Hooray! This week, I’m 180 days before my family’s Disney World trip. That means it’s time to make our Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs).
I know some people think it’s ridiculous to make restaurant reservations 6 months in advance. And, I partly agree.
But, that’s just the timing that Disney World picked. The reality is that some restaurants book up months in advance for the entire day or prime times. Some even book up on the same day reservations open (like Cinderella’s Royal Table). So regardless of your opinion of the timing, if you want to dine at specific places you must make those ADRs.
I personally enjoy the process of browsing restaurant choices and making plans. Here are my strategies for making Disney World ADRs.
Look at Crowd Calendars by Park
Before I start making ADRs, I plan which park we will go to on each day. I never buy park hopper tickets because I don’t think they’re necessary. So, I need to reserve a restaurant in the park where we will be all day.
To see which parks will be the least crowded, I use WDW Prep School’s crowd calendar.
Ask Family Members for Input
Now that my kids are older, I ask them for their input on where to eat. This time, they all unanimously requested breakfast at ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Village Resort. My kids love stitch and the POG juice served at breakfast. We will head there for a late breakfast on one of our days off from the parks.
Reserve for Lunch Instead of Dinner
I always reserve a table service restaurant for lunch instead of dinner. Lunch prices are cheaper, and by then we usually need a break from the heat and standing.
Plan a Date Night
This time, my husband and I are planning a date night dinner at Epcot, just the two of us. My oldest will be 16, and we are staying at a resort within walking distance to the park. We plan to have our kids walk back to our room (with a kitchen) to eat dinner there.
Pick at Least One Character Meal
My family doesn’t like to chase down characters in the parks and wait in lines for photos. We want to be on the rides as much as possible.
I always book at least one character meal to get some great photos at a relaxed pace. Due to lower prices, we typically book breakfast or lunch instead of dinner.
Something Old, Something New
New restaurants are always popping up at Disney World. I can’t even keep up with all of the restaurants opening at Disney Springs (it has 61 dining venues!). While it’s easy to go back to old favorites, I always try to reserve something new.
For something old, I have a tradition of eating at the Crystal Palace inside the Magic Kingdom. I’ve been eating there since I was a kid.
Save Money on Disney Dining
Without a doubt, eating at Disney World can be very expensive! Some ways my family cuts down on the food bill are:
- We eat breakfast in our room. I bring food or have groceries delivered.
- We only reserve one table service restaurant per day (usually for lunch). We will either eat a light dinner at the parks, or eat dinner back in our room.
- I order a kid’s meal at quick serve places. The size of the meal is usually fine for an adult.
- My husband and I sometimes split an entrée at restaurants. We’ve never had a problem with this strategy.
- We don’t sign up for the dining plan, even when it’s “free dining”. It’s too much food! And when you have free dining, the cost of your hotel is higher.
My fellow Disney World fans, what are your favorite restaurants at Disney World? Are you excited when it’s time to make your ADRs?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.