It has been widely reported that starting on February 25th, Be Our Guest restaurant will be moving away from current FastPass-style of reservation to a more traditional Disney Advanced Dining Reservation-style of reservation. My question today: Is this a good thing or a bad trend for Disney to be implementing at Be Our Guest.
Since Be Our Guest opened, I have been lucky enough to have three lunches and two dinners at the restaurant. The first lunch was during the soft open when New Fantasyland first opened. There was no Fastpass or ADR needed. It was just a walk-up and see if the restaurant was open. We got there, very late, around 1:45 pm and the restaurant closed for lunch at 2:00 pm. We were still able to have a nice leisurely lunch and didn’t feel rushed.
The last two lunches were under the current Fastpass-style of reservation. At face value, this would be an improvement from the walk-up style dining before this was implemented. It wasn’t. I had a reservation in August where I got to spend 15-20 minutes, on the bridge, in the blazing Florida sun to the point where I almost passed out from heat exhaustion just from standing. In November, I got to spend 15-20 minutes in the pouring rain waiting to get off the bridge and into the restaurant. Neither experience was enjoyable.
Dinner, on the other hand, is handled under the traditional Disney Advanced Dining Reservation system meaning that 180 days from the start of your vacation, guests can start making reservations at their favorite table-service restaurants. My family always makes it a point to make our reservations the 180 day mark to ensure that we get to eat our favorite restaurants. Is Be Our Guest a must-eat on every trip? No, but it is someplace that we like to eat. We’ve eaten dinner here twice. Both times, we had to wait outside for a table. The big difference, we didn’t have to wait in a line. We could go out and seek shade or that dry spot. We weren’t beholden to a line.
Making lunch, at Be Our Guest, an Advanced Dining Reservation is something that Disney is finally getting right in regard to this restaurant. Sitting there in the sun or rain was not fun. I tried my best to make the most of it and not complain but I know a lot of the guests around were complaining. I’m sure some of those guests complained to guest services. Guest services listened and passed those complaints to Disney Dining. Now, starting on February 25th, we will have Advanced Dining Reservations available for Be Our Guest.
This is, in my opinion, the best possible solution. Guests will be get a reservation that is in high demand. Disney will be able to better control the crowds at the restaurant. Disney will also be able to have a better control over food inventory since guests will still be able to select their meals up to 30 days before their reservation. Changing your mind at the restaurant or not pre-selecting a meal is still an option as well. Guests benefit because they, no longer, need to stand in a long line to get in the restaurant even with a Fastpass. Walk-up dining has been completely eliminated which will also help Disney with crowd control.
In my opinion, demand for Be Our Guest was higher than Disney initially expected. As a result, they had to work on the fly to come up with a system that best suited the needs of the restaurant. They tried something new with the Fastpass system and when that did not work as expected. They moved to a system which they know does work by making lunch an Advanced Dining Reservation.
Do I expect more quick-service restaurant to move from walk-up to Advanced Dining Reservation? I do not think so. I do not think there is a demand for this at other quick-service locations. Also, by making quick-service restaurants available only by Advanced Dining Reservations, Disney runs the risk of further “over-scheduling” guest’s vacations. If guests had to schedule two meals (quick-service and table-service) and three Fastpass+ per day, guests might start throwing their arms up and saying, “I’m going someplace where I don’t need to schedule everything,” and that does not help Disney’s bottom line at all.