In previous posts, I've talked about the need to make Advanced Dining Reservations (or ADR's) as part of your planning when taking a trip to Walt Disney World.
One part of the ADR process I haven't discussed as much is what time you should make your ADRs for.
The time of your reservation can have a significant impact on not only what you eat, but how much it might cost.
To start off, let's review a bit of background knowledge when it comes to table-service restaurants at Walt Disney World.
- Breakfast generally is cheaper than lunch.
- Lunch generally is cheaper than dinner.
- For buffets, lunch usually starts around 11 a.m.
- Lunch and dinner usually have similar (if not the same) menus.
With these basic thoughts in mind, let's examine how the time of your ADR can affect your dining experience.
If you happen to be an early riser, an early (pre-park opening) ADR at an in-park restaurant offers you a wonderful opportunity to have a few moments to stroll into a park before the rest of the crowd. I've done this at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. It's a nice, relaxing stroll. No attractions are open, but it does make a great opportunity for unobstructed photos. If you happen to get a very early ADR (like 7:30 a.m. or so), you might be the first at the buffet, meaning the entrees will be fresh.
If you're a brunch kind of person, then you want to think about a 10:30 or 10:45 a.m. ADR at a buffet restaurant like Crystal Palace or Chef Mickeys. There are two benefits. First, you are paying the breakfast rate. Second, you stand a good chance of having "breakfast" choices for your first trip and "lunch" choices for your second (or third, or fourth...) trip.
If you're a late night person, but don't want to pay those dinner prices, then try to get an ADR at the very end of the lunch period. Restaurants vary a bit on the lunch to dinner switch, so it's a good idea to check some online menus, or check the restaurant page on the Disneyworld.com Web site. If you plan it right, you will get an early dinner at the cheaper lunch price, even though the lunch and dinner menus are similar or the same. This works very well when taking advantage of those late Extra Magic Hours or during special party nights (MNSSHP or MVMCP). Why waste "party" time eating? Get a late lunch and then enjoy a snack later that night.
A quick note -- Disney Dining Plan members are still charged a table-service credit, no matter whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner, so there really isn't any cost savings by choosing breakfast over lunch or lunch over dinner. I still recommend thinking about your ADR times, though.
So before you start making those ADRs, give a little thought to when you want to eat. Depending on what time you choose, you may be giving yourself a little extra treat!