Why hasn't Disney solved the main/late dining debacle already?

MomOTwins

The Mommy Fairy
Joined
Mar 5, 2018
I'm currently dealing with the stress of hoping to be moved off the waitlist for main dining. Every time I get some version of "no we can't tell you where you are on the waitlist, but everyone wants main dining because everyone has small kids." Two people in my [social media not-to-be-named] group actually cancelled the cruise because they could not get main dining before PIF. And I recall seeing a man flipping out at guest services on day one because his travel agent apparently didn't explain dining times to him and he had a baby and toddler who couldn't wait until 8:15.

So since this is a known issue for every cruise, do you think Disney should move the dinners earlier? 5pm and 7:30 would be so much more manageable for families than 5:45 and 8:15. What do folks think?

Or (more controversially) do you think main dining should be reserved for parties with children age 5-and under? Let's be real, if I were sans-kids I would pick main dining too if given an option, even though I don't really need it. 6/7pm-ish is when I eat at home, plus I'd much rather enjoy a show and entertaining after dinner than watch one before and go to bed straight after eating. But realistically, if the only option for me was an 8:15 dinner, I could live with that, unlike my kids who, the last time a late flight to WDW made us eat after 8, were sobbing their eyes out because they felt so bad, couldn't eat a bite, and then fell asleep in their chairs.
 

_auroraborealis_

I like marshmallows. And adult beverages.
Joined
Oct 18, 2015
So since this is a known issue for every cruise, do you think Disney should move the dinners earlier? 5pm and 7:30 would be so much more manageable for families than 5:45 and 8:15. What do folks think?
Families would still complain 7:30 to be too late, and you have to also consider this would have a cascading impact on lunch hours. Most of your MDR staff work Cabanas during the day. Cabanas would also close earlier.

Disney's not going to do anything about it. So long as they're committed to an MDR experience, they have to have two dining times. They are also dealing with people from multiple time zones, many of whom 8:15 is their 6:15 or earlier (or they're so far removed from their home zone they should just adjust to anything).
 

bobbiwoz

I'm happy to dance with you!
Joined
Aug 26, 2003
Retired couple, and would definitely not want late seating. In fact, it would practically guarantee we would not sail DCL again if we were automatically assigned it because we did not have children with us. I have sailed DCL 30 times, with 5 cruises booked.

Sometimes we have been assigned second seating, but we have always been able to change it. I would take it in cases like that, and deal with it. Sometimes we do book very late.
 
  • Pooh2

    Dis Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 2, 2011
    I agree with disney's first come, first serve for main dining.
    If you book last minute, why should your family have preference over a family without kids who booked 6 months to a year earlier than you booked?
    Main dining is the time we usually eat dinner at home. For health reasons, my husband cannot eat late.
    So far, we've always gotten main dining. If we do not get main dining, we will dine at Cabana's, Palo, or try room service.
    I would not mind the 5/7:30 times but I can see alot of people arguing that 5 is too early to get back from excursions.
    We did not get back in time for main dining a few times and just opted for Cabanas instead.
     

    lklgoodman

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 25, 2016
    We've(family of 2 adults, 1 kid) always been able to get early dining, even when we haven't booked on opening day, we've been able to get it without being on a wait list. We booked one of our cruises 6 months from cruise date and were able to get early seating when we booked it. We usually cruise in early Jan, so I think that has a lot to do with being able to get early seating, since it's not as popular as Holiday and summer time for cruising. Although we eat early at home, usually around 5:30, having dinner at 5pm on the ship would be way too early, sometimes getting ready by 5:45 is rushing it, especially on port days. I definitely don't think early dining should be reserved for those with younger kids. If anyone is going to do any type of expensive vacation, they should do their research first to make sure they get what they want(dining times, excursions, cabin location). I feel bad for those who find themselves on waitlists for anything, but that's the way the system works, and I don't see Disney changing it.
     

    bumbershoot

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2007
    So since this is a known issue for every cruise, do you think Disney should move the dinners earlier? 5pm and 7:30 would be so much more manageable for families than 5:45 and 8:15. What do folks think?
    That’s 2 and 4:30 for my family, until at least a week into an east coast vacation.

    Not everyone is from the east coast.


    (Their normal dining times are hard enough)
     

    Maggie'sMom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008
    I think debacle is a bit too dramatic of a word here, and I don't see that there is an issue that DCL needs to solve. They have to have 2 dining times to be able to serve everyone in MDR. If they move the times to 5:00 and 7:30, you will still have people complaining that 7:30 is too late and others complaining that 5:00 is too early. I do believe there are some people that really need the earlier time. If they do not want to take a chance they cannot get early dining from the waitlist or by requesting it once they board, then they need to book early enough so main dining is available, or look into the alternative dining options of Cabanas, room service, or the quick service locations on the pool deck. The people mentioned by the OP who cancelled because they didn't get main dining before their PIF date did exactly what was right for them. It's about taking responsibility for your own needs instead of expecting someone else (or in this case, a whole cruise line) to adapt to fit your schedule.

