My Disney Experience Brings Needed Improvements For Making Advanced Dining Reservations While in the Parks

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My Disney ExperienceHave you ever been in Walt Disney World and suddenly come to the realization that you are hungry? You aren’t just hungry, but instead you are starving and want a full meal to satisfy your appetite. One little caveat…while you want to enjoy a nice table service meal, you currently have no Advance Dining Reservation scheduled.

So you open up the app because you want to see what restaurants have availability in the near future, but the app says that reservations are unavailable. (At least over the next hour. Search for times after the initial hour or, so and you’ll see that some restaurants clearly have availability.) You know that  not every restaurant can be booked up for the next couple of hours, but you cannot see any availability to be able to make an ADR. So you are stuck either going door to door to the different table service locations to find one to dine in, or you are stuck eating counter service. It’s so frustrating! (This happened to me on my last trip actually, so I speak from experience. Can you tell?)

Well, beginning tomorrow, all that changes! You see, starting on August 13, dining reservations can be made via the My Disney Experience app for iOS devices or via Disney’s website for any available seating up to 20 minutes in advance! (Yay!)

Future enhancements are planned to include the same booking feature via the My Disney Experience app for Android devices.

This is great news for those who may be looking for a last minute reservation, because – let’s be honest – you never know when a craving will hit while you are at Walt Disney World. It will be nice to know that I now have the option to satisfy more easily that desire for a good table service meal.

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Posted on August 12, 2014

19 Responses to “My Disney Experience Brings Needed Improvements For Making Advanced Dining Reservations While in the Parks”

  • The entire system is still complete garbage. It only works for me about 25% of the time. When it does “work” it’s so laborious to set anything up that it’s too much of a time drain to be worth my while.

    If it takes my group 30 minutes to set up a FP for a ride and the wait was only 45 minutes to begin with, I’d rather just stand in line and enjoy the queue instead of staring at my phone all vacation hoping their wonky app finally works. I’ve given up entirely on FP+ since it didn’t work the first 5 – 10 times I tried to use it, and an additional 10 times or so it did work it took so long to set up that I found it frustrating.

    To date, out of 12 visits, my room key has actually worked once on my first trip from the front desk to the room. The other 11 times it took multiple trips back and forth from room to front desk, with luggage in tow, to get the band activated. Also, from 12 trips, I have 19 Magic Bands. My friends and I come from different places, so if I arrive before them and they have the band that was sent in the mail (will they ever give you the option to pick it up onsite?) the hotel issues my a second plastic band. The shipping packaging is so unbelievably wasteful — not to mention the literal millions of non-degradable plastic bands they make each year, that they should be banned. There is no possible way this program is environmentally positive.

    I have a premium AP, good on both coasts. They cannot attach this to a MagicBand in FL without deactivating the pass’s ability to be used at the gates in CA. Since reactivating it in CA takes quite a long while, I have to wait for a manager to come swipe my pass every time I go into a park in Florida.

    In my opinion, the entire system needs to be scrapped. Its roll out (going on 2 years now!) has been a complete disaster, the lines at guest services to deal with issues or complain is always at least triple the length it was prior to MM+, people are always huddled in corners trying to get the app to work, and ultimately its fatal flaw is that it makes my vacation experience worse, not better. I avoid using the system as much as possible, but it has saturated enough where I need to deal with it occasionally.

    Kudos to the cast members; they have been extraordinarily patient dealing with this piece of junk.

    • My husband and I were just there in June, and we didn’t have a single problem with our magic bands not working. I think as time has gone on, the problems they’ve been having are getting fewer, as they’re working out the kinks. Now, I agree with you 100% about the app. It is complete garbage. The whole time we were there, I couldn’t get any of the wait times to show up. We used the Lines app exclusively. Otherwise, everything worked flawlessly for us, including switching resorts. Then again, there were only 2 of us, we did everything together (including staying in the same room, obviously), so I would imagine that would make it easier. And yeah, when I saw the packaging for the bands, I had to shake my head. I know they’re trying to be cute, but geez.

      • Likewise. We used FPP this trip in late July. Had no problem with making FPP 60 days out. No problem with magic bands either at park, fp, charging or room. No problems with getting 4th FPP when wanted one (lines were generally small at that time). I was usually the FP runner, so this trip was more relaxing. I even made a change in FPP change a day out to drop 7Dwarfs for Big Thunder and had no problems. FPP and magic bands worked as advertised and I’m assuming things will get only better from here.

    • Well said! I “get” to experience this disaster called Fastpass+ this Fall and I am not looking forward to it. But you know there is no way that Iger is going to admit he made a Billion Dollar mistake and bring back the paper fastpasses. Egos trump logic every time.

    • Well said. I loved the spontaneity, ease and logical ride inclusions that accompanied paper FPs. I detest the new system but trying to remain positive as the vacation is so expensive.Trying to enjoy it. Making the best of it all…..

      • I enjoy the MagicBands for the services they provide. It’s the FP+ segment of it that has been clunky and an unwelcome sense of structure. It’s a vacation, for goodness sake! Hoping for continued improvements ☺

    • Wow – I didn’t experience near as any of the frustrations that you all have documented here during our trip in late April across Easter. Then again, I wasn’t looking to the MDE app to meet all my needs, I basically used it to make or change FP+ reservations, and I used Lines for wait times. We didn’t do any meal reservations, so I didn’t experience any frustrations there. And I found that the sync of the bands for the hotel took up a few minutes at the front desk, but once I got everything synced up there we didn’t have any issues the rest of the time.

