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Any success in "winging it"

Rista1313

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#1
OK, thinking about my husbands disdain for trying to get him to commit to ADRs 180 days in advance, I need some advice. We both agreed that last time, it seemed tiring (and sometimes we weren't yet hungry) when it was time for our nightly ADRs. This time I was considering (we will be there mid september to only make the ADRs we are positive we want (like Hoop dee doo) just winging it for the rest of the days? The day of, just jumping on the app to see what's available? We will have DDP, so we will have both QS and TS credits. And this time will be there for food and wine, so lots of snack credits will go to the booths for lunch one day.

Opinions? stories? warnings?

(this is a duplicate in the chit chat thread)
 

Swissmiss

Premium Member
#2
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Why don’t you go on the app from time to time to see what is available that day? That will give you a feel for what restaurants tend to have last minute availability and you can look to see if the menu is something you’d be interested in. If you find from your “experiment” that you’ll have enough choices, then you know you’ll be ok “winging it”.
 

lostpro9het

Well-Known Member
#6
Sample of ADRs available for dinner tomorrow when booking our dinner a couple hours ago:

California Grill 6:30
BOG 6:45
Yachtsman multiple times
Whispering canyon multiple times
Wave multiple times
Biergarten multiple times
Rose and crown multiple times
Ohana 6:30 and 9:30

One tip is to look around 24 hours before when you want to eat. That 24 hour mark is when folks will start dropping their ADRs to avoid any charges.
 

Rista1313

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#7
Sample of ADRs available for dinner tomorrow when booking our dinner a couple hours ago:

California Grill 6:30
BOG 6:45
Yachtsman multiple times
Whispering canyon multiple times
Wave multiple times
Biergarten multiple times
Rose and crown multiple times
Ohana 6:30 and 9:30

One tip is to look around 24 hours before when you want to eat. That 24 hour mark is when folks will start dropping their ADRs to avoid any charges.
Yes...it's decided... get a couple ADR's and wing the rest. Fast Passes will still be done!
 

Nottamus

Well-Known Member
#8
Yes...it's decided... get a couple ADR's and wing the rest. Fast Passes will still be done!
I know you just said ...you're decided...but I felt the need to add

We used to do meal plan with TS...and like you stated, we seemed to waste food because we were never hungry at the reservation time.

Took us 4 trips to learn, but we started going with no TS reservations at all. Found some pretty good QS places, snack things, and just overall were happier with the free-er schedule.

Now we go twice a year, once near my birthday, once near my wife's. So we each pick 1 or 2 places we like to try as TS, then just wing the rest. AND...there are still a lot of reservations open the day of. Maybe not the top choices, but still, great places to eat if you want TS.
 

Rista1313

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#9
I know you just said ...you're decided...but I felt the need to add

We used to do meal plan with TS...and like you stated, we seemed to waste food because we were never hungry at the reservation time.

Took us 4 trips to learn, but we started going with no TS reservations at all. Found some pretty good QS places, snack things, and just overall were happier with the free-er schedule.

Now we go twice a year, once near my birthday, once near my wife's. So we each pick 1 or 2 places we like to try as TS, then just wing the rest. AND...there are still a lot of reservations open the day of. Maybe not the top choices, but still, great places to eat if you want TS.
Hubby would not go for all QS.... I have yet to convince him it's not all hamburgers and hot dogs... even though he never ate one hamburger or hot dog on our last trip :facepalm:
 

eliza61nyc

Well-Known Member
#11
A few tips that always works for us.

1) eat a little off from main grazing hours. We find a lot opens up from dinner when we check say 7 pm as opposed to 6 pm.
2) resort table services. I love, love love the resort ts. I think they are much better than the parks restaurants except maybe Epcot. I've found some really hidden gems like Olivia's and the Turf club simply by winging it and being open to trying what was available.

good luck and enjoy
 

Nottamus

Well-Known Member
#12
Hubby would not go for all QS.... I have yet to convince him it's not all hamburgers and hot dogs... even though he never ate one hamburger or hot dog on our last trip :facepalm:
Exactly our thoughts too! Hamburgers and fries! Easy to get tired of,,,,,then we found tons of good places to eat good stuff!

good luck!
 

KBLovesDisney

Well-Known Member
#13
Yep! I went last August and thought this trip I didn't want to go to Animal Kingdom initially. Well, during my first day at Magic Kingdom, I really wanted to go to Animal Kingdom.

