Walt Disney World: My thoughts on ADR's

Disney World trip planning is mostly fun, of course there are some parts that can be hard work and dare I say it, stressful but thankfully those moments don't come along often during that fun pre trip time. In fact, there's only two things that I find hard work and that's fastpass+ booking but even worse than that, its advance dining reservations or ADR's as they're better known.

Back in 2005 when I went on my first ever trip they were something that I didn't even give any thought to, in fact I didn't plan much at all, call it first timer ignorance. However, the lack of ADR bookings back then was not an issue, we didn't make a single one and had absolutely no issue with walking up to any restaurant, at any time and being seated quickly.
To be honest that's how I liked it, how do I know when I'll be hungry and what I'll fancy to eat in 6 months time but due to the increasing popularity of onsite restaurants which is no doubt down to the yearly offering of free dining, if you want to guarantee eating at certain places then for the most time, ADR's have become a pretty much must do and I've just come to accept, that like the queue for resort buses at the end of the day, it's all just part of a WDW trip.

Of course, some restaurants aren't as popular as others and you'll probably not have a lot of difficulty getting an ADR a couple of months or even weeks or days in advance and I reckon some you could also get a table just walking in, if you're prepared to wait and don't eat as the usual breakfast, lunch and dinner times. I've had experience of both getting a table, with a little wait and also being told 'sorry, we have nothing available all day'.

When it comes to booking mine, I tend to do them all at the exact 180 day mark, the moment the booking window opens up, well at least the first 10 days if my trip is longer than that, that way I can hopefully secure every restaurant I want. And then have the benefit of trying to change a date or time if need be rather than deciding when and what I want to book at a later date only to find there's nothing available or nothing that works well for me.
Typically some of my favourite restaurants happen to be the most popular ones so when it comes to booking, my heart skips a beat for a few moments until that precious ADR is secured. The ones I've always struggled if I've left it till after the 180 day mark or even not had a great choice of times because people have got in there first are dinner at Ohana, this is an absolute favourite of mine and pretty much everyone else it seems because trying to secure a booking here isn't always easy, often the main dinner times are booked so quickly and you're left choosing to eat dinner at either 4.30pm or 9.30pm but be ready straight away when you can book and you should be ok, it's worth the stress. Be our guest is another tough one, as you'd probably expect and it doesn't make a difference if it's lunch or dinner, they get booked up quickly, in fact many times I've searched for a table, even just for fun (as you d0) and there's been absolutely nothing available wether it be weeks or months in advance but this is another that is worth the stress and hard work trying to secure, I've had both lunch, which is really good and if you're not he dining plan probably one of my absolute favourite places to use a quick service credit and dinner was superb too, in fact I love it so much that Lottie & I have booked to do both on our upcoming trip.

If securing ADR's and getting certain restaurants at certain times is important to you then my biggest tip is plan, plan, plan in advance. Sit down, get your pen and notebook or even set up a spreadsheet, get the park hours up on your screen and if they aren't released yet then use the previous years which is what I've done in th past as found they very rarely change much and I'll set out a, ok I was going to say rough plan but who am I kidding? my spreadsheet is full on military planning. I'll work out what days I want to do what parks, if I'll park hop and work my ADR's around that. Have your list of dates and times ready and waiting for when you reach 180 days till your trip and always have a back up time especially for those most popular restaurants in case you can't get your first choice.

Booking ADR's can be stressful, it can be a pain in the bum but it can also go very smoothly and pre planning them is a great way of spending some time in the pre trip excitement phase to help pass the time.

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