We talk a lot here on Theme Park Insider about the food in theme parks: favorite meals, restaurants, cuisines, and so on. But here's a new question for you: What's your favorite way to get the food you eat in the parks?
Are you a sit-down, table-service family? Or do you prefer to grab and go? Some parks offer as much variety in their food service methods as they do in the food they serve. And with mobile and tablet-based ordering, leading parks now are expanding the options for how to get food from the kitchens to hungry fans as quickly and easily as possible.
So... all other things being equal, how would you prefer to order food in a theme park?
Let's start with table service. Sitting down to have a waiter take your order is perhaps the most relaxing way to enjoy a meal in the parks. But it's also often the most time consuming, too. That's why some fans like to do "double duty" with sit-down meals and book character meals that combine a meet-and-greet with a mealtime.
The other traditional form of food service in a theme park is counter service, or quick service, as many parks call it. But this method comes in several forms these days. The most common form is ordering from a cashier, then either waiting at a window to pick up your food or at a table for it to be brought out. In a few locations now, most notably Disney World's Be Our Guest at lunch, you order not from a cashier, but on a tablet or screen. Another variant of quick service is a food court or scramble service set-up, where you collect your food before heading to the cashier to pay.
Many parks are now offering mobile ordering services, where you place your order and pay on the park's app before heading to the restaurant to pick up your food. That's become a popular way to order at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, with Universal Orlando also recently beginning to offer the service, too.
Finally, there's just skipping restaurants altogether and getting your food from carts in the lands. From churros to turkey legs to ice cream and more, you can power through the day without ever darkening the door of a restaurant.
Customer preferences here can have a huge effect on a theme park's budget, as the labor requirements and workflow for each method vary greatly. Mobile and tablet ordering might allow a park to save money employing fewer cashiers and handling less cash, but they require parks to invest much more in information technology — building apps and ordering front-ends that can remain up and efficient 100% of the time. If parks are going to make those IT investments, they want to be certain that their customers want those systems.
At the same time, I am curious to see the differences in popularity between table service, traditional counter service, and food court set-ups, too. Space considerations often play a large part in dictating which system a park uses in a particular location, but should that really be the driving force in these business decisions?
And then there's the type and quality of the food. Different ordering and delivery methods lend themselves toward different types of food, so perhaps your preference for a specific type of food service ultimately is driven by the type of food you can get from it.
Let's break down your pros and cons for each method in the comments.
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.