I've been going to Disney World for a long time now. Each time, we take extra time prior to leaving to plan carefully where we'd like to eat. This has always been great for us because for the most part, we are always able to get reservations at the restaurants we want. There have only been a few exceptions to that - most always when we want to go to Le Cellier and we need to be a little more flexible on dates or times.
Disney recently changed their Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) window from 180 days in advance down to mere 90 days in advance. While I'm sure your thinking that's still plenty of time to get a dining reservation, you'd be VERY surprised. To a self-proclaimed Disneyholic who prides herself on being super-planned for trips, this spells disaster!
My first not so magical experience with this came this summer when trying to plan my upcoming trip for September. We had a list of the restaurants we wanted to go to and a good idea of dates, only to find when we called that pretty none of that was available. We then had to resort to a lotto like system where we'd say we want restaurant A, when is it available or what is available on this date. This didn't make for a very pleasant experience at the very least. Thank goodness the representative was very patient! I ended up being on the phone for almost 2 hours! Crazy! Needless to say, we still got reservations at great restaurants and overall are very happy with our choices.
I am now in the painful process of trying to plan dining for my Christmas trip. I called the regular dining reservation line and already ran into problems because we switch resorts mid-way through our vacation. She can only make reservations for the first part of our stay that's reserved which is Dec 21-23, if we want anything for the latter part of our vacation (Dec 24-Jan 2), I have to wait until the end of the week to call back. This was a huge disappointment knowing how much trouble this has already been that I need to wait additional time so places can get booked even more! I digress; I tried online reservations only to be tied up for an hour trying to put fractions of time in just so I could get options. I then decided to call DVC to have them do it, only to be greeted by an impatient agent wondering why I couldn't do it online. When I explained I don't have the time to keep putting in increments of time just to get an option or other choices, she told me what I see is what they see. To which my response was, "Can you not check the days and restaurants for me then?" At that point, things seemed to change and then we got to rolling with the magic list.
Not even an hour later, I have confirmed dining reservations in hand for my trip and I am a happy camper! I cannot wait until Disney goes back to 180 ADRs. This works so much better for the super-organized Disney planners! For now though, I will be ecstatic that we got a reservations at all of our choices! Now I just have to wait 90 more days to get there!