The Walt Disney World online ADR system launched this morning to great fanfare. Here is our wrap-up of the day’s events and an explanation of how the system is currently working. Click here to go start booking those ADRs!
Don’t know what an ADR is? Read our explanation.
What we know and don’t know so far:
-The online ADR system has been available for Travel Agents since early/mid May.
-There is still a 90-day booking window.
-We are unsure about what time of day the 90-day booking window will open (for the phone centers, it remains 7am Eastern). On Twitter, @CharacterFan noted that the window for the travel agent site currently opens at 3am ET (thus most of the scarcest ADRs are long gone by 7am).
-Bookings can only be found through the “Explore” tab on the main site, then to the dining section on the far right. We assume that Disney will add a Dining section to the ‘Book’ tab (where it most intuitively lies).
-You can only currently book through the US site (no sign of the reservations on the CA/UK sites).
-We heard some reports of buggy behavior from the site here and there (particularly with the Safari web browser), but no major downtime or problems. Kudos, Disney!
-Disney offers “suggestions” both for alternate times and
The booking site is went down as of ~12:45am ET… is this a nightly downtime? The reservation system returned less than 30 minutes later.
-Disney is releasing menus! See below for more info.
-You can book Dinner Shows and Special Dining Events, like Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Dine with an Imagineer.
-Cancellations online seems to be going smoothly (you won’t have to call the main number).
-DVC members are having getting their 90+10 day booking window as on-site guests: see DVCnews for more info.
-See our original post for more info.
Suggestions by Disney
One thing we noticed is that Disney is now using this new portal to suggest restaurants more effectively. If you look at the seven restaurants featured on the main Dining page, all score very low on our recent scorecard of ADR lead times (meaning, they are easy to get reservations for). Disney also has a lot of power in suggesting alternates when ADRs are not available for your first choice restaurant. The assumption here is that Disney is going to point you when it can to less popular restaurants.
One of the biggest concerns with the online ADR system was and still is abuse. As Brian Noble noted first, Disney is using a Captcha system to help prevent bookings en masse, but the system is still susceptible to a network of people coordinated to make bookings by hand (a big problem in the online ticket industry).
The other major concern on people’s minds today was the controversial practice of booking “double” ADRs — ie, booking two dining reservations for the same meal at different places. Also from Brian:
If you try to double-book, you are told:
“It appears that 2 or more of your dining offers are within one hour of each other. If the offers are for the same dining party, please remove the conflicting offer(s). If these offers are for different parties, please continue with your booking.”
So, it mostly trusts guests to do the right thing after telling them what the right thing is—which is not much different than the current system, really.
We’ll have to wait (and ready our pitchforks) to see if the system starts to be gamed. We think the next logical step Disney would have to make is to require a credit card hold on each reservation, as it does for some of the signature dining restaurants.
Disney is now offering full color menus for each of the restaurants and its sittings in PDF format. To find them, go to any of the restaurants’ overview section, and look on the right-hand side for the menus: see (and drool over) the Le Cellier and their dinner menu. As far as we can tell, they are indeed the menus as you receive at the table. While this is long overdue, it remains to be seen whether or not Disney will keep their menus updated and accurate as well as AllEars.Net, which is an amazing resource for WDW menus and has been so for years. There’s also been some reports of the PDF links being broken, so if you notice any, send them our way.
Works good for me! I got Rose & Crown in time to see Illuminations when we go in August, something I’d been unable to do when I called yesterday and spoke with a CM on the dining reservations line. That said, the alternate suggestions are not always the most logical ones. Still, I’m thrilled to have this option.
I just made several reservations for an upcoming trip (June/July) and I got reservations for 5 dates/times that I couldn’t get thru the phone reservations just a few days ago. I could see one or two of those happening but 5??? So this is great! I have been wondering if they would let us cancel reservations online. I get irritated paying for a long distance call and waiting on hold to make cancellations. Usually I just wait til I get to the park that day or the hotel…but it would free up things in a more timely way if they made cancellations easier.
Anyway – this was easy. I didn’t tie it to my resort reservation cauz I was too excited to try it out!
Lina summed it up well, saying:
I just made 3 more reservations for our upcoming trip in July. It is easy, no problems and love the online reservations. Just print out your confirmations and you are done. No more long distance charges and long waits.
We also received over 30 retweets on Twitter for our original story.
Tell us your experiences with the new system in the comments or on Twitter! And help us correct/improve on any of the information above!