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View Full Version : For Disney Regs. Any noticeable changes in meal quality for any reataurants?


sportears
03-01-2007, 09:26 PM
We're going in April, and have PT's at our usual restaurants. I've heard a few negative remarks about some or our favorites, and am wondering if anyone else has noticed any changes in quality good, or bad at any your favorite restaurants?

Cheshire Figment
03-01-2007, 09:42 PM
Yes. There is a lot less variety and high-end items at most of the restuarants. Since the restaurants get paid a fixed price for each meal sold, not based on the menu pricing, they cannot afford to have stuff like lobster or filets since they wuld lose too much money.

Momelie
03-01-2007, 10:49 PM
Its a very gradual downturn, but its there. The main thing I've noticed (like the above poster said) is fewer menu choices, fewer quality items, and the two specific things I've noticed a decline in are the meats and (believe it or not) produce. I had to cut spots off my tomato the other day, LOL!

If you go regularly, it will take you a while to say "hey, this isn't the same as it used to be", but if you haven't been since, say, 2004 or so, you'll probably notice right away.

bicker
03-02-2007, 05:08 AM
The signature restaurants are as good as they have always been. The other restaurants are now all providing the same level of food and service (where previously they provided options along a spectrum, from just barely better than counter service all the way up to just marginally below the signature restaurants).

With regard to menu choices, that's a national trend. Many restaurants have taken industry expert advice, which has been very consistent since 2003-2004, to reduce the number of items on menus, to focus on doing a smaller number of items well, enhancing both quality and profitability. That's completely unrelated to the Dining Plan.

Leota
03-02-2007, 06:47 AM
Food quality has slipped quite noticeably in the TS restaurants. I have noticed it very clearly in some of the Signatures as well as the more moderate places. Menus are becoming very homogenized, creativity is stifled, quality is declining. The little touches that once made dishes fun are disappearing so they can "pump 'em in, pump 'em out" fatser to deal with the increased demands for tables generated by the DDP.

We have taken to eating most of our meals at non-DDP participating restaurants because of the decline in value we are getting from Disney Dining. My Rose - Colored Glasses do not include getting less (quality) for my money than I used to. I am (obviously) a Loyal Disney Guest, but I am offended by the current trends in Disney's dining offerings.

yearbook50
03-02-2007, 06:52 AM
Food has definitely gone down in quality across the board. Specialty items are disappearing.
The only places that I haven't see any downgrade are Victoria and Albert's, Citricos and Jiko's.

Leota
03-02-2007, 07:42 AM
I think even Citricos is suffering homogenization - ie. the removal of quail from the menu. Shame, it was so delicious.

SharonLowe
03-02-2007, 08:17 AM
Agree that the quality is going down in most places. Jiko is still outstanding but even it has suffered a bit. California Grill has definitely gone downhill - I hope the new chef breathes some life into it. And, with all the advanced planning that has to occur, it is also becoming a chore to eat at WDW. I for one would be very happy if they stopped the dining plans but that isn't likely to happen since it obviously makes WDW a lot of money.

KevinYee
03-02-2007, 08:20 AM
Unless, of course, enough guests and tourists complain about the dining plan! Then maybe they would scrap it. Or limit its impact, somehow.

Peter Pirate 2
03-02-2007, 08:28 AM
Yes, quality is suffering. We loved Jiko and FF and while they are still VERY GOOD they are no longer GREAT, IMO.
pirate:

LisaInNc
03-02-2007, 08:49 AM
I have noticed it too. Some of the places we have dined at for years have started to disappoint. I noticed that a lot of the high end food are disappearing, I guess that is what "free dining" did for us.

Caren
03-02-2007, 08:58 AM
We're going in April, and have PT's at our usual restaurants. I've heard a few negative remarks about some or our favorites, and am wondering if anyone else has noticed any changes in quality good, or bad at any your favorite restaurants?

I truthfully have not noticed that much of a slide in full-service restaurants. Of course, this may be due to my habit of eating mostly at Boma.

One thing that has been very noticable to me is that they've limited the beer selection in the bars. I used to be able to get a Bass Ale at nearly every dining venue except, of course, in the Magic Kingdom. But now, Bass Ale, Guiness, and all the stuff I like seems to have disappeared from hotel bars. I rarely drink beer, but do like to have a few on vacation. I've given that up.

I also think that counter service has been quite limited and mediocre lately. It's mostly edible, but very little is good.

ElizabethB
03-02-2007, 10:19 AM
The days when WDW was a vacation destination for serious foodies are over. But, if you have a large group and want to stuff yourselves silly with mediocre food, things have never been better. 'Nuff said.

Leota
03-02-2007, 12:06 PM
Unless, of course, enough guests and tourists complain about the dining plan! Then maybe they would scrap it. Or limit its impact, somehow.

They're not paying attention. I e-mailed Guest Services several monthes ago regarding my concerns, got the standard "Thanks for your interest, we'll get back to you", which of course, they haven't.

As long as DDP brings in the once in a while guests who don't notice the decline, they are willing to sacrifice the likes of us. It's all about the Benjamins.....

KevinYee
03-02-2007, 12:51 PM
Yeah, I agree in general that a single email won't do the trick. I just fantasize about 200 such emails coming in every single day, from different people... surely then the front-line CMs would "escalate" the complaints to the managers who need to hear it.

I also have to assume that message boards and threads like this very thread have some limited impact.

PortieOwner
03-02-2007, 01:25 PM
One thing that has been very noticable to me is that they've limited the beer selection in the bars. I used to be able to get a Bass Ale at nearly every dining venue except, of course, in the Magic Kingdom. But now, Bass Ale, Guiness, and all the stuff I like seems to have disappeared from hotel bars. I rarely drink beer, but do like to have a few on vacation. I've given that up.


Regarding beer, I just buy some good stuff off-world and leave it in my hotel fridge.

Regarding restaurants, the biggest disappointment to me has been Akerhus. You can still get an okay meal there but nothing like the old Koldbord/Buffet of 10 years ago. I don't think that their demise was becaause of the dining plan, though.

Cookie Princess
03-02-2007, 03:16 PM
I hate to tell you, but it isn't just the dining plan causing these changes. They are cutting back on the variety of specialty "grown-up" drinks at the various resorts. The different resorts had cocktails that were in line with the theme of that hotel. The attention to detail is dying, and I think Walt might be rolling over in his grave. Just my 2 cents...

donaldtutter
03-02-2007, 03:33 PM
The food quality has definately declined in all table service locations including signature restaurants. We used to build our vacations around dining but now dining at WDW is an afterthought.

Leota
03-02-2007, 04:32 PM
I hate to tell you, but it isn't just the dining plan causing these changes. They are cutting back on the variety of specialty "grown-up" drinks at the various resorts. The different resorts had cocktails that were in line with the theme of that hotel. The attention to detail is dying, and I think Walt might be rolling over in his grave. Just my 2 cents...

I think that it's entirely possible the DDP is affecting the lounge homogenization too. I'm not sure, but I would assume food & beverage covers both restaurants & lounges. If F&B is taking a loss due to DDP, they have to make cuts all across the board, thus food would affect beverage. Every company is set up differently, so Disney may seperate these two out, but I doubt it. The usual business model for resorts & entertainment venues is to lump Food & Beverage together. In the restaurant business, the largest percentage of profit per dollar spent comes from beverage sales. Homogenization/cuts in that area would go a long way towards bringing F&B into the black, certainly a quicker turn in profits than food where the mark-up isn't as great.

