Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Disney Dining Success

by Dr Jack Samuels

Several times now I’ve written about promotional plans for dining, including the packaged dinner that was offered for a while in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and a similar type of plan that was offered at Universal Studios.

Disney has had a successful dining plan for its hotel guest stays for a while now. Via a point system, this enables guests to dine in virtually all properties at Walt Disney World at no extra charge, but on a limited basis. Generally guests can get a breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack, but must pay close attention to the amounts of points that are used for each one. The plan costs about $40 per day as an add on and is very popular.

Another Disney promotional dining plan is one that allows Florida residents and season pass holders to buy a Disney Dinning Club Card for about $75. This card then affords guests such perks as a 20% discount on virtually all food and beverages (including alcohol). It also allows for free valet parking at resort hotels when dining there.
Judging from the fact that on my visits to Walt Disney World I can no longer get reservations for most Disney restaurants these plans appear to be a phenomenal success. A few months ago, I tried to make a reservation for the Boma Buffet restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (pictured) and was told it was fully booked until March 2008.

Apparently, Disney is reopening restaurants and increasing capacity. So, is it possible that we will see a new Disney Dining Kingdom? European parks like Tivoli (where Walt Disney gained some of his inspiration all those years ago) are well known for their gastronomic offerings. Or maybe Disney World could open an outlet mall with shopping and recreational facilities? There may already be plenty of these in Orlando, but Disney does like to keep you on its property.

At present capacity, the success of its dining plans poses a risk of losing Disney business elsewhere. Guests will not be best pleased if they cannot find a space in their favourite restaurant. This may be particularly true of the business traveller to Orlando who simply doesn’t have the time or ability to plan their dining months months in advance. Sometimes success does create problems.

Dr Samuels provides diverse consulting services in marketing, facility development, customer service, safety, event management, plus promotional activities such as birthday parties. He can be reached at

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