Disney Planning: Dining Reservations

This past Sunday was a significant landmark in the Disney trip planning cycle ... 180 days to our arrival in Orlando.

As all experienced Disney planners know, reservations for Disney restaurants can be made 180 prior to the reservation date.* So, on Sunday, I dutifully logged on to the Disney dining reservation site and made our first-night reservation.

When we first arrive in Orlando, we don't usually visit a Disney park on the first day. After traveling, checking in to the hotel, getting settled ... most of the day is burned and we don't want to waste a park ticket day. But we do like to have dinner on Disney property in order to sort of break into the Disney spirit. This dinner is followed by a ride around the entire monorail system, both the Magic Kingdom loop and the Epcot loop. I'd hoped to get us a table at the Hoop De Doo Revue (HDDR) at the Fort Wilderness campground, near the Magic Kingdom. I figured we'd ride the boat over to the Magic Kingdom and hop on the monorail from there.

But ... the best laid plans, etc, etc. No reservations were available. I didn't think that the HDDR was a wake-up-first-thing-in-the-morning-and-start-hitting-refresh-twnety-minutes-before-reservtaions-open sort of meal.** Some online message board research revealed that many people were having trouble with August HDDR reservations and the prevailing thought is that it's shutting down for refurbishment. Bummer.

I admit I was more disappointed than I had any right to be. I even went through a brief moment of "Here we go ... all my planning is for naught" self-pity.

Then I regrouped and made a reservation at the Wilderness Lodge's Whispering Canyon Cafe. Then I rethought things once again, and decided a new experience is always preferable to a repeated experience (we'd eaten dinner at the WCC in 2006), so I made a new reservation at Ohana in the Polynesian Resort, instead.

And I'm happy with it. We'll be right at a monorail resort and we can ride around to our heart's content before getting to bed nice and early in anticipation of an early start at the Animal Kingdom the next morning.

I've already booked reservations at Boma, at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, for dinner the next day and Raglan Road, in Downtown Disney, for dinner the following night.

Hopefully things continue to run smoothly, planning-wise, from here on out.


*This is for Disney guests staying off Disney property. Disney resort guests have 180+10 days for reservations.

**Prior to the online reservation system, I used just this sort of technique on the dining phone line to score a coveted first sitting of the day reservation for breakfast in Cinderella Castle.

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