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Disney Dining: Puzzle Pieces

A priority of mine on my upcoming trip to Disney, starting this weekend, was to have new dining experiences. I wanted a mix of off the beaten path dining, new to me popular restaurants, and places Scarlett just wants to dine in. It’s a bit of a tall order and really rather stressful. It all went wrong at 6:00 AM on my 60 day out advance dining reservation (ADR) day. That’s when you can start making reservations and the best ones disappear very quickly. I was unable to book anything at 6:00 AM. There was some error and I had no choice but to wait till 7:00 AM when you could call them in. I have to admit, I handled this blow to my plans very badly, as I knew it would cost me more than a few of my wish list restaurants.

At 7:00 AM on the dot, I called in, only to be on hold for over an hour. This of course leads me to believe I am not the only person who had trouble that morning. By the time I got helped, as suspected, half of my wish list was gone. Say goodbye to the dream of experiencing Space 220. No bread pudding from ‘Ohana. No dinner reservations at dinner time or lunch at lunch time. This sounds so depressing right? Well it really wasn’t that bad. Those were the only two reservations I couldn’t get but I did score Oga’s Canteen, Sci-fi Drive in and the rest of my choices were available, just not at the best times. But just because your ADR day doesn’t go so smoothly, you don’t have to give up hope.

50 days later I am sitting on everything but Space 220. I also have now scored a Candlelight Processional dinner at Coral Reef, after waiting on hold for three hours to be told they were sold out 30 days ago. Stuff just pops up sometimes, actually most of the time, if you know how and where to look. Welcome to the world of Disney Dining Alerts. There are several services but I like Mouse Dining the best. Here’s how it works. You can put in a dining reservation alert that keeps an eye out for reservations that open up. I have a paid subscription, which is $9 a month and you can stop it at any time. I can have dozens of alerts going at once and I get a text message when one opens up. If you don’t pay for the subscription you can have 6 and you get an email. It’s definitely harder that way because you’re not the only person with the alert, so the quicker you try to book the more successful you will be.

A friend of mine was in town last week and he watched me jump on a dining alert only to have failed, Topolinos for brunch. He thought I was trying to score a graphics card and I said a Topolinos reservation is about as hard to get! I am still hoping that comes up, many people make last minute cancellations. It’s one of the few character breakfasts happening right now and certainly the one with the best food. I have however managed to score ‘Ohana, though it was for breakfast and not lunch, as well as San Angel Inn at a decent time.

After the blow of not getting most of my top choices on my ADR day, I had to rearrange the puzzle pieces. Now let’s be honest, I’m a travel agent who loves to plan trips. While having to replan one seems like a colossal hassle, it’s kind of enjoyable for me. I know Disney wants to make it simpler to have a Disney vacation. It’s why they moved ADR from 180 days to 60 days. It’s why they have swapped out preplanned FastPass+ to on the fly Genie+ Lighting Lanes. But there are still a lot of moving pieces, especially if you have restaurant reservations. If you’re anything like me and want to know where you’ll be and when, planning is required.

In the end I have a dining schedule that I am pretty happy with. I am still hoping to score Artists Point dinner, Topolinos breakfast, and literally any time I can get at Space 220. Here’s what I do have: Todd English’s bluezoo dinner, Coral Reef Candlelight Processional lunch, ‘Ohana breakfast, Sci-Fi Drive In Dinner lunch, Oga’s Canteen happy hour, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ lunch, The Edison after dinner drinks, Yak & Yeti lunch, Big River Grill dinner, Ale & Compass breakfast, and Le Creperie lunch. I am hoping to hit some counter service resturants including Woody’s Toy Box, Columbia Harbour House, Friar’s Nook, Ronato’s Roasters, Docking Bay 7, Chicken Guy, Earl of Sandwhich, Polite Pig, Sat’uli Canteen, and of course all of the festival booths at Epcot.

If you find this all overwhelming, please reach out. I’m always happy to help my clients with all their travel plans. You can find me on Facebook or email me at Next week I will take a pause from the blog while I enjoy my holiday trip to Disney. But you can follow my travel adventure on Facebook or check back in two weeks to read my trip review.

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