Are ADR's really necessary?

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carlsbaddrew's picture
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Are ADR's really necessary?

I read so much about ADR's before our Disneymoon trip last June. (June 19-28, 2012). We decided to just go with the flow, as the thought of having an "agenda" or "schedule" for this trip wasn't us, especially in June when the weather can quickly influence your plans for the day.

WDW was very packed during our trip! I now know we went during one of THE busiest times of the year. The funny thing is, we were walk ups to every table service restaurant we ate at and NEVER waited more than 2 minutes for seating, except at Coral Reef, which was a 5 minute wait.

We are heading back during F&W Festival Oct 28-Nov 6. ADRs? What say you guys?

*I also had wondered if our deluxe meal plan had anything to do with walkup priority last year? We won't be doing a meal plan this year. It was more food than we could eat!

Below is a list of table service places we enjoyed without a wait last June:

-Coral Reef @ Epcot
-San Angel Inn x3 @ Epcot (we loved this place!)
-Sci Fi Diner @ DS
-Portabello's @ downtown disney (they gave us free champagne for wearing out "Happily Ever After" Buttons.
-Boatwrights Dining Hall @ POR (our hotel / this place was lame)
-Rainforest Cafe @ AK
-Raglan Road Irish Pub @ Downtown Disney

*We would have had more table service stops, but I got very sick for two days. Sad
**We ate our fair share of counter service places. Those never had waits.

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You would probably want an ADR for some of the more popular restaurants. I think that you could swing not doing ADR's though. We never did the "priority seating" thing in 05 or 07 and really didn't have an issue, except with Ohana. They would not even let us try to wait it out. Told us rather rudely to "Call, on the phone." That rubbed DH the wrong way! So he replied "On the phone, you say?"

We had ADR's at Be Our Guest on January 29th, our Anniversary, and they were not allowing walk ups because it was so booked. What was great is that I got some attitude for making a comment to someone who cut in front of us in the check in line. Got to watch them get turned down for not having an ADR, and they got to watch us walk into the restaurant.

But, now that I have found some hot spots that we just can't miss, I make sure to schedule it the way I want it.

For instance:

We like to do Ohana in conjunction with watching Wishes from the beach. Depending on Park hours and Ohana hours, I either book it for 20 - 30 minutes after Wishes or about an hour and a half to two hours before Wishes.

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Well carlsbaddrew, none of those restaurants are signature dining so that's one reason you got in, plus I take it that it was just the two of you, that's another advantage. You make adr's to guarantee you have a reservation to get in some place. I recommend them but it's your choice, just please don't be one of those obnoxious tourists screaming "I paid Disney a lot of money for this vacation, now they I cant get in to eat somewhere, this is $%&^ #%[email protected]!" , and yes I have heard that more then once.

If it's just two of you and your not trying to get into the California Grill or Flying Fish or the Brown Derby you might be fine, and then again, you might not, you just never know. It all depends on the crowds. We couldn't get in to the Sci-Fi in January for lunch, it was booked solid, they wouldn't even talk to me about waiting and we got there when it opened. We have walked up for lunch before.

We have walked up to the Turf Club and got in, not a signature, but its as good as one.

If you had your "Happily Ever After" buttons on, that was a big help to get you in.

carlsbaddrew's picture
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WDWfanatic wrote:
You would probably want an ADR for some of the more popular restaurants. I think that you could swing not doing ADR's though. We never did the "priority seating" thing in 05 or 07 and really didn't have an issue, except with Ohana. They would not even let us try to wait it out. Told us rather rudely to "Call, on the phone." That rubbed DH the wrong way! So he replied "On the phone, you say?"

We had ADR's at Be Our Guest on January 29th, our Anniversary, and they were not allowing walk ups because it was so booked. What was great is that I got some attitude for making a comment to someone who cut in front of us in the check in line. Got to watch them get turned down for not having an ADR, and they got to watch us walk into the restaurant.

But, now that I have found some hot spots that we just can't miss, I make sure to schedule it the way I want it.

For instance:

We like to do Ohana in conjunction with watching Wishes from the beach. Depending on Park hours and Ohana hours, I either book it for 20 - 30 minutes after Wishes or about an hour and a half to two hours before Wishes.

Good input. I definitely assumed anything with a firework show view of MK's "wishes" or EC's "illuminations" would be impossible via walkup.

I have also wondered... since we are going during Food & Wine fest this year, will those temporary dining options help alleviate the table service crowd, especially at Epcot.

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mrhub wrote:
Well carlsbaddrew, none of those restaurants are signature dining so that's one reason you got in, plus I take it that it was just the two of you, that's another advantage. You make adr's to guarantee you have a reservation to get in some place. I recommend them but it's your choice, just please don't be one of those obnoxious tourists screaming "I paid Disney a lot of money for this vacation, now they I cant get in to eat somewhere, this is $%&^ #%[email protected]!" , and yes I have heard that more then once.