      My issues are more with the FP+ system, and what I feel is flawed thinking in asking your guests, 60 days in advance, to narrow in on a time slot for favorite rides (I’ll leave out the tiering of the rides). There are so many variables, that even preparing with your Touring Plan can’t prepare you for until you’re there or in the moment. I can see how that would be preferred from their perspective – having a more concrete idea of where your crowds are going to be, control the flows in advance, staffing, etc. But from a guest experience it is asking a lot. That said, i do admit that it is nice knowing that we have a reserved slot to ride our most favorite rides, so even if the day goes haywire we do still have a few slots reserved.

    • I so agree with you Jeff. FP+ is a failure, as now being seen by giving PAPER fast passes to people in the ENORMOUS standby lines. We went last fall, a slow time of year, and standby lines were at least double what we’ve seen that time of year in the past. On several occasions, my daughter and I stood in FP lines for 10+ min, not to ride the ride mind you but to get to the FP+ reader to get into the FP line. The two worst were Test Track where the line to get to the reader went all the way back to the main courtyard, and Kilimanjaro Safari where the line had a switch back line (like in the standby line) that wound back and forth. Beyond those issues, it’s taken away all the spontaneity. This craziness needs to end.

    • Jeff-
      I feel your frustration. Our magic bands were an absolute disaster this Spring. However, have you voiced your frustrations to Disney? When my magic band failed to work at the entrance to Hollywood Studios I flipped out. We were missing our character meal and it was pushing back our whole day. By the time they fixed it all they gave me a complimentary 7 day no expiration pass (and I told them I only had 4 days left on my linked pass)and a free fast pass for whenever/whatever we wanted that day- so we actually got to ride Toy Story Mania twice! While it wasn’t ideal, they more than made up for the disaster that started the day. Also, my mother was with us and a cast member gave her a card to contact the next level of guest services and we have been contacted by them now a couple of times and there is someone that will personally handle our trip in December to make sure there are no glitches. The point is- they know they are screwing up, they know it is bad, but there are people willing to help and try to ease the pain.

    • I don’t know when you last tried, but having an Premier Pass linked to the MagicBand isn’t an issue at all anymore. On my last two trips (in the last few months), I was able to use my MagicBand for park entry without any issues (just by having my pass listed in my MDE account).

      The card also works.

      Finally, there’s no reason they would’ve needed to swipe your Premier Card, as long as it is one of the RFID ones (which they all should be at this point), you can also just hold your card up to the reader for park entry. This has been available since soon after the new entry gates went in (and well before it was all the new gate style). There’s absolutely no reason you should’ve needed to get someone to swipe your card in.

  • Is it a case that Disney’s marketing team are doing a much better job than the operational teams at WDW?
    Too many people trying to use over saturated attractions and restaurants perhaps?
    No App or web planning tool can cope with that.

  • What if you call 407-WDW-DINE or stop by Guest Services at whatever park you’re touring? Can they find you an available table immediately?

  • Not sure how a TS becomes available in 20 minutes, when it was not a few days ago. I could understand people making cancellations ( though with the penalties, I suspect that is low). If some one does not show for their 4 pm reservation, I do not see how offering their table up for 4:30 would work out. I don’t see this as an option that will be fruitful for most times. Maybe during slower seasons.

    • It isn’t a case of the restaurant suddenly having availability. The problem was, in the app, if you were within an hour of wanting to dine, nothing would show up, even if there was availability to be booked. Example: let’s say it’s 5:00 p.m. right now and I want to dine at say, Olivia’s at Old Key West between the 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. window. (I picked Olivia’s as the example because it almost always has availability.) With the old way the system was set up, when searching, it would show up that there was no availability period between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. However, when searching for the 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. time slot, you would see that there would be lots of slots available. It wasn’t that the restaurant was booked from 5-6, it was just that the system couldn’t see the availability within the upcoming hour.

      With this new system, say it’s 5:00 p.m. and I want to eat at Olivia’s. Now, if there is availability at 5:20 p.m., it would pop up saying that the restaurant was available.

      What this essentially does is allow Disney to fill restaurants that have almost immediate availability easier. (And likely, of course, enhancing their profitability for that night too.) It’s better to fill that slot with someone who wants to dine at the restaurant last minute than to have the restaurant have a table sit empty because the availability wasn’t apparent to a guest who was searching for it. This new system upgrade allows for that to happen.

  • The only way I could see it happening is if the staff sees an increase in table turnover and feels they can shove a few more groups through the same period. Most ADRs I have ever used are just permission to wait in line, rarely is the table ready.

  • I remember in the past you could walk to a resturant and if they where full they could look at other resturants (In Epcot) and suggest a couple if they where open, or use one of the world key information centers to check ‘next available’ type suggestions.
    Is anything like that available now? Not checking on a specific resturant but by the Park And Within X mins?
    And can a cast member do that at the resturant.

  • I’m from the UK and visited 17-30 July this year, my first time with FFP etc. I could not use the app for 4th fastpass+ and indeed they were just not available until well into the evening meaning we only had 3 useable. I did manage to book an adr, but not for the same evening, and the wait times were sometimes available and sometimes not.

  • This makes me very happy, there’s been a number of times this would’ve been very useful. One trip last year I arrived after taking the red-eye, and my co-worker and I decided we wanted a sit down breakfast (and we had a car, so we could get anywhere quickly). I ended up doing the check for later availability and show up early method, but this would’ve been extremely useful.