Walt Disney World opened Advance Dining Reservations (in part) today, with select resort restaurants debuting when the hotels reopen beginning next week. We called bright and early at 7 am, and wanted to share our results here, along with some tips so you can avoid the same experience we had waiting on hold. (And by “we” I mean “Sarah times two.”)
You might recall that previously, Walt Disney World cancelled all reservations, including Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs). Going forward, Disney will shift from a 180-day booking window to a 60-day booking window for dining and experience bookings going forward to allow guests to make their plans closer to their visits.
While ADRs for theme parks have not yet reopened, guests with Walt Disney World resort hotel reservations for arrivals June 22 through July 10, 2020 can now make dining reservations for select resort restaurants and Disney Springs dining locations. Of course, this comes with a catch…
You cannot make these reservations via Disneyworld.com or the My Disney Experience app–and you can only book the limited selection of restaurants on the Dining ‘Know Before You Go’ Info page. (The second list–not the Mobile Check-In locations.)
Instead, it’s like a throwback to a decade ago, when you had to call the Disney Reservation Center at (407) 824-1391 to check availability and make reservations. Alternatively, if you’re a Disney Vacation Club Member, you call Member Services at (800) 800-9800.
Our expectation is that this phone-only system will be short-lived, and is likely an interim solution will Walt Disney World continues preparing its online systems for the Advance Theme Park Reservation system, plus the shorter ADR booking window. We hope dining reservations for July 11, 2020 and forward will be bookable via the app or website.
In the meantime, here’s our experience for anyone else with an upcoming hotel or DVC resort reservation who wants to book dining before Walt Disney World’s theme parks reopen…
Naturally, Walt Disney World’s reservation call center phone lines were jammed right at 7 am on the dot.
This always happens on release or ‘drop date’ but it’s compounded right now by the reality that these call centers are short-staffed due to Walt Disney World’s ongoing furloughs.
Sarah was initially quoted a 2-hour wait, and called with both of our phones in case the call got dropped or one inexplicably got through significantly earlier than the other.
This might sound like overkill, but these are time and battle-tested strategies based on “our” past misadventures in calling Walt Disney World reservation centers.
Now, you might be thinking that I should’ve pulled my weight and made the call on my phone. That’s arguably a fair point.
My counterpoint would be that there’s literally nowhere on earth I want to eat badly enough to wait on the phone that long. I wouldn’t sit on hold for 15 minutes to book reservations at Sukiyabashi Jiro, let alone 2+ hours for the Wave… of American Flavors.
Plus, I was tasked with the equally unenviable assignment of watching Good Morning America to see Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel share an update on health and safety measures.
Spoiler: there was no new information presented, just this Incredibles informative health safety campaign…which doesn’t even feature the characters wearing face masks. (Side note: is it just me, or does Good Morning America feel a lot like QVC. Why so many ‘product deal’ segments?!)
In any case, Sarah’s call to the reservation center was dropped at around 8:30 am (vindicating that concern and the necessity of calling on multiple devices).
She eventually got through at 9:30 am. It was, quite literally, a 2 hour 30 minute wait time.
Everything we wanted had plenty of availability for every single time slot, and we booked what I presume to be the most popular restaurants right now. (Of course, now our reservations won’t link in My Disney Experience, so hopefully we actually have them!)
The moral of the story there is not that demand is super high, but that staffing is super low. It’s also possible that a lot of people who are not eligible to book ADRs are calling, or people are clogging up the phone lines with other questions unrelated to today’s booking options.
Accordingly, if you have any degree of flexibility for your upcoming Walt Disney World trip, we’d strongly encourage you to wait until later this afternoon or even a few days from now.
Given the eligibility criteria for booking, it’s unlikely that most Advance Dining Reservations are going to “sell out” quickly.
If you do opt to call, be sure to have your hotel reservation confirmation number, your address, and email address associated with My Disney Experience.
Additionally, we highly recommend writing down your dining confirmation number, as you may not receive email confirmation and it might not appear in My Disney Experience.
Our other tidbit of advice–and this was gleaned from social media, not our firsthand experience–is to call the Disney Vacation Club’s Member Services but only if you’re a DVC member.
We didn’t try this as Member Services opened two hours later, but some reports indicated people were getting through the DVC line in under 20 minutes.
Ultimately, none of this should come as any surprise. If you’re a seasoned veteran of Free Dining drop day or any time when something new is released or changes, you’re probably familiar with the long waits on hold. Perhaps naively, we were hoping for better results today since so few guests are eligible to book reservations.
With lots of changes and tweaks to the website and My Disney Experience app over the course of the last few days, we’re expecting an announcement about the Advance Theme Park Reservation System very soon (probably before the end of the week). We would once again strongly encourage you to make sure all of your ducks are in a row with linked tickets, accounts, and My Disney Experience generally. If this morning was a preview of what’s to come, there are going to be some loooong waits on hold for anyone who needs help troubleshooting problems once that park entry reservation system goes live. Either way, we’ll keep you posted.
Did you call this morning to make Advance Dining Reservations? Did you call the general Walt Disney World reservation line, or DVC Member Services? How long did you wait on hold? Were you able to reserve all of the restaurants you wanted? Anything not available? Do you have plans to visit Walt Disney World this summer or fall, or have you cancelled? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!