TR: October in New Disney World--Highs, Lows, and Lessons (Magical!) - PassPorter - A Community of Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel Forums
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If you miss us, you can still find some of us online. Sara started a new blog at DisneyParkPrincess.com -- I strongly urge you to visit and get on her mailing list. She IS the Disney park princess and knows Disney backward and forward. And I am blogging as well at JenniferMaker.com, which is a little craft blog I started a couple of years ago to make ends meet. You can see and hear me in my craft show at https://www.youtube.com/c/jennifermaker . Many PassPorter readers and fans are on Facebook, in groups they formed like the PassPorter Trip Reports and PassPorter Crafting Challenge (if you join, just let them know you read about it in the newsletter). And some of our most devoted community members started a forum of their own at Pixie Dust Lane and all are invited over.

So we encourage you to stay in touch with us and your fellow community members wherever works best for you!

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Old 11-02-2014, 09:43 AM   #1
elbodans
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TR: October in New Disney World--Highs, Lows, and Lessons (Magical!)

while in DHS on our first day in the world (and in want of a restroom), my husband commented: it is so great coming here with you. i don't even need a map.

on the third day, as we stood in line for spaceship earth, he asked me how long the ride was. i replied, without blinking: 15 minutes. he did not believe me. so he googled it. yep. fifteen minutes.

i am not a disney novice. and i planned our trip--my husband's first*--with the blind gusto of someone who knew what she was doing.

as it turns out, i did not know what i was doing.

and so, i bring to you this trip report, filled with the things i learned about what i am calling New Disney World. as i do not use capital letters as a rule, know that by capitalizing that, i really mean it.

*PTR here: http://www.passporterboards.com/foru...sband-wdw.html

but first, a bit of background....

as i hinted at above, i've been to WDW a lot. like twice per year, once-for-almost-a-whole-month, i-wrote-an-actual-book-about-it a lot. i even started a disney blog with my friend, a fellow (mostly-ex) passporter (i am no longer a part of said blog, but said friend is still going strong). but because of a change in work/life*, i've not been back for a year and a half. my last visit was in may of 2013. that really does not sound like it was a long time ago, except that in disney time, it really was. in disney time and in tracy time (i'm tracy). both disney and i have changed since spring of '13.

one could say it was a simpler time....

but i digress. long story short: i changed. disney changed. and then we hung out and were like 'who the heck are YOU?’

*change in work/life may also have had an effect on my perception of WDW. i now travel for work 100% of the time, often on extremely short notice. i spent more nights in marriott rooms this year than i did in my own bed. and i flew 35K miles in the month of january alone.

and so i bring to you the story of my trip, with all that i learned from the many things i did wrong. i'm formatting like this--first, a summary of each day in almost-tradional trip report style, then the highlights and lowlights of that day, finishing with the lessons i learned that i will take with me as i plan my next trip.

because there is ALWAYS a next trip.

i hope i can help some of you plan your first, second, or fifteenth trip. learn from my mistakes. don't make your own. it’s much more magical that way.

first installment coming later today!
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Old 11-02-2014, 09:57 AM   #2
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I've been looking forward to this to hear what went well and what didn't go so well, as by the time we go back in February, it'll have been something like 16 months since we were last in the World (November 2013), so I want to see what I can learn from this...
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Old 11-02-2014, 09:59 AM   #3
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Interesting approach. I really like your plan to depart from the typical TR format.

P.S. Book? :::: perk :::: In print? Available from? Tell us more, do. PM me if you'd rather not sidetrack the thread, if you would, please.
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Old 11-02-2014, 10:12 AM   #4
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Been waiting for this . Hopefully it ends with Magical
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Old 11-02-2014, 10:16 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Her Dotness View Post
Interesting approach. I really like your plan to depart from the typical TR format.

P.S. Book? :::: perk :::: In print? Available from? Tell us more, do. PM me if you'd rather not sidetrack the thread, if you would, please.
book is in mostly final draft form, in a drawer. life happened, and publishing didn't. (i had a publisher. this was years ago. by now, who knows if she is even still alive. )