If it's just two of you and your not trying to get into the California Grill or Flying Fish or the Brown Derby you might be fine, and then again, you might not, you just never know. It all depends on the crowds. We couldn't get in to the Sci-Fi in January for lunch, it was booked solid, they wouldn't even talk to me about waiting and we got there when it opened. We have walked up for lunch before.

We have walked up to the Turf Club and got in, not a signature, but its as good as one.

If you had your "Happily Ever After" buttons on, that was a big help to get you in.

We never took those buttons off! Smile The special treatment everywhere was noticed.

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From what I can tell, it is hit or miss with Food & Wine. There are some that eat all day and look forward to their dining.

We did sit at the same table with 2 couples at Biergarten during F&W last October, they sat, ate and had dessert before I had even eaten half of my first plate. They said that they should have never booked Biergarten for their F&W day. They just weren't hungry. All of the tables were full though. And I know that there were walk ups unhappy with what they were being told. And this goes back to mrhub's observations... You hear a lot of that.

You just never know. mrhub was not able to get into Sci-Fi in January, a slow time. You just never know. Sometimes, there really is no rhyme or reason.

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If there is a restaurant that you really want to go to then I would definitely make an ADR. I am the type of person who likes to have all her ducks in a row. I made my ADRs 180 days out and got reservations for every restaurant that I wanted. And today I made and received my ADR for Kona Cafe on our last day at WDW for breakfast. I wouldn't wait too long.

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carlsbaddrew wrote:
I have also wondered... since we are going during Food & Wine fest this year, will those temporary dining options help alleviate the table service crowd, especially at Epcot.

I do table service at Epcot, even when F&W is going on and I haven't noticed it being any less crowded. I almost always have ADR's scheduled for my vacations because I would rather be safe than sorry. I have however had great luck in walking up to the podium at a different time than my reservation was for and getting in then. There really is a day to day change in what is available. During the week is going to be easier to walk in than on a Friday/Saturday night, if there's a special event happening at one park then it's easier to get in at a different park or further away resort. There are a lot of factors.

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I agree with PirateGirl....if you have some restaurants that you're really set on then I would make ADRs. It will definitely help that there is only two of you but it still isn't a guarantee that you'll get in anywhere. If you're super flexible about where you end up eating and don't like to have a schedule, then more power to you and ADRs may not be necessary.

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There are some restaurants that you will almost never get into without an ADR and others that you can almost always get into without one.

One thing we've done when we want to eat table service but don't want to plan very far in advance is to go to guest services when we arrive at a park and ask about same-day ADRs. If you're flexible about where and when you want to eat you can usually find something. We've gotten same-day reservations at the Biergarten and Restaurant Marrakesh at Epcot and at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at DHS.

carlsbaddrew's picture
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Lots of good input here. Thanks for everything guys.

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Eeyore's picture
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I would make ADR's. On my trip last week, we tried to change our time around for one dinner and the restaurant was completely booked. It wasn't really even busy last week.... I would just to be safe. You can always cancel!

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Not sure if anyone else mentioned it, but I know I recieved an email for a Free Dining promotion from the end of August through mid-December (with very few black dates in between)..... it is not a public "Free Dining" promo, but I do feel that Free Dining promotions make ADR's more necessary......

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stars Well hello 13! Welcome to the forums stars

Eddie G.'s picture
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I agree with everyone else that has posted their recommendations on ADR's. I suggest the restaurants you REALLY want for sure, do them. However, as my wife and I are only two, such as your trip will be. We have walked up and eaten within 20 minutes at Le Cellier, Tapon Edu, Via Napoli, Sci-Fi Drive Inn & 50's Prime Time Cafe on our last trip to WDW. And I did not find 20 minutes all that bad of wait. Since most had a spot to grab a refreshing (adult) beverage or two while we waited. Including a hidden gem not many seem know about. The Sake Bar at Japan.

Mind you, all these were at dinner time as well. It seemed to me they get more no-shows for dinner than they do at lunch time. This may or may not always be the case. Still, I would suggest ADR's for your "must do's" as far as restaurants. You don't want to be thinking about it the entire time, and if you will or will not be able to just walk up and eat there.

But I do understand what you mean about just going with the flow. When we are on holiday, we don't want too much stuff planned out. So we make the ADR's at our favourites and just walk up every where else we want to try. I know in three trips with my wife, we have never been turned away as walk ups. Again though, just our experience with it.

Pictures of the Sake Bar in Japan, if you have not seen it

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carlsbaddrew's picture
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Ohhhh! The Sake Bar sounds excellent! The wife LOVES sushi, so this may be a perfect stop for us. Thanks for the input.

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I agree pretty much with what everyone has said. It really is a matter of taking chances. And besides the big guns when it comes to restaurants (BOG, CRT, etc.), ADRs really aren't that hard to score. If it isn't the holidays, you have a decent chance of being able to make them the week of and getting in, and sometimes I've even made them the day of. Just something to keep in mind.

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I've been told that Cinderellas Royal Table has a fast turnaround during breakfast and that they usually take walk-ins. I was told this by a cast member that works there. Time of day also has an impact as well. I have had friends walk in to Be Our Guest for dinner.