I do heartily agree that attention to detail is dying & that Walt would be rolling :(

picantel
03-02-2007, 04:40 PM
We are disney fanatics who moved to orlando just to be near the parks. We used to eat there every weekend and loved the food and experiences. I have not been back in a couple of months and will no longer pay their outrageous prices for small portions, less variety, and poor quality. Paying $60+ for a meal of garbage is not my idea of money well spent. The sad thing is disney went out of their way to make their restaurants one of a kind and in a moment of greed they have ruined it all. Add that to crowded parks, escalating room and ticket prices, and a decline in customer service it is pretty obvious I am outraged since it appears we moved here for nothing. We have gone to disney once now in the past 2 months and I do not even wanna go back.

KevinYee
03-02-2007, 06:48 PM
I think that it's entirely possible the DDP is affecting the lounge homogenization too. I'm not sure, but I would assume food & beverage covers both restaurants & lounges.

Aha! I'm not the only one who noticed the lounges moving to a standardized menu!

Local_Girl
03-02-2007, 11:44 PM
Hmm...we've always stayed offsite so have never been DDP participants. We have enjoyed eating some meals onsite in the past, but the perceived decline in offerings and quality by many regulars has me rethinking possible future ADRs. Perhaps instead we'll try some of the interesting and much recommended offsite restaurants...

I know Disney has thousands of hotel rooms filled with at least hundreds of guests paying for the Dining Plan...a captive audience, so to speak. Not sure if our few $$ spent outside the parks/resorts on food would make a difference to them :confused3 ...unless of course there were dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of others like us who made such choices, and let Disney know that we aren't happy with the decline in restaurant quality, etc. ::yes::

DisMN
03-03-2007, 12:34 AM
Food quality has slipped quite noticeably in the TS restaurants. I have noticed it very clearly in some of the Signatures as well as the more moderate places. Menus are becoming very homogenized, creativity is stifled, quality is declining. The little touches that once made dishes fun are disappearing so they can "pump 'em in, pump 'em out" fatser to deal with the increased demands for tables generated by the DDP.




.......the little touches, hell Leota, they've taken some dishes and removed some of the MAIN INGREDIENTS. Spoodles fetuccini is a fine example. It used to have fresh snap peas and proscuitto ham in it. Now it's just noodles and cream sauce and we're not supposed to notice the missing items? :confused3
Take away two main ingredients and keep the price the same? :confused3

Purely a cost related decision and a very disappointing one.

I happen to live where the food is just so-so.......so my recent trip to WDW I found the food to still be better than what I can find at home, but still.....like others have said, we plan our trips around the dining but have found ourselves disappointed just enough to cut back on our restaurant spending.

bicker
03-03-2007, 05:24 AM
Evidently, enough people don't notice (or care about) the missing items. And I think that's a critical point. People who have beholden themselves to specific memories they've had will notice, and will have rather negative reactions to change, any change. Meanwhile, the restaurants are more packed than they've ever been, and quite a bit with people returning for their third trip on the Dining Plan. There's no denying the real numbers -- just try to get advance reservations and you'll see the effect. People in general utterly love the way Disney dining has changed, to the detriment, perhaps, of a small number of people who wish that these changes (that so many other people love) never happened.

Leota
03-03-2007, 06:55 AM
Do you really love getting lower quality product for the same or higher cost? :confused3 Really? :confused3

Uncleromulus
03-03-2007, 07:15 AM
Of course not.
But I'm thinking that a large # of DDP folks are those who never (or almost never) went to Disney Restaurants. The restaurants are now FULL-with a lot of people who probably wouldn't be there were it not for the DDP. For them, the menus are all "new" and I suspect many are just happy with getting lots of food, no matter if the quality is suspect to us dining "vets".

I'll hold off on answering the exact question until I get back from our May trip. I have all the old menus of course, and I'll be looking for any menu "degreadation". And reporting on the quality at the Signature Restaurants.

gina2000
03-03-2007, 08:32 AM
Of course not.
But I'm thinking that a large # of DDP folks are those who never (or almost never) went to Disney Restaurants. The restaurants are now FULL-with a lot of people who probably wouldn't be there were it not for the DDP. For them, the menus are all "new" and I suspect many are just happy with getting lots of food, no matter if the quality is suspect to us dining "vets".

This is the answer in a nutshell for anyone who thinks that the decline in peoples' expectations is acceptable. If you have no expectations to relate to, you have nothing to compare a current meal with a meal from the past. And let's face it, the food at a DDP price is acceptable though not exciting. At an OOP price, it's not. I suspect that food quality will continue to decline, however, and at some point the DDP price will only appeal to those who want to eat at a restaurant, any restaurant. And at that point, WDW will reevaluate its strategy.

It's impertinent to suggest that people with discerning taste accept the decline and will continue to patronize a restaurant that is blatantly ripping them off. You can spin this change anyway you want to, but the reality is that people are noticing the change and are reacting accordingly. Just because the restaurants are filled doesn't mean that they are serving a quality product. And it certainly doesn't mean that we all accept it. All it means is that there is a new group of people patronizing the restaurants. If the decline continues, they, too, will be lamenting "the good ole days".

nuke
03-03-2007, 09:59 AM
Agree that the quality is going down in most places. Jiko is still outstanding but even it has suffered a bit. California Grill has definitely gone downhill - I hope the new chef breathes some life into it. And, with all the advanced planning that has to occur, it is also becoming a chore to eat at WDW. I for one would be very happy if they stopped the dining plans but that isn't likely to happen since it obviously makes WDW a lot of money.

I agree that it's a chore to plan meals in Disney. I know some people really enjoy planning where they will eat each night 6 months in advance but I was always a wing it kind of traveller. That's just not possible anymore if you want to eat anything other than counter service at Disney.

PoohHappens
03-03-2007, 10:42 AM
I keep seeing this point made on the DIS and it is frequently discussed by the same people. I have used the DDP and we did like it. I do understand your complaints as well. One argument I have not seen made is that gas prices and therefore food, delivery charges, everything is more expensive. We have seen a decline in the offerings and quality even at local restaurants. Couldn't this be a contributing factor to some of the changes. I also think people believe there is a loss for disney with the DDP--this simply cannot be true. Food is not the only expense in a restaurant. Some of the items are bought in such large quantities that the mark up is in the 100's% range. The program is appealing to many people and if it is adding to attendence at the parks, resorts, and restaurants then that is a good thing. I feel that they do not mind so much if they are loosing some of the guests who really liked to eat specialty items on the menus--I would guess most people did not order quail or other by american standards (as pathetic as they may be)weird food. This would be an exspensive item to maintain on the menu, DDP or not, as would other specialty items. Anyway even if they have lost a few customers, which I agree is sad and disapointing for those individuals, if they have increased patronage 3-5 times by offering something more appealing the the masses, then that only makes business since. Yes we all loved the days of no to little waits in line at the parks and walkins for food--but is that really what WDW liked. I would think right now they are living a marketing dream with the DDP , year of a million dreams, DME, and Disney affordable . I would think if we were not complaining that it was busy everywhere THEN they would be doing something wrong. JMHO

phyllisnnj
03-03-2007, 01:10 PM
Any offsite dining tips or recommendations?

