What to do when restaurants are being refurbished? (Disney World Tip)

So, it's 180 days prior to your trip and you're making your Advance Dining Reservations and you find out the restaurant you really, really, really want to eat at is scheduled for refurbishment. Even though all the rumor blogs say the restaurant will reopen before or during your trip, they aren't taking reservations yet. What do you do? 

If you've read my earlier post with tips on how to schedule ADRs like a Disney ninja, you've got a great start. But, unfortunately, restaurants sometimes have to be closed for refurbishment, just like rides. This can be super frustrating, especially if it's an "important" restaurant like Cinderella's Castle. I've known folks to reschedule their entire trips because missing Cinderella's Castle is a deal breaker for them. This is especially the case for families that don't go to Disney often, or maybe plan to visit Disney only once in their lives!

Being unable to schedule an important restaurant (because of refurbishment) at the 180-day mark has actually happened to me twice. On our 2013 trip my mom had her heart set on watching fireworks from the California Grill but it was closed for refurbishment in the weeks prior to our trip, and for our upcoming trip in 2015 Cinderella's Castle will be closed for refurbishment, scheduled to reopen on March 6th (at the very end of our trip). 

In both instances, we knew the restaurants would be closed and so we booked alternate restaurants at the 180-day mark, then began persistently checking. For this, you don't need to call at 6:55AM, but you do need to call consistently--- weekly if it's far out, daily as you get closer. My mom and I split up the weeks so the burden of calling wasn't always on one person. When we called we asked two questions: 

1 - Can I make a reservation for (restaurant, date)?  

2 - Do you know when I WILL BE able to make a reservation?  

You'll find that you'll get inconsistent responses. Don't be discouraged if one rep tells you that you won't be able to make the reservation at all --- this happened to us, and it was not true. Keep an eye on the Disney rumor blogs because they're usually spot on, and keep in mind that the restaurants usually open prior to their posted re opening date. Any time you are calling Disney about anything related to your trip, it doesn't hurt to ask about your outstanding restaurant, either! And ALWAYS be polite and curteous to the representatives you speak to, they are your best resource!

In 2013 we were able to finally book the California Grill about two months prior to our trip, which means we'd called consistently for four months! But it was worth it! The experience of watching the fireworks from our table during dessert was a great way to start our trip!  

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For our upcoming trip we booked our ADRs in August, and just today we were able to finally book Cinderella's Castle! My mom had called about adjusting the time of a different reservation and took the opportunity to ask at the end of the call and --- voila! I had called the day before and been told it would be a few weeks still, so that just goes to show that you should be consistent despite what you may be told because you never know when those reservations will open up!

The girls are excited to eat in the castle again and this time we have an early morning reservation, which means an opportunity for pictures in front of the castle with no crowds! We've never had that opportunity before and I'm possibly more stoked about that than the character meal. Also excited to see what changes are being made during the refurbishment: I have my fingers crossed for a brighter dining space instead of the authentic (but drab) interior that they have now. I promise to post pictures as soon as we are in so you can see what changes have been made, too! :-)

I hope these tips help you if you find yourself in the same sort of predicament. Just remember: don't get discouraged! If the restaurant will be reopened during your trip, reservations will most likely open up before your arrival date. If you are persistent and consistent you have a good chance of booking them for your family! 

Need to check what refurbishments are going on during your trip? I rely on Kenny the Pirate's website for that, you can see the list of attractions/restaurants that will be closed for refurbishment here. 

NOTE: In this post I talk about calling daily, but you can also stalk the online dining website scheduler. For some folks stalking the website multiple times per day is probably easier than calling, so I wanted to make sure I mentioned that option!  :-)