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nickieblu
06-13-2009, 11:40 PM
Has anyone been successful in getting dinner at the park or resorts without making reservations in advance? The last trip we did, we found ourselves running around to make our reservations- eating when we were not hungry and leaving WDW to make the boat to Fort Wilderness for lunch. My DH said not again.

parkers*momma
06-14-2009, 01:19 AM
We tried that two years ago with free dining and never again! DH was like yours, and didn't like going here or there at a certain time. BUt he hated not eating at some of his favorite restaurants more!

Now I plan early breakfasts and late late dinners. Lunch can be where ever whenever and it seems to work well for us.

PrincessBelle39
06-14-2009, 05:48 AM
I see your going in September during free dining. You'll be really lucky getting walkups at that time I would imagine. I don't think I'd be game to try. I would imagine you would spend a lot of time trying to find a sit down restaurant with availability.

VegasMike21
06-14-2009, 06:01 AM
some restaurants you will be able to get in with a minimum wait, others you won't be able to get into at all or you'll be waiting for hours.

kathiewe
06-14-2009, 07:43 AM
Since we often go on spur of the minute, we cannot always get ADRs. Still, we are able to get into some of our favorite restaurants without reservations on a regular basis -- even during free dining periods. Here's some tips on getting in without ADRs:

1) Lunch is usually easier to get into than dinner.
2) In between meal times -- Late breakfast, late lunch, late dinner.
3) The less popular it is the better change you will have -- the very popular places we do not even bother trying.
4) The more seats the resturant has the better chance you will have.
5) Have patience and be willing to wait.

Here's a few we often get into without and ADR even during free dining or busy times:

MK --
Liberty Tree
Plaza Restaurant

Epcot --
Biergarten
Tokyo Dining
Restaurant Marrakesh
Nine Dragons
Chefs de France

HS--
Hollywood and Vine

AK --
Tusker House
Brown Derby

Resort Locations
-- Almost anywhere at lunch.

Dinner:
-- Maya Grill (CS)
-- Boatwrights (POR)
-- Turf Grill (SSR)
-- Olivia's (OKW)
-- Captain's Grill (YC)
-- Kona Cafe (PR - this one is harder)
-- Grand Floridian Cafe (GF -- this one is also harder)

When you try to eat without ADRs you have to go with a free spirit attitude. That is to say if you can get in -- Great! If you cannot get in, oh well no the end of the world.

Good Luck!

Happy Eating!

fla4fun
06-14-2009, 08:18 AM
You've had a lot of good advice. All I would add is that if you are using the dining plan, I would plan ahead so you don't end up with leftover credits because you couldn't get in a restaurant.

I don't buy the dining plan, or even go for the free dining when it's offered. I've visited during free dining on an AP discount, and I have been able to get some walk-in meals. But I always have a backup plan of a CS in mind in case I can't. So long as you don't mind being very flexible on dining times or your choice of restaurants, you should be able to find something. If you can try calling a day or two before, you increase your odds quite a bit. I like to be spontaneous, so I often don't know what park I'm going to until the night before or sometimes the morning of. It's never too late to try and call - I've even made ADR's for lunch via phone less than an hour before dining.

RMulieri
06-14-2009, 09:18 AM
During free dining, you really do need adrs. I saw so many people turned away at restaurants and told they were taking NO walk ups. Both Epcot, and MK had HUGE signs up at the park entrance telling you that all restaurants are fully booked, no walkups.If your DH was annoyed about running around to get to adrs, he will be a lot more annoyed running from place to place looking to get in anywhere at anytime.The few places that were taking walk ups all had long long waits for tables.If you have the DP you will want to utilize your credits, and if there is nowhere to eat, you will be stuck with them.I actually saw a gentleman at guest services screaming he wanted his dining plan refunded because he could not get in to ANY place he wanted during Free dining..make adrs, you can always change or cancel

LilGMom
06-14-2009, 10:38 AM
Has anyone been successful in getting dinner at the park or resorts without making reservations in advance? The last trip we did, we found ourselves running around to make our reservations- eating when we were not hungry and leaving WDW to make the boat to Fort Wilderness for lunch. My DH said not again.

Has it happened to us? Yes, but not since around 2003 or so. :) On our last trip, March '09, we had ADR's but wanted to fit in a dinner at WCC on a spur of the moment decision. We got there around 6pm and were told that they had zero availability and weren't taking walk-ups. Going during Free Dining I would definitely have ADRs. You have to plan them around where you want to be each day. If you know that you want to enjoy PM EMH at DHS, I'd try getting an ADR for a DHS restaurant for dinner. If you don't want to lose any "park time" avoid making ADRs at the resorts. With a little planning you can make ADRs and not let if feel like the ADRs are dictating your trip.