Cheshire Figment
03-03-2007, 05:09 PM
As a general rule in the dining industry the actual cost of the food to the restaurant is about 38% of the menu price. Everything is based on the percentage and that is how they set up their pricing.

An extreme example of this (from a non-Disney chain restaurant) is:
A 10 oz steak is $10.00.
A 10 oz steak with six shrimp is $12.00, an upcharge for the shrimp of $2.00.
A 16 oz steak is $16.00.
A 16 oz steak with six shrimp is $19.00, an upcharge for the shrimp of $3.00.
I asked the manager since there is no difference in the six shrimp. His response was they look at the total cost of the food and raise it by a fixed percentage.

For people who buy DDP the venue where they get their meals is creditied with a fixed amount for each meal served. It does not matter if the purchase is the least expensive or most expensive combination on the menu. (This was told to me separately by the general managers of two World Showcase restaurants.) The restuarant does have to show a profit. I

leanan
03-03-2007, 05:24 PM
Just a repeat of what others said but it bugs me. The lack of choices at the restaurants has made me walk out when not on the meal plan. If you are on the plan you deal. I walked out of Tony's on mainstreet because the prices also seem to be jacked up for the regular customers. 18.95 for noodles with bits of eggplant is just not happening. I went to a fast food place in the park. I was much happier there.

My family that was on the meal plan were shocked that we ate better and cheaper. We were done eating by the time they were getting their dinner. Plus the staff at Tonys who were miffed with our large group together took it out on them when we walked out of the restaurant. I was like they should of taken note that for a person not on the meal plan they were not a good option. Nothing on the menu made me want to pay those prices. If there was something I wanted I might have stayed. It was just yucky.

My belly said feed me a turkey drumstick or burgers from the counter service place in Frontier Land. The two of us ate for the same price as one of the entrees at Tony's

Sammie
03-03-2007, 06:23 PM
I haven't noticed these changes, I get filet and lobster every trip, so not sure where others are dining that it is no longer available. I did a very quick run through of menus and I found 14 places that serve filet, 6 that serve lobster and 12 that serve scallops or shrimp or crab or all three.

As long as I can get what I like on property it does not bother me in the least that a particular restaurant does not carry it anymore. I am just as happy with a key lime tort, as I am a slice of pie, even though Captain Jack's has very good key lime pie as does Concourse Grill.

But then I am sure someone will come along and tell me I have no idea what I am talking about and try to convince me that what I like to eat at Disney does not exist anymore. :)

But you know, at this point I don't care. Many of these threads end up being borderline insulting. I am sorry some are disappointed in menu changes, but you know it happens everywhere. It is one thing to be unhappy with change, it is another to insinuate that those that are pleased with the current offerings have no taste or knowledge of what they like or good food or even what is available at Disney. I sometimes wonder if we are even at the same place.

So I will dine with the notion that ignorance is bliss and be very happy doing so and I guess those not pleased will continue to be miserable or eat elsewhere.

leanan
03-04-2007, 01:53 AM
It is funny how some people are so negative towards other people's feelings. I will agree that I remember a nice cut of meat being offered in Italy at Christmas. I can not remember which cut but it was certainly delightful looking. E's aunt ordered it. I ordered a pasta with huge shrimps. I was on a medicine that killed my desire to eat then so I barely ate half the shrimps. I guess that tells you how big they were.

My complaint is just more lack of selection than anything. Also you have to remember many of the menus change with the season so maybe something may not be available just because it is a different time of the year. Like we would want them serving us soft shell crab off season. :rotfl:

Uncleromulus
03-04-2007, 05:17 AM
So far, no one has actually been insulted on this thread, and I'm trusting it will remain that way. It is a fair question and there are conflicting opinions as to IF it's really true, and if so, WHY. Some believe it is, but disagree as to the reason. Many believe it isn't true. And I'm sure there are many who don't really care and as Sammie says, will continue to eat at WDW, or offsite as their own particular tastes dictate.
I do believe the bottom line for Disney is that the restaurants are now usually FULL-.

bicker
03-04-2007, 07:14 AM
All it means is that there is a new group of people patronizing the restaurants. And if that group is more profitable than we are, then they deserve to be served more than we do. That's the real take-away. Until recently, Disney dining had been neglecting the majority of its guests, providing offerings that were too high-priced for them, and instead pandering too much to upper-middle-class foodies, like us. Disney dining's brilliant stroke here was to recognize that they could provide two separate offerings: A high quality offering (the truly excellent and wonderful Signature restaurants) for those willing to spend the extra money, and a mass-market offering for the majority of guests who they've been neglecting all these years.

bicker
03-04-2007, 07:22 AM
We have seen a decline in the offerings and quality even at local restaurants. Couldn't this be a contributing factor to some of the changes.Absolutely. I see in these discussions a distinct lack of perspective with regard to comparing changes seen at WDW with changes we see in the broader market. ("Yes WDW has changed, but show has everything else...") Portion sizes is another one of those issue. Portion sizes are shrinking at restaurants nationwide. This stems from industry experts advocating this as far back as 2003. (As an aside, my TiVo recorded a show called Restaurant Make-over, which I watched yesterday. It's where a renowned chef goes into a struggling restaurant and helps redesign the menu to help the restaurant be more successful. Indeed, in this episode, the chef's biggest problem with the current restaurant menu was that it was too large. He made the point to the restaurateur that they should focus on a smaller number of options, and do them very well. Interesting to see this making it from the industry trade papers all the way to the mainstream television screen.)

Anyway even if they have lost a few customers, which I agree is sad and disapointing for those individuals, if they have increased patronage 3-5 times by offering something more appealing the the masses, then that only makes business since.Absolutely that makes business sense -- in light of understanding the relationship between these changes they've made and the success they've derived from it, it would be irresponsible to reverse the changes (or in retrospect, to have not undertaken them). There is a fiduciary responsibility to owners here that shouldn't be ignored.

bicker
03-04-2007, 07:25 AM
Many of these threads end up being borderline insulting. I am sorry some are disappointed in menu changes, but you know it happens everywhere. It is one thing to be unhappy with change, it is another to insinuate that those that are pleased with the current offerings have no taste or knowledge of what they like or good food or even what is available at Disney. I agree. I sometimes wonder if some of the comments you're referring to violate the DIS's policies against "minor personal attacks."

So far, no one has actually been insulted on this threadSure seems like some have come close! :rotfl:

rcraw45425
03-04-2007, 08:44 AM
We usually make two or more trips per year. We never purchase the Dining Plan. I have noticed in the past few years a steady decline in quality and quantity. Le Cellier comes to mind, no more mention of Prime beef, rude inattentive servers, tables so close you site in your neighbors lap. At Nine Dragons, another favorite of ours, the portion size has been cut in half yet the price remains the same. Just noticed that Sci Fi is charging $12 for a burger and fries :scared1: . Idon't think so. I'm cancelling that ADR, which is a shame it used to be on our everytime to do list.

bicker
03-04-2007, 09:04 AM
As I mentioned earlier, Disney's table-service restaurants use to be configured in a spectrum, from Beaches and Cream at the low-end, to Victoria and Albert's at the high-end. With the Dining Plan, it was necessary to group the restaurants into three groups: 1TS restaurants, 2TS restaurants, and V&As by itself. Almost all the 1TS restaurants are now comparable to each other, and deliberately so. It serves no useful purpose to charge the same for restaurants that are radically different in quality from each other. Some of the 1TS actually have had their prices reduced (in comparison to other restaurants) to reflect their reclassification. Le Cellier is one of those. Indeed, it started as a 2TS restaurant, I believe, and then was reclassified because there just wasn't enough public demand for it at that level.

