Dining reservations at Disney are called ADRs or Advanced Dining Reservations and can be made simply by calling 407-WDW-DINE (the previous system was known as PS or priority seating. Nothing has changed but the name!)
Now you may think that an ADR for 7pm means that’s when you’ll be eating? no, an ADR just means that you will be seated at the next available table near to your ADR time. It is important to remember, especially at busy times, that even though your ADR maybe at 7pm, you may still have a wait of anything from 5 to 45 minutes for your table – though it is normal to be seated within a 20 minute time frame.
So, if you’re going to see a show at say 9pm, an ADR at 7:30pm probably isn’t going to cut it although it should also be noted that you can often turn up early and get seated if the restaurant is able to.
You need to call 407-WDW-DINE or 001-407-939-3463 for UK visitors. Lines open at 7am EST or 12 noon UK time. You can book most meals at 90 days in advance (down from 180 days as it used to be)
1. What do I need for the call?
Use the Internet and of course, wdisneysecrets.com ;), to work out where you want to eat and what times you want. Have all this information written down clearly so you can make all your ADRs at the same time. Also have a credit or debit card handy in case you have to pay for the show or leave a credit card hold (see below)
You will receive an ADR number which you should keep noted down so you can take it to the restaurant. USUALLY they wont’ need it, they’ll just ask for your name but it’s best to be prepared
2. Do I need to leave a deposit?
Most ADRs do not require any form of deposit however there are a few exceptions.
When booking the EXTREMELY popular and hard to book CRT “Cinderella’s Royal Table Breakfast” you will be asked for a Credit Card deposit of $10 per person ($5 for kids). This is automatically deducted from your bill at the restaurant. Also, if you fail to cancel your meal within 48 hours, your deposit will not be refunded. You ARE able to cancel before this time, and obtain a full refund.
The other ADRs you will need to leave a Credit Card number for, called a credit card hold, are the Fantasmic Dinner Package and the contemporary, although, your card will not be debited UNLESS you fail to cancel within 48 hours. If you are a “no show” and haven’t cancelled, you card will be charged $10 per person. Otherwise, you pay for the meal in full at the restaurant as normal.
Other special events often need to be paid for in advance…this includes the very popular “Candlelight Processional Dinner Package”. You will pay for this in full at the time of booking, and it includes tax and gratuity, so there will be nothing extra to pay on the day!
3. Be Flexible!
As you can imagine, most visitors to WDW are families trying to keep to a certain schedule so if you’re trying to book a popular restaurant around dinner time, you may find it hard to get in. It will help if you can be flexible in where and when you want to eat. Be prepared to change restaurant and/or times on the phone
4. Remember, Disney’s Dining reservation system is not perfect (understatement)
As a party of two, we have often phoned and been told no room only to hear that friends booked their party of four in with no problem! what’s going on? Well Disney’s reservation system looks for tables of two that are available and there are usually far fewer of them than there are the usual four seaters.
If you are denied seating for two either immediately if you have the courage, or by phoning back later, ask for a party of three. The system will realise it needs a table of four to accommodate your party and you may well find you get in. When you turn up to the restaurant they’ll say “party of three” you say “no just two this evening” and that’s that. Some people feel this is cheating, they’re wrong, it’s simply adapting to the flawed ADR system.
5. Please cancel ADRs you’re not going to use
The dining plan has really messed things up for planners. It’s ensured almost 100% occupancy of many restaurants which makes it very hard to be spontaneous. Some peoples’ response to this has been to book many restaurants for the same evening. Now Disney is trying to stop this and may even cancel reservations made this way but what it means is that many restaurants deny new bookings even though on the night, many tables simply don’t turn up.
So, PLEASE don’t shotgun book loads of tables on the same evening and if you do decide you can’t make an ADR, cancel it so that someone else may book at that restaurant.
6. I can’t get the booking I want?
DONT GIVE UP!
Time after time we see people being depressed over that one booking they wanted but couldn’t get. Yes it’s upsetting but KEEP TRYING. Peoples’ plans change and openings DO show up. In particular, resort reservations need to be paid for 45 days in advance and many hopeful people book and then sadly have to cancel at that point leaving ADR slots available for you to grab.
Finally, when you get to the world, try walking up to the podium of the restaurant you really wanted. Often they won’t feed availability back into the ADR system but they know they have a table or two available. Be polite, I promise you that yelling “I can see a spare table I WANT THAT ONE” at the cast members at the podium will NOT get you in.
If you have any special events like a birthday or some special circumstance, do let a cast member know. Don’t try and blag it, they’ve seen and heard every possible excuse to why someone should get a table but in genuine circumstances they can try extra specially hard for you. We were once in the Magic Kingdom on my birthday, we’d had an awful day, camera broken, had been pushed over in a crowd and a CM took pity on us and phoned Cinderellas Royal Table. She got us in and said “I’ve been able to work some magic for you”. That’s what’s special about Disney, keep that hope and you may see some magic