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Top 5 Disney Vacation Complaints and How to Avoid Them: Part 3 Advanced Dining Reservations
If you missed Part 1 about FastPass+.
Please check it out here: http://wp.me/p1RJwY-gT

If you missed Part 2 about Disney Food Expectations.
Please check it out here: http://wp.me/p1RJwY-hg

Continuing on my 5 part series…

Introduction…

After spending a considerable amount of time on identifying and tackling these top 5 Disney complaints, I have decided to split this into 5 parts, a 5 post series.

What are the biggies? I’ve selected five major points that come up repeatedly: FastPass+, Disney Food Expectations, Advanced Dining Reservations, Understanding Ticket Options & Admission, and Theft.

Chances are you have heard or read negative feedback about Disney at one time or another. Possibly you have left a negative review about Disney at some point in your life. Sometimes the complaints can be totally justified, and I get that; unfortunately, those situations are not in your control, believe me, I’ve been there too and it sucks (cough…Magic Bands).

Simply put, there seems to be two types of complaints a) situations that are out of your control b) situations that are within your control. I’ve read so many complaints and they usually fall into these two categories. After reading so many “b” type complaints, you can’t help but wonder how some people ended up having such a bad time or what planet are they living on? Especially when the things they are complaining about are aspects that are practically 100% in their control! With a little research, forethought, and planning, some of the problems, confusion, unrealistic expectations can be avoided.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Know before you go”? I’m sure you have. You need to remember that and you will end up having a much better time if you live by that motto. Some people refuse to take any responsibility for their crappy time, and blame Disney for not magically whisking them away on a non-stop fantastic vacation. They see the commercials on TV and think that magic just happens, and that it’s included in the price of their vacation. It’s not. You have to do it yourself. You have to do the planning and legwork.


Part 3: Advanced Dining Reservations

3) Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs)

I’ve read a lot of complaints regarding ADRs. This seems pretty clear-cut to me, but I can imagine the first time might be confusing for some guests.

If you are on the regular or Deluxe Dining Plan, or if you expect to eat at some of the nicer table service restaurants – you really need to make Advanced Dining Reservations, it’s pretty much mandatory. Most Disney table service restaurants at the theme parks do not take walk-up business – ever, even on slow days. There are a few places that will take walk-up business, like Nine Dragons or Restaurant Marrakesh at Epcot, the Yak & Yeti at Animal Kingdom. We’ve been turned away so many times (at Via Napoli, Chefs de France, Le Cellier, Rose and Crown, San Angel Inn, Tony’s, The Plaza, etc. etc.) when we walk-up that we usually don’t even try anymore. It is really frustrating. None of the Magic Kingdom sit down restaurants will take walk-ups in our experience. Most of the resort restaurants are accommodating to those without reservations, however, at peak times they may turn you away. We’ve had okay luck getting into resort restaurants for breakfast, like Kona Cafe, Olivia’s, or Captain’s Grille.

There are a lot of good places to try, but first you are going to have to take the plunge and make some reservations. The good news is that you can reserve them pretty far in advance. The bad news is, you are going to have to make some plans, so commit to making a schedule so you can plan properly. You can access reservations by phone, by Disney Mobile App, or online at the Disney website. Part of the planning process is to make sure you are booking reservations in the correct locations, for instance if you are spending the day in Hollywood Studios and you don’t have park hopper passes, make sure you know which restaurants are available in Hollywood Studios, make sure you don’t accidentally book a restaurant in another park by mistake. You can search dining reservations by location, so you can select which theme park or resort to search if that is what you need to do.

Everyone says: how can I plan what I’m going to eat 6 months from now? Good question. You just need to decide what is best for you, wing it and possibly feel like you had a horrible vacation because of it or do a little planning and commit to plan and have a better time. But, by the same token, you can’t really complain later if you decide to fly by the seat of your pants and then get mad that all the “good” reservations were taken. Everyone has the same opportunity to make ADRs in advance. Some people will commit well in advance, on any given day there could be 50,000+ people at the Magic Kingdom, reservations are pretty much a necessary evil.

Cancellation Policy:
Also, guests need to fully understand the cancellation policy. If you “no-show”, you will be charged $10 per person on that reservation. You are agreeing to this in advance and there isn’t a way out of it. Remember, there are so many other guests who could have possibly taken that reservation – Disney put this system in place to discourage people from making erroneous reservations and flaking out at the last-minute. It was a real problem. People were multi-booking at different restaurants in different parks for the same time slots, so they could cherry pick according to what they felt like eating for the night or which park they felt like going to. Bad apples ruined the cancellation policy.

It is customary for the restaurant to hold your reservation for up to 15 minutes after your scheduled reservation time. The cancellation policy is called a 24 hour cancellation policy. I’ve spoken to customer service about it before, and basically if you want to cancel without penalty, you must cancel by 11:59 pm of the previous day. For example, let’s say you have a reservation at Chef Mickey’s for tomorrow night, but you are feeling ill, or want to completely change your plans…as long as you cancel by 11:59 (midnight) you don’t get charged the cancellation fee. If you cancel on the same day as the reservation or “no-show” you will be charged.

Know where you are going and how to get there:
Transportation at Disney can be confusing, especially to those who haven’t had the experience. Keep in mind you need to allow up to 2 hours transportation time to get to your reservation, you are relying on busses, boats, or monorail – all of which are effected by crowd levels, weather, break downs, traffic, and other variables. Holidays are even worse, if Magic Kingdom reaches park capacity it really causes a whole lot of transportation problems.

Last minute reservations:
If you find yourself in the position that you have no reservation, you can either call the dining reservation number by phone or use the mobile app to access dining reservations. You must schedule approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours prior to when you want to eat, you can get same day reservations. When you do this, be aware that you can’t cancel because it’s on the same day – they will charge a $10 per person “no-show” fee, so make sure you really want the reservation before making one. Last minute reservation selection can be limited, often times on holidays you will not be able to find much at all.

System glitches:
The dining reservation system online can have system glitches, meaning it might show availability but when you try to capture the reservation it will give you errors, it might sign you out, or freeze up, or keep asking for your credit card number over and over. If it does this, make sure you check your email first to see if it did capture the reservation before attempting to make the reservation again. When these types of errors happen, you need to call the dining hotline and talk to someone to make your reservation. Don’t waste your time with the mobile app or website, it will just cause you more frustration. Usually what causes these errors is that the system is saying there is availability and there really isn’t. Or it could be that you are trying to reserve a time that is too close to the current time. Let’s say it’s 7:00 pm and you are trying to book 7:45 pm, there needs to be at least 60-90 minutes prior to the reservation time for the system to work properly.

Food Allergies:
If you or any one in your party has any food allergies, you should make notations with your ADR. Disney can accommodate many dietary needs, and it is best to give them advanced notice to make sure that you have the best possible service.

More information about food and restaurants:
You can research menus, reviews, blogs, and photos beforehand. I recommend http://www.allears.net for menus, sometimes they may be slightly out of date, but they generally have very good information.

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