CamColt
03-04-2007, 11:14 AM
Thanks for this thread! It reminded me I never did send my letter I had put togther about our dining experience in December. I will be sure to get to that today.

I have to say, after hearing much about the service going downhill, in August I was surprised at how great the service was all around. In December we had a totally different experience with only 1 really good server.

We too were disappointed in the standardization of the kids menus and especially the lounge menus. :sad2:

As for regular restaurants menus, again we were very disappointed to see some items gone (the Hockey Puck at ESPN) and some very small portion sizes. My meal at Alfredos was about the size of a Lean Cuisine meal.

While we still ate good (not on the DDP) and had some of our favorites, I have to say we had more disappoinments based on overall experience on this last trip, than any other. I wouldn't say any restaurants were bad becuase of it and we didn't hate any of our meals, but we weren't raving over great dining experiences like usual.

rcraw45425
03-04-2007, 11:24 AM
...... some very small portion sizes. My meal at Alfredos was about the size of a Lean Cuisine meal.



I agree about portions! Our honey sesame chicken portion at Nine Dragons had about 12 small pieces of chicken on the same large platter! We used to split two of those entrees with our daughters, this time it was a good thing we had ordered extra egg rolls and planned for dessert at the French pastry shop.

rayelias
03-04-2007, 11:27 AM
And if that group is more profitable than we are, then they deserve to be served more than we do. That's the real take-away. Until recently, Disney dining had been neglecting the majority of its guests, providing offerings that were too high-priced for them, and instead pandering too much to upper-middle-class foodies, like us. Disney dining's brilliant stroke here was to recognize that they could provide two separate offerings: A high quality offering (the truly excellent and wonderful Signature restaurants) for those willing to spend the extra money, and a mass-market offering for the majority of guests who they've been neglecting all these years.

This is exactly what I would like to see. Take all the "2-meal" restaurants off the menu, and take 5-6 "1-meal" nicer/unique restaurants off the plan. Genericize the rest of the restaurants menus. I don't mind paying full-price cash for a nice meal, special ambiance, excellent service.

rcraw45425
03-04-2007, 12:17 PM
I agree, I think that 'Ohana and some of the others are just overpricing themselves!! It wouldn't be so bad if they hadn't also implemented the 9 & over is an adult, that's ridiculous! I mean, neither one of my girls eats $30 worth of food a one meal. Heck, they don't eat $30 worth of food in a week. :). I'm now rethinking my ADRs, it's not like we HAVE to do characters, we have done them so many times that the kids don't feel the need, but I like the food at places like 1900 PF and Cape May, why do they have to charge so much? I'd rather pay a per meal charge instead of an all you can eat price!

bicker
03-04-2007, 12:20 PM
I mean, neither one of my girls eats $30 worth of food a one meal. Generally, a $30 restaurant meal involves about $10-$11 worth of food, so folks should be sure you're making these judgments based on that conversion.

donaldtutter
03-04-2007, 01:06 PM
Absolutely. I see in these discussions a distinct lack of perspective with regard to comparing changes seen at WDW with changes we see in the broader market. ("Yes WDW has changed, but show has everything else...") Portion sizes is another one of those issue. Portion sizes are shrinking at restaurants nationwide. This stems from industry experts advocating this as far back as 2003. (As an aside, my TiVo recorded a show called Restaurant Make-over, which I watched yesterday. It's where a renowned chef goes into a struggling restaurant and helps redesign the menu to help the restaurant be more successful. Indeed, in this episode, the chef's biggest problem with the current restaurant menu was that it was too large. He made the point to the restaurateur that they should focus on a smaller number of options, and do them very well. Interesting to see this making it from the industry trade papers all the way to the mainstream television screen.)

Absolutely that makes business sense -- in light of understanding the relationship between these changes they've made and the success they've derived from it, it would be irresponsible to reverse the changes (or in retrospect, to have not undertaken them). There is a fiduciary responsibility to owners here that shouldn't be ignored.

I have no problem with smaller but filling portions. My main problem is with lower quality and poor service. I have had very disappointing dinners in the past year at Citricos, Bistro de Paris, Flying Fish, Brown Derby, and Jiko. Many times I orderd the same meals at these restaurants as I had ordered on previous visits and they didn't compare very well. Also the service is in general substandard for restaurants of this quality. On my next visit to WDW, I am considering eating only counter service meals rather than paying for overpriced, unsatisfying dinners. (I didn't mind paying the high prices when the food and service were better.)

bicker
03-04-2007, 01:20 PM
Most folks I've spoken with aren't having that kind of experience at the Signature restaurants. I'm sorry you've had such bad luck.

LSUDis
03-04-2007, 03:32 PM
Why not, at non-buffets, offer a section on the menu specifically for DP people? That way, everyone might be happy. DPers still get a choice of what to eat, but at a cheaper price, non-DPers can get what they want-- especially pricey items, and the restaurants can include items on DP menu that would allow them to meet their margins while still making foodies happy. They could call it their "signature selections" or something.

They already offer a set kids' menu, so it's a small step to a set DP menu.

Then, other, original-to-the-restaurant choices could be offered ala carte to non-DP people or to people on-plan who want something different.

On a side note, on a trip a couple of years ago, I got very good NY strips at both Rose and Crown and Whispering Canyon. This past Dec., after raving about them and getting friends/family to order them, I was embarrassed when I got these again--the cuts of meat were tougher, thinner, and less seasoned.

TDC Nala
03-04-2007, 03:38 PM
Food has definitely gone down in quality across the board. Specialty items are disappearing.
The only places that I haven't see any downgrade are Victoria and Albert's, Citricos and Jiko's.

Jiko has eliminated two items that I know of from the menu - the duck and pork firecracker appetizer, and the Tanzanian chocolates dessert.

I am not sure it's a dining plan thing. There was a post on these boards that says they were eliminated because WDW wants to cut back on fried food offerings.

The DDP won't be going anywhere. Too many guests love it, and it makes WDW way too much money.

I'm a DVC member and stay there a lot. There's this thing called Magical Express which saves me the escalating cost of car rental. Unfortunately it also prevents me from joining the protesters who will eat offsite. Not sure I would go offsite much anyway, since if I am going to be driving I won't be able to have wine with dinner.

Thank goodness for Bluezoo. Maybe I'll also patronize a lot more of the Swolphin and DTD places that don't take the dining plan and aren't subject to this Disney health kick.

bicker
03-04-2007, 03:41 PM
Why not, at non-buffets, offer a section on the menu specifically for DP people? Mainly because that's something that Dining Plan people would really react negatively to. One of the most common questions I see is, "Do we have to order from a limited menu?" I can almost feel the sign of delight when they learn that they can choose from anything on the menu. The value of the lack of exclusions cannot be understated.

