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The Food and Wine Festival Aka the Food and Line

[And now an editorial from Kurt Nelson. Normally behind the scenes working magic at The Disney Blog, Kurt chimes in with a few thoughts on this years Food and Wine Festival. – John]

The Epcot Food and Wine Festival has always been one of my favorite events. But not anymore. The lines are long, the food is overpriced for even Disney, and there is no place to eat your food.

Having a large selection of booths is a nice thing but it comes with a caveat: For each one I visit, I have to wait in yet another line. And these are not short lines, generally taking about 20 minutes. If I get 3 dishes, this is an hour waiting in line, to pay for something. The bottleneck is not the food but the purchase.

I think Disney should move to a token system where the guest purchases all of his tokens at once up front and just turns in 1 or 2 for each item he gets. Along with this should come (generally) uniform pricing. Make all food 1 token, drinks 3. Adjust the portion to match this new price. Stick some token vending machines around world showcase.

I do see why Disney currently charges the way they do though: It leads to more spending. If you are paying as you go, you are much less likely to prebudget or realize how much you have spent. If the system was prepurchase, guests could easily buy a specific amount of tokens and stop after they have used them. Still Disney should fix this problem because it kept me from purchasing things today.

I (mostly) understand paying $2.29 for a cup of coke. I can understand paying $24.99 for a buffet. I don’t understand paying $4.50 for part of a slice of pizza. Just plain sausage pizza too, not with caviar or veal or something. After eating your $5 dollar bill, you are still quite hungry. So you go get in yet another line and get a thimble of cheddar cheese soup for $3. By the time you are actually full, you probably have had 4 or 5 things adding up to about $20. For this $20 you have to eat with a plastic fork, while standing up, with no drink, and have to wait in line for an hour. Or you could go drop in to a counter service restaurant and for half the price be full, have a drink, and sit down in air conditioning albeit still with a plastic fork.

I like the idea of sampling many foods. I like the idea of the whole festival. But I don’t like the idea of spending $20 on Costco-reminiscent samples. Disney should deflate their prices a bit. Or increase the portions. I think this would increase revenue because people would feel like they are getting a better deal each time they stand in line for 20 minutes. Even if they lowered the price and the portion, it would allow me to sample more things. There are tons of things on the menu I would like to try, but I can only sample 3 or 4 of them (minus the mandatory cheddar cheese soup).

My third gripe is the environment the festival creates. It clogs the pathways, it takes over sitting areas. But it generates more people walking around with food. So Disney, please add some tables or benches or something. I like to sit down to eat my food and not have to worry about my ankles being taken out by a stroller while eating.