    But I think there are a lot of people that would find they can be perfectly happy with late dining if they can just be a little flexible. Eat a late afternoon snack to tie you over until dinner. Have the kids take an afternoon nap even if they don't normally nap at home. Heck, I often take an afternoon nap on our cruises, either in the Rainforest Room or in a lounger on deck. Don't force yourself to stick to the same schedule you normally follow at home. The man with the baby and toddler mentioned in the first post should look into booking nursery time for the kids and enjoying a late meal with his wife instead of flipping out because his TA didn't explain dining to him.

    No, main dining should not be reserved just for people with small children because there are adults that have reasons for wanting or needing to eat earlier.
     
  • Karin1984

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 5, 2012
    Option 1: Disney doesn't get enough complaints about this topic to see it as an issue. Aka, the majority of the families might find it an inconvenience, but not big enough to complain about.
    Option 2: Disney does know, but there will be downsides to moving it as well. Like the kitchens having 45 minutes less to prepare everything.

    I think the majority of the first-time cruisers, who book online, don't realize there are two options, till they get on the ship, and just accept the cards they've been dealt.
    I also think most cruisers don't cruise every year, in the meantime the kids grow up, and the perspective can change. And what was a major inconvenience with a toddler, might turn into a minor nuisance when you have teens.

    With this topic, you can't please them all.
     

    DisneYE

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 7, 2013
    I think debacle is a bit too dramatic of a word here, and I don't see that there is an issue that DCL needs to solve. They have to have 2 dining times to be able to serve everyone in MDR. If they move the times to 5:00 and 7:30, you will still have people complaining that 7:30 is too late and others complaining that 5:00 is too early. I do believe there are some people that really need the earlier time. If they do not want to take a chance they cannot get early dining from the waitlist or by requesting it once they board, then they need to book early enough so main dining is available, or look into the alternative dining options of Cabanas, room service, or the quick service locations on the pool deck. The people mentioned by the OP who cancelled because they didn't get main dining before their PIF date did exactly what was right for them. It's about taking responsibility for your own needs instead of expecting someone else (or in this case, a whole cruise line) to adapt to fit your schedule.

    But I think there are a lot of people that would find they can be perfectly happy with late dining if they can just be a little flexible. Eat a late afternoon snack to tie you over until dinner. Have the kids take an afternoon nap even if they don't normally nap at home. Heck, I often take an afternoon nap on our cruises, either in the Rainforest Room or in a lounger on deck. Don't force yourself to stick to the same schedule you normally follow at home. The man with the baby and toddler mentioned in the first post should look into booking nursery time for the kids and enjoying a late meal with his wife instead of flipping out because his TA didn't explain dining to him.

    No, main dining should not be reserved just for people with small children because there are adults that have reasons for wanting or needing to eat earlier.
    Great reply... I'm with you on most of what you say.
    I have a DD who is 13 now and have sailed DCL since she was 4. Our first cruise we were assigned late dining, our second 1st, and since, all late. why? because we sometimes booked late. So yeah, first come first serve. I'm a rules are rules guy. I follow them and expect everyone else to follow them as well, otherwise society would be chaos.
    I've put requests to be moved on every cruise and most have been granted either by email or onboard.

    I would much rather get early dining bc I HATE eating late... 7 PM is the latest I would eat anything bc I can't sleep with a full stomach and sleep is my only recreational drug of choice. It has an effect on me akin to real drugs to those who consume them. Yes, its that important to me. The times where we couldn't be moved to ED, I barely touch the food. But I wouldn't stop cruising if assigned late dining. I just live with it.

    To the OP:
    I suggest you take a page from Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption: you know, that scene where he mails politicians every day to get funds for his prison library?
    Don't do it every day, but do what I do:
    Email DCL every week asking about your request to be moved to main dining right after you PIF.
    I do this every cruise.
    I was just moved a week ago. It took me 10 weeks, so 10 emails hounding them, plus a few phone calls.
    Be persistent and you will eventually get moved.
    If you don't get moved, go to the dining desk (usually in one of the lounges) right after you embark.... we've been moved there the 3 times our request wasn't granted by email.
    Back to Andy Dufresne again: "Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies"

    Happy cruisin'
     

    emilymad

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 17, 2003
    I think a lot of this could be fixed if they offered more dining options. Cabanas needs to have more choices and be open on first and last night.

    I am hoping the new ships add additional dining venues for those who don't want to eat at either dining time.