They already offer a set kids' menu, so it's a small step to a set DP menu. It may not sound good, but the reality is that many people don't care anywhere near as much about what their children are offered as they care what they themselves are offered. Severely limiting choices for young children is readily accepted, while is an anathema if applicable to adults.

TDC Nala
03-04-2007, 03:45 PM
.......the little touches, hell Leota, they've taken some dishes and removed some of the MAIN INGREDIENTS. Spoodles fetuccini is a fine example. It used to have fresh snap peas and proscuitto ham in it. Now it's just noodles and cream sauce and we're not supposed to notice the missing items? :confused3
Take away two main ingredients and keep the price the same? :confused3



There's a thread around here somewhere that states Spoodles doesn't even have fettucine on the menu anymore. Could be it wasn't healthy enough.

Of course I think the new menu looks pretty good but I will try it this weekend and see how it is.

leanan
03-04-2007, 05:49 PM
There are some items on the menu that require extra points if you are on the DP. The nicest appetizer on the menu in Italy requires 3 extra points. I just happen to know that from when I went at christmas time. Of course I think it was worth the 3 extra points if you were that hungry. It was a sampler of items which had a lot of food to offer.

Peter Pirate 2
03-04-2007, 06:08 PM
It's ridiculous that those of us who notice specific changes to the WDW dining and answer the OP's question honestly get ridiculed by the same few cast of characters, with sideswipes and using the same sad logic that since the restaurants are full everything must be OK. Well that's fine for Disney and that's fine for people who are willing to pay Disney for food just because it's Disney.

But if you're interested in food, as the OP seems to be, the fact is things are not as good as they were. Things are obviously being homoginized to meet DDP requirements. There are simply too many folks, most of whom have been 'regulars' who notice the changes. End of story, IMO. The fact that the restaurants are full and lots of people enjoy paying a seemingly reduced price for inferior food doesn't change that fact.
pirate:

TDC Nala
03-04-2007, 07:34 PM
It's ridiculous that those of us who notice specific changes to the WDW dining and answer the OP's question honestly get ridiculed by the same few cast of characters, with sideswipes and using the same sad logic that since the restaurants are full everything must be OK. Well that's fine for Disney and that's fine for people who are willing to pay Disney for food just because it's Disney.

But if you're interested in food, as the OP seems to be, the fact is things are not as good as they were. Things are obviously being homoginized to meet DDP requirements. There are simply too many folks, most of whom have been 'regulars' who notice the changes. End of story, IMO. The fact that the restaurants are full and lots of people enjoy paying a seemingly reduced price for inferior food doesn't change that fact.
pirate:

Doesn't change the fact. But it does seem to indicate that the changes are not temporary and are in fact here to stay. Complaining about them isn't going to change anything. We're either going to have to find other things to like at Disney restaurants or eat elsewhere.

Peter Pirate 2
03-04-2007, 08:36 PM
You're probably right TDCNala in that numbers are what's driving everything at WDW but I still think vocal dissent should be put out there when possible so the powers that be can see (as well as mail and email and in person complaints when possible).

Also, the OP was asking about this issue specifically so it seems the perfect forum for these comments.

bicker
03-05-2007, 05:09 AM
Indeed, each person should definitely be able to have their own say. As long as folks don't start attacking what other members are posting, it's all good, eh? Just say what you believe and leave it at that.

jodifla
03-05-2007, 09:08 AM
Yes, dining at Disney has taken a nosedive with the horrible, awful, Disney- dining-magic-killing DDP.

Menus are suffering from terrible standardization, restaurants are packed to the gills with people getting their "deals" and item quality has plummeted in lots of areas, particularly red meat. Service is suffering as well, they seem understaffed in January when we were there. And having to plan your meals out six months in advance puts a stake in the heart of a fun day.

Those of us who remember the glory days of the 90s miss them terribly.

Peter Pirate 2
03-05-2007, 09:37 AM
Perhaps both sides need to pontificate less but it won't work unless both sides try.

I agree with jodifla's sentiments totally.

DaisyD
03-05-2007, 09:37 AM
Perhaps both sides need to pontificate less but it won't work unless both sides try.

I agree with jodifla's sentiments totally.

Me three!

Uncleromulus
03-05-2007, 10:16 AM
This may be off target just a bit, but I've always felt the menus at Disney Restaurants were a bit "lean" anyway. Most of the Disney Signature restaurants have about 8 (on average) entree offerings. That's not really a whole lot. I just had a look at Spoodles new menu (tho it's not a Signature Restaurant) and there were only 6 entrees. Most of the restaurants around here have that many different steaks on the menu!!
Just to compare, I made an entree count of similar (Signature type)restaurants in my area, to see if any seemed to be cutting back. I just did 6 of our area favorites, and there were an average of 28 entrees offered on those menus. None had any less than 15. Portion sizes at all of them are above Disney levels.

I'm not sure what my point is exactly, but Disney restaurants (at least the Signature spots) have little room to get any leaner-- menu or portion wise.

gina2000
03-05-2007, 11:25 AM
I totally agree with you UncleR. I think I understand some of the impetus behind smaller portions, though. And I don't think it really has to do with healthy choices. To begin with, larger portions usually translate into "take home" meals at a local restaurant. At WDW, most of us don't have the luxury of a DVC dwelling so "take home" becomes wasted food. Also, with the DDP, patrons eat 3 courses at a TS restaurant. There's no reason for a huge entree to exist when patrons have 2 other courses to consider. So restaurants cut back on the entree that many (if not most) Americans order - beef.

The above scenario is all well and good for the DDP patron. The price is fair even if the portions are small. But for those people who are not on the dining plan (and does anyone know what percentage of a restaurant's patrons ARE on the dining plan?) the portions are dreadfully small (and according to some/many, the quality compromised) when priced using the "rack rates" posted on the menus. And that's what those prices have become - rack rates. They don't indicate true value of the meal. They indicate what it costs if you don't have a "discount" - i.e., the DDP.

For many of us, we wouldn't order a 3 course meal at a table service restaurant. My DH would but I would usually have a bit of his appetizer and my entree. I'd virtually never have a dessert. I'd have more than enough to eat with a full priced entree. After walking for hours in the park, it was enough to eat comfortably. Now, however, I need that appetizer (probably not the dessert) and DH wants the dessert to round out his meal. That translates into alot more money for the average WDW patron who is not on the DDP. And when you look at the quantity/quality verses the price, it's not worth it.

As far as a smaller menu is concerned, many restaurants have downsized menus with several very intricate entrees as their showcases. They haven't downsized to include X amount of beef entrees, X amount of chicken, X amount of fish, etc. They've juiced up the entrees they serve so that they are masterpieces when presented, full of unusual flavors and preparations. That's not what's happening at WDW. They've taken off the intricately prepared items, standardized alot of dishes and portion controlled the best sellers.

I look at all of these factors when I judge a restaurant. I don't just look at taste. I look at price as compared to intricacy of preparation, quality of ingredients, ambiance AND taste. And while size is a factor, it's not usually a biggie on my scale. But it has become a bigger factor at WDW because they've trimmed their offerings and scaled down their preparations. Size only matters when the food is lacking for me. Again, I stress, for me. A richly prepared meal more than compensates for a smaller piece of meat. I'm not seeing the former and seeing too much of the latter these days at WDW.

