90 Days Out: Making ADRs for my December Trip

by on September 14, 2009 26 Comments

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Today marks 90 days until my friends and I arrive for another fun filled trip to Walt Disney World.  Any Disney geek knows what that means; time to make advanced dining reservations (ADRs)!  This job usually falls to me in our group, but since my friends are currently gallivanting around WDW without me, it was definitely up to me.   I thought about trying out the new online reservation system, but decided against it.  I’ve heard mixed reviews about the process and call me old school, but I like talking to someone at central reservations.  Maybe if we decide to add any restaurants to our current plans I’ll give it a whirl.

Before I discuss where we’ll be dining in on our holiday trip, here are some some basic guidelines to making your ADRs.  With the exception of Victoria and Albert’s, reservations at WDW eateries may be made up to 90 days from the date of check in.  However, the reservation policy will be going back to 180 days in advance as of October 27, 2009.  Guests can make ADRs for up to ten days from their date of arrival so have your resort resservation numbers handy.  Like I mentioned, there is an online option available at disneyworld.com or guests can call to make their arrangements.  A great tip for annual pass holders is to use the annual passholder line for this process.  The time spent on hold is almost always shorter with this special phone number.  If you are after seats at some of the more popular restaurants I highly advise calling first thing in the morning around 7 A.M.

I was not looking to dine anywhere particularly poplar so I didn’t call right at 7 this morning.  I was going wait to do it at lunch time this afternoon, but had a few extra minutes (by some small miracle) this morning so I dialed the pass holder hotline.  I’m happy to report I got everything I wanted at reasonable times!  I was surpised to hear there was less availablilty than I thought there would be.  We will be in WDW from December 13-20 which is generally a pretty quiet time.  I can only guess that the extension of the free dining promotion is the cause.  I’m not complaining about the times I got, but I’m just warning others who may be making their ADRs soon.

So where are we going to eat?  We are staying at the Boardwalk for most of the trip, so many of our bookings are at the resort or in Epcot.  Its also important to know that World Showcase is our favorite place to eat, so we often dine there in the evenings before taking in our favorite fireworks Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.  With that said we’ll be trying Disney’s newest culinary offering, Kouzzina, on our first night.  I’ve seen good reviews of celebrity chef Kat Kora’s Mediterranean fare, so I’m excited for this one.  The next day’s dinner will be in Magic Kingdom since there are evening extra magic hours that night.  The only MK restaurant I’ve tried was Liberty Tree Tavern back when there were characters.  So this time we’re giving it a shot and the honor went to Tony’s Town Square.  I have my doubts because I’m from Jersey so subpar Italian doesn’t sit well with me.  But, I’m willing to try anything once.   The next night we’ll take in the Christmas show and swing our steins of beer at Biergarten.  The following morning we may snag an ADR at Kona Cafe for breakfast or just hit Captain Cooke’s for the Tonga Toast and real coffee we must have on every trip.  I inquired about making a reservation at the Big River Grille at the Boardwalk, but the cast member who helped me said no reservations were necessary here.  And our last ADR is for a lunch at the Whispering Canyon Cafe.  I’m sure I’ll blog about all of the experiences after the trip!

The three month mark is always exciting and making the ADRs has gotten me very excited for our annual holiday trip to Disney World!  If you have any tips or tricks for making ADRs I’d love to hear them!

Next time I’ll discuss the Back Stage Magic tour I took around this time last year…

Posted on September 14, 2009

26 Responses to “90 Days Out: Making ADRs for my December Trip”

  • The BBQ spring rolls at the Whispering Canyon Cafe are excellent.

  • Hey, we’re 89 days out. We arrive on the 12th. Staying at ALl Star Sports to keep costs down. Wish we were at the Boardwalk. 🙁

    We’re going to Le Cellier, Grand Floridian Cafe, Kouzzina, and Coral Reef for dinner. Mama Melroses and Yak & Yeti for lunch. Crystal Palace and Boma for breakfast. Rest are counter service meals.

    I did my ADRs Sudnay morning and tried to get Tony’s for the 14th, but there was no availability. How’d you manage?

    • Those are some great choices, Scott!

      • All first times as well, except for Boma. I was there before and loved it, but this will be the first time for my wife.

        We weren’t planning to do Crystal Palace for breakfast since we don’t normally do a sit down breakfast, but saw a post about Pooh’s Breakfast Lasagna on Disney Food Blog and we were sold! Plus it gets us in the MK early.

        • by Kristen Helmstetter on September 15, 2009, at 7:37 am EST

          That’s weird we’re going to Tony’s on the 14th! Maybe its the difference in party size? You could always keep calling to try to snag a spot. Have an awesome trip! Maybe we’ll see you there.