Here was my itinerary during the trip beforehand with ADRs booked:
1st day - Magic Kingdom: Breakfast at Polynesian, lunch at BoG
2nd day - Disney Springs
3rd day - Epcot
4th day - Magic Kingdom: Breakfast & Dinner at BoG

Well, after being in Magic Kingdom the first day, I really got a desire to go to Animal Kingdom. So, when I got back to the hotel that first day evening, I did this:

2nd day - Animal Kingdom: Breakfast at Rainforest

And then I changed the 3rd day to this:

3rd day - Magic Kingdom: Breakfast BoG

And then made the last day Epcot. So, yeah. It is very possible to winging it.
 

Tom 55

Well-Known Member
#14
Disney uses Free Disney Dining as a promotion during different times of the year. Just released the information for Free Disney dinning July 5th threw Sept 30 2019. During these periods of time the conversations I have had with people who were winging it was that they could not get reservations for TS restaurants. Free Disney dining allows guest that would not normally pay the TS cost to get TS as part of the free promotion. Depending on the dates that your are going this is something you need to be aware of.
 

Rista1313

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#15
Disney uses Free Disney Dining as a promotion during different times of the year. Just released the information for Free Disney dinning July 5th threw Sept 30 2019. During these periods of time the conversations I have had with people who were winging it was that they could not get reservations for TS restaurants. Free Disney dining allows guest that would not normally pay the TS cost to get TS as part of the free promotion. Depending on the dates that your are going this is something you need to be aware of.
I’ll heed your warning, but I’ll have to respectfully disagree. There are tons of TS restaurants. I’m thinking your people weren’t very flexible in where they were willing to eat. We are also only a party of 2, so it’s easier than a family.
 

JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
#16
I’ll heed your warning, but I’ll have to respectfully disagree. There are tons of TS restaurants. I’m thinking your people weren’t very flexible in where they were willing to eat. We are also only a party of 2, so it’s easier than a family.
Yes there are lots of TS restaurants but the issue is that when FREE Dining is available LOTS of people are attracted to those period of times and book to take advantage of the offer. TS reservations online and by phone are slammed. The difference in making ADR's and having available tables when Free Dining is offerred and when its not is immense. Even having a 2 person party, youll may find it difficult. Tables at the better rated restaurants get taken first and then people are forced to book whats left even if its not their desire.
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
#17
I’ll heed your warning, but I’ll have to respectfully disagree. There are tons of TS restaurants. I’m thinking your people weren’t very flexible in where they were willing to eat. We are also only a party of 2, so it’s easier than a family.
@Tom 55 is actually largely correct.

Up until a few years ago my wife and I were at the parks monthly or more making "winging it" our default travel plan. Free dining promotions drastically reduced the number of available tables across the board. Even largely unknown and less popular restaurants were booked solid for day of reservations. Walk ups were all but impossible.

One thing to remember is Disney staffs the restaurants based on the number of ADRs are in the system plus a little cushion. If a restaurant only books to 50% capacity, it will only be staffed to handle that capacity plus a little more. This makes walk ups pretty hard even on a normal day let alone a day when you have a park full of people trying to use up dining credits that they have no reservations for.

One thing that we found worked fairly well was to make dining reservations either the night before or morning of. We would just search the app for reservations in or around whatever park we were at and for whatever meal we wanted and pick from what was available. If nothing on that list tickled our fancy, we ate counter service.

Being a party of 2 will help, but I fear that if you try to do walk up during free dining, you will either find yourself waiting a long time or being turned away.
 

Rista1313

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#18
@Tom 55 is actually largely correct.

Up until a few years ago my wife and I were at the parks monthly or more making "winging it" our default travel plan. Free dining promotions drastically reduced the number of available tables across the board. Even largely unknown and less popular restaurants were booked solid for day of reservations. Walk ups were all but impossible.

One thing to remember is Disney staffs the restaurants based on the number of ADRs are in the system plus a little cushion. If a restaurant only books to 50% capacity, it will only be staffed to handle that capacity plus a little more. This makes walk ups pretty hard even on a normal day let alone a day when you have a park full of people trying to use up dining credits that they have no reservations for.

One thing that we found worked fairly well was to make dining reservations either the night before or morning of. We would just search the app for reservations in or around whatever park we were at and for whatever meal we wanted and pick from what was available. If nothing on that list tickled our fancy, we ate counter service.

Being a party of 2 will help, but I fear that if you try to do walk up during free dining, you will either find yourself waiting a long time or being turned away.
Thanks... I didn't plan on walking up.... I planned as you suggested, either looking the night before, or the morning of.
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
#19
Thanks... I didn't plan on walking up.... I planned as you suggested, either looking the night before, or the morning of.
That is very doable as long as you are not on the dining plan.

A plus to that strategy is that you often end up at places you would never normally go. We found a few hidden gems doing that. We also had a few stinkers, but the gems well outweighed the stinkers.
 
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