JMHO.

rayelias
03-05-2007, 12:01 PM
I agree, I think that 'Ohana and some of the others are just overpricing themselves!! It wouldn't be so bad if they hadn't also implemented the 9 & over is an adult, that's ridiculous! I mean, neither one of my girls eats $30 worth of food a one meal. Heck, they don't eat $30 worth of food in a week. :). I'm now rethinking my ADRs, it's not like we HAVE to do characters, we have done them so many times that the kids don't feel the need, but I like the food at places like 1900 PF and Cape May, why do they have to charge so much? I'd rather pay a per meal charge instead of an all you can eat price!

I have to disagree, in the case of 'Ohana, at least.

$30 would include tax and soft drink.

Don't forget, it's AYCE. And, it's not typical "buffet" filler food -it's decent stuff. And, it's multi-courses - you get bread, salad, apps, entree, and dessert.

Add on the fact that there is entertainment, and that it's at the Poly, and I think $30 is a fair value.

YMMV.

QueueCT
03-05-2007, 12:40 PM
And when you look at the quantity/quality verses the price, it's not worth it.

I don't agree with this. Are the prices higher than a comparable restaurant in the city? A little bit (and I mean just a little bit). The quality is not that bad. The meals are competently prepared with good ingredients. Is it a top end dining experience? No. But then, with a few exceptions (CG, AP, not to mention V&A), you're not really paying top end prices. $14-18 for a fish entree is reasonable these days.

As far as a smaller menu is concerned, many restaurants have downsized menus with several very intricate entrees as their showcases. They haven't downsized to include X amount of beef entrees, X amount of chicken, X amount of fish, etc. They've juiced up the entrees they serve so that they are masterpieces when presented, full of unusual flavors and preparations. That's not what's happening at WDW. They've taken off the intricately prepared items, standardized alot of dishes and portion controlled the best sellers.

I'm of two minds about this. It's true when you consider the "standard" restaurants. The menu at FF is too similar to others. There's no character at these places anymore and no reason to select FF over another place other than convenience of location. On the other hand, the WS restaurants offer quite a bit of variety.

The topic of portion sizes has come up quite a bit and I'm stunned! I don't know if they've actually gotten smaller over the years but if they have, I'm applauding. We had trouble finishing our entrees at Brown Derby on Saturday at lunch . . . didn't have dessert, didn't have appetizers.

Finally, and I don't mean to sound like a snob here, it's a great thing that more people are able to experience TS at Disney . . . provided the menus don't get homogenized to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Maybe the CM can get someone to try that asian tuna dish they otherwise would pass by. That's a great thing. Maybe, just maybe, taste buds can be educated and the quality of the dinner table at home will improve. It might be a pipe dream but Disney has an opportunity here. I know that's not their primary goal but it would be a fantastic side effect.

rcraw45425
03-05-2007, 12:57 PM
I have to disagree, in the case of 'Ohana, at least.

$30 would include tax and soft drink.

Don't forget, it's AYCE. And, it's not typical "buffet" filler food -it's decent stuff. And, it's multi-courses - you get bread, salad, apps, entree, and dessert.

Add on the fact that there is entertainment, and that it's at the Poly, and I think $30 is a fair value.

YMMV.

$30 for a 9 year old child that eats a normal amount is excessive in my book.

PrincessTrisha
03-05-2007, 01:23 PM
I think as with everything there are multiple sides to this question.

Has dining at Disney changed over the last two years.

Clearly, the answer is yes.

How that change effects you determines if the changes are positive or negative.

Many Disney restaurants have always been expensive for what you get - Pasta at Tony's has always been (IMHO) excessively priced for what you get. And Sci Fi has always charged sit down prices for their burger and fries (as compared to counter service).

My family has not noticed a major decline over the last two years. Le Cellier is still wonderful - the issue of the tables being close together is an old one - but the filet is still melt in your mouth tender. Ohana has not suffered in quality or quantity (the shrimp are large and flavourful - it may be a different preparation but it is still the same product).

Changes, yes, but a major slide to mediocrity - no.

gina2000
03-05-2007, 01:34 PM
No. But then, with a few exceptions (CG, AP, not to mention V&A), you're not really paying top end prices. $14-18 for a fish entree is reasonable these days.

I don't disagree with this statement at all except that at many 1TS restaurants, a fish entree runs between $20 - $29. Check out Chef de France, Coral Reef, Le Cellier's dinner menus among others. At the lesser priced 1TS restaurants, fish entrees are running about $20.

And I'm actually not complaining about fish entrees. I found my fish to be plentiful and tastefully done. I'm finding the biggest problem with beef (which is my husband's viande of choice).

Peter Pirate 2
03-05-2007, 01:39 PM
Princess we'll have agree to disagree as I've noticed changes so significant we're now eating at WDW on rare occasions as opposed to regular. Loss of items on every menu I can think of. But again I'm only thinking of the Signatures ... Although Le Cellier certainly has reduced their options, as well.

Re: 'Ohana, $30 may seem reasonable to some but it was 19.99 just a short few years ago and the menu and drink offerings have gotten worse not better. :confused3

wdw4us2
03-05-2007, 01:46 PM
Its a very gradual downturn, but its there. The main thing I've noticed (like the above poster said) is fewer menu choices, fewer quality items, and the two specific things I've noticed a decline in are the meats and (believe it or not) produce. I had to cut spots off my tomato the other day, LOL!

If you go regularly, it will take you a while to say "hey, this isn't the same as it used to be", but if you haven't been since, say, 2004 or so, you'll probably notice right away.

As one who has been dining at WDW table service restaurants regularly for decades, the observations I quoted above are 100% correct.

We started noticing changes as far back as 2005. Disney TS locations are beginning to look like your local Bennigans, TGIFridays, Olive Garden, etc. instead of being the unique experience they once were.

As for the comments about letting Disney know you're unhappy with the changes, I don't think they do any good. I have filled out surveys for my last 6 trips and have singled out the disappointing dining experiences in each one. I have also done separate emails, with no results. I seriously don't think they care, as long as the $$ keep rolling in. We now dine off property or at counter service venues more than we used to. It's a shame.

DD has started a new game at WDW - find the menu that doesn't have Penne Pasta on it.

shovan
03-05-2007, 02:12 PM
We've been visiting & dining at WDW since the late 70's. We have witnessed great strides made in the dining offerings and quality during the 80's and 90's. The improvements in counter service foods have been considerable. But in the last 4 years or so, we've noticed a downturn in quality at table service restaurants. Especially in the Epcot restaurants. I agree, there are fewer quality items offered & the quality of some items has declined. Why is it happening? Anyone's guess is as good as mine. But it is a disappointment to us.

PrincessTrisha
03-05-2007, 02:44 PM
Re: 'Ohana, $30 may seem reasonable to some but it was 19.99 just a short few years ago and the menu and drink offerings have gotten worse not better. :confused3

For my first on site trip, I remember that Ohana was $22.99 in Feb 05.

$22.99 to $25.99 in 2 years is not a huge difference in price. Especially now that the meal includes a full dessert.

