"I'm late / I'm late / For a very important date. / No time to say 'Hello, Goodbye,' / I'm late, I'm late, I'm late."
- White Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland
During a recent visit, my family and I were waiting for the boat to take us from Magic Kingdom to the Fort Wilderness Campground. It was late afternoon and cloudy, and judging from the lightning strikes in the distance, thunderstorms were on the way. A cast member announced to those of us waiting on the dock that only the large boats were running (due to the lightning threat), and there would be about a 20-minute delay before the next one arrived.
A couple was sitting on one of the benches with a small child. As soon as the cast member had finished his announcement, the gentleman said loudly, "Well, I have a dining reservation at 4:10. What are you going to do about that?" It was 3:55. I think the cast member was taken a little off-guard since he responded, "Well, this is Mother Nature's fault so there's not much we can do about it." Then he added, "Maybe you should take a bus." After they had left (with the Dad mumbling and flailing his hands in disgust), the cast member admitted that there was still no way they were going to make it on time.
I've heard--with some skepticism, I admit--stories about guests blaming Disney for bad weather, but this was the first time I'd actually seen it happen. This guy clearly thought he had every right to wait to leave the park until 15 minutes before his Advance Dining Reservation (or "ADR") and the cast member had an obligation to make up for the inconvenient weather.
This was a great example of the remarkable sense of entitlement many guests feel while they're in the parks. One cast member described it to me long ago as a matter of, "I've paid a lot of money to get in here, and everything is going to be perfect ... or else. Even things that are beyond human control under normal circumstances."
Even more importantly, however, it's a great reminder that if you're going to go to the trouble of making an ADR for a great meal at Walt Disney World, don't waste your effort by waiting until the last minute to get to the restaurant! Although cast members will allow a 15-minute window for late arrivals, if you're relying on Disney transportation to get you from a park or resort to the restaurant, you should allow one hour of travel time to ensure that you don't miss out. Especially when we're talking about hard-to-get reservations for locations like Beaches and Cream or 'Ohana, I wouldn't want to be the one having to explain, "Well, folks . . . um, . . . they said we're too late and they've already given our table to someone else." Besides, who wants to try and enjoy a giant 'Ohana feast or Kitchen Sink Sundae with stress-induced indigestion? I'm fairly confident that the cheeky gentleman on the dock did not end up enjoying his meal at Trail's End or wherever he was headed.
If you have tips and/or experiences to share to help others get the most out of their Disney dining experience, please share them in the Comment section below.