MickeyNicki
06-14-2009, 01:05 PM
Its possible but I would not chance it...we have tried a few times with a party of 2 and have not been able to get in, even though the restaurant is not full at all.

Last week I was solo for 2 days and walked into Tutto and Chefs de France for lunch right at noon.

Minnie1156
06-14-2009, 01:07 PM
Make reservations. If you do not you will be dissapointed. You will not get the places and/or times you want.

OurDogCisco
06-14-2009, 01:25 PM
We make reservations and if we aren't hungry, we just cancel. You don't have to keep every reservation you make. Plans change all the time and if something doesn't work into your schedule just cancel. Obviously, you can't just cancel the ones with credit card holds but the rest you could. But we rather have the reservation in place than try without a reservation. Otherwise, you'll have to be very flexible in where you want to eat on that day which might mean park hopping which I think is the source of your problems. I never make reservations in a park we are not visiting that day. For resorts, I only make breakfast or dinner reservations when we are in a nearby park. So, we begin or end our day at that particular restaurant. We do not leave a park to eat (just not our style). Otherwise, if I make lunch reservations it is on a non-park day. Good luck!

*KeepMovingForward*
06-14-2009, 02:04 PM
Has it happened to us? Yes, but not since around 2003 or so. :) On our last trip, March '09, we had ADR's but wanted to fit in a dinner at WCC on a spur of the moment decision. We got there around 6pm and were told that they had zero availability and weren't taking walk-ups. Going during Free Dining I would definitely have ADRs. You have to plan them around where you want to be each day. If you know that you want to enjoy PM EMH at DHS, I'd try getting an ADR for a DHS restaurant for dinner. If you don't want to lose any "park time" avoid making ADRs at the resorts. With a little planning you can make ADRs and not let if feel like the ADRs are dictating your trip.

ITA! If you plan your days right, you shouldn't be running around to ADR's all the time. I would never leave my meals to chance, especially during free dining. It also depends on how you eat and if you'll be happy eating at whatever you can scrounge up-that can eat up just as much time as running to an ill planned ADR. My family would be terribly upset having to miss certain places. I'd make some ressies and you can always cancel if the day is going in another direction and you secure something else.

a1tinkfans
06-14-2009, 02:12 PM
Has anyone been successful in getting dinner at the park or resorts without making reservations in advance? The last trip we did, we found ourselves running around to make our reservations- eating when we were not hungry and leaving WDW to make the boat to Fort Wilderness for lunch. My DH said not again.

Been there DONE that during free dine, it was a NIGHTMARE for us (3)...Could not get in anywhere and was stuck with Counter service burger and fries and chicken fingers for the whole week, just AWFUL!
When on ANY vacation we like to be "guests" and not grab and go people, so we usually have a simple/nice breakfast OOP then CS for lunch and a SD for dinner . We try for our favorites...Kona, LeCellier, Ohana,Boatwrights, Whisp, LTT and got them and more for our 10 nites this year, YUMMY, can't wait!!!
I have heard very few others say they walked up and got in, but IF you are not going to be happy with being denied a sit down then I'd say, get ADR's and you can always cancel them if it does not work that day for you...
By the way, we usually eat at about same times we eat at home, which is generally like 5ish for dinner (we're early risers) and that tends to be easier for dinner reservations...
Good Luck and have a GREAT trip whatever you decide.

Disney Hot Mama
06-14-2009, 02:17 PM
We are not going during free dining.. we are staying 8 nights and only have two dinner ADR's ... will we get any good places to eat - YES! We have done this before and we are fine with it. We don't like to overplan our trips, don't want to be forced to go to this park or that park and then to have to run to an ADR if a wait line took to long.... We will play it by ear this trip. Usually only eating TS for lunch and then back to the villa for dinners anyway.... Will we eat everywhere we want - no.... are we OK with that.. YES!

tgrundy
06-14-2009, 02:52 PM
make reservations!!!! I have been trying to get into Chef Mickey's for 2 1/2 months!!! :scared:We leave in 3 days and I still cannot get in. So, if there is someplace you really want to eat make ADR"s

abh218
06-14-2009, 03:08 PM
For our first "family" trip in '05, we had ADRs for every meal. We were a party of 8 with "this person needing to eat at a specific time" or "this person not getting out of bed to join us until noon"! We spent more time connecting for meals than we did seeing attractions.

So we've adopted the rule that if we're there on a heavy/crowded day, we make a reservation. If not, we'll take a chance on what's available.

With that said, the last trip was for 10 days during Thanksgiving '08. I made ADRs for Thursday, Friday, and Sunday (CP) of Thanksgiving. I took a chance on other days. I kept the Disney Dining number on my cell and would call to see what was available when I knew where we were going to be in the evening. I keep a list of where we might enjoy dining and if any of those locations are available and they have a time slot that doesn't affect something else we want to do, then I take it.

