There is a lot of time and energy that goes into planning meals for your Disney vacation. Researching the many different options, finding out what your family would like, checking menus, picking the best times (and reserving them if possible), and then of course figuring out how to pay for it….are all part of the process.
(Now I do realize that many people prefer not to do that much planning when it comes to meals on their vacation…but I am guessing that if you are reading this, you are probably not one of them. Nevertheless, if you are one of those people, keep reading….because this article will be of interest to you too. )
So with all that planning, what happens if those plans change…while you are at Disney World? Just how hard is it to find a new place to eat, and/or change Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs)?
We found out just this very thing on our Disney World vacation over the New Year’s holiday. Since this is one of the busiest weeks of the year, I had diligently planned (and in some cases planned again and again) so that we would be assured of eating where we wanted, when we wanted, and we knew how much it would all cost.
All was going beautifully, as planned, until our final full day. We were going to spend the morning at Hollywood Studios, have lunch, and then return to Saratoga Springs for the afternoon, relax a bit, and then have an early dinner there. We then would return to Hollywood Studios to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights that evening.
Oh and one tiny addition: since this was the last day of the regular pro football season, DH and DD were going to go to ESPN Zone to watch some of the Pittsburgh Steelers game (we are kind of fans ), and I planned to go for part of the time as well.
So what happened? Well we went to DHS in the morning, had lunch, and then we all took to the boat to ESPN Zone. The game started and for a while we were able to just stand and watch, as there were no tables. ESPN Zone is nice like that.
But then a guy offered to share a table with us, and we sat down. And the game started getting good. (As did a couple others we were interested in…) And we ordered nachos and a couple of beers. And we made some friends. And the time kept creeping by…..and no one wanted to leave. We were having fun!
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PLAN?
What’s that? The PLAN? Oh, right…..well……we changed the plan. Or more accurately, I changed the plan.
By halftime it was evident that we were not going anywhere any time soon, and considering that we were definitely going back to DHS that evening, it just seemed really silly to go all the way back to Saratoga Springs just for dinner.
So I went in search of a new place to eat that night.
Now there are a couple of ways to make and/or change ADRs while at Disney World (so for those of you who are non-planners, listen up, because this is what you will do as well):
- You can call Disney Dining from a Disney resort hotel room phone (was not an option for us at the time, we weren’t in our room)
- You can use Disney’s mobile reservation tool on your smartphone (also not an option for us, as my phone doesn’t support their tool….yes I need a new smartphone)
- Or you can speak to the concierge at a Disney resort hotel who can assist you.
Bingo. That’s exactly what I did. I went over to the Boardwalk, just a few steps from ESPN Zone and explained to the concierge our dilemma. Since she did not look remotely surprised, I took this to mean that folks change their minds about dining while at Disney World all the time.
Really? Who knew?
In any event, she very patiently pulled up every available restaurant in the DHS/Epcot/Epcot resort area for around the time we needed. I have to say that, to my surprise, on Sunday, January 2, during one of the busiest weekends of the year, there were a number of options. Not every restaurant was available mind you (and none of the “major, popular” ones), but there were more than enough to give us a decent choice.
I ended up choosing the Captain’s Grille at the Yacht Club, because we had not eaten there before and it was similar in menu to our original choice at Saratoga Springs….that we were now cancelling. She took care of it all lickety split, cancelled our old ADR, gave me our new confirmation number, and I was on my way back to ESPN Zone to catch the 2nd half of the game.
So it really all worked out very well. Our dinner was FABULOUS (maybe our favorite the entire trip) and we had a much more relaxing afternoon than we would have spent, going back and forth to Saratoga Springs. (In hindsight, I am not sure why we originally planned to do this….I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time…..)
The lessons of the story are that it is actually quite easy to change dining plans while at Disney World, and that even during the busiest times of the year, don’t be afraid to try if you really want to, because there may very well be some great options.
Also, that pretty great things may happen if you are open to change: we had a blast, had a great afternoon, and possibly our best meal of the trip.
Oh, and there was one other really great thing: the Steelers won.
- Dining at Disney World: Dining Plans, Picky Eaters, & Bigger Appetites
- Affordable Disney World Dining: The Deluxe, Premium, Platinum and Wine Dining Plans
- Our Evolving Disney World Vacation…and Learning to Adjust
- Affordable Disney World Dining: Disney Dining Plans 101
- Magical Meals: A Guide to Affordable Dining at Walt Disney World