everyone else: glad to hear you are looking forward to it! i have some errands/family stuff, and i need to figure out if/how i'm going to include photos, but i should have the first day posted by tonight (it is already outlined--my husband helped me outline the whole trip last night. while wearing his R2D2 mickey ears in our living room.)
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My Previous TripsCape Cod and Alaskan Cruise, Summer 2006 (a two-coast honeymoon); Las Vegas, Summer 2009 and 2010; London, Paris, and Amsterdam, Summer 2010; Walt Disney World, November 2010 (for NCTE Convention) Beach Club; WDW, March 2011 CSR; WDW at AKL and Universal at Portofino, May 2011, Epic Road Trip: Maine Coast and Atlantic Canada, July/August 2011; Extended Disney Research Trip, September 2011, Windsor Hills Condo; Uber-last-minute Bermuda Cruise, NCL Gem, October 2011, Colonial Williamsburg and Bush Gardens, November 2011, New Orleans and Western Caribbean Cruise, January 2012
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Old 11-02-2014, 01:12 PM   #6
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I haven't been to the World since June 2013, so I'm hoping to learn from your experience.
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Old 11-02-2014, 02:51 PM   #7
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ok. here we go. please note: i've outlined this, so it is going to look like a blown up outline. also: sorry, but there will be no photos. i have time to do exactly this much. if i start uploading and editing photos, this will be the trip report that never happened.

Day 0: Friday

Summary:

Travel. we both worked all day. i drove from north jersey to the philly airport (long story why). 88 miles, 3.5 hours in bumper to bumper traffic. i met my husband just beyond security; he had been in the club lounge for over an hour, having encountered no traffic on his commute to the airport. fortunately i arrived with enough time to grab dinner at legal seafood (three terminals over) before boarding. we were upgraded (i fly so much for work i have status so that happens most of the time) and this was the second-best first class section i've yet experienced. we had full-sized recliners with enough leg room to park a dining room table in front of us. it was nice. my husband slept all the way there--there was snoring.

Arrival. because we arrived so late, there were few DME buses running. thus, we waited forever for the bus to leave MCO. also thus, our bus was going to GF, CR, POR, and OKW in that order. we were off the plane at 11:10pm and were not in our room at POR until after 1am. and then we went to sleep.

Highlights:

First class upgrade
Finally going to sleep!

Lowlights:

DME

Lessons:

When arriving late at night, skip DME and pay the $70 for a taxi (or rent a car, which would have helped later in the week, too.)

Day 1: Saturday

Summary:

Slept in. You must be able to understand why. I believe we set the alarm for 9am, and got up right away with no snooze button. Because Disney World!
Bus to DHS. Our first 'have to be at a place at a time' was a 12:05 lunch reservation at Brown Derby. But we got to the bus stop at 10:15, the bus to DHS immediately arrived, and we were walking through the gates by 10:30. which was kind of magical. i turned to my husband and said 'this NEVER happens'.

Indiana Jones. Because we had time before lunch, I steered husband towards Star Tours, as it was his #1 must do, so I thought we may as well start off with it, even though we did have a FP for later in the day. But we only got as far as Indiana Jones, which was 15 minutes from show time. So we went in, as this was also on his list. He liked it but did not love it.

Lunch at Brown Derby. By the time Indian Jones was over, it was time for our lunch reservation. I love Brown Derby, and it did not disappoint. I was interested to see that they now have a proper lunch menu. Last time I was there, it was the same menu for lunch and dinner. Ironically, this actually ended up costing me more money, as instead of 'just' getting the cobb salad as my meal, i got the 'small' cobb salad AND a lunch entree. i had the pasta alfredo (which is SO unlike me) and really, really enjoyed it. my husband had the andouille crusted chicken sandwich. now, i have to say: chicken sandwiches are BORING as a rule. not this chicken sandwich. he shared it with me (meaning 'when he got full, he said i could have whatever was left') and i could not stop eating it. i don't think i've ever met a chicken sandwich that i could not stop eating. it was SO GOOD. highly recommend.

Tower of Terror. by this point it was time for our ToT FPs. this is one of my favorite rides, but my husband was mostly going on to make me happy. after the first drop he was like 'IS IT OVER YET???' we didn't ride it again for the rest of the trip, but i give him credit for trying!

Star Tours 2x. it was almost time for our next FPs at star tours. ALMOST. so instead we did the standby line, which was about 20 minutes. my husband was SO PSYCHED. we did one i'd never done before, where you actually fly into the death star. he continued to be psyched. then we went right back on again with our FPs. he was a happy star wars nerd.

