Disney Targets Unscrupulous Dining Reservation Scalpers

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Back in August we shared an angry, but justified, rant against unscrupulous scalpers who were ruining the Disney Dining experience for the average guest just trying to make a reservation for their trip.

A mini-industry had evolved with a business system based on charging Disney’s customers for the right to either A) be notified a reservation had opened up online or B) purchase a previously made reservation at said restaurant. You may have been okay with A) but not B), but Disney didn’t like either and lately has been sending the owners of those companies nastygrams telling them to cease and desist their activities. So far it looks like everyone is backing down from the Mickey’s big dog.

It’s definitely a positive, in that Disney is finally acknowledging that the dining reservation system is broken. I just hope they’re getting the right message. These businesses they just shut down existed to fill a need created by Disney’s mostly unworkable system. If the system worked better, no one would have been willing to pay for an advantage over other guests.

Having to get up at weird hours exactly 180 days ahead of your vacation to make sure you get the time and place you want is an insane system. Not reserving some tables for late reservations makes even less sense.

Am I happy Disney has made this move to close the bad-players? Yes. It’s a win for fans, but only because it may make Disney rethink the stupid dinner reservation system and actually leave some capacity for last minute reservations (and hopefully walk-ups).

Now if we can get Disney to end the menu item price inflation driving by free dining, that will be real progress.

What do you think about Walt Disney World’s Dining Reservation system. What changes would you make?

(via Orlando Sentinel)

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14 thoughts on “Disney Targets Unscrupulous Dining Reservation Scalpers

  1. Geoff

    Drop it completely. Or stop calling Disney World the most magical place on earth. Because there’s no magic in having to plan all the details of your trip 3-6 months in advance.

  2. Jayne

    We have stopped eating at Disney’s restaurants because of the over inflation of the prices they charge and the quality of the food. Since their dining plan came into effect, the prices went up and quality substantially down. We found it cheaper to rent a car and eat off site than to go to Disney restaurants. Plus the food is better elsewhere!

  3. Tom

    I probably would not have a few of my reservations for my upcoming trip if it were not for small services in category A (pay them to find openings and alert you). I am definitely against category B, but until Disney fixes their own issues that you talked about, I would have let category A stick around – or, better, Disney could just buy one of them for a paltry fee and incorporate the service into their own system. Every reservation gets 1 free “dining alert” for those reservations you can’t get, even at midnight 180 days out.

  4. Patricia

    I was last at WDW in June 2014 and will be back in September 2016, but never had any trouble making dining reservations. I was surprised so many people had such poor experiences with it. I do find it irritating that I’ve got to decide where to eat dinner every night 6 months before I get there, but even so, I never actually had trouble with getting a reservation. Hopefully this March, when I make them for the upcoming trip, my lucky streak will continue.

  5. Amy S

    I’ve never had a problem making the dining reservations for any trip I have made or have I needed to get up at an ungodly time to make them. Granted you may not get the exact restaurant at the exact time you want but is it really that big of a deal. I’d rather make my reservation farther out than wait for a couple of hours for a table to open up. The people who complain seem to be the ones that want total spontinaity but that won’t happen at some place as busy as WDW. People need to get over this need for instant gratification. These companies also came about because people rather itch and moan than do the work themselves and then complain about the cost.

  6. Annie

    It’s not fun to try to plan your days 6 months in advance it takes away from it being a vacation and should the weather not work in your favor making you want to take a day off you will likely get stuck with a cancellation fee but sadly with more then 50k ppl going to just Magic Kingdom in a day there is no way to avoid planning, because really who wants to spend their valuable vacation time waiting a couple hours just for a table to eat. In the same token, I don’t think Disney should be holding back tables for last min reservations or walk ups because why should those who are willing to plan that far out not be able to book those so that they can be given to others who just wanted to wing it. Far too much thought, effort and stress goes in to planning to make your trip magical. I can’t even imagine how crazy it would be if all dining were walk-in only. I am not a parent but I’m pretty sure when you have a hot, tired, hungry child with you crying to eat, you saying “sorry sweetie, just another hour before we get a table” is not going to cut it.

  7. Mark

    As a local annual pass holder I agree completely that food prices are greatly inflated so that the visitors on the dining plan think they are getting a great deal. Too bad, but that’s the way Disney wants it. Here’s a thought, why not let anyone buy the dining plan. Reservation wise, I’ve never had a problem, but then again we’ve no desire to try Be Our Guest.

  8. Tracy Barrack

    As annual pass holders we go to WDW 3 or 4 times a year and never had a problem with reservations. I also am flexible with days and times. I also found that most of the restaurants take walk ups and the wait time is reasonable.

  9. Tommie L Sullivan

    In 2012 I had no problem securing ADR 1 month out. This year I attempted ADR in July for end of October dates.,it has been extremely frustrating and disappointing that there are so few available.

  10. Niekon

    last year we somehow managed to sneak in a very last minute reservation for Be Our Guest lunch, I think 3 hours before lunch. But that was only because we didn’t initially know about whatever website that the lunch reservations worked on at the time. But I had tried and tried… and tried at our 180 days to secure a reservation for dinner because we wanted to try the place at least once. I can understand the frustrations… I’m on the West Coast and having to wake up in the middle of the night to make a reservation is insanity. I recall doing it for many F&WF events in years past and I hated it… sitting on the floor in my living room on the phone with pages of info in front of me and credit cards spread around so that we kept things spread across multiple accounts instead of just one.

  11. sjthespian

    I think you’re missing the point — Disney cracking down on the scalpers likely has nothing to do with them being “unscrupulous” or guest satisfaction with the reservation system. My guess is that Disney acted because the reservations that they book but can’t sell lead to empty tables in the restaurants.

    As much as I hate the current system, it is perfect from Disney’s point of view. Empty tables don’t make money, full ones do. If they can fill the reservation bookings they know they will have a full restaurant.

  12. Matt

    Like with many things at WDW, it’s a problem of capacity. It’s great that they are cracking down on these clowns, but in the end there still aren’t enough quality places to eat in the parks. Until that changes, it doesn’t matter how you allocate the reservations, many are simply not going to be able to get in.

  13. Brianhat

    ADRs certainly aren’t very user friendly for visitors from Europe that’s for sure, but what angers me most is not the Dining Plan itself, but that there will often be tables full of people in a popular restaurant and yet only a couple of them will be eating, with everyone else sharing. It can’t be good for Disney because their tables don’t yield properly and it certainly isn’t good for a genuine guest who actually wants both a seat and a meal

  14. Anna Skamarakas

    I’m not sure how to fix it, but I am hoping the ultimate response isn’t to charge a fee upfront for every dining reservation. That will make planning your dining experiences cost prohibitive for some. While that may lead to more table availability at the last minute, it takes away any kind of even playing field.

    I think there was a “dumbing down” of the menus property-wide with the increase in popularity of the dining plan and free dining plan offers. I was always too happy to pay a “theme park premium” when I felt like the food was unique and memorable. That type of cuisine is increasingly more difficult to find at Walt Disney World.

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