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You can walk into a lot of places if you hit them at the right time, or just plain get lucky, which if you walked into BOG, they got very lucky. ADR'S for BOG have been booked solid at 180 days out since they opened, but there are always cancellations and no shows. Making an ADR just means you don't have to worry about not getting in to a restaurant you really wanted to eat at.

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Yep, agreed on getting an ADR for anything you really want. I was able to get BOG at 180 for this trip, but could not get a Liberty Tree Tavern for Thanksgiving Day, even this far out. I ended up with lunch there the day before, which will still be awesome.

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Make them. If you then fell constrained by "too much planing" at any stage of your trip, cancel the ones you don't want to free up space. They are like insurance, it is better to have and not need then need and not have.

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Stu's right. It's much easier to cancel an ADR than it is to get one last-minute at any of the more popular restaurants. We usually cancel at least one as our trips progress.

BTW, welcome, Stu.

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Stu Bailey wrote:
Make them. If you then fell constrained by "too much planing" at any stage of your trip, cancel the ones you don't want to free up space. They are like insurance, it is better to have and not need then need and not have.

Just be careful not to do this with any restaurants that have a cancellation fee!

Hi and welcome Stu!

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yes, Allie! Some restaurants (like Brown Derby) require a credit card to reserve too - most likely to charge those fees if you change your mind outside of their cancellation period.

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Good point - if you make an ADR at a restaurant that charges a fee for last-minute cancellations and no-shows, make sure you cancel it well enough in advance so you don't get charged!

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welcome Stu and I agree 100% with what was said about making ADRs. Let us know what ADRs you make and other details of your trip.

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I think it is $25 charged to your credit card for if you cancel less then 24 hours in advance or don't show up. Truthfully i think that should be for all restaurants and maybe it would stop some of these people that make multiple ADR's each night just so they have a choice of where they can eat and are not locked into eating at a particular place. That's one thing that really p's me off. They should also charge per head for the no shows.

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mrhub wrote:
I think it is $25 charged to your credit card for if you cancel less then 24 hours in advance or don't show up. Truthfully i think that should be for all restaurants and maybe it would stop some of these people that make multiple ADR's each night just so they have a choice of where they can eat and are not locked into eating at a particular place. That's one thing that really p's me off. They should also charge per head for the no shows.

awesome

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I haven't read all of the replies, so you probably have gotten what you needed anyway.

I think it probably depends on the time you are in Disney, the time you try to eat, and the number in your party (PLUS the buttons in your case).

I went in July with my fiance's family in 2010, for the nicer restaurants (Cinderella's Castle, etc.) , we did ADRs but we did NOT do them for anything else. There were 7-8 of us at any given time. We got in to most restaurants that were more casual dining. Sometimes we had to wait, but we didn't mind. It normally wasn't very long.

When I went in the Spring, it was Spring Break and fairly low crowds compared to the July trip. There were only 2 of us and we just walked up to any restaurant we wanted to, lunch and dinner, peak and off-peak dining times and had zero problems. No buttons either. I just think we happened to go to the right parks, and right restaurants. I loved the looseness of out dining decisions though.

THIS time, since it is the Honeymoon trip, we reserved the ones we had never had together and wanted to try: Coral Reef, Be Our Guest, Sci-Fi Drive In, the Fireworks Dessert Party, and I think there is one more I am not remembering right now....but the rest of the time we are just going to try our luck. There are only two of us and we have the newlywed pins and...we aren't picky where we get in as long as we get to try those "Must Haves." Plus, like you, we don't like to schedule every last thing and like to have the option to be flexible/change our minds!

I REALLY want to go during Food and Wine, but don't ever know if I will be able to. Future hubby and I will both be teachers and our school year always starts in August.

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Our first two trips were free dining during the Food and Wine so we had to do ADR's. I saw so many people turned away. J loves to sit there and watch people get turned away at Le Cellier. Except for Places like that I am sure if you are just a party of two and you are willing to wait they will get you a seat. I guess it depends the time of day, travel specials, I have seen so many people turned away at Le Cellier, Narcoossee, 50's prime time, Ohana. BOG all three times we were there we saw people being turned away. With all that being said we were able to get last minute dinner reservations through the Disney App while we were there. If you were to go online now you would find plenty of dinner reservations for tonight.

Yes, I landed on both sides of the fence. Certain ADR's are a must and others are not as important.

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We're going to the world in November and have already made all of our ADR's. A couple of trips ago my DW started to make ADR's for our trip and I was highly confused/dismayed that she thought she needed to plan that far ahead and tie us in to certain places during our vacation. The thing is, we always make a plan of which park we visit, shopping days etc so why not where we eat. Still sceptical, we went turned up for our first meal and the place was so busy, they were queuing out of the door. We were enjoying our meal and each others company, whilst others still queued..... DW gave me a look as if to say "told you so". Ever since then I don't say anything, we make our bookings and enjoy ourselves. I always look at it as, less time queuing for tables, more time enjoying the parks.

As with all of our plans, if we do make a plan, we sometimes change it if we need to, cancel the res etc. after all, it's not cast in stone.

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