Tried to find wine. at this point, the sun and the crowds were starting to get to me, and i decided a drink would help. so we tried to find wine.

this is where it all went wrong.

first we went to the tune in lounge. i grabbed a seat on a two-seater love seat, and immediately a woman and her two children sat down WITH me (so much for saving a seat for my husband as he ordered us drinks). so i got UP (because personal space) and stood at the bar with him, waiting to be waited on. we stood there for five minutes. no one even made eye contact with us, so we walked out. fail one.

we located sangria at the CS spot that is shaped like a boat (i do not know the name of it) but had some SERIOUS issues getting actual alcohol. you see, there was a REALLY long line. which my super awesome husband agreed to stand in. but when he finally got to the front, his magic band didn't work. well, more accurately, his PIN didn't work (we have no idea why; it had worked earlier and it worked later in the day). so he got OUT OF LINE to come get the credit card from me (we were counting on the magic bands but i insisted on bringing one alternate form of payment). i wrongly assumed that he said 'hold on be right back', came to get the credit card from me, and then went to pay for the wine he already waited for and ordered. nope. they made him totally get out of line. after sitting there for what i deemed way to long, i went up to see what was taking him so long and found him in line again (at this point, at least a half hour had passed from the first time he got in line). i FREAKED OUT, like yelling screaming freaked out, made him get out of line, and stomped away. fail two.

now here's the thing: disney is good at a lot of things. taking your money is #1. and i would have HAPPILY given ANY AMOUNT of money for just one drink at that point. but no. to get said drink necessitated standing in line behind people ordering cheese burgers and using disney dining plans. there was no 'hey, i'd just like a glass of wine' option anywhere. this did not make me happy, and was my first non-magical experience of the trip.

Commissary for wine. after much wandering around looking for a shorter line at a place that sold any kind of adult beverage and then some googling, my husband determined that the ABC commissary serves wine. so we stood in line THERE, also behind people who were ordering food. after another maybe 15 minutes, we were able to order drinks. i. ordered. two.

it took us an entire hour just to order a drink. not cool disney, not cool at all.

Toy Story. after just one of the drinks i ordered (they were individual bottles of wine, so i made my husband carry the other in his pocket until i was ready for it later), it was time for our TSMM FP. i have never, not once, boarded TSMM this quickly before. it was actual magic. before we rode, i told my husband that we needed to bet something to make it more competitive. he could not think of what he wanted if he won, but i thought of mine right away: if i won, he had to purchase and wear mickey ears for the entirety of the trip.

want to know who won? i think this is actually worthy of uploading a photo...



note: i consider that to be the single best photo of the entire trip. i showed it to strangers in line for dole whip. i am not kidding.

Streets of America. then we wandered around streets of america, which were less stunning than usual because the osborne lights were up already (but obviously not on at 5pm in late october). my husband marveled at what a waste of space streets of america is, and i assured him that eventually it will be knocked down to make room for a star wars land. i hope.

Muppets. then he made me do muppetvision 3D. which i hate, but which made him happy.

Got on Boat. at this point it was after 5 and we decided we'd had enough of DHS. our original plan was to stay for the 7:30 fantasmic and then take a bus to GF for our 9pm reservations at citricos. but that seemed like too much for one night. so we instead made a series of REALLY POOR DECISIONS. the first one being 'hey, let's go to F&WF on a saturday night! sogot on the boat and headed to epcot. except the boat is SUPER SLOW, so we ended up getting off at....

Beach Club and Hurricane Hanna’s. this was actually a really good idea. the sun was setting over the 'lake', and it was lovely. i took a million photos, we had a drink at hurricane hanna's and chatted with a single woman watching the game there. it was nice. and then we...

Attempted Saturday Night Wine and Food Fest. bad idea. bad bad BAD BAD so bad worst idea EVER. just don't.

we had one bite of food, though i'm not really sure how. and then we got. the. heck. out. of. dodge.

Taxi to Riverside. as we approached the bus area at epcot, we watched the bus to POR pull away. and i was like NOOOOOOO! so we looked to the left, saw the taxi stand, and got into a taxi. seven minutes and $12 later, we were back at POR. best money spent EVER.

Dinner reservation fiasco. and then it all came crashing down. you see, we had reservations at citricos for 9:05pm. but it was 8pm, we were exhausted, and just wanted to be within walking distance of our beds. so we thought 'we will just lose the $20, go back to our hotel, eat dinner there, and go to sleep'. yeah. not so much.

we walked up to the podium at boatwrights--which i sincerely expected to be a ghost town at 8:15pm, small resort restaurant as it is--and asked for a table. they said no. we said 'well what time do you think there will be a table' and they. said. no. they were not taking walk ups, but we were welcome to eat at the counter service location next door.

ummm. no. i don't know if you've met me (a couple of you have) but i do not eat at CS places as a rule (there are a few exceptions, but none include a crummy hamburger at 8:30pm on a saturday night).

this is when we learned extremely important New Disney World lesson #1: you can no longer walk up to ANYWHERE and get a table. ever.

i strongly, strongly dislike this.

after about an hour and a lot of my husband groveling (he talked to the concierge who not only could not help us, but chastised him for missing our citrcos ADR. i was like 'i don't CARE that we lost money, i'm HERE, not THERE and i'd like to sit down at some point and have someone bring me food on a plate') he managed to get a buzzer thingie. we were seated around 9:30pm.

clearly we should have gone to citricos. and clearly our let's not make too many ADRs this week plan was a poor one.