    I love DCL but I find the dining to be its biggest weakness and what has us looking at other cruise lines.
     
  • jvncnt

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Oct 10, 2013
    OP, I was in the same position as you just before our cruise three weeks ago. Frustrated and concerned, as neither myself nor my family want to eat at 8:15. I kept being told by DCL that I was waitlisted and they couldn't guarantee that we would get first dining, but to check once onboard with wherever the dining desk is listed immediately once embarking.

    We (really only I) were stressed about this and once onboard went to the dining desk which for us was at Enchanted Garden. Waited in line for 5 mins and were switched to first dining. They had a stack of cards to use to switch people so I bet if you do that first thing once on board you will get switched.

    If not, worst case scenario (which I don't think you will need), whoever cannot wait to eat gets a heavy snack at Cabana's at 5:30 and sits at table with whatever electronic device occupies their time.
     

    tlprice

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 5, 2014
    I have cruised DCL 6 times and always do late dining (you're welcome early diners!) I can't imagine eating at main dining time. I am never hungry yet at that time as there's so much to eat on the ship all day. I also like the relaxed atmosphere of late dining--they aren't rushing you out to get the next diners in. I also like seeing the shows before dinner, it usually gives us all something to talk about at dinner and I'm not tired or in a food coma for the show.

    I also have never cruised with a really young child. My daughter was 8 when we started cruising, but she probably would have been fine with late dining when she was really little. We are both night owls though.
     

    mevelandry

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 22, 2013
    Just an outside-of-the-box idea here: why not have the kids dining at Cabanas/counters/room service and keep the second seating MDR for dessert only? This way you still get to have dinner before the show, you finish with dessert (yay!) and dining room entertainment and then the pirate show (or else) if they are still up later?
     

    squirk

    Saw what you did and knows who you are.
    Joined
    Apr 9, 2011
    "Debacle"? I really don't think that is the case.

    As others have said, people would find reason to complain no matter when DCL set the times. As @Lovewinnie said, moving it to 5:00 would upset people who already feel like they are rushing to get back to the ship from a shore excursion and prepare for 5:45 dinner.

    “First come, first serve” really is the most egalitarian way to do it. If Main seating is that important to you, then book as soon as your desired itinerary opens for reservations. I usually do that, and have never had a problem getting Main for my family of five in six cruises.
     
    Last edited:

    Tbird2281

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Apr 1, 2015
    We cruised with a 3 year old and 6 year old last summer and had late dining. We live in CST so it was much later then our normal dinner time but I wouldn't have done it any other way. The first seating is wayyy too early and it cuts our day of activities short. The kids had no problem adjusting. Being on vacation means our schedules are off anyways so we just had them eat a substantial snack in the afternoon and had no problems with them making it through dinner. I understand this doesn't work for everyone but don't think DCL has a 'problem' that needs to be fixed...
     

    FastPasser.

    No more making of the Magic
    Joined
    May 13, 2017
    So since this is a known issue for every cruise
    I understand that it's an issue for some, however it's not an issue for all families and we're one of them.
    do you think Disney should move the dinners earlier? 5pm and 7:30
    Nope, I also don't see it as debacle. It's fine as it is for us because we need more time between lunch and dinner due to the fact that we're very active and prefer the later seating.
     

    Claireywalsh

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 29, 2014
    We love second seating - first dining is just too early. I would request second seating every time. We did early seating on our first cruise with a then 6 year old and we were rushing about all the time.
    Second seating is so much more relaxed and gives us more time to enjoy the ship.
    There are food offerings everywhere for you to take advantage of so having that extra time in between meals is great. Definitely not a debacle for us
     

    hnthomps

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 19, 2015
    As a family who is vigilant about early bedtimes for children in all scenarios, with maybe a handful of exceptions total in 8 years of parenting, we obviously need early dining. And it hasn't been a problem getting it when we've cruised. Nor have we met anyone else who didn't get the seating they wanted by some point during the cruise. Are there really many scenarios where families who need early dining can't get it switched by the time they're on board? Time zones make it a real challenge, both for Disney and for families from the west.

    We have family dinner at 6 every night, so of course early dining works great for us (and our time change is only 1 hour). If for some reason we were kicked to late dining we would request every day to have it changed, and feed the kids in Cabanas/club/room service every night, then have one adult go to the MDR while the other put the kids to bed, alternating nightly. Obviously this would make our vacation less pleasurable (because family dinner is important to us), but we would figure it out.
     

    otten

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 4, 2015
    Is it a debacle or are people overreacting? How many people report asking to switch dining times on board and not being able to? I think it's more an issue of people not wanting to accept a small degree of uncertainty. Seems like a silly reason to cancel a cruise tbh.
     

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