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  1. #1

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    2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Are Walt Disney World's dining programs increasingly unappetizing for visitors? Plus reader e-mail, and more... discuss it all here!
    "Politics is the profession whereby the inevitable is made to seem a great human achievement" - Quentin Crisp

  2. #2

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    The DDP has effectively ruined the restaurant reputations at WDW. As apassholder, I would love to visit a restaurant now and then, especially some of them that have become so well known. Last time I did eat at Coral Reef, once a top-tier restaurant, it was packed with crying babies, fat belly tube tops and all others who generally would not dine there had it not been for the DDP. I was taking out of town family and was embarrassed to say the least. Until that is fixed, I'll keep my disney dining limited to fast service. It really is a shame.

  3. #3

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Wonderful article Kevin. I, like you, particularly disdain the fastpass and the dining issues. I too remember the days of being able to pick any restaurant the day of your trip and how nice and wonderful it was to have that choice. In fact, a few months ago my wife and I were in Orlando and decided to head over to Downtown Disney for some dinner. The parking there is ridiculous, and in addition to that, there wasn't one restaurant outside of fast food on the entire property that didn't have at least a 3 hour wait due to the dining plan. We finally wound up sitting at a bar somewhere after waiting 30 minutes. We weren't happy, and neither were a lot of people. It's probably maximizing profit for Disney, but it's definitely reducing the magic. My favorite quote from Walt was one where he said, "There comes a time where you stop doing this for the money." I guess that time has passed, and I sorely miss it because it seems that todays mindset of managers at Disney says "Now, we only do it for the money."

    I'll leave my rant on fastpasses for another day.

  4. #4

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Looks like Disney is getting pass crazy next will be the DBP (Disney Bathroom Passes) if you don't add it (a 9.99 value!) you get to use a port-o-john.

  5. #5

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Great article Kevin.

    I agree to an extent.

    We actually didn't have any issues with getting into restaurants in October, but that may have been our luck. Even places like 50's Prime-Time we were able to get in on a Saturday going there in the morning for "Priority Seating".

    As for the Dining Plan ... even for us, a family of 4 that actually tried to have 1 sit-down meal each day ... it didn't make any sense.

    The first day in town we drove to Winn-Dixie, got b-fast stuff (donuts, juice, mini-muffins, etc). This prevented us from having to get breakfast everyday and it was stuff we could take "on the go" either on the way to the parks, or even in the parks.

    We also took your advice and got the "drink all you want coffee cups" which we LOVED!!!! (we still use the cups BTW)

    Then, like I said, we would generally have 1 sit-down meal each day and one fast food type meal. (not everyday mind you, but most days)

    But ... even with that, at the end of our stay, looking back we didn't spend $40 per adult each day on 'food'. If you add in the other things, then yeah.

    And to be honest, we kind of liked the freedom of not having to make sure we had so many meals.

    Plus, if your planning on going off-site for any days, the dining plan probably won't be worth it either.


  6. #6

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    I love the idea of making dinner reservations available sequentially.
    Last edited by PragmaticIdealist; 02-13-2007 at 08:14 AM.

  7. #7

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Thanks for the great article.


  8. #8

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    I appreciate Kevin's wonderful insights to the current problem of finding a restaurant for locals and guests who do not plan in advance. Frankly, I LOVE the current dining options for WDW. I am in California and do not live locally. I am also a planner, so making my reservations 180 days in advance is part of the FUN of going to WDW. On my first trip to WDW, I felt the pain of not planning and waiting 3 hours to get a table for lunch in the MK. NEVER AGAIN! So now I plan well in advance.

    But I do sympathize with the people who have the problem. However, I would not reserve 20% of the tables for certain people. I think of it was price controls on products. If demand is so high, the solution is not to limit the amount that can be bought but to increase the supply!

    Build more restaurants
    So first, I would INCREASE the number of restaurants and capacity of current restaurants. That seems like a WIN/WIN solution. Disney makes more money and guests have more options.

    Centralize Reservations
    Second, I think in the age of computers, a center at each park should be created so that spontaneous dinners can go to search all the restaurants at once as to either Time available or Price. That way guests would not have to waste time going from restaurant to restaurant asking if there is available tables.

    That would be my solution!
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  9. #9

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Quote Originally Posted by JiminyCricketFan View Post
    Centralize Reservations
    Second, I think in the age of computers, a center at each park should be created so that spontaneous dinners can go to search all the restaurants at once as to either Time available or Price. That way guests would not have to waste time going from restaurant to restaurant asking if there is available tables.
    That kind of exists now - just stop at Guest relations. I meant to include in the article a picture of the A-frames they have out at Guest relations, showing at a glance where dining reservations for today can still be made (and you can see at that same glance that dinner is almost always sold out at Epcot now).

