem was no longer a problem.

December 31 showed up as an available date to book, I quickly put in the information requested for Chefs de France, hit enter…..and waited again, not really breathing………

SUCCESS! There it was! Hallelujah. I quickly confirmed it, got my reservation number, and then thought, let’s try again for Dec. 30….maybe NOW it’s fixed….

Waiting, waiting….yup, now showing availability! Hurray! I cancelled yesterday’s Cape May, now that I had San Angel Inn, and heaved a sigh of relief, as my hundreds of Disney Dining cyberspace friends surely did as well. 🙂

And I am happy to report that there were no further glitches the rest of the week: the other two days went smoothly, with no problems to report whatsoever.

I reported back to my family that all dining reservations had been achieved as requested.

And they said ……. “Thanks”.

So next steps? Waiting for Disney to announce the Candlelight Processional package, so that I can book that….and un-book my ADR at San Angel Inn that I worked so hard to get. I’ll keep you posted! 🙂

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