Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How to Choose Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) at Disney

By: Melissa

You’re going to Disney and you know you need to make Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) for your Table Service meals. But with all the options available, how do you choose where to eat? It’s not an easy task, for sure. But are a few questions I ask myself to help narrow the choices.

1. Where do I want to eat? We’ve been to Disney before, and have friends who’ve been. We’ve read reviews on all kinds of restaurants at Disney. A few of those have stood out as places we’d want to eat if we had the chance. Start by writing those down.

2. Do I want character meals? Who do I want to see? Last time, we ate at Chef Mickey’s, and I know that’s a tradition for many families. Next trip, we want to do a princess character meal, so that leaves us with a few choices like Cinderella’s Royal Table, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, and 1900 Park Fare. Add the character meals you’d enjoy to your list.

3. Am I using a Dining Plan or am I paying out of pocket? This will make a big difference in how many Table Service meals I plan, and where they are. Table Service meal prices can vary widely. If we’re using the Disney Dining Plan, I’ll likely plan one Table Service meal per day. If we’re paying out of pocket and/or using the Quick Service Dining Plan, I will most likely plan 2 - 3 Table Service meals for the entire trip. The rest of the time, we’ll eat at Quick Service locations. Most of those do not accept reservations. At this point, Be Our Guest is the only exception for breakfast and lunch (dinner is Table Service). There may be another option by the end of 2015 if the rumors are true, though! If you need help planning or keeping track of your dining credits, check out our free Dining Credit Planner.

4. What kind of food do I like? I love that full menus and most prices are available on the Disney website. It allows us to make sure we’ll enjoy the food and see if the prices fit in our budget at the places on our list before we decide on where to make reservations. I was considering a restaurant for our next trip that I’ve heard awesome reviews on. I checked the menu, and I don’t think my family will enjoy the type of food they serve. No matter how awesome the restaurant is, if your family doesn’t like that style of food, it’s likely not a good choice. Pick something else!

5. Where will I be at mealtime, and at what type of place will I want to eat? I take into consideration what park I will be in when it’s time to eat. If I’m planning to be in Magic Kingdom, I don’t want to plan dinner in Epcot. And that’s totally personal preference, because if you have Park Hoppers, it’s completely doable. I personally don’t want to spend the time traveling from one park to another for a dinner reservation. I’d much rather spend my time touring the park and have dinner (or lunch) wherever I am.

6. What will my kids enjoy? It’s not that I’m thinking of the kids last, but honestly, they don’t always get to pick. We’re taking their likes and dislikes into consideration when we choose restaurants, and the character meals are definitely for their benefit. But it’s not all about them. They’re going to enjoy any place we choose because they’ll be at Disney!

When you’re ready to make your reservations, use our free ADR Planner to help you keep track of the details!

Jenna has written more about ADRs here. And as always, if you have any questions, please comment here, Tweet, Facebook, or email us.

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