Yee Haw Bob. oh--and while waiting for our table, we 'got to' listen to yee haw bob for a bit. except i could not enjoy it because i was starving and furious.

Dinner at Boatwrights. after all of that, i do have to say that our actual meal at boatwrights was really, REALLY good. like worth going back for sure. i had the fried chicken with collards and red beans and rice (because i planned to have the leftovers for breakfast the next day, which i totally did and it was great even cold) and my husband went for andouille crusted food for the second time that day with the catfish (a fish he loves but i do not and thus i never cook at home). it was really, REALLY good. highly recommend boatwrights. just make a reservation.

Highlights:

Husband: Star Tours.
Both of Us: Beach Club and Hurricane Hanna’s. This was a much-needed break from the parks, and really we should have ended our day here.
Actual Dinner.

Lowlights:

Trying to find alcohol at DHS/Magic Band Fail.
Dinner Fiasco.

Lesson:

Always have a backup form of payment. because we had the magic bands, my husband wanted to 'pack' super, SUPER light for the parks and take NOTHING ELSE. i insisted on at least our IDs and one credit card, all of which i carried. this was so, so important when A. the magic band pin failed and B. we needed a taxi. and C. they ask for ID when you buy alcohol no matter what, so take your ID if you are going to drink. even if you are old like us.

Never, never, NEVER go to wine and food festival on a Saturday night. Never. It wasn’t about the lines; it was about the crowds, the inability to move, and the darkness. It was a moving sea of people. And I'm not sure why it was so dark, exactly. I don't ever remember it being that dark in Epcot, and there were definitely un-lit lights. I had trout from Canada and my husband had filet--we have NO IDEA what they looked like, and ate them with mostly our hands while squished up against the wall of a restroom.

Always take a taxi. people spend thousands of dollars on disney vacations. and then they spend upwards of two hours per day being transported around on the slowest transportation system EVER. i am so glad we chose to take a taxi this first night, because we continued to do so for the rest of the trip. our return to the airport aside (no way were we doing DME again, and definitely not at 4am), we spent around $75 total on taxis over the course of a six day stay. hands down the best money we spent in WDW.

Make dinner reservations and make sure they are realistic. as i said above, you can't walk up to ANYWHERE anymore. so if you want to eat, make sure to make an ADR. and make sure that ADR is realistic. for us, that means it is near or in our resort, as we like to end the night in a relaxing way. or give up on TS dining all together. i love TS dining, but i did mention that at some point, i'd like to try to do an all CS dining trip. it would be an interesting challenge (for me) and would definitely save a LOT of money (so, so much money...)

And the final lesson: Maybe don’t try to do this much stuff in one day.
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My Previous TripsCape Cod and Alaskan Cruise, Summer 2006 (a two-coast honeymoon); Las Vegas, Summer 2009 and 2010; London, Paris, and Amsterdam, Summer 2010; Walt Disney World, November 2010 (for NCTE Convention) Beach Club; WDW, March 2011 CSR; WDW at AKL and Universal at Portofino, May 2011, Epic Road Trip: Maine Coast and Atlantic Canada, July/August 2011; Extended Disney Research Trip, September 2011, Windsor Hills Condo; Uber-last-minute Bermuda Cruise, NCL Gem, October 2011, Colonial Williamsburg and Bush Gardens, November 2011, New Orleans and Western Caribbean Cruise, January 2012

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Old 11-02-2014, 03:11 PM   #8
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I'm really enjoying reading your lessons learnt and I'm so with you on a lot of them - particularly renting a car vs. Disney Magical Express. We've done DME a couple of times and once it was great, once it was terrible and after that terrible experience, we said we'd stick with renting a car. And as for Food and Wine on a Saturday night - oh my goodness, do I hear you on that one! We made that mistake on a previous trip and that is a side of Epcot I never ever want to see again.

