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ADRs really a must have?

Discussion in 'Disney Restaurants' started by Jennafoo, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. Jennafoo

    Jennafoo New Member

    I'm going to WDW for the first time in September, by myself. I'm going during Free Dining, and have upgraded to DxDDP.

    I've been kind of obsessing over my ADRs, having read these boards and gotten the feeling I won't have any choices if I don't book every meal. I have a handful of "must have" restaurants that I have ADRs for already.

    But I find myself wanting a little more freedom of which parks to go to on what day. I had a whole plan, and then checked out the crowd calendars and discovered I had booked parks on crowded days. I also decided I didn't want to go to AK at all, and had planned to just to eat at the restaurants there.

    So, I'm wondering if, as a singleton, I'll have better shots of getting ADRs while I'm there. I get the impression that I still will have lots of choices. I just looked at tomorrow's ADRs (in the middle of July) and there was still availability for one at many of the restaurants I'm interested in.

    Obviously, I won't give up my Le Cellier, CRT or BOG reservations. (I also got Dessert Party and Tea reservations.) But on everything else, do you think I'll be able to fly by the seat of my pants? Will it be easier because I'm alone and not with a family? Or does Free Dining, even at a very low level crowd time, really suck up all the ADRs?
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  3. Cafeen

    Cafeen New Member

    Yes, and no.

    Free Dining does pack the restaurants very full, however, there will always be TS places to eat, they just may not be convenient. While the park crowds are far lower than peak months, the dining crowds are far higher (not even relatively, but there are more people going to more TS meals during the Free Dining promotion than busier times of the year).

    With that said, since you paid the upcharge to DxDDP, I'd plan to ADR at least enough meals so that you're not losing money by the upgrade. It would kinda stink to pay all that extra money, and then end up figuring out it would have been far cheaper to stick with the normal plan (or take the room discount) and pay OOP for the extras. (Since it's an upgrade from DDP to Dx on the Free Dining Promotion, sticking tightly to the plan isn't as necessary as it otherwise would be).

    For a solo, there may be a few extra options since you're the smallest table size, but there will be several places "sold out" even for 1.
  4. Hopefully

    Hopefully New Member

    I agree with Cafeen's advice. Book enough TS ADR's to cover the upgrade expense at least.
    There are over 100 TS restaurants in WDW. You will always be able to sit somewhere every day. The problem is it may not be where you want to eat when you want to eat.
    I don't know if being a party of one will help, but based on posts here on the boards, it often seems like the smaller parties have greater trouble getting ADR's i.e. there are more large tables than small ones.
    Have you looked at resort restaurants and Signature Restaurants? If you have an ADR at a resort restaurant it matters way less which park you were in that day.
    Good Luck with your decision.
  5. Jennafoo

    Jennafoo New Member

    Thanks. I have been considering covering my upgrade cost, but I'm not that concerned with the money. I have a lot of signature/steakhouse places on my "must have" list (Yachtsman, HBD, Le Cellier), as well as CRT. So, I think I cover my cost about halfway through the trip.
  6. glj104

    glj104 Clemson Tiger

    I have always booked my ADRs as soon as possible. I am a planner, and there are just some restaurants that you must book. So my advice is to do an ADR for every meal. Enjoy!!
  7. MakiraMarlena

    MakiraMarlena It's a big black fish to you

    If you are on DDP and you want to use the credits the best way possible, keep the reservations. If you don't care whether you use the credits to the best of their value or not, and it won't matter to you if you leave some unused or use them for counter service, then cancel whatever you'd like to cancel and try winging it. But don't be surprised if you have to be inconvenienced by leaving a park (especially MK) or having to find a different restaurant than the one you wanted.
  8. Jennafoo

    Jennafoo New Member

    I don't intend to let go of the reservations I have. I just only have about half my meals booked, and wondered how much of a necessity it is to book the rest since I'm there during FD. These boards make it sound like I won't be able to eat if I don't sometimes, but I want a little more flexibility. I'm NOT a planner, so that advice doesn't really help much. I don't intend to book every meal.

    As I said, it looks from July's ADRs, that it may be okay, as long as I have ADRs for my "must haves", then I can fill in the rest with what's available that day (I'll have my iPad to make on the go ADRs).

    What I was hoping for was a sense of the flexibility in September...
  9. JustCallMeMommy

    JustCallMeMommy New Member

    I've never had a time when I couldn't find *somewhere* to eat when making a reservation the same day. However, you have to be open to trying restaurants you might not have tried. Off the top of my head, same-day reservations is how I tried The Wave, Maya Grill, and the Plaza. However, I have also seen many people turned away while I waited on a table when I had a reservation. I would make your must haves, but leave a few open spots that can be filled in later.
  10. MakiraMarlena

    MakiraMarlena It's a big black fish to you

    It'll be different in September because there will be free dining, and there isn't any in July. More restaurants may be fully booked with dining plan guests, especially popular ones. MK has only five table service restaurants (six at dinner) but two of them are extraordinarily popular and probably require reservations to be sure you get in; that leaves three (four at dinner) and they're harder to walk in at free dining. Less popular places won't be full though. Even if you can't get into a restaurant at MK you could probably have a meal at the Wave if you leave the park. Epcot has so many restaurants that you can probably walk into at least one - however, that one is most likely to be Marrakesh or Nine Dragons or Biergarten, and you'd need to decide if you like those.
  11. Jennafoo

    Jennafoo New Member

    Thanks. Just to clarify further, I'm not talking about walking up to restaurants with no reservations. I'll make ADRs, but hope to do it closer to the date. I don't want to have to decide I will be at MK one day, AK the next, until it's a little closer to the time...
  12. goteamSy

    goteamSy New Member

    I think if you're open about where you eat you'll be okay. If you walk up to a restaurant and get turned away and are okay with going somewhere else, then you should be fine. I find in Magic Kingdom if you don't make reservations somewhere you may end up having to eat QS. As long as you're open and not picky you should be fine. But it's good that you made reservations at your must haves!

