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How to Get Every Advanced Dining Reservation ADR you want at Walt Disney World!

Guest post by Melissa from PrincessRants.com

How to Get Every Advanced Dining Reservation ADR you want at Walt Disney World!

When I share with my friends my strategy for making Advance Dining Reservations, they always look at me like I’m crazy. But inevitably when their own trips to Disney World come around they wind up lamenting to me about how when they called for reservations to Cinderella’s Castle or Hoop De Doo Review they were told that the restaurants were booked up.

If you’re wondering to yourself  “who is this person and why should I listen to her about making dining reservations at Walt Disney World?” I don’t blame you. But on our 2013 trip we were able to book not one, but two reservations for Be Our Guest Restaurant (which is still really hard to book), Cinderella’s Castle, California Grill (in the first week post-refurbishment), and many, many more. In 2013 we had over 25 Table Service ADRs for our trip, and in 2015 we had the same success, booking over 30, including Cinderella’s Castle for the week it opens after refurbishment!

For those of you unfamiliar, ADRs are “Advanced Dining Reservations”. Disney World restaurants begin taking ADRs 180 days in advance. I wrote a bit about the different steps in trip planning earlier in my Trip Planning 101 post. The big disclaimer from that post that is worth repeating here is that I’m not saying this strategy is right for everyone— I’m definitely a type A over planner, and my level of obsessive pre-planning would probably drive some folks bananas. I know there are lots of families that like to be very flexible and un-scheduled on their vacations. I’m just not one of those people. I like to know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, and ensure that everyone gets to do as much of their “wish list” as possible. Dining is a big part of our Disney experiences, I’m a big believer in family meal time and many of our favorite memories were made at a character or castle meal. Scheduled meals make a great break from the park, and an opportunity to relax in AC while still technically participating in the Disney experience (especially when we’re talking Character meals). I know that table-service restaurants aren’t as important to everyone, but if experiencing a particular venue is critical to you, I’ve got some tricks that might help you out.

So, with that caveat, I’d like to share with you my “secrets” for getting every dining reservations on our wish list:


You need to make your trip itinerary in advance. I start this months in advance and have the “ideal” schedule buttoned up at least a week in advance of the ADR date. Our plan goes through several revisions as I get feedback from the rest of the family going on the trip. Together, we try to imagine how the days will go, and what risks there are (i.e., the nuts and bolts of getting from place-to-place, meals timed too far apart or too close, etc.). We research travel options between parks to make sure that our expectations are reasonable when making reservations for the same day at two different locations. Continue reading How to Get Every Advanced Dining Reservation ADR you want at Walt Disney World!

Illuminations Reflections of Earth photos

These photos were taken with a Nikon D5200 using an 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 Nikkor lens.  Click on any picture for a larger image.  Photos were taken from the Mexico Pavilion area on September 27, 2014.Illuminations at Epcot in Walt Disney World Continue reading Illuminations Reflections of Earth photos

My Royal Coronation Breakfast review

This morning my daughter and I made our way to Epcot’s World Showplace to take part in a special one-time event that was known as “My Royal Coronation Breakfast.”  It featured a full breakfast buffet and a meet and greet session with Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen.

When I first posted that this event, being put together by a group of travel agents (www.disevents.com) with a passion for creating magic, the responses varied from how awesome it would be to take part, to some wanting to change their travel dates to take part, to some who thought it was some type of scam.  Well, I can confirm that it wasn’t a scam and it was a lot of fun for my little girl.

We met up at Epcot this morning about 8:00am.  I had worked a full ten hour shift the night before, got a shower and headed over to take part.  We found the line forming on the far right hand side.  The line to enter the park moved really quickly and we were on our way through Epcot to the World Showplace in between Canada and the United Kingdom

My Royal Coronation Breakfast with Anna and Elsa from Frozen (1)

The little Elsas and Annas were really excited to get there and meet their favorite Royalty!My Royal Coronation Breakfast with Anna and Elsa from Frozen (4c) Continue reading My Royal Coronation Breakfast review

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

location_icon Location:   Frontierland

alarm_clock Attraction Length:  3.5 Minutes

fp icon2 Fastpass+:   YES

wheelchair Accessibility:   Must Transfer from Wheelchair/ECV

The wheelchair/ECV queue is located at the EXIT to the ride on the far right hand side.  Getting in and out of the vehicle can be a bit daunting for some riders.

disney world attraction height limit Minimum Height:   40″

disney world attraction ride warnings Warnings:   For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.

Single Rider:  NO

On-Ride Photo:  NONE

On-Ride Video:  NONE

Maximum Speed:  35 mph

Seating:  Riders side 2 or 3 (based on size) on each bench with a single lap bar shared between them.  Put your arm around those younger tikes to keep them from sliding back and forth too much.  Each train has 15 rows of seating in total.

