Saturday, April 24, 2010

Disney Dining - counter service

I was reading a spirited discussion on MiceChat, where someone asked about the new policy of not allowing guests to sit at tables while someone is waiting in line for food.

It seems that this policy has been at times overzealously enforced (at least judging by some of the anecdotes), like not allowing a father with trays of food to go with the kids to get a table while mom gets her tray. They ask if your entire party is present, and if you're honest and say, "Mom's still waiting for her tray," they make you wait for her.

We experienced this at the Magic Kingdom's Columbia Harbor House the last time we were there, having to wait for all food to be present before finding a table. When we went, it was in January of 2009, and we did find a table within minutes of starting to look. And it used to be (and still is at some restaurants at Epcot and Hollywood Studios) frustrating to see a woman and a kid saving two big tables, waiting for their food to come. I never minded seeing a family of four or five sitting at one table waiting for mom or dad to come with the tray of food, but maybe a lot of people did.

So I understand the reasoning behind this. But it's still darned inconvenient if you're the parent trying to chaperone 2 or 3 kids while the other adult waits in line. Kids don't understand the whole "wait till you have your food to sit down", they're tired and want to sit down NOW!

One solution would seem to be to add more seating. This is not easy, since the space is pretty well set. Can't add more space easily.

But you could open up existing space and food service areas. At the Magic Kingdom, Tomorrowland Terrace is closed way more than it is open. Why is this? Is it because it doesn't make enough money to justify staffing and cleaning it? Because I can't imagine that. That area should be open for lunch every day. If people don't like the noodle dishes they serve there (I personally liked them the one time I ate there on our first trip to Disney), then add some stuff that everyone wants. Pizza, burgers, or dogs would seem to be easy to add. (Hopefully keep a few noodle choices for people who like me.) It's cooler and shady there even on the hottest days, or so it seems.

I'm sure there are other locations that could be opened, even if it's just a cart and some tables.

I wrote a post about a month ago which was a response to a Kevin Yee question about how to cut costs at Disney Hollywood Studios, and my thought was to not cut value from what we are getting for the price of admission to a park. Raise prices as little as possible to avoid making any cuts. The reasoning applies to this issue, I think, as well. This lack of seating space cuts into the value of what we get when we go to a Disney park. So rather than cutting further, or making it even less convenient, do the opposite and "plus" it, as Walt would say. I think the investment would pay off in the end.


Future Guy said...

We haven't experienced this yet, probably because we try not to eat during the 12 o'clock hour and we haven't really been during the busy season, but I agree it's an imperfect solution. Then again, so is allowing someone block off two tables at a time.

You know, even if they don't want to open the Tomorrowland Terrace, they could at least make the seating area available and put signs in Cosmic Ray's that say something like "More seating available at the Tomorrowland Terrace."

Scott said...

That would seem to be an excellent idea - after all, it isn't like it's that far away from Cosmic Ray's. I'm sure they've thought of it, though...and have decided against it for some reason.

Best thing to do is to eat at a bit of an off time, as you suggest. It's easy for us to eat later when we go to WDW because we're used to Chicago time so we probably do this without even thinking about it.