It's interesting about the dining thing, as I was tweaking dining reservations today, as I keep hearing back from friends in Orlando about when they can meet up with us and I keep adding them to reservations and I was only saying earlier how shocked I am that I can do that with most of our reservations. I guess you must have hit Disney during a busy time - I think as I said at the time, it was certainly a free dining period for UK visitors and I know that usually means that dining is really hard to get on the day.
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Old 11-02-2014, 04:48 PM   #9
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I'm really enjoying reading your lessons learnt and I'm so with you on a lot of them - particularly renting a car vs. Disney Magical Express. We've done DME a couple of times and once it was great, once it was terrible and after that terrible experience, we said we'd stick with renting a car. And as for Food and Wine on a Saturday night - oh my goodness, do I hear you on that one! We made that mistake on a previous trip and that is a side of Epcot I never ever want to see again.

It's interesting about the dining thing, as I was tweaking dining reservations today, as I keep hearing back from friends in Orlando about when they can meet up with us and I keep adding them to reservations and I was only saying earlier how shocked I am that I can do that with most of our reservations. I guess you must have hit Disney during a busy time - I think as I said at the time, it was certainly a free dining period for UK visitors and I know that usually means that dining is really hard to get on the day.
see that's the thing--it wasn't hard to get, and it wasn't crowded. they just would not seat you without a reservation.

case and point: i COULD have made a reservation for boatwrights using the app. for twenty minutes from when i was standing at the podium and they said no. but i couldn't do it, because i had already booked citricos (i'd have had to call to cancel and at that point i was unwilling to sit on hold). so there WERE reservations. in fact (and this will come up later) i decided, after that fiasco, to book dining for the rest of the week. i had NO PROBLEM doing so (and even got one absolutely fabulous reservation at rose and crown for illuminations on less than 24 hours notice.) you can MAKE reservations last minute. but you can't EAT without one.

that's where i have the problem. they would rather have empty tables than allow someone without an ADR to sit. i don't even understand that from a business perspective.

but yes, i believe it was free dining for UK residents. most of the people around us were from the UK (or at least sounded like they were. and i observed many people ordering apps, entrees, and dessert. )
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My Countdown Counting down to: Food and Wine Fest 2016
My Previous TripsCape Cod and Alaskan Cruise, Summer 2006 (a two-coast honeymoon); Las Vegas, Summer 2009 and 2010; London, Paris, and Amsterdam, Summer 2010; Walt Disney World, November 2010 (for NCTE Convention) Beach Club; WDW, March 2011 CSR; WDW at AKL and Universal at Portofino, May 2011, Epic Road Trip: Maine Coast and Atlantic Canada, July/August 2011; Extended Disney Research Trip, September 2011, Windsor Hills Condo; Uber-last-minute Bermuda Cruise, NCL Gem, October 2011, Colonial Williamsburg and Bush Gardens, November 2011, New Orleans and Western Caribbean Cruise, January 2012
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Old 11-02-2014, 05:27 PM   #10
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Some parts of your day/evening were rough. But sounds like you finally got things worked out.

Note - I had to call one night on our recent trip to cancel an ADR, and I was surprised to not have a wait. But, I do think there should be an option to do it online, even if they make you acknowledge the cancellation fee.
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Old 11-02-2014, 08:07 PM   #11
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Very interesting day. I will have to remember your lessons for our next trips.
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Old 11-02-2014, 08:37 PM   #12
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I've always enjoyed your reports, and I'm happy to say that this one is no different, despite the lack of your usual gorgeous photos. Looking forward to more! We are going over Thanksgiving with the ILs, so I need to know what I'm doing. I think I'll learn a lot here!
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Old 11-02-2014, 09:58 PM   #13
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I love that you are calling it the New Disney World--cause it's totally true!
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Old 11-02-2014, 10:36 PM   #14
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Love this TR format! You have definitely given it the right name, the New Disney World.
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Old 11-03-2014, 01:43 AM   #15
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see that's the thing--it wasn't hard to get, and it wasn't crowded. they just would not seat you without a reservation.

case and point: i COULD have made a reservation for boatwrights using the app. for twenty minutes from when i was standing at the podium and they said no. but i couldn't do it, because i had already booked citricos (i'd have had to call to cancel and at that point i was unwilling to sit on hold). so there WERE reservations. in fact (and this will come up later) i decided, after that fiasco, to book dining for the rest of the week. i had NO PROBLEM doing so (and even got one absolutely fabulous reservation at rose and crown for illuminations on less than 24 hours notice.) you can MAKE reservations last minute. but you can't EAT without one.

that's where i have the problem. they would rather have empty tables than allow someone without an ADR to sit. i don't even understand that from a business perspective.
Wow, that is insane!
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