click here to read it if you haven’t—then this post is meant to reduce your potential vacation frustration with some secret tips. Shh!
Imagine this potential frustrating moment: You’re walking through the Magic Kingdom, on your way to eat at the Crystal Palace because you plan to arrive 15 minutes before your ADR—Advance Dining Reservation. You knew the importance of having those ADR’s before your arrived at Walt Disney World. So your walking to the Crystal Palace and your child spies Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen, their favorite characters of all time! You ask the cast member handling the characters about how long they will be out and when their next time might be, only to find out this is the last time for the day and they just got started, so there’s a good 25 minutes or so before they are done. What do you do?
You know that if you by-pass the characters, you’re child will potentially be heartbroken and disappointed. You also don’t want to be late for your Advanced Dining Reservation time. Oh, the dilemma!
Here’s what you do: You stop and see the characters. Here’s why and it’s a secret. Your Advanced Dining Reservation is going to stay in the computer at the Crystal Palace for the entire time of the meal. So, if your ADR is for lunch at 12:30, that reservation stays in the computer system for the entire lunch service, but as soon as the Crystal Palace switches to dinner, your ADR is gone from the computer. So, unless you’ve booked an ADR for the last time slot of the day for a meal, say breakfast or lunch, you’re good. You’ve got the time.
This works at any Disney restaurant that uses the Advanced Dining Reservation system. All you have to be aware of is the time cut-off for specific meals. For breakfast that is usually 10:45 and for lunch, it is usually 3:45 or so.
It works the other way, too. We have had ADR’s for dinner at ‘OHANA’s for 6:30, but we were hungry and ready to eat earlier. We went to ‘OHANA’s and checked in. It is helpful to have your confirmation number for the ADR with you, but not necessary. They were able to find our reservation and bumped it up. The hostess said they couldn’t guarantee that we would be seated—the party line—but within a couple of minutes we were being called to the podium and seated at our table.
OK, here’s another potential frustrating moment: You’re in the Magic Kingdom and have Fastpasses for Splash Mountain with a return time of 2:30-3:30 pm. You are making your way to Frontierland and notice that the ropes are up for the 3:00 parade and people are beginning to line the streets and walk-ways. Your kids get excited and want to watch the parade. You know if you do, you’ll miss the return time window on your Fastpass. The music for the start of the parade is swelling and your family has found a spot to view the parade. What do you do?
Here’s what you do: You watch the parade and enjoy every minute of it! No running off part way through to try to get on Splash Mountain. Your Fastpass is good anytime after 2:30 pm. So, if you get to Splash Mountain at 4:15 pm, your Fastpass is still good and you will get to ride. Now, if you showed up at 1:00 pm, your Fastpass would not work as you are too early, but anytime after 2:30, you’re good to go, unless they are closing for the night.
The deal is that Disney wants you to be happy during your vacation to the most magical place on earth. They know that if you’re happy, you will spend more time in the parks and therefore spend more money AND possibly return someday because you had such an enjoyable time.
I hear stories about people going to Disney and hating it. Yep, that’s a pretty strong word. Actually, I don’t hear the stories so much as the husband does. If someone says that to me, I start to probe with questions about what went wrong and what could have been done differently. People telling the story really don’t want that, they just want some empathy about the horrible time they had. Yep, the husband is better at that than I am. So, when I hear about people hating Disney, I’m thinking that things did go wrong and I’m guessing it started with not having a plan. We have seen Walt Disney World guests with 3 ring notebooks filled with plastic covered touring plans in their backpacks and we have seen and heard people walking through the hub of the Magic Kingdom wondering out loud about what is over there—pointing to Tomorrowland. I’m not suggesting that you need a 3 ring notebook filled with touring plans or Excel spreadsheets, but I am suggesting that you just don’t wander in and not know anything about the park, other than it is the Magic Kingdom. And, I hope the secret tips work for you and your family!