Weight and Size Issues:  This ride can be a tight fit for taller guests needing leg room.  Larger guests may ask to ride alone for more comfortable seating.

Rider Switch:  Offered at Fastpass return

Small children who are unable to ride or frightened to ride may enjoy the Splash Mountain play zone, the Walt Disney World Railroad or Tom Sawyer Island nearby while the remainder of the family ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Extra Magic Hours:   Evening

This fun roller coaster is a huge hit with family members of all ages. It is a runaway mine train in and out of darkness with many sharp hairpin turns that slide you back and forth in the car. The Imagineers have added some fun interactive elements to the queue.  Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is great to ride at night and especially during the fireworks!

Kids love riding in the rear of the train!

Ride early, ride late or use Fastpass+


  • Train names:  There are six Big Thunder Mountain Railroad trains available. Their names are: I.B. Hearty, I.M. Brave, I.M. Fearless, U.B. Bold, U.R. Courageous and U.R. Daring.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is 197.5 feet tall, putting it 1/2 of a foot short of Cindererella Castle’s 198 feet which is the tallest structure in the Magic Kingdom

Hidden Mickeys:

  1. As you re-enter the station, you’ll find three rusty gears lying on the ground with some brush around them.
  2. There’s a hidden Tinker Bell.  As you exit, you’ll see it in the red rock work on the right side.

RATE Big Thunder Mountain Below, share your comments on the attraction and share with your friends!

Order your KennythePirate’s Character Locator swag

When I feel I might meet a new character or when there’s a big character event like Villains Unleashed or Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, I often wear my special red shirt with the big character pointing hand.  Many people have asked if they can order the same shirt.  It’s now available by ordering at Spreadshirt.  I even updated the image a little.  I’ve used them for over 2 years and I’ve been very happy with the quality of the shirts and the imprints never wear off.  Just click the image below and it will take you to the store to look around.

If you order today or tomorrow, Spreadshirt is offering free delivery on orders of two items or more with the code “Layerup2”

New KennythePirate tshirt

Anna and Elsa meet and greet offering another “TEST”

Disney World is set to offer yet another test concerning the Anna and Elsa meet and greet at the Magic Kingdom.  They previously made guests show up early in the morning, with no warning, and pick up a paper return card.  Well, that test has long passed and Disney has decided to confuse their guests again from September 22-25.  It relates to those who were hoping to use the Stand by queue, not those with pre-arranged Fastpass+.

The Cast Members have been told to allow the queue to fill to an estimated 60 minute wait, then guests wishing to join the Stand by line, will be directed to the Philharmagic Fastpass+ kiosk or they are told they can use their My Disney Experience app to schedule a Fastpass+ for a time later in the day.  Once the additional “day of” Fastpasses are gone, you will not be allowed to meet Anna and Elsa.  These additional Fastpasses will only be released at rope drop on the mornings of September 22-25.

This seems even more confusing to me because the cards were told to go to the stand by line, but are all the Fastpass+ people now joining a single FP+ line, thereby congesting the line further?  I’ll head over in the morning and see what is actually going on with the continuing saga of Frozen confusing tests.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Historic Reviews

Some readers have asked if I could easily categorize my reviews of things like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Star Wars Weekends.  I’ve decided to take up this challenge and I’ll update this list each time I provide a new review.  This list will take on the Halloween Party reviews.  I will also be linking this list to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Guide to make it easy to find in the future.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Reviews:



Disney World water rides schedule their annual refurbishments

Disney World continues it’s annual refurbishment of it’s water rides during the month of January.  I would suppose that Disney World chooses this month because the crowds are low and the temperatures are lower, meaning the demand for water attractions are at the lowest of the year.  It’s a bummer to those who choose to travel in January, but part of what we deal with to keep the attractions running in an optimized state.

  • Splash Mountain  at the Magic Kingdom will be closed from January 4 through 30
  • Kali River Rapids  at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be closed January 20 through February 4

In case you haven’t heard already, the Studio Backlot Tour will close forever on Saturday, September 27.  I’ll be offering a meet up in front of the attraction at 6:00pm.

  • Studio Backlot Tour – Closing permanently September 27

I’ll also be offering farewell meet ups for the following attractions:

Wreck-it Ralph and Vanellope at Hollywood Studios– October 3 at 5:00pm

Maelstrom final ride meet up – October 5 at 8:00pm.  I encourage you to schedule a Fastpass+ in the 8:00-9:00pm range in advance.

View the complete list of Walt Disney World Refurbishments

Disney World Characters, Disney World Vacation, Disney World Entertainment, Disney World Times Guide, Disney World Resorts, Disney World Tickets, Disney World Hotels, Walt Disney World