  • You were probably better off not using the website. It is very sluggish, glitchy, and limits you to making 10 ADRs at a time. It will also not tell you if a time is available at your restaurant unless it is within an hour of the time you entered.. This made it quite difficult to track down Le Cellier, as it required multiple entries to cover the spread of hours the restaurant is open.

    • by Kristen Helmstetter on September 15, 2009, at 7:39 am EST

      I’ve heard other similar stories about the online system. If we add anything (like Kona for Tonga Toast) maybe I’ll try it. I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

    • I made my ADR’s last week for our trip, Dec 7 – 12. On one of the days I happened to get up extra early so I logged in and tried the online thing. Here’s what I found out….I live in Central time so when it’s 7:00 Eastern, it’s 6:00 my time. I was able to get an ADR at 5:30 am(before I could have called) by going through the online reservations. When I got to the day I needed to book ADR’s for our last day, I happened to be up late that night, so I tried getting the ADR just after midnight. Couldn’t get a reservation at 5 minutes after midnight but had not problem at 5am. So apparently, sometime between midnight and 5AM the online booking opens for the next day, which is before the call center opens.

      For those who are not using free dinning, I found it much easier to get the times we wanted at restaurants that required two table credits. We’re not using free dinning so it won’t matter to us, it’s just that it was easier to get the ADR’s at reasonable times. Mama Melrose was near impossible to get. I ended up with a late lunch reservation there.

      We’re going to Kouzzina’s, Biergarten, Kona Cafe (breakfast), Mama Melrose, Plaza Cafe, Yak and Yeti, Brown Derby and Narcoossee’s.

  • Since everyone is sharing their December ADR list, here’s mine: Sanaa, Artist Point, Tusker House, Yak & Yeti, Le Cellier, Rose & Crown, Crystal Palace, Boma, Biergarten, California Grill, 50s Prime Time, Jiko, Kona Cafe, Tony’s (As we’re from NY, I am also cautious of what Disney’s idea of Italian food is…), and the Hoop De Doo Revue.

    One other thing, along the lines of your AP tip, DVC members can also make ADRs via the Member Services number.

    • by Kristen Helmstetter on September 15, 2009, at 7:40 am EST

      thanks for letting me know about the DVC line. Since I’m not a member I didn’t even think of it! Your line up sounds great I hope you have a great time!

  • Going in November and used the website for making all of my ADR’s (Boma, Coral Reef, Whispering Canyon Cafe, 50’s Prime Time, Biergarten, and Tusker House). No problem except it wouldn’t let me print at the end. Got it later from e-mail, but was worried for a while. Next time I go back to the phone.

  • I’ll take the web site over the phone every time. Sure you may ahve to search a couple times for the really tough restaurants, but it doesn’t take that long. Plus you get to do it an hour before the phone lines open.

    After I made all of my ADRs on the web, I called in to verify that there wasn’t any news on Wishes Dessert Buffet being extended past October. Sat on hold for over half an hour and when they did finally answer, they said the systems were down and to try again later. Thankfully they were able to answer my question and I didn’t need to actually make any more ADRs, but no thanks. Will stick with web.

    I’m sure we’ll see improvements made to the system as time goes by. Being able see all of the open slots over your stay would be a great feature.

  • We’ll be there 12/13-18, also staying at the Boardwalk (Villas). I used the online system – in fact, got up at 3 am yesterday to do so and it worked perfectly. The only reservation I couldn’t make online was for the Candlelight Processial package – had to do that one by phone. We wanted Le Cellier, but there was nothing available, so we settled for Rose & Crown. Other ADRs are Raglan Road, Kouzzina (breakfast), 50’s Prime Time, Tokyo Dining, Boma, Kona (breakfast), and Whispering Canyon. Will keep checking back for SOMETHING at Le Cellier, but I’m not very hopeful anything will open up. We haven’t been able to eat there on our last two or three trips. I miss it!

    • by Kristen Helmstetter on September 15, 2009, at 7:46 am EST

      I thought about mentioning the Candlelight Processional Package, but didn’t fit it in. We decided not to do it this year because the cost is getting out of hand. Also last year we couldn’t use our Tables in Wonderland card for the discount so we’re going to just wing it for the show. This way we can also be more flexible about which one of the three we go to. It just wasn’t a good fit for our group this time around. I hope you have a great trip! Maybe we’ll see you at the Boardwalk! I’m excited for staying there since I never have before and I have a house on the Jersey Shore. It feel like being home and I really like the Christmas decorations there 🙂

  • My ADR day was Labor Day for our December 6-13 trip. I wanted the hour head start that the website provides, so I set my alarm for 5:55 and ran down to my computer to book those puppies.

