What is an ADR and why is everyone so crazy about it?

An ADR is Disney–speak for an advanced dining reservation (sponsored by the Department of Redundancy Department). An ADR works a little differently than a traditional reservation. Instead of reserving a table and having it waiting for your arrival, you will be seated at the next available table for your party. Some franchise restaurants have a similar “Call Ahead” seating option. Unlike calling ahead to your local Applebee’s before you leave your house, in some cases your ADR’s must be made first thing in the morning almost 6 months before you plan to enjoy your meal. For those of you thinking that I surely made a typo, I can assure you I did not. Disney starts taking reservations 180 days* ahead of schedule and some restaurants book completely within minutes of the reservations window opening. Yes. I AM serious.

How Do I Make an ADR?

The good news for those making ADR’s is that you can now make your reservations online as well over the phone. Disney has also launched a new online reservation system that is much more user friendly than it's previous version. You can make a specific request for date, time, and restaurant and immediately book it if it is available. If your selection is unavailable, alternate times will be offered if they are available.  Alternate restaurants at the requested time will also be offered. This is a  HUGE improvement over the previous reservation system!

You can also be very broad with your request, which is a handy feature if you are closer to your planned dining date. You can simply input a date and “lunch” and all available restaurants and times will be returned for you to make your final selection. Easy! If you are not near a computer, you can still go the old fashioned route and call (407)WDW-DINE and a real, live will help you.

When Should I Make My ADR’s?

The short answer is that you can start making ADR’s 180 days in advance. The longer answer is that if you are a Disney resort guest you get an additional perk when making your ADR's. Instead of making your reservations 180 days in advance for each reservation (calling every day for several days in a row) you can make all of your reservations at one time, 180 days from your check in date. Disney calls this the 180 day +10 plan. You can make one call and make your reservations for the next 10 days of your trip. This can give you a 190 day window for some reservations - a HUGE advantage if you are trying to book the hard-to-get restaurants!

*Due to a current glitch in the new reservations system, reservations are being taken 190 days head instead of 180 days + 10. It is not clear at this time if this will become a new policy or if the glitch will be fixed. Knowldege is power on this!  This glitch occured between the 180 and 190 day mark for my trip.  I was lucky enough to get what I wanted, but I know of some folks who did not know of the glitch and were shut out by the 180 day window. 

The online reservation system opens at 6 am EST. If you have a “must get” reservation, make sure you are online and ready at that time.

So, Do I Really Have to Decide Where I Want to Eat Six Months From Now?

Absolutely - If you want to eat at a popular restaurant.
Yes - If you are traveling during a busier time – anytime that school is out.
Certainly – If you are traveling during a Free Dining period. More guests will be taking advantage of the Dining Plan and ADR’s will be harder to come by.

What are the hardest to get ADR’s?

The three hardest to get ADR’s are for Le Cellier (Epcot), Coral Reef (Epcot), and Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom). These restaurants regularly book to capacity 180 days ahead.

The next tier of hard to get ADR’s include Chef Mickey’s (The Contemporary), The Garden Grill Restaurant (Epcot), Tusker House (Animal Kingdom), The Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom), Tappan Edo (Epcot) and 50’s Prime Time Café (Disney’s Hollywood Studios). These restaurants generally are completely booked 80-120 days ahead.

What if my 180 day window has already passed?

Do not despair! While the more popular restaurants may already be booked you will certainly find a place to eat. Also, you can count on the fact that many guests will end up canceling their reservations for one reason or another. The new online ADR system makes checking for cancellations a piece of cake! If you really are looking for a hard to find spot, be persistent! Check online a few times a day for cancelations. Be especially persistent in the 45-55 days prior to when you are hoping to find a reservation. Disney travel packages must be canceled 45 days prior to travel, so you may be able to pick up a reservation from someone who waited until the last minute to cancel their trip. I personally was able to get a coveted breakfast for Cinderella’s Royal Table in Cinderella Castle only 5 weeks ahead! If all else fails you still have one other option to try…the walk in. If you arrive promptly when a restaurant opens or at the end of a service period, you may be able to be seated without an ADR, even in the most popular restaurants. This is a last resort option and is highly unreliable, but it never hurts exhaust all options!

Anything else I need to know?

• Disney suggests you arrive 15 minutes prior to your ADR.
• I suggest that if you are using Disney Transportation to arrive at your ADR time, allow more time that you expect to get there. Leaving your resort or theme park an hour before your ADR would not be too early if you are depending on bus transport!
• Because you do not have a true “reservation” for a specific table you can expect to wait when you arrive at the restaurants. In most cases the wait will be less than 15 minutes, but in peak season, it is not unheard of to wait 30-45 minutes.
• If you make an ADR and your plans change, be sure to cancel! Not only will you make someone else’s day, but you may avoid a “no-show” cancelation fee. Such fees are only charged by a few restaurants that require pre-payment with a credit card.
• For Breakfast ADR’s, a great trick is to make your reservation before the park opens. You can get into the park before the masses and can get some great pictures of an empty park. I treasure my photos of my little princesses in front of Cinderella Castle with no one else in the background! Plus, you are already deep into the park when the park opens and can be first in line for a headliner attraction!
• Most restaurants are super casual – it is a theme park after all! However some of the nicer restaurants located in resorts have a “business casual” dress code. If you are in doubt, be sure to ask!
• You will be given a confirmation code for each reservation you make. Be sure to hang onto it in case any issues arise.

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