Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog
We in the Disney community love a good acronym and one of the most ubiquitous is ADR. You cannot be on a Disney geared blog, forum, or website without seeing those three letters. So what do they mean and why do they matter?
ADR stands for Advanced Dining Reservation. That’s all it is. A reservation for a meal at a restaurant.
So, why the big deal about making a dining reservation?
Walt Disney World vacations require a lot of planning and that includes food. The most highly sought after meals book up months in advance. If you want to dine with the Beast at Be Our Guest, or enjoy the world famous steak at Le Cellier, you need to plan ahead.
So I have to make reservations for every meal I eat at Disney?
Not at all! In fact, you can’t. Quick service locations do not take reservations, with the exception of breakfast and lunch at Be Our Guest. So you can visit any quick service restaurant at any of the parks or resorts whenever you’d like. You’ll probably wait in line, but if you plan it well (eating before or after popular meal times) you may not wait at all!
If restaurants book up months in advance, how do I even stand a chance?
You can begin making ADRs 180 days out from the first day of your vacation. That’s six months, friends. Even if you do not have your hotel or flights booked, you can make your dining reservations. And you should, because even with 180 days those super popular options, like Cinderella’s Royal Table, fill up fast.
But I bet I only get to make ADRs at 180 days out if I am staying on-site.
Nope! The 180 booking window for ADRs is a perk that is afforded to guests who stay on-site AND off-site.
However, guests who are staying onsite can book all their ADRs at once, while guests staying offsite must reserve one day at a time, so you are reserving each day at exactly 180 days. For example, Off site guests would book the ADRs for the first day of their vacation at 180 days. The second day, technically, at 181 days from the start of the vacation day, the second day at 182 days, etc.
But I probably have to have that fancy Dining Plan to use ADRs, right?
Nope again! ADRs are simply the reservations, the thing that gets you in the door. Once you’re in, you can pay for your food however you’d like. Disney Dining Plan, Disney gift card, cash, or credit card are all viable options.
What kind of meals should I make ADRs for?
You can make an Advanced Dining Reservation for any table service or buffet meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can make an ADR for restaurants in the parks, resorts, or at Disney Springs.
If I make an ADR at a restaurant in the parks, do I need a ticket?
Yes. In order to enter any of the Disney Parks (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, or Epcot) you need a valid ticket.
Do I have to stay at a certain resort in order to make an ADR there?
You do not! Anyone, guests at other Disney resorts or off-site hotels, can make a reservation at a Disney resort restaurant. If you’re staying at Coronado Springs, you can (and should!) visit Ohana at the Polynesian for dinner. If you’re staying off-site but would still love a chance to dine with Snow White, you can make an ADR for Storybook Dining.
I didn’t know I was going to Disney until a few weeks ago. Will all the good ADRs be gone?
While it is highly recommended to book as far in advance as you can, there is no reason you can’t get reservations for your favorite spots closer to your trip. Two trips in a row, we have gotten Be Our Guest reservations the night before we left. Check the reservations site often, especially as you get closer to your trip. People cancel ADRs all the time, especially the week before a trip as they’re finalizing plans. You’ll find many spots open up the day before a desired date, because people want to make sure they cancel in the no-fee window.
I can cancel my ADRs with no penalty?
Yes! You have up until 24 hours before to cancel your ADR, for whatever reason, with no fee.
But if I don’t cancel, what will the fee be?
When you make an ADR, Disney will keep a credit card on file to hold the reservation. You will not be charged at the time of booking. If, however, you are a no cancel-no show, your card will be charged $10 per person in the reservation. So, if you forget to cancel a reservation for four people, that’s $40 charged on your card.
What if I am late to my ADR? Do I get charged then?
There is a grace period of 15 minutes when you are late for an ADR. You may potentially be seated if you are later than 15 minutes, but that is up to the restaurant’s discretion. Disney recommends you allow yourself an hour to an hour and a half to get to your various reservations around the park. Disney World is the size of a city, so if you’re going from one end to another, it will take some time.
Do I have to pre-pay for my meal with ADRs?
You do not have to pre-pay for your meals with ADRs, with one exception. Because Cinderella’s Table is such a hard to get reservation, that meal must be paid for in advance if you are not using the Disney Dining Plan.
How do I make ADRs?
You can make Advanced Dining Reservations online, using my My Disney Experience app. You can also make or cancel a reservation over the phone by calling 407-WDW-DINE. Online reservations open at 6am, Eastern Standard Time, with phone reservations opening at 7am, EST. For this reason, and the fact that you have more autonomy and option visibility, booking online tends to be the preferred method. You can go here for a step by step walk through of how to make an ADR.
What if I want ADRs but the whole process is overwhelming and I would rather just sleep at 6am?
This would be a great time to think about using a Travel Agent. Our Dream Team from Destinations in Florida are ready to be up before the sun so that you can share a meal with Mickey. Elizabeth, Erin, or Kari will have your MDE login, and they can easily link the reservations to your ADRs, while you make like Sleeping Beauty and catch those zzzzs.
What is your must do ADR? Have you ever had a great last minute get? What’s one place you’d love to try but haven’t made it there yet? Spill all your food related secrets in the comments!
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey five years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!