And as a comparison, gas was 60 cents a litre (cdn) and now is usually around the $1 per litre price. That is a huge increase.

And I just can't buy the signature restaurant decline is due solely to the DDP. Restaurants like Coral Reef, Le Cellier or other high end 1 credit meals, to a large extent any changes (positive or negative) can probably be at least partly attributed to the DDP simply due to higher patronage.

But how many people use the DDP for the higher end 2 credit restaurants (other than the perennial favourite - California Grill)? Is it possible that the decline is due to DDP people not partronizing these restaurants? That the restaurants need to make changes to bring these restaurants in line (profit wise) with the DDP 1 credit restaurants?

Peter Pirate 2
03-05-2007, 02:52 PM
Except that 'Ohana is now 29.99 (not 25.99). That's significant, IMO.

Leota
03-05-2007, 04:07 PM
And I just can't buy the signature restaurant decline is due solely to the DDP. Restaurants like Coral Reef, Le Cellier or other high end 1 credit meals, to a large extent any changes (positive or negative) can probably be at least partly attributed to the DDP simply due to higher patronage.

But how many people use the DDP for the higher end 2 credit restaurants (other than the perennial favourite - California Grill)? Is it possible that the decline is due to DDP people not partronizing these restaurants? That the restaurants need to make changes to bring these restaurants in line (profit wise) with the DDP 1 credit restaurants?

The key thing is that the Signature restaurants do not operate in a book-keeping vacuum. In a company such as Disney, it would be Food & Beverage Sales. It may be further broken into Resort F&B and Theme Park F&B - but the usual & expected business model would include all food & beverage locations, not each one individually. So, if Disney is taking a hit on 1 credit TS, it will effect the bottom line of the whole F&B division. Cost cutting measures would take place across the board to compensate for loss in revenue.

Also, I did ask a serious question earlier in this thread which I worry from comments made is being construed as an attack. It was not asked as an attack, but as a very serious question.

Finally, I have also seen comments about how busy the restaurants are so food quality must be good. Again, serious question:
Just because Olive Garden has higher sales does that mean it's better quality than, say, The French Laundry? I don't think so. Logic is faulty. Has Disney made Dining more accessible to the Masses? Yes - like Olive Garden it has. Does that equate to better food? No, it does not. It equates to more accessible food to the general population.

Am I a Foodie? Why, yes I am. I went to college for Hotel & Restaurant Management, I trained in a Top Kitchen with a Top Chef. Several of my former colleagues have gone on to write top selling cookbooks, host Food Network shows & compete in Iron Chef competitions. Food is my life.That's not said to be snobby, that's said to give some prespective on what my dining expectations are. I do not want filler for my gullet. I want food that Inspires me, Transports me, that makes me Swoon. I dine at Disney Signature restaurants with Signature price tags that I pay OOP. I expect the same or better quality dining experiences each time I go. I expect a Creative & Technical meal for that cash outlay & for the spin Disney does on these restaurants.

I used to get that at Disney. Over the past several years, that dining quality has become elusive, no matter how packed the restaurants may be. It is disappointing and a bit insulting to be given an inferior quality experience for the same & usually,greater cost.

Just to re-iterate - I am not insulting anyone, that is not my intent. I am not passing any kind of judgement on those who use the dining plan. I am not saying Disney isn't raking in the bucks on the DDP, obviously they feel it is a wise business decision. I am saying & I stand by it - that the Disney Dining experience has declined substantially.

bicker
03-05-2007, 04:44 PM
I'm not sure what my point is exactly, but Disney restaurants (at least the Signature spots) have little room to get any leaner-- menu or portion wise.While I think Disney's restaurants are now pretty close to the number of menu choices that experts in the restaurant industry have been recommending for years, I think there are still a lot of places that serve portions that are much larger than they need to be.

bicker
03-05-2007, 04:48 PM
It is disappointing and a bit insulting to be given an inferior quality experience for the same & usually,greater cost.I think a lot of folks miss the boat with regard to pricing, because they fail to factor in the appropriate premiums (1) for the convenience of serving a meal inside the theme park or inside the hotel, and (2) to account for the fact that diners are a captive market. While guests may not like paying for either of these things, the fact is that they are the reality, and they legitimately justify substantial pricing premiums.

gina2000
03-05-2007, 04:59 PM
I have no problem with pricing premiums. I have problems with declining food variety, slipshod service (which I have not received though others have noted it with regularity) and badly prepared food. High pricing does not have to coexist with the above mentioned negatives.

Leota
03-05-2007, 05:00 PM
I think a lot of folks miss the boat with regard to pricing, because they fail to factor in the appropriate premiums (1) for the convenience of serving a meal inside the theme park or inside the hotel, and (2) to account for the fact that diners are a captive market. While guests may not like paying for either of these things, the fact is that they are the reality, and they legitimately justify substantial pricing premiums.

Nope - Not missing the boat at all - I have some idea about market, demographics etc from my college days. I comparing the Dining Experience at Specific WDW venues now vs. about 4 years ago. I am paying a higher amount of money for the same meal at the same restaurant (when it's even still available) and getting an Inferior Quality Experience. That is what is insulting & disappointing. Perhaps my phrasing wasn't crystal clear enough.

But, since you bought it up - Should a Captive Audience be offered an inferior quality experience because they are Captive? Not according to Walt Disney's philosophy & standards.

bicker
03-05-2007, 05:01 PM
Why not? Just imagine how much more expensive meals would be if Disney didn't streamline its second-level dining options. The measures Disney dining has taken directly speaks to the demands of many many guests for more affordable dining at WDW. Prices would have been a lot higher if they were providing substantially higher value.

disneynutz
03-05-2007, 05:14 PM
I am pretty new to the DIS and I just don't get it.

People upset about the overall quality at Disney. Food, Rooms, Views, Cost, Crowds. Yes we can all agree that cost is up, product and service is down. Why do we spend are valuable time discussing it here when the DIS can't change a thing. Spend half as much time contacting Disney and maybe things could change.

The Tiger guy makes headlines and Disney is receiving hundreds of emails a day about his fate. Disney makes some poor Corporate decisions that affects all of their Guests and we just accept it.

If we don't speak, we will never be heard. :grouphug:

gina2000
03-05-2007, 05:17 PM
It seems to me that you are suggesting that we be grateful for whatever we get because we're at WDW. I find that very difficult to swallow (pun intended). If there were no DDP, can you honestly say that these restaurants would be patronized? The regulars aren't happy with the quality vis-a-vis the pricing and the DDP patrons wouldn't exist.

Well, since it exists, we'll make due. Either hop on the plan, eat CS or eat offsite. Unfortunately, for us alot of the magic is gone and we'll be looking at alternate venues as vacation options. I know that doesn't matter to WDW at the moment but if quality continues to decline, rest assured that people on the DDP will no longer patron these restaurants either. But we'll see what evolves as time goes on. Life is always a changing experience and I don't mind change. I just won't get ripped off bowing to it.

bicker
03-05-2007, 05:20 PM
I did apologize in advance for the sarcasm. If you wish, I'll remove it from my message completely. I'm sorry you were upset by what I wrote.