    The other problem, of course, is that non-planning tourists often don't KNOW to visit guest relations to make reservations. So they hop from restaurant to sold out restaurant.
    Kevin Yee
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    I am the author of several Disney books:
    Jason's Disneyland Almanac - a daily history of Disneyland
    Walt Disney World Hidden History - tributes, homages, and ride remnants at WDW
    Your Day at the Magic Kingdom
    Mouse Trap
    Tokyo Disney Made Easy
    101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
    Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

    “The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather

  10. #10

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    Cool Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    "Foremost among them is the problem that anyone who elects NOT to use the system is getting the short end of the stick—they wait in longer lines (the standby lines) than would have been the case in a world that had no FastPass"

    I'm tired of hearing this nonsense. The posted stand-by waits for Space and Splash are pretty much what I waited pre-FP. The typical stand-by wait for Peter Pan in WDW is the same as the wait for PP in DL, which has no FP. If you elect (i.e. choose) not to use the system and don't like long waits, you are simply a fool. A lot of people wait 1-2 hours to enter the Louvre instead of buying a Paris Museum Pass and avoiding the wait. Tough luck for them, boo-hoo-hoo and I don't care. This information is freely available to all, and it's your fault if you don't seek it out

    "
    My point has always been that the parks need to cater to everyone..."
    AND
    "I prefer that the deck be stacked in favor of tourists and visitors."

    If the problem with those two statements isn't immediately obvious, I respectfully suggest that you avoid driving today.

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  11. #11

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Quote Originally Posted by ralfrick View Post
    "Foremost among them is the problem that anyone who elects NOT to use the system is getting the short end of the stick—they wait in longer lines (the standby lines) than would have been the case in a world that had no FastPass"

    I'm tired of hearing this nonsense. The posted stand-by waits for Space and Splash are pretty much what I waited pre-FP. ... This information is freely available to all, and it's your fault if you don't seek it out
    I agree that I am tired of hearing the wah wah wah about fastpass. Standby lines are INDEED longer, and move slower than lines were pre-FP (at least, they are at Disneyland), but honesty, if you can't figure it out then tough titty miss kitty. Thinking that the Disney experience pre-FP meant wandering around aimlessly like brain-dead cows until you found a ride is not true at all. Fastpass only slows you down overall IF you wait in standby lines all day and try to get on every ride via standby -- which, according to Kevin's article, is the Yee-despised "Orlando Commando's" goal. You were NEVER able to do everything before without strategy and planning about which rides to go on when, even before fastpass (hell, as a Gumball Rally third place team, it's difficult to do everything in the parks even with planning and fastpass).

    As far as food is concerned, again, I don't understand the article's theme of plan-phobia. Sorry, but if you're planning a vacation that costs, oh, above $500 per person, you're probably going to want to do SOME PLANNING above just booking a hotel room. You'll have a much better time if you're not wandering around aimlessly looking for food. If you've survived into adulthood but haven't figured out how to make reservations, then really, I feel sorry. (FYI - THE ONLY RESTAURANT in WDW that requires you to book it 180 days in advance is the Cinderella Castle dining experience. For everything else you can wait until much closer to trip-time. The article made it sound lime you had to be on the phone 6 months in advance or you'd be relegated to chicken strips or scrounging in the dumpster for something.)

    And Orlando locals, knowing that the popular restaurants fill up, should know better than to complain. Of all people, they should know that you need advance reservations to eat at the most popular restaurants, so there should be no surprises whatsoever. Here at DL, I know that to eat at Napa Rose during popular times, I'm going to need an advance reservation. I'm not going to sob that I didn't get the Disney experience because I showed up at the noon meet and couldn't get a table that evening.
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  12. #12

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Quote Originally Posted by Chernabog View Post
    And Orlando locals, knowing that the popular restaurants fill up, should know better than to complain.
    I agree. My article wasn't written from the perspective of an annoyed local. If anything, I believe locals and frequent visitors should have fewer perks than infrequent visitors.

    But consider this: locals *do* know better than to complain. Which is why the net result of current policies will be more locals planning ahead (they know to do so), and even MORE people who are "non-planners" from out of town being out of luck.

