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  1. #16

    • Darkbeer
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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/com..._for_vale.html


    If you're planning on taking your sweetheart out to dinner for Valentine's Day, I hope you already have your reservations--especially if you've chosen a Disney restaurant. With the popularity of the Disney Dining plan, many restaurants are booked way in advance. For example, we used to be able to make an ADR ("Advance Dining Reservation" as Disney calls it) for Le Cellier the night before, but lately even a week ahead isn't far enough in advance. And if you've been on Disney property this week, you'll notice the crowds are quite high. We stopped in at Downtown Disney around lunch time on Sunday and it was as packed as if it were Christmas.
    Even onsite guests are complaining about this new push for the dining plan because they have to book restaurants so far in advance that there's no room for spontaneity. Heaven forbid they should later change their mind about their dining plans and want to rebook.
    Check out my Theme Park Photos at http://darkbeer.smugmug.com

  2. #17

    • back in Austin
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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Have any of you read one of the Unofficial Guides to DL or WDW? I really enjoyed the DL one I read several years ago. They take a pretty realistic look at the park experience. There's an interesting chapter in them titled "The Death of Sponteneity". In it, they defend their somewhat "commando-style" approach to theme park planning. You don't have to go overboard with the planning, but their point is that if you arrive at the parks clueless, you'll end up having wasted a lot of your time and money and will probably end up cranky and frustrated.

    Also, Kevin, I like your 20-20-20-20-20 scheme, but I'm guessing the Griswolds could still occupy many of the tables. They're the kind of people who would inform themselves of the situation. If told that they can't reserve the table 180 days in advance (cuz the other Griswolds got there first) , they'd be ready at 6am one week before the date. But I'm sure you're right that it would help level the playing field a great deal.

  3. #18

    • back in Austin
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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Regarding FP, someone needs to provide empirical evidence (properly adjusted to account for seasonal variations and such) and put an end to this debate once and for all. All we have is a bunch of park-goers and their subjective experiences ("the lines used to be shorter" vs. "the lines were pretty much the same").

    Hear me, college students? One of you needs to make a science out of this, do your master's thesis or doctoral dissertation on it and publish it here on MC. But you'd better account for ALL variables: park attendance, overall trends in ride popularity, impact of the internet and centralized reservation systems, blah blah blah.

  4. #19

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    I agree with your reservation plan - allotting seats just like the airlines do.
    As far as Fastpass - it should be reserved for the occasional visitor and annual passholders should be banned from using it. The AP's know the angles and have the chance to use them more often. Not fair to the visiting family from Ohio that saved up all year for the big vacation.

  5. #20

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Long time reader - first time poster here;

    We have DVC and mostly travel to WDW the last week of August. We have never had a problem getting priority seating the day we get into town.

    This last trip we were encouraged to try the DDP by the DVC vacation planner who was helping us. She mentioned we could make reservations 180 days out but did not stress the need to do so at all. After reading a few message boards I thought it best to attempt to make reservations the week before we were leaving.

    After spending nearly 45minutes on the phone with another DVC vacation planner, we did not come away with one reservation during our ENTIRE stay. Not one. Fortunately for DVC members, we do not pay for the DDP until we check in, and we are able to cancell it as long as we do so at least 24hrs prior to arrival. We obviously cancelled.

    That is all it took for me to realize that the DDP is one of those things that is just too good to be true. I agree with you Kevin - our whole vacation experience is now being forced to change. We go to WDW, we bought into DVC, BECAUSE we want to relax. We don't plan in advance, we have been there and done that, we know what we want to do and we go there to do just that. If there are no changes in the near future, we are now going to be forced to plan where we are going to eat on any given night on a vacation that is 6mos away and just hope that we are going to be in the mood for that food on that given day.

    Ugggh.

  6. #21

    • ...or just Tonny
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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Nice article. However, your view on giving concierge guests any sort of priority is a bit odd...whatever happened to treating everyone equal? Isn't the fact that they get to stay in an expensive hotel room priority enough? That, at least, doesn't have a negative effect on other guests.
    Ad luna in flamma gloria

  7. #22

    • Rock Star Minion
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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Quote Originally Posted by RenMan View Post
    Regarding FP, someone needs to provide empirical evidence (properly adjusted to account for seasonal variations and such) and put an end to this debate once and for all. All we have is a bunch of park-goers and their subjective experiences ("the lines used to be shorter" vs. "the lines were pretty much the same").

    Hear me, college students? One of you needs to make a science out of this, do your master's thesis or doctoral dissertation on it and publish it here on MC. But you'd better account for ALL variables: park attendance, overall trends in ride popularity, impact of the internet and centralized reservation systems, blah blah blah.
    I don't know where someone might get pre-FP data. A park would have to shut down the FP system, probably for a year, in order to account for the variations you mention.
    Oh well, the knowledge willbe important. So, shut them down (and then forget how to reboot them).
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

  8. #23

    • Basking in birthday love
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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    On the morning of our Epcot visit on this last trip, we called from the shuttle to the park for lunch reservations at Akershus and got a 1:10 table. We didn't bother with the Dining Plan, because I don't know how or if CM discounts figure into it, and Akershus was the only table service we did, aside from Bongo's. (Granted, we actually ate very little on our trip, usually just eating breakfast and a late dinner at the hotel and getting a quick snack somewhere during the day.)

    As for Fastpass, meh. The explanation in the park maps requires about a kindergarten comprehension level. The first summer of Fastpass, we were tourists from out of town who hadn't visited in a year or two; my brother read the map walking in and decided that we should give this Fastpass thing a shot. When Single Rider premiered, my 10 year old sister figured out how it worked before the rest of the family. I once saw a Chinese tourist who clearly didn't speak any English puzzle out the fact that the empty Jungle Cruise line would take him to the dock too, and zipped ahead of all the English-speaking tourists waiting in the longer line. There's a certain reward for basic intelligence built into the queuing system, and I wholeheartedly support that.

    Cinderella IV: The Bloodening

    "It's okay, Beaker, we're scientists. We get paid to fail."

  9. #24

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Kevin, great job on the dining article, but you forgot something critical to the problem and I hope you can address this in part II: The growing number of character meals and the fact that so many table service restaurants have become partially or completely character/princess experiences while no new table service restaurants in the parks have been built to compensate for it.

    Character meals have their place, but at the MK especially they're beginning to take over the park's foods roster and I don't think the MK has had a new table service restaurant open in a few decades, right?

    The other bizarre thing is restaurants that close for an hour or two between lunch and dinner instead of just running one right into the other. It seems like a cheap cop-out, plus it requires the casual guest to basically know the hours of the restaurant in advance. We didn't know hours for restaurants were printed on the Times Guides until the trip was almost over.

  10. #25

    • ...or just Tonny
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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Quote Originally Posted by RenMan View Post
    Regarding FP, someone needs to provide empirical evidence (properly adjusted to account for seasonal variations and such) and put an end to this debate once and for all. All we have is a bunch of park-goers and their subjective experiences ("the lines used to be shorter" vs. "the lines were pretty much the same").

    Hear me, college students? One of you needs to make a science out of this, do your master's thesis or doctoral dissertation on it and publish it here on MC. But you'd better account for ALL variables: park attendance, overall trends in ride popularity, impact of the internet and centralized reservation systems, blah blah blah.
    Is it really that hard to find out how it works? Regardless of the crowds on any day...there are only so many ride units to be given away, depending mainly on the operating hours and the sum of all attraction's capacities. It's only a matter of how you distribute these units over all individuals. Distribution without a fastpass(-ish) system means that all visitors are equal. Introducing fastpass means giving out more units to people who use the system, leaving less units to give to those who don't
    Ad luna in flamma gloria

  11. #26

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    First of all, it seems to be getting really hard to make dining reservations since the dining plan. I think we all can agree on that.

    Secondly, I don't care what any of you say, Fastpass is the best invention since sliced bread. I have spent years of my life waiting in theme park lines, ski lift lines, cash register lines, motor vehicle lines, lines to get to the next line lines, etc. For anybody to take one less line out of my life...for no charge mind you...is a total blessing. It's there for everybody to use or not use. I have no problem accepting Fastpass, and never will. Go to Six Flags and pay for their version of Fastpass and then come back to Disney and take the freebie...oooh that feels good!

    I also think the internet is chock full of complainers. Not you, Mr. Yee. You're a writer and you're doing stories on issues at WDW. It makes sense for you to journalistically cover both sides of a Disney park. I just think that people love to chime in and air their complaints and the internet finally gives them a place to be heard. I mean, was someone actually complaining that there was only one type of wood smoking their meat at the Wilderness Lodge? And that a castmember made a mistake on a van ride and clearly offered to come right back and rectify it?

    I used to log on to places like Trip Advisor and research hotels and resorts, Disney included. Negative, negative, negative. Then I get there and I look around and I think to myself, "Were these people staying in the same place as I am? Disney, especially, seems to bring out the kivetchers everywhere.

    I'll go on record saying that in the last 4 years, we've been to WDW 4 times, once a year. That's fairly consistent. I'm pretty well informed. I know the place well. I'm still as thrilled as ever. What they do for me in a weeks time pretty much blows the doors off of every other place I go to. I'm not just talking vacation destinations either. I'm talking service in general. Ever come back from a Disney trip and then go to a mall or a supermarket and get treated like crap by an employee and realize, "Gee, I guess I'm back in the real world. I wish everyone would stop their complaining and try to enjoy themselves when they're in WDW. Otherwise stay home or go to Universal.

  12. #27

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Quote Originally Posted by cbarry View Post
    I also think the internet is chock full of complainers.
    Welcome to the internet! You'll fit right in!
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

  13. #28

    • Volleyball Dad
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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Quote Originally Posted by danyoung View Post
    It's getting much harder to get ADR's at the more popular places without booking way in advance. For years I've usually booked dining about 6 week to 2 months ahead of a trip, and have had no problem. The past couple of years, though, since the DDP, places like Le Cellier and the Coral Reef have been totally booked at 2 months out. And forget trying to find something on the day you visit. Well, in Epcot you can usually find a spot at the Nine Dragons or Marrakesh, but that's about it.

    And I agree with Kevin in that the DDP is encouraging more folks who used to be happy with a burger and fries to eat at the fine dining spots. Great for Disney, but it does lower the atmosphere for those of us who do know how to behave in a nice restaurant. Sounds snobby, I know - but it's the truth.

    Yep, I am booking some for a short June trip right now and already certain times are issues at Cali Grill & Le Cellier and some of the breakfasts --
    " Disney Parks- far from perfect- but still a great shelter from the storm "

  14. #29

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Very interesting read, Kevin. And pretty spot on.

    First, I want to commend you for mentioning how WDW used to advertise itself as The Vacation Kingdom of the World ... things like swimming (including the lakes), boating, horseback riding, golf, tennis etc ... were all part of the plan (that also included the MK and later EPCOT Center) ... but it wasn't all about getting up at 5 a.m. for a character breakfast and rope drop and in bed by 10. (By the way that scenario sounds like HELL to me, not a magical WDW vacation!)

    The Dining Plan (brought to you by the same small-minded execs and consultants behind the whole Destination Disney/Big Brother plan) has obliterated WDW resort dining as we once knew it.

    There was a time (20 years ago) when only APers (who were almost entirely Floridians) could make reservations (and they were real, hard ressies ... not show up for an 8 p.m. PS and still be sitting at 8:54) and even they could only be done TWO DAYS ahead of time. Dinner shows could be booked a year or even two out.

    Of course, back in those days, the restaurants had REAL menus with pages of offerings and specials. The fine locations also had dress codes that were actually enforced.

    But I'm getting off on a tangent as I'm known to do sometimes (no cheap shots, please).

    The Dining Plan has made it near impossible for ANYONE (be they local, APer, frequent guests, once in a lifetime visitors) to be spontaneous. You decide you want Italian food for dinner tonight? Hah. Sorry, you had to book that back on November 16th at 3:47 p.m. (when the last table for four went).

    This week's Valentine's Day. You're a local. You just decided you want to take your honey to Jiko ... outta luck buddy, you have the Cosmic Ray's crowd complete with Pooh tees, strollers and screaming brats eating their filets and mac'n'cheese because 'it's included with the plan.'

    You're an APer from NJ and decide to surprise your folks with a week's spring break stay at the Poly, but they can't decide what to wear today late alone what to eat for seven days in three months time ... surely the locations will leave tables open for walk-ups, right?

    Nope, Tell Mom and Dad they can have Pecos Bill's ... or Cosmic Ray's ... or maybe they want Chinese at Lotus Blossum.

    For every guest they make happy by this scheme (and that's what it is as it is designed to get the money up-front, while lowering choices and quality across the board), they likely piss off 2-3.

    It is an asburdly guest (all guests again ... not just locals ... or all guests who aren't anal enough to be on the phone at 8 a.m. 180 days out) unfriendly policy.

    It dumbs down the offerings incredibly. You want lobster at the Coral Reef? Hah. That's funny. Next one. You want menus that don't all feature one-two beef entrees, one salmon, one chicken, one pasta and one veggie entree? Diversity may be in at WDW, but that's only when going to the furthest reaches of the planet to truck in cheap labor.

    It also completely alienates the locals (remember how much you needed them in early 90s? and 2001-2003, execs?) who will go elsewhere (perhaps, Universal) rather than be forced to book a weekend dinner three months in advance.

    It's a joke. Just like the info they require just to make you a PS to begin with ... name, home address, zip code, how many visits, last time visited, what resort are you staying at? ... WAAHHHHT?!??! You aren't staying on property yet you want to eat at Le Cellier?

    Oh and one quick comment on DDE. It started in 1995. I know I'm an original member. At the time it was $25 FOR TWO CARDS. Same 20% discount just fewer locations at Epcot.It was designed for LOCALS. A way to get them in and tap that market that wasn't tied to the Mouse. It was great ... and got better when more locations were added in the late 1990s.
    But, menus were also expanded, dinner came with soup or salad and was about 40% cheaper across the board to begin with vs. today ... now, they tossed that out to DVCers and APers. Basically anyone can get the 20% off. That too has added to the dumbing down. Captive audience. Screw everyone else.

  15. #30

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Quote Originally Posted by MickeyMania View Post
    Kevin, great job on the dining article, but you forgot something critical to the problem and I hope you can address this in part II: The growing number of character meals and the fact that so many table service restaurants have become partially or completely character/princess experiences while no new table service restaurants in the parks have been built to compensate for it.

    Character meals have their place, but at the MK especially they're beginning to take over the park's foods roster and I don't think the MK has had a new table service restaurant open in a few decades, right?

    The other bizarre thing is restaurants that close for an hour or two between lunch and dinner instead of just running one right into the other. It seems like a cheap cop-out, plus it requires the casual guest to basically know the hours of the restaurant in advance. We didn't know hours for restaurants were printed on the Times Guides until the trip was almost over.
    Great points.

    I remember when the only character meal at the MK was breakfast at the castle and it wasn't the 'event' it has become.

    They've ruined the Crystal Palace with Pooh ... taken away dinner at Liberty Tree ... destroyed the solitude of the Land Grille Room ... etc ...

    But everyone goes to WDW to meet and interact wit the characters after all, right?

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