Walt Disney World to expand new mobile food ordering system
The Walt Disney World Resort announced earlier this year that it would debut a new mobile ordering system at the Satu’li Canteen restaurant when it opens with the rest of Pandora - The World of Avatar in Disney's Animal Kingdom on May 27.
Now, Disney is revealing that it will expand its mobile ordering system to three more Animal Kingdom restaurants this summer: Flame Tree Barbecue, Pizzafari, and Restaurantosaurus. And Disney says that the system will expand throughout the resort at some point after that.
The mobile ordering system works through the same My Disney Experience mobile app that you use to manage your Fastpass+ and dining reservations. Just navigate to the restaurant in the app, then select the option to order. You are essentially "pre ordering" your food, as the restaurant won't start making it until you arrive and use the app to let them know to start. Then the app alerts you when your food is ready to pick up.
Here is Disney's video tutorial, showing how the system works:
The mobile ordering system accepts only credit card payments at this time, so if you are using the Disney Dining Plan, you'll have to queue for the registers, as usual. And if you have any dietary restrictions or food allergies, you'll also need to go through the registers, so that a chef may speak with you in person about your order.
Basically, mobile ordering allows you to jump the queue of people waiting to get to a register, but does not allow you to move ahead of any backlog of orders already placed with the kitchen. I would think that in order to keep that backlog from growing that Disney might need to slow the intake of orders at the register in popular restaurants, making that wait longer or begin using the app to assign people specific return times. But when I worked at Disney, I spent exactly one day in food service, so I'm no expert at this sort of thing. It'll be interesting to see how mobile ordering affects the wait times to get food as it expands through the theme parks of the Walt Disney World Resort.
While I think it might be a good idea I see a bottleneck blocking access to the pickup area with everyone placing their order and standing around to get it.
You are alerted when your order is ready to pick up. There won't be anymore of a bottle beck than there already is with the current register system.
You're on target there ran6110. Not only that, but with people being able to order through the app and through the registers, there's no way for people to know how long of a line they're really standing in. The way it works now is that orders can only be taken so fast, about the speed that it takes the expediters to prepare them. By adding another avenue for orders to be placed, the governor (speed at which orders can be taken at registers) is gone, and could overwhelm the kitchens. Having the lines at the registers allowed guests to know how long it was going to take to eat, and could instead choose to eat somewhere else if the lines looked to long. With mobile ordering, guests cannot just look at the lines to evaluate how long they will be waiting for their food, and app users, who may not even be standing near the restaurant when they place their order, will have no idea how busy the place is they're ordering from.
Having a long line at the pickup line is better than having another long line at the cash registers. That's one line being avoided so the guest can just reserve their table and pick up their food. What I would love even more is guests pick up a number and just place them at their tables so the restaurant can just deliver their food to their tables.
@Anton - I'd much rather be waiting in the line that I know as opposed to the line of indeterminate length. If you place an order on MDE, you could theoretically arrive at the restaurant, clicking "I'm here", and end up waiting 15-20 minutes for a simple order. Now if MDE could tell you the current average wait for order expediting prior to ordering, it could work. However, I don't think the current system is setup that way, and there's no way to guarantee that guests are going to click "I'm here" within a certain time of ordering, meaning wait estimates could be widely inaccurate. Guests are stuck once they submit their order, so there should be some level of expectation that each CS location would need to deliver regardless of the ordering method. With lines at registers there's at least some level of knowledge of what diners are getting themselves into, and offers the choice to hold off until later in the day or choosing an alternative dining location.
But you really don't know. You think you might know by eyeballing the length of line, but sometimes it is deceiving because you don't know who's ahead of you (a big family where one person is ordering for 8) or if the staff is slow or understaffed. In most cases, you're taking a chance. I would think a restaurant that has mobile ordering is inherently more efficient since it much take orders from the cash registers and mobile (thus doubling of orders), but it is also likely that few people try it too so it is underutilized so inexperience kills efficiency.
I feel that at the cashier you have some level of control. You can eyeball the lines, and occasionally be "that person" that goes to the left side of the cashier where there's no line, and get your order taken immediately. At the very least, you can usually tell who the "slow" people in line are and try to avoid them where possible. There's really no way to "eyeball the pickup line", because you don't know how many people roaming around the restaurant are actually waiting for an order, especially if many have also ordered through MDE. People waiting for MDE order presumably will just mill around waiting for their name to be called. There's no way to tell who actually placed their order before you or after you.
Russell, I agree with you about seeing how it works before committing to rolling it out, but Robert's report doesn't go much into if/when it will really show up resort-wide. I think it's possible that Disney is trying to get this going across Animal Kingdom this summer specifically to see how it works. Satu'Li Canteen is a restaurant with a kitchen and an overall layout designed for this new system. It's probable that a disproportionate number of those eating there would have used the app because of the novelty of it being only there as well as a disproportionate number of Disney-savvy app users being in that part of the park in the coming months as opposed to more novice tourists who will eat at any counter-service restaurant because it's all new to them.
"Disney either needs to create separate facilities or restaurants for MDE ordering"
I agree. However, Disney doesn't "test" concepts if they don't have intentions to roll them out wide, at least not on this scale (full guest implementation). If they were truly "testing" they would select a small group of APs or DVC members to try out a new concept. By rolling this out to all guests on MDE, even in just one restaurant and soon to others in DAK, Disney is not really "testing" it. They're determining how applicable it can be across the entire resort, including hotels and Disney Springs, or simply converting locations one park at a time starting with what is likely to be the most crowded park this summer, DAK. The announcement that the MDE ordering system will go beyond Satu'Li Canteen indicates to me that Disney is "all in" on this concept.
In theory, sounds great for guests. In practice, it'll may make the "standby" lines longer the way FastPass does as it won't add capacity. Even Starbucks has struggled with mobile orders and what it's done to regular lines. In NYC, I've actually walked into Starbucks stores and instead of waiting in line, bypassed it by ordering on my phone, beating those who would have been ahead of me. Those who don't know about the app? They often don't wait, but instead walk out the door. In NYC, that's fine--there's likely another Starbucks (or alternative) across the street. At Disney, with all their closed food locations depending on time of day, the customer doesn't likely have that option. If their line grows, it's another thing that will deduct from the enjoyment value of their visit.
Disney will complete this within the year. There's no reason they'll wait. Fastpass was done equally quickly. There's too much money at stake. Meaning the technology is already spent and tested. They hope to generate profit by reducing the number of cashiers and increasing kitchen efficiency. What's missing is ordering kiosks at the restaurants. Furthermore, why not have dining plans for the day guests?
Calm down everyone, you will know how long the wait is and you won't have to guess! Eventually it will work like other preordered food places. Panera Bread does this well. If you order ahead it tells you 5-10 min wait as the standard. Order at 12:30pm on a weekday near businesses and the wait now says come pick it up in 45 min at 1:15. That wait accounts for all orders in the system at that time from preorders and from in store orders. I'm sure Disney will be rolling that type of thing out and perfecting it to something better.
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