Visitors familiar with Walt Disney World know how difficult it can be to get reservations at some of the most sought-after restaurants on property. Travelers scramble to secure hot tickets, like Cinderella’s Royal Table and Le Cellier, when the booking opens 180 days in advance. And Be Our Guest (Beast’s castle) in the Magic Kingdom? Forget it! You basically need to be staying at a Walt Disney World resort so you can book it even sooner or luck into a cancellation. So is it any wonder that some families have found a way to experience some of the top Disney restaurants without a reservation?
Recently, we have observed families with young children eating at the bars in restaurants such as the California Grill at the Contemporary hotel or lounges such as Tune-In adjacent to the 50s Prime Time CafÃ© at Hollywood Studios. Bar seating doesn’t, of course, require a reservation, and may be the only way to gain entrance to a particular eatery that is booked solid six months in advance. Our family has never tried this, but I’m curious how other adults feel about sitting at a bar next to unrelated children. Do you feel like that area should be restricted to adults of legal drinking age or is first-come, first-served the best way to handle the open seating?
Walt Disney World has introduced a policy with its newest lounge, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at the Polynesian Village, that is something of a compromise. The bar opens at 4 p.m. daily and welcomes all guests until 8 p.m. After that, access is limited to guests 21 years and older until closing time at midnight. Trader Sam’s is modeled after the original lounge at the Disneyland hotel and serves “light bites” in addition to an extensive menu of specialty drinks. It is a highly anticipated addition to the re-imagined Polynesian hotel. Although Trader Sam’s doesn’t take reservations, it’s expected to have hours-long waits for at least the first few months of operation, so I wonder if this clear-cut policy will make guests grumble or accept the inevitable. (Trader Sam’s is in soft opening now and is expected to have its official opening toward the end of April.)
So, is eating at the bar a great tip for families or something that is best left to the adults? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments!