Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Importance of Being Fed - Free dining and ADRs

When we made our WDW reservations, we were hopeful that free dining would be made available in December this year as they did for the first time last year. Our dreams came true! It does mean that we have to check in on Dec 9 for our room only reservation and then check in AGAIN on Dec 10 for our “free dining” package but no matter! Any inconvenience is made up aplenty by the amount of money that we’re saving.

For those not in the know about free Disney dining, here's quick run down. Essentially we get allocated 1 snack credit, 1 counter service credit and 1 table service (TS) credit for each night that we stay at a Disney resort. We can then choose to spend them as we wish. Some dining establishments are worth more than others. Others include character interactions or shows. Guests are allowed to make reservations 180 days in advance hence the term ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations).

I am highly excited as I am keen to try the various Disney dining options. If free dining had not been offered, I fear that the frugal side of me would have taken over and we would not have stepped into any Disney dining establishment. I was also overcome with sheer relief when I saw the infinite number of restaurants to choose from. Relieved that I don't have to make the choice!

Our Dining Colonel did us proud and when the 180 day mark rolled up, he provided our friendly Disney specialist travel agent (TA) with a list of our preferred ADR choices, along with alternative dates, venues, times (all ranked of course and tied in with our theme park strategy). I felt sorry for our poor TA. She wasn't just given instructions, she was given a complete algorithm. If you can't get A, then try for B. If B is also not available, then C and D won't work, in which case you'll have to get E and F instead. If you can't get H, then we'll have to swap days for J and A (or B depending on which one we get),...

Well, she managed to get most of our first choices! Here's what we've got booked.

Dec 10: Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom) @ 8:15am - Breakfast with Pooh and the gang prior to rope drop
Dec 10: Wolfgang Puck Café (Downtown Disney) @ 6:00pm
Dec 11: Biergarten (Epcot Germany) @ 12:20am
Dec 11: Bibbity Bobbity Boutique (Magic Kingdom) @ 3:30pm - Some princess beauty styling for Lara in preparation for baby K's 3rd Birthday party at CRT
Dec 11: Cinderella Royal Table Dinner (Magic Kingdom) @ 5:35pm - Dinner with the Disney princesses at the awesome centrepiece of WDW which is THE CASTLE.
Dec 12: Akershus Princess Storybook Breakfast (Epcot *Norway) @ 8:05am - another princess breakfast
Dec 12: Coral Reef Candlelight Processional Dinner Package @ 5:05pm - Dinner "in" an aquarium followed by a nativity narration by Steven Curtis Chapman
Dec 13: Hollywood Brown Derby Fantasmic Lunch Package (Hollywood Studios) @ 2:00pm
Dec 14: Donald’s Safari Breakfast (Animal Kingdom *Tusker House) @ 8:05am - a meal with Donald and friends
Dec 14: Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge Resort) @ 7:00pm for a Mums' night out
Dec 15: California Grill (Contemporary Resort) @ 7:20pm Dad’s turn
Dec 16: MVMCP - Not really dining but counting it here for the cookies...
Dec 18: Chef Mickey’s Breakfast @ 8:15am - Breakfast with Mickey and friends
Dec 18: Le Cellier's (Epcot) @ 6:45pm

The only reservation we're not completely sold on is the Fantasmic Lunch package at Hollywood Brown Derby. We're torn between a more sensible lunch hour and not having to wait in line for Fantasmic. Also we're not sure if it is worth 2 TS credits just to keep the lining up to a minimum. The risk is that it will be extremely busy as it is close to Christmas and there is only one show scheduled for that day.

On Dec 19, we have organised a non Disney dining experience...GASP! We are going to Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament, where we'll eat a whole chook with bare hands, drink out of goblets, and be served by wenches whilst cheering our knights onto victory! The tickets have been purchased and the bus booked. There is no turning back! Go blue knight go!!!!

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