That's my strategy for my upcoming (end of October) trip. We'll make some ADRs and we'll chance it on other days.

As previously stated, you just have to be willing to take that chance. I certainly wouldn't attempt it during free dining.

Best of luck!

1hero2princesses
06-14-2009, 04:31 PM
We went last year during free dining. I had all my adrs done - great times, great places. All the big ones - Chef Mickey's, Crystal Palace - lots of character meals. Then we got there. Went to Liberty Tree and discovered DD3 did not like characters. At all. Did not even want to be in the same room with them. And let everyone know it. We tried to go to our Tusker House ADR - we ended up taking turns eating as she sat out side (they were very nice about it - even let us bring her some donuts out). That was the end of all our character meals so off I went to try to cancel adr's and find new restaurants. It was not easy. I probably spent at least 2 or 3 hours of our vacation on the phone with disney dining, with the conceirge or at restaurants trying to get in. We did get into places - we went to the Wave (probably cause it was new) but they were not places that were necessiarily what we wanted or what was easiest to get to from where we were. We were a party of 5 for reference. So yes, from first hand experience it was possible to get into places during free dining but it was not easy and I would not recommend it. I remember the two they kept offering me were Cape May or the Wave. Forget about getting into any of the most popular restaurants and pretty much anything in the parks, the hotel restaurants were easier to get into.

ROEDISNEY
06-14-2009, 04:41 PM
I would never chance going with out adr's.

RMulieri
06-14-2009, 05:43 PM
We went last year during free dining. I had all my adrs done - great times, great places. All the big ones - Chef Mickey's, Crystal Palace - lots of character meals. Then we got there. Went to Liberty Tree and discovered DD3 did not like characters. At all. Did not even want to be in the same room with them. And let everyone know it. We tried to go to our Tusker House ADR - we ended up taking turns eating as she sat out side (they were very nice about it - even let us bring her some donuts out). That was the end of all our character meals so off I went to try to cancel adr's and find new restaurants. It was not easy. I probably spent at least 2 or 3 hours of our vacation on the phone with disney dining, with the conceirge or at restaurants trying to get in. We did get into places - we went to the Wave (probably cause it was new) but they were not places that were necessiarily what we wanted or what was easiest to get to from where we were. We were a party of 5 for reference. So yes, from first hand experience it was possible to get into places during free dining but it was not easy and I would not recommend it. I remember the two they kept offering me were Cape May or the Wave. Forget about getting into any of the most popular restaurants and pretty much anything in the parks, the hotel restaurants were easier to get into.

We had no luck at Cape May during free dining as a walk up. We had an adr on our first night .Liked it so much we wanted to add it again for later in the week.Disney Dining had nothing available and we tried walk ups every night( we were staying there) with no luck.So I wouldn't count on being able to score that one easily. Marrakesh in Epcot generally has openings though

MHSweb79
06-14-2009, 05:55 PM
ADR's are free. Unless they take your credit card to hold the reservation, they can be cancelled without penalty. So why not make some before you go? If it's too big a hassle at the time, cancel the ADR and eat counter service instead.
Last time we went during free dining, EVERY restaurant we ate at had signs posted that they were not taking any walk-ins.
If you're fine with eating CS every day, then don't bother to make ADR's. If you really want some sit-down meals, then ADR's will be required. It's just the way things are right now with the current dining plan.

Callalily6
06-14-2009, 07:31 PM
We felt like that 2 trips ago. On our last trip with free dining, we booked ressies where we thought we would want to dine. We have our fav spots. I tried to plan the meals when we normal head back to the park or leave the park in the evenings.

I found it really nice to eat at the TS restaurant at the resort we stayed at in the evening. They werent crowded, food was good, and it didnt kill a bunch of time wandering all over. I liked that. And we were there at Christmas b4 the rush, so the parks closed right b4 dinner. So we wandered back over the resort and ate there 2 times during our trip. Worked great for days that we didnt want to be bothered.

AmberHeartsDisney
06-14-2009, 07:42 PM
id rather make reservation my self, i try to get at the same time every day

allshookup
06-14-2009, 08:02 PM
You can get in a few places that are not on the dining plan & a few that don't take reservations like ESPN. But you will have a long wait if you go that route. I agree with most everyone else & if you are going during free dining, have an idea of what park you'll be in each day & make reservations for a restaurant in that park. You should'nt have to be travelling all over the place to make ADRs & if you change your plans you can always cancel, but better safe than sorry.

nickieblu
06-18-2009, 09:47 PM
thanks for all the great advice. We are not on the meal plan (the first time) we had a better discount on room rate then we did with the free dining. I was told I had to wait until next week to make ADR- How strict are they about the 90 day rule. We will be there on 9/27. Will I have to wait until 6/27 to call? I want to start calling now