    Here’s the list of what I got: Sanaa dinner, Captain’s Grille lunch, Rose & Crown dinner, Rainforest Cafe lunch, Yak & Yeti lunch, Liberty Tree Tavern lunch, Kona Cafe dinner, and Le Cellier lunch.

    I was also able to get Nine Dragons for our Candlelight Processional dinner (my husband’s request), but I had to call for that. I also want to do dinner at Paradiso 37, but I need to call the restaurant directly to get that one.

    I too was surprised by some trouble with availability. I agree that the free dining extension is likely the root cause of the trouble. Of course the one we had the most trouble with was lunch at Le Cellier. We had to use our third choice date to eat there, as I couldn’t get a lunch there until the 6th day of our trip. That worked OK on this trip, but it doesn’t bode well for shorter trips. We didn’t even try for dinner reservations since I figured those would be harder to get than lunch, especially with the Candlelight Processional dinner packages being offered.

    Overall I was pleased with the online system, though I think it could be better organized. I think it’s crazy to need the hour head start to have a shot at Le Cellier, but it seems to be the case right now. Hopefully once free dining is over, things will settle down a bit.

  • I used the website for our upcoming trip in October. There were a couple of glitches but it didn’t take me any longer than sitting on the phone asking someone to mine through various places and times.
    I had success getting all of our ADRs and prime times too- Yak and Yeti, Whispering Canyon Cafe, The Wave, Le Cellier, and Donald’s Safari Breakfast. Whispering Canyon will be new for us as well as Donald’s Breakfast at Tusker House. I’ve been to Donald’s at the old location before and we always enjoyed it there. I am hoping Tusker won’t disappoint!
    Oh, and I booked these 60-50 days out 🙂
    Have fun in December!!!

    • by Kristen Helmstetter on September 15, 2009, at 7:53 pm EST

      it seems that people are having very mixed experiences. glad you were successful. i’ve only been to Tusker House for lunch and that was quite good so I hope you have a good experience for breakfast. let us know!

      • We did Tusker for breakfast in August and were very pleased! We made a late reservation and went into AK for Early Entry. It was one of our favorite meals on our recent trip.

    • We’ve enjoyed Whispering Canyon when we’ve gone previously. I enjoyed it more than my wife since she isn’t big on barbecue, but there were enough other items that she liked. We love the Wilderness Lodge though, so anything associated with it gets high marks from me.

  • We’re going to be there Dec 13-20 also. Our DS and DDIL are staying at the BWV, while DH and I are at the VWL. I got up at 2:30 to try the online system but after carefully logging in and entering our resort confirmation #, was unable to get past the dreaded E02020305001 message. Kept trying while I waited the hour and then called. Got all our choices: Whispering Canyon for arrival day lunch, Yak & Yeti, Biergarten, Crystal Palace breakfast, Fantasmic Package (H&V), Kouzzina, Liberty Tree. See you there!

  • Today was my 90th day, will be there 12/15-22. I called and made 4 of my 6, and did final two online after I couldn’t get what I wanted on first call, and had a few minutes to think about Plan B. Could not get LeCellier for the days I was going to be at Epcot, and did not want to pay for Parkhopper(for 5) just to eat there. We only do one park per day. The only other halfway difficult reservation was California Grill, but was able to find another day, at the exact time I wanted. Can’t wait to December!

    • by Kristen Helmstetter on September 17, 2009, at 9:36 am EST

      thanks for sharing this perspective, Kelly. I’m sure lots of other people are in the same boat and wouldn’t want to buy park hoppers just for one ADR. Its hard to remember that when you have an AP and hardly ever stay in one park all day long.

  • Hey Kristen,

    Looks like we will be there at the same time. I made all my ADRs on-line a 6 AM on 9/13. We got extremely lucky, going 8 for 8 with what we wanted within 30 minutes of our desired time, and even getting Le Cellier at 7:20 PM on a Friday (yeah, when you wonder who the hell gets in there – I guess it’s me). Traveling as 3 Adults (Me, wife and MIL), 1 child (Daughter 6) at POP century with Free Dining, the whole shebang is as follows:

    12-Dec-09 Coral Reef 5:15 PM
    13-Dec-09 Tusker House 11:50 AM
    14-Dec-09 WCC 1:05 PM
    15-Dec-09 California Grill 7:40 PM
    16-Dec-09 Akerhaus 6:00 PM
    17-Dec-09 Chefs De France (CP) 4:10 PM
    18-Dec-09 Le Cellier 7:20 PM
    19-Dec-09 Chef Mickey’s 5:30 PM
    20-Dec-09 Crystal Palace 8:05 AM

    Three new ones for us (CG, Le Celiier, and WCC), and almost all new for MIL (she’s only been once before with us). 3 Characters for DD…very happy with my mix. The on-line system was pretty pain free too!