Friday, June 4, 2010

#confessfriday: I Think 180 Days is Way Too Many

Last August, my family and I went to Walt Disney World and were told about a really great bounceback offer for January.  Stupidly, we turned it down.  This August, I'll be down at the World again with my boyfriend, and I am fully prepared to take a bounceback offer if it's available.  Only there's one problem: advanced dining reservations (ADRs).

You know when the 180 day window for dates in January starts?  July.  You know when rates for vacation packages in Walt Disney World traditionally come out?  August.  So Disney, you're telling me that you want me to book reservations for something as specific as restaurants when I can't even book my resort for another month?  Nice planning on that one.

It gets even more complicated with the whole bounceback thing.  Since I can't book the bounceback until I am actually on Walt Disney World property, I won't know if there are blackout dates for the offer.  So I won't know my exact travel dates.  Yet I am supposed to make dining reservations regardless.  Now I realize that for a trip January, you don't need to book most ADRs so far out, but if I wanted something like Cinderella's Royal Table, it may be booked by the time I get to August.  Plus, how am I supposed to know in July where I want to eat in January if I haven't even gotten to the World to try all the new restaurants that I have booked for August?

I really think Disney needs to rethink this 180 day thing (again).  When it was 90 days, I thought it was so much more reasonable.  I mean park hours aren't even available 180 days out!  If I want to eat dinner at the California Grill while watching Wishes, I won't know what time to book.  If I want to have dinner in Hollywood Studios when Fantasmic's showing, I won't even know which day to choose.  I can use historical information, but it might not be correct.  I mean, lots of people don't have trips, let alone meals planned at 180 days.  But I guess I'll be blindly booking some restaurants, just in case.

I hate to be so negative, but this is a real inconvenience to me.  It bothers me that I may lose out on a dining opportunity because the reservation window is so long.  Plus the whole thing just seems ridiculous.  Oh well, I guess whatever happens will happen.

What do you think about the 180 day ADR window?  Love it?  Hate it?  Indifferent?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!


  1. I think I have a love/hate relationship with the 180 day window. Some trips, I know far ahead of 180 days that I'll be going back so its never really a problem, however on others (like the free dining timeframe in September) When I booked, we were well under the 180 days and its caused problems getting ADR's.. well for one place.. Le Cellier. I was surprised because back for our trip this past march during a very busy time, I had no problems getting a ADR for the steakhouse, however this time around, in a value timeframe and low crowd expectancy, I cant seem to get this one for the life of me. I'm also considering going for the new dining option in Mexico instead of Le Cellier, but I get the feeling that will be just as challenging to get an ADR for.

  2. For me, 180 days is a long time. When I went to WDW last month, I didnt even book the entire trip until about 75 days before our trip.

    I was disappointed when I tried to get some dining reservations at T-Rex in downtown disney, and they didnt have ANY available for the day I wanted. I settled for "oh we'll just find something"...when we actually got there, We just went in and put our names in.

    I wasnt even introduced until the 180 day concept until very recently. My first trip to WDW last summer, my friend and I just walked up to any restaurant we wanted and asked to be on the wait list. The longest we ever waited was about 20 minutes. I understand this could be a lot different for a character dining experience or a special event, but you're right, I think 180 days is ridiculous. Do I think Disney will ever change it? At this point, no. I think the volume of people going is too big to manage a shorter-based system, and the fact that a lot of people would raise an uproar if it changed.

  3. Since Disney went back to 180 days the hours have been posted accordingly. I personaly love the 180 days. I have a much better chance at getting Cinderella's Royal Table at 180 day ssince there are less people who know what they want 180 ahead of time. I always make more then one reservation per day until I am sure of my schedule, then I cancel the ones I am not going to need!

  4. I agree. I really dislike the 180 day thing. I don't think it's fair for a lot of people, because honestly, not a lot of people plan their trips over 6 months out to begin with. Quite a few plan much closer to the date.

    Not everyone is an uber planner...and I feel that with the ADR date at 180 days, that they punish those who either can't plan that far out for various reasons or haven't had time to do the research yet, but are researching their trip.

    I know the uber planners want to get their trips all planned out and they are a vocal part of the community, but I think, that to make it fair for everyone involved, the ADRs should go back to 90 days. I saw nothing wrong with that and the uber planners still typically got what they wanted. They just had to wait a little longer to achieve the goal.

    I actually think the whole ADR system is a bit out of whack to begin with. I think they should allow for some walk ups as well, for those guests who simply don't know. But then again, that could just be me.

  5. MHW, good luck getting all the ADRs you want! I wonder if you're right about Mexico filling up quickly.

    Kim, you got really lucky with walkups! When I went during free dining, they weren't taking walkups anywhere that I ate for dinner. We did manage to get a walkup for lunch at the Animal Kingdom, but it wasn't a super desired restaurant.

    goldeelox9, I agree that it's great if you call at 180 days for a really popular restaurant, but I hate that I might not get the restaurants I want because I won't be able to know my dates yet. I don't really like double booking ADRs, even if I cancel them afterwards.

    Rikki, I agree that the 90-day mark is much fairer, and I would prefer it. On that note, however, last summer when the ADR window was 90 days, my mom called right at 7 am, and we still weren't able to get Le Cellier. And I agree that there should be walk-up tables, but it seems that Disney thinks if you snooze, you lose.

  6. I'm going in August during free dining time, but am staying off property and so am not using this promotion and planned my trip way back in December. I was able to make reservations at 180 days just fine (I'm SUCH a super planner.... so obviously 180 days works great for me), but I feel bad for the free dining people who have been having troubles booking their reservations. As much as it benefits me, it just doesn't seem fair that a promotion based around dining might result in people not getting to eat where they want.

    However, it takes MUCH longer than 180 days for me to save up for a vacation, book the days off of work (or schedule it around school), and often we use my bf's mom's timeshare (its not DVC) that needs to be booked pretty far in advance. If I were to ever use a free dining promotion, I would probably plan (if not book) the trip beforehand with the thought in mind that if there is free dining I'll use it, if not then I'll go then anyways- especially since there are usually room rates that come out anyways. My friend was going to do free dining but her travel agent informed her that it's actually cheaper to use the discount room and pay for the dining plan in full than it is to use the free dining (and pay the full room rate). Free dining kind of seems like a scam in most situations to me...

  7. I'm going during free dining as well and taking advantage of it. For us, since we're only two people and staying at a value resort, it's worth it to use the offer. That being said, I booked my ADRs months before the offer came out, even though I knew I wouldn't be booking the room unless there was free dining. I knew if I waited for it to come out, like so many people do, the restaurants would fill up ridiculously quickly (and I believe they did).

  8. Ya I think that's the key, booking your ADRs if you think you're going to be doing the plan and going then... the only thing is if they DON'T do free dining you've taken up spots (and hopefully people remember to cancel!).

    Good article though, I've only ever thought about how it benefits me and not how for a lot of people the 90 days was a lot better.

  9. Thanks! 180 days can be nice if you've planned really far out, but 90 days is better for a lot of people who don't book so far out.