    We made all our ADR's today (at the 180 day mark mind you) and I'm so glad we did! We did get into the restaurants we wanted, but time slots were limited!
  13. Cafeen

    Cafeen New Member

    You should be fine then, so long as you go in with the expectations that you may not get ideal locations and/or times. Be flexible with what comes up and you may find a new favorite :).

    Also, when you do search for ADRs, it's often helpful to put in a party of 2 instead of 1. The system gets wonky with odd numbers (especially solos) at times. Most of the restaurants (in my experience) know (or have heard of) this issue, so they shouldn't bat an eye when you tell them it's 1. (I've done it myself a number of times).
  14. darnheather

    darnheather New Member

    What week are you going? I just tried for September 20-26 and could get NO ADR's for the places I wanted to eat.
  15. hgeisler

    hgeisler New Member

    If you don't mind possibly having to eat CS because you can't get in anywhere else, then you should be fine. Of course, you definitely wouldn't be getting a good value there. I'm doing the upgrade too, and there are two CS that I'm doing (BOG and Flame Tree), so that I could have flexibility...but hubby would kill me if he spent all that money on 5 people and we did a lot of CS.
  16. Jennafoo

    Jennafoo New Member

    September 6-14. I still seem to have plenty of options, partly because I'm using the crowd calendars on Easy WDW. The "green" days on those do seem to match to having more choices.
  17. ktlm

    ktlm New Member

    We have been during low crowd times during free dining. The lines are short in the parks, but the restaurants are often packed and we have seen a ton of people turned away being told there was no availability in that restaurant at all that day. We have also called first thing in the morning before park opening when we decided to change parks or wanted to change a meal time and have been told that there were no ADRs AT ALL available anywhere in MK for the entire day.

    I would go ahead and book tentative ADRS. I would do it places that don't require a credit card guarantee and don't have cancellation penalties. Then if you decide that day that is not where you want to be, you can always call and cancel and see if there is anything available where you do want to be. You can always switch around as you get closer to your trip too. In my experience it is better to have something booked just in case. You can always change or cancel.

    I will also say that most places, I don't think the fact you are a single is going to help you much. There aren't any single tables, and there aren't many 2 top tables, So, basically you are still going to have to be seated at a table for 2 or 4, which means you are in the same boat as a party of 2 or 4 when it comes to getting a walk up or ADR.

    There is one place I think you can pretty much always get in as a single- Biergarten. Because it is "community" seating with tables of eight, they can almost always find an empty chair at someone's table where they can seat you. We are usually a party of 3, and we almost always wind up with a walk-in single at our table at Biergarten. We've met some interesting people that way!
    It wouldn't bother me a bit to eat at Biergarten more than once during our stay!

    Actually, I think you will always be able to find some TS service where you can eat at least at some point during the day at EPCOT. That has always been our experience. It may not be the time or place you want, but it can be fun to try something unexpected. MK, you might get lucky and pick up a TS somewhere that day, or you might be out of luck. For lunch Be Our Guest is an incredible CS anyway, so It wouldn't be that big a deal to us if we didn't pick something up. If nothing is showing up available, I would at least try Tony's and maybe some other places. I've seen Tony's take some walk-ups when the system was showing no ADRs available.
  18. Jennafoo

    Jennafoo New Member

    This just feels alarmist to me. While these boards have been super helpful, I think they're adding to the stress for me. The idea that there will be NO TABLE SERVICE ANYWHERE IN WDW IF YOU DON'T MAKE ADRs RIGHT NOW!!!...that's the EXACT question I have. Is that REALLY true?

    Maybe I'm totally off, because I haven't been, but this just doesn't feel right. Again, I'm NOT looking to walk up. But I am looking to get there and decide on a park a few days in advance, and take a look at what's available then. It seems like, if I don't have my heart set anything, I can still eat something other than counter service...no?
  19. ses1230

    ses1230 New Member

    Eating at character meals, BOG dinner, most in park TS restaurants, and "popular" places, and eating at normal times might be more of a problem. There are a lot of people up at 6am on their 180 day making reservations. Free dining adds to restaurants being busy.

    If you are flexible with times, don't mind eating at off times (11a or 2p lunch, 9pm dinner for example), and are willing to go to some if the resort restaurants you will have much better luck.
  20. Cafeen

    Cafeen New Member

    The qualifiers (bolded) in the above quotes are very important. If you're expecting room at particular locations (especially within MK and to a lesser extent DHS and AK), then walk-ups are likely going to be tough. A couple days ahead of time may be viable, but still very tough. However, if you keep an open mind and see what's available, it will be something, and no WDW resort is really that rough to get to/from a park. (They're all just a bus/boat/monorail/walk away).

    So, you may have to settle for something like Maya Grill (CSR) one day, but hey, it's an adventure! (And it was pretty good last time I was there in 2011). I also hear Turf Club over at...um SSR? is quite good and very quiet. I also like Grand Floridian Cafe, but I don't know how popular that is (being right near MK may make it a little tougher).

    As mentioned above, those qualifiers are important. Don't sweat it and be open-minded/flexible, you will get to eat.

    Just pop in the day you want and roughly the time, and see what's open.
  21. Jennafoo

    Jennafoo New Member

    Thanks! This is what I'm doing, I think. I have my first several days planned; it's toward the end of the week or before MNSSHP and such that I don't know what I'm going to do...

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