I can honestly say that I have probably explored nearly every conceivable way of planning a Walt Disney World visit from just winging it (ARRGH!!!) to planning every single detail from the first minute to the last. When you start to consider things like how many minutes it takes to walk from this attraction to that attraction, you are probably over planning. Over the years it has become apparent that us older folks plan in primarily two ways – by the park or by the Advance Dining Reservation (ADR). We love our table service restaurants and enjoy taking the time to enjoy a relaxing meal as a break from an otherwise hectic day.
When you make your choice how to plan you have to weigh the pluses and minuses of each method. If you base your touring strictly on the ADR’s you simply must have, you run the risk of enjoying your meals in an extremely crowded park and not enjoying the rest of your day. If you base your touring only on the park crowd estimates of so many of the good websites you will likely have a great day touring but possibly miss out on that special dining experience because of availability on that day. It’s important that you make your decisions based on what is most important to you.
There are a few things you can do to maximize your quest for the dining experience and a great day of touring all in the same day. Here are some things you can try:
- Find a website you can trust to give you accurate crowd predictions for each day of your visit before the ADR window arrives (Touring Plans, Easy WDW, etc.).
- Be ready to make those ADR’s 180 days before your check in date.
- Make your ADR’s for the most popular restaurants towards the end of your visit! Reason – when you are reserving for a 10 day window you will be competing with fewer people because everyone that arrives after your check in date will not be eligible to make ADR’s until after yours are finished.
- Make those essential ADR’s first based on the crowd charts rather than just going from the first day to the last day, just a few moments can make a huge difference in availability.
- You might want to consider dining at a resort near the park you are touring because many of Walt Disney World’s finest establishments are in those resorts rather than the parks and they are almost always considerably less busy than the park restaurants. The Magic Kingdom area and Boardwalk/Epcot area are particularly good for this option.
- Remember – compromise is not always a bad thing. You might just have to miss a favorite reservation to have a sane vacation or you might have to be willing to deal with a few more people to dine at your favorite restaurant. Whatever works for you is best for you.
There is really no right way to do it that fits everyone. Whatever makes you happy and meets your needs is the right thing to do. You are on vacation to relax and enjoy the number one vacation destination in the world and all it has to offer so do it your way. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
- Disney World Planning 101: How to Tour the Disney World Parks (chipandco.com)
- Save 25 Percent with Voucher When You Dine Off Hours at Disney Parks (chipandco.com)
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