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Disney World Counter Service rolls out new table ‘reservation’ system

Normally you wouldn’t think of reserving a table at a counter service dining location, but that’s what many families do. They sit down and hold a spot while other members of their party go to order the food. This system has plagued many of Walt Disney World’s busiest locations for years leaving those more courteous or unable to save a spot wandering around looking for an open table. Finally, Disney has worked out a system to do something about it.

Inside four quick-service restaurants in the Magic Kingdom, Disney has begun restricting access — but guaranteeing seating — during particularly busy lunch rushes.

Under the controlled-access and -seating program, guests in certain Magic Kingdom counter-service restaurants are steered through a single entrance so workers can keep tabs on how many people are inside.

A greeter hands menus and steers the entire group to cash registers to place their orders. After they get their food, they are guided by another employee to an empty table.

In all honesty, this is something I’ve been hoping Disney would do for some time, but failed to see how they could implement it without ticking off those guests who just want to make sure they have a seat. Guaranteeing a seat solves that problem.

At Disneyland there are a couple counter service locations using the scramble buffet service (multiple locations each serving different types of entrees instead of one long line) that restrict entry to one point only and you don’t get in until there is room to be seated. That’s worked pretty well on the west coast. But as WDW has no real scramble buffet service, it wasn’t used here.

I hope to get out and see how this works in person soon. But in the meantime, if you have encountered it, please let us know down below and give us your analysis.

(via the Orlando Sentinel)

5 thoughts on “Disney World Counter Service rolls out new table ‘reservation’ system”

  1. I absolutely hate this idea! It doesn’t sound like an improvement at all to me. It sounds to me like all it will do is force me to wait in line with more tired, hungry families, instead of allowing one parent to order food for everyone while the rest of the party sits in comfort at a table. It sounds like it will turn the food lines into even more crowded, noisy, congested, unhappy places than they already have been because it will just cram more cranky people into areas that are usually already overcrowded. Why should a parent have to haul a 2yo and 6 month old through a food line? They don’t need to be there and they will just get impatient and stress out the parents and everyone else around.

    In our case it gives us a serious problem: we sit down at a table and take turns ordering our food (or send one person to get it all) because our autistic 6yo daughter cannot tolerate the congestion and waiting in the lines. What are we going to do now to eat? Are we going to have to plan our eating for what the park considers “off-peak” hours – a major inconvenience? Or will they accommodate us like they do on the rides?

    I really don’t see why Disney feels the need to devote it’s strapped to the bone staff numbers to doing this. I eat regularly in two of the restaurants they are trying it in and have never felt like there was a problem that needed solving.

    1. I really think you are over-reacting to this. As with any family with special needs, I am sure Disney will make some sort of exemption to help you. But I’ve also seen and experience the problem of my wife and I having our food, and having to walk around trying to find someplace to eat while our food is getting cold all because there are tables filled with guests who are “saving” tables but haven’t gotten their food yet. Who in that scenario is really being inconvenienced? Those that got their food first. And in addition, if I had a small child or several, I would expect there to be times where I would have to deal with crabby children or whatnot, and I’m one of those people who don’t expect, nor want people to have to go out of their way just to help me out. I’ll take care of my family myself and would hope others do the same. A little friendly hand now and then is fine, but many times I’ve witnessed couples with children expect everyone under the sun to move out of the way, or inconvenience themselves to make their visit easier and rarely (a sad statement I know) show any appreciation to those who were being nice.

      1. You missed the point of my concern. I’m not sure where your answer about not needing help and handling things yourself came from. The point I was trying to make was that this will lead to more people being crammed into food line areas that weren’t physically big enough to hold the people that were using them as it was while part of the family waited elsewhere. Some of these people that are now going to be crammed into those overcrowded areas are going to be impatient, hungry young children…and who enjoys standing next to a child having a meltdown?

  2. Now, if only they could figure out a way to do this at Sunshine Seasons at Epcot! It’s some of the best counter service on property for variety, value and non-fast foodie-ness (I love a good burger and fries, but can’t eat them every day), but it can particularly hard to find a seat here (especially while others are also eating while waiting for their Soarin’ fastpasses to be ready).

  3. I experienced this method in Tokyo Disney. I understand it cause it increases the throughput of the tables and helps manage traffic flow through the restaurant. Once you are in it all happens very quickly – ordering, food collection, payment and seating – very smooth and stress free. It also gives Disney another opportunity to interact with the guests and be polite. I understand that queues will now form outside the door of the restaurant but when I went to WDW last May I was alone and had a hard time at tomorrowland terrace and Peco Bill’s walking around with a tray in my hand looking at the all tables with 1 person sitting waiting and I had to stand with my tray on top of a garbage bin to eat my meal! This system works for me and it will make money for Disney

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