Peter Pirate 2
03-05-2007, 05:41 PM
Excellent and lucid thoughts Leota (as always) ...

The reason I keep complaining about these issues is in agreement with gina's point. This well will run dry and Disney has to know that there is still a chance to recapture the glory when the time comes (sooner rather than later, hopefully).

On the good news front I was happy to see that Disney hired a renowned chef at Fying Fish (finally) instead of keeping the status quo, which I honestly thought would happen. Perhaps they aren't quite ready to sever the ties to truly fine dining yet.

Pumbaa_
03-05-2007, 07:42 PM
Please keep to the topic of the post. It is a great topic for discussion and we would love to keep the thread open
thanks,

Peter Pirate 2
03-05-2007, 08:12 PM
Am I off topic?:confused3

Pumbaa_
03-05-2007, 09:51 PM
No Peter Pirate, some of the posts were getting off track and just a friendly reminder.

That is good news about the new chef at FF. Any idea if there will be (positive) menu changes coming?

JadenLayne
03-06-2007, 12:35 AM
We go to Disney about 3 times a year. We've been both before and after the Dining Plan. We have used the dining plan and we do enjoy it, however the question being has the food and quality changed? The answer is WITHOUT A DOUBT! We have ate at many signature meals over the years and before the dining plan the food was much higher scale and the quality excellent. After the dining plan, you get less food that is more bland and not nearly as original. It doesn't make your senses dance so to say. I sincerely think that anyone who doesn't think the excellence in Disney Dining has gone downhill since the dining plan either doesn't go to Disney often or has rose colored blinders on.

Will we keep going to Disney? Yes
Will we take part in the Dining Play? Yes if it's best for our plans.
Will we miss the taste sensations of dining before the plan? YES!

To me there should be a few restaurants, both regularly priced and signature that should still offer the food and service of before the dining plan. There are plenty of people who would pay out of pocket for the kind of experience that was to be had before Dining.

Leota
03-06-2007, 06:06 AM
I am very excited to see what the new Chef at FF brings to the table. I'm seriously hoping that this indicates an upward turn in the Disney Dining Experience.

Mackey Mouse
03-06-2007, 06:33 AM
Amen to that Leota.....I will welcome any change for the good and if a new chef will bring new ideas to a restaurant than I am all for it..

I am frightened however, what will take the place of Alfredo's.....I do hope it is something better than the Alfredo's of present time. What happened to that restaurant????? They will definitely need to have something to compete with Il Mulino, which I hear is quite good and will try my next visit. Not a Disney Restaurant, and you know Disney likes to keep you eating at their restaurants...

I also know there will be changes coming to Cape May evening buffet, not sure exactly when, but they will be coming....hope they improve what they have already which is a successful buffet....people seem to love it.

bicker
03-06-2007, 06:38 AM
I don't think that a 1TS restaurant would intend compete with Il Mulino. The objective really needs to be set at the level of filling the need for an Italian restaurant in the price range of the other comparable World Showcase restaurants, like San Angel Inn and Marrakesh.

Uncleromulus
03-06-2007, 07:19 AM
We'll be at the FF in May, so will see firsthand if any changes, etc. Could be a big difference in what the new chef WANTS to do, vs what he's allowed to do---

Peter Pirate 2
03-06-2007, 10:38 AM
I'm sure that will be true Uncle. Chef John had problems with that when he moved to the CG and Chef Robert didn't last long at FF for much the same reasons. But still, I'm hopeful that the fact that they added a seasoned pro to the ranks indicates something positive.
:beach:

shovan
03-06-2007, 10:47 AM
I really hope they keep the Potato Crusted Snapper at FF! That dish was superb!

Anyone know if there was a recent change in management at the Yachtsman? We were there in early Oct. & had great "high quality" steaks. The service was also very good. Returned there in January, it felt like a totally different rest.! The meat quality was not the same, the atmosphere loud & annoying, the service just mediocre.

I think Cape May could use a change & I hope it's an improvement!

leanan
03-06-2007, 11:20 AM
I think the service quality across the board on the sit down restaurants has gone down hill. Mind you I always seem to go in with large parties but that is no reason not to keep my glass filled. So far the best service I have recieved was the place in Italy in Epcot. The worst was a tie between Tony's and Cape May. My friend had to all but attack the waiter at Cape Mays to get my drink glass refilled. The food was so plain and normal for the money. That one needs help really bad.

jodifla
03-06-2007, 11:52 AM
I really hope they keep the Potato Crusted Snapper at FF! That dish was superb!

Anyone know if there was a recent change in management at the Yachtsman? We were there in early Oct. & had great "high quality" steaks. The service was also very good. Returned there in January, it felt like a totally different rest.! The meat quality was not the same, the atmosphere loud & annoying, the service just mediocre.

I think Cape May could use a change & I hope it's an improvement!

The Yachstman, our favorite restaurant, is now HORRIBLE! I wrote a two-page letter detailing our lousy experience from our visit in January.

I suggest you do the same. THERE IS POWER IN NUMBERS!

MarieA
03-06-2007, 12:32 PM
Princess we'll have agree to disagree as I've noticed changes so significant we're now eating at WDW on rare occasions as opposed to regular. Loss of items on every menu I can think of. But again I'm only thinking of the Signatures ... Although Le Cellier certainly has reduced their options, as well.

Re: 'Ohana, $30 may seem reasonable to some but it was 19.99 just a short few years ago and the menu and drink offerings have gotten worse not better. :confused3


As in the past, I agree with you 100%. We have been dining at WDW for the last 16 years and have eaten at both 1TS and Signatures. I too have noticed significant changes to WDW menus and food quality. Most of the 1 TS menus have 6 or 7 entrees on them. As for signatures, last year we tried the Yachtsman's Steakhouse and although it was good, it wasn't great. Jiko was good too but again not great IMHO.

Someone on this thread mentioned that menus in the restaurant industry have shrunk across the board. I can tell you from personal experience - none of the restaurants in my area have smaller menus. In fact, one restaurant that we frequent has more specials daily (3 to 4 appetizers and 10 entrees in addition to a large menu) then most 1TS restaurants at WDW.

I have all of our ADR's planned for our August trip (both 1 TS and Signatures) and I am hoping that quality doesn't slip any further. If it does - this will probably be the last year we dine at WDW.

I am also getting tired of the limited choices. If I dine at a restaurant a few times a year and there are only 6 entrees on menu, it gets pretty old. One suggestion to avoid tired menus is to offer a couple of specials that change every month or so.

k&a&c'smom
03-06-2007, 01:47 PM
We have definitely noticed a decline in overall quality in the last couple trips.

We (mostly my teen DD and I) have eaten 2 TS meals per day on nearly all our WDW trips for the last 6 or 7 years, and have never done the DDP. (it does not work for the way we eat) The last few trips, we have commented that the restaurants are not as good as they used to be. Our latest trip in Dec., it was quite noticeable. We ate at:

CA Grill - we had 2 ARs here, because we have always loved this restaurant; sushi still very good, overall food quality good, but a little less so than usual - for instance, the lamb entree I had was kind of blah.

Flying Fish - again, still good but not as much of a Wow! factor as we were used to; potato-wrapped snapper was almost burnt, I tried a beet and lobster salad that had very little taste, my entree was good but not up to the quality we were used to at