    The "plan phobia" you mention is my attempt to think very long term. If the company continues to assume people are planning, then people who don't plan will have a bad time and not return (or not return as often) as they would have in that other hypothetical world. My thinking here goes like this:

    - if the parks make only "those in the know" happy, the available pool of people going to the parks will be smaller.
    - a smaller cadre of people visiting all the time will mean a lessened incentive to build new rides or try new things, since those visiting so often already love the place and don't need extra incentives.
    - result = stagnation. At least some degree of it.

    I really think the parks should do all they can to make things easy for people to show up and not have to think. To relax while on vacation. To be brainless.

    I freely grant that the superplanners will see more and do more. That's great for them. But when the parks aim their policies at the planners rather than at the non-planners, that's where I think they are making a long-term mistake.
    Kevin Yee
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    I am the author of several Disney books:
    Jason's Disneyland Almanac - a daily history of Disneyland
    Walt Disney World Hidden History - tributes, homages, and ride remnants at WDW
    Your Day at the Magic Kingdom
    Mouse Trap
    Tokyo Disney Made Easy
    101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
    Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

    “The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather

  13. #13

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    We were at WDW Jan 27- Feb 1 for an award trip for my husband's company. Since we didn't know until about the 10th how many people had qualified for the trip, that's when the trip planning and reservation making started. I was in charge of booking and planning the entire trip because I am the Disney geek in the group.
    There were 8 of us in the group. We stayed at CBR, used Magical Express, and booked on the premium plan, which includes 3 table service meals a day with no "signature dining" restrictions, unlimited recreation (golf, boats, etc), unlimited use of the kids' clubs, and, since we had the large group, grand gathering experiences.
    Even booking just two weeks in advance, I managed to get dinner reservations in Cinderella's castle, the Ohana breakfast, Chef Mickey for breakfast, and every other ADR I wanted. We also managed to get a group of 8 into the Crystal Palace for breakfast as a walk-up with only a 20 minute wait. The only disappointment we had was that my husband and I decided at noon one day that we'd like to try Le Cellier for lunch, but they had just given out their last walk-up for the day. So we went to Tempura Kiku and were seated immediately.
    I do think that the reservation system needs to be revamped to better serve the less-than-anal vacation planner, but bear in mind that when you call Disney to book that vacation, there is a prompt to take you to the dining reservations operators, and the CM who books your vacation also offers to help you make ADRs, so it's not like only the Griswolds know about the system.
    Some people simply refuse to plan ahead. Spontenaity is great, but you wouldn't expect to be able to walk into your town's premier restaurants on a Saturday night and have a table available.
    BTW, the premium package isn't that much more expensive than the MYW+dining package, and if you want a totally relaxing vacation with great food and fun things to do outside the theme parks, it's wonderful. My husband took our two sons parasailing, and we rented the SeaRaycers while we were waiting for the parasailing appointment. That alone paid for the difference in the package cost. Not to mention the $200 dinner at Narcoossee's that night while the boys stayed at the $93 Neverland Club, all of which was covered under our plan.
    Don't make me come in there!

  14. #14

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinYee View Post
    The "plan phobia" you mention is my attempt to think very long term. If the company continues to assume people are planning, then people who don't plan will have a bad time and not return (or not return as often) as they would have in that other hypothetical world. My thinking here goes like this:

    - if the parks make only "those in the know" happy, the available pool of people going to the parks will be smaller.
    - a smaller cadre of people visiting all the time will mean a lessened incentive to build new rides or try new things, since those visiting so often already love the place and don't need extra incentives.
    - result = stagnation. At least some degree of it.

    I really think the parks should do all they can to make things easy for people to show up and not have to think. To relax while on vacation. To be brainless.
    I agree. Of course, working on repeat business is an easier profit model than trying to get everyone to come at least once in their lives, and make it an experience worth remembering positively.

    For every JiminyCricketFan, there are probably four others deciding "Never Again" and never visiting again.

    Also, note that the building of more restaurants fixes problems during high season, but it would be underutilized during the low season. Having some flexible options might be a better solution. "Temporary" restaurants might be a better solution. Be it ODV's or temporarily enlarging a few restaurants using tents (challenge of theming might be an issue).
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

  15. #15

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    Re: 2/13: FastPass the Rolls Please

    Quote Originally Posted by Chernabog View Post
    ...FYI - THE ONLY RESTAURANT in WDW that requires you to book it 180 days in advance is the Cinderella Castle dining experience. For everything else you can wait until much closer to trip-time. The article made it sound lime you had to be on the phone 6 months in advance or you'd be relegated to chicken strips or scrounging in the dumpster for something...
    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.

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