This is the second part of a blog series that will look at the different steps of planning for an upcoming Christmas trip to the World. Essentially, I found myself in August suddenly planning for a Christmas trip. In my last post, I went through the reasoning that led me to choose the Contemporary Resort as the best choice for the week. This post is all about Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs).
ADRs can be made 180 days in advance of the first day of your trip, and for some restaurants which fill up quickly, you definitely need to call as soon as that window opens- especially during busier times of the year. So, maybe you can imagine that I was a bit panicked to begin planning meals in August for a Christmas trip- we were already more than a month inside that 180-day window for the most crowded week of the year. I knew there wasn’t time to lose in making ADRs. But, it’s not as simple as trying to make ADRs at any restaurant possible… I didn’t want to make an ADR at the Brown Derby on a day that we would end up spending in the Magic Kingdom. So I quickly had to plot out which day we’ll be in which park (because it would stink to be in Animal Kingdom with an ADR in Epcot!). This is a huge task, but an important one- and there is only one resource I trust to help with such plotting… the “Crowd Calendar” over at touringplans.com.
TouringPlans.com is the website for the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and together they are simply an invaluable resource. The one-year subscription cost to the website is more than worth it (and they often have discount codes- especially if you already own a copy of the Unofficial Guide). The “Crowd Calendar” tool on the website predicts the crowd levels at each park for a given day, allowing you to avoid the busier parks and to plan on visiting the less crowded parks. You can also view specific days individually and find park hours, Extra Magic Hours, show times, etc- this is especially helpful since the parks have very different operating hours during the days around Christmas than the rest of the year. I don’t mean to be a commercial for the Unofficial Guide/touringplans.com but they are the best resources.
Once I had a general feeling for which park I’d be in, I started making ADRs. I practically made all my ADRs in one night… typically, a sit down meal each day, and two character-meal breakfasts during the course of the trip. But because this trip was being planned somewhat late, time was of the essence, so I didn’t want to ponder choices of the course of a week because by the end of a week, a lot of the restaurants that were available in the beginning of the week could be booked by the end of the week. The hardest part about getting the ADRs during the Christmas period is that Epcot restaurants have limited availability because the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package blocks out a bunch of the ADRs that are usually available. If worst comes to worst, you can always see what ADRs are available by using the online ADR request page, and entering only the park you’ll be at, instead of a specific restaurant.
As of November 10, there are still a decent variety of restaurants in World Showcase that still have times available for ADRs on Dec 26… but definitely don’t wait much longer to make your ADRs, because available times will definitely disappear.
So what restaurants would you especially want to experience at Christmas time? Is there a certain restaurant that you think is a more magical setting for a holiday meal than others? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!