Getting Advance Dining Reservations for the most popular restaurants at Walt Disney World is not easy. In fact, it can be one of the most difficult aspects of planning your vacation, with the toughest ADRs booking up over 60 days out. We’re here to help, with our best tips & tricks for scoring spots at the most coveted spots.
For Walt Disney World first-timers, it might come as a surprise that making Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) is such a challenge. After all, there are literally hundreds of table service restaurants that are bookable two months ahead of time at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, and the two dozen-plus resorts at Walt Disney World.
On top of that, knowledge is a big barrier to entry. Many travelers are unaware that it’s even possible to make ADRs a couple of months prior to their trips, or the ins and outs of booking reservations. Then there are the Walt Disney World diehards like us who know precisely how it’s done, but do not know where they want to eat so far ahead of time. (The ADR window used to be 180 days–I don’t even know where I want to eat tomorrow, nevermind 6 months from now!) Nevertheless, ADR availability tends to fill up fast for the most in-demand restaurants.
We’ve been documenting the challenges with making Advance Dining Reservations for years, as this has always been a hot topic among Walt Disney World fans. Most recently, What’s Up With ADR Availability? explained the current dynamic, which has morphed over time and become a matter of staffing shortages and reduced capacity as a result (among other things).
However, this is hardly new. There have been controversies around booking, hoarding, and trading ADRs as long as I can remember. (Don’t Google “Howie’s Angels” unless you want to go down a fascinating-but-weird rabbit hole!) Over the years, Walt Disney World has made a number of changes to discourage the practice, yet it still persists to this day. Fortunately, there are ways to “beat” or “outsmart” the competition, and we’ll cover the top 10 methods here to maximize your chances of scoring the exact restaurants you want at precisely the right time!
10. Search by Half-Hour – When searching for ADR availability, you’re given two options: by the half-hour or meal service (brunch, breakfast, lunch or dinner). The easiest way to search, and one we typically use, is by meal service. In theory, this should search for the entire time frame, whereas by the half-hour searches in 4 hour increments (two hours before and after that).
In practice, this is often not our experience. There will be no availability when searching for a particular meal service, but options when we switch over to a specific time. Or, Disney will show us the times they want us to eat, which are often off-hours. (Sorry, but we don’t want supper at 3 pm. This isn’t Bob Evans–there are no early bird specials!)
9. Use the Refresh Method – Along those lines, a great strategy is to toggle back and forth between a meal service and a particular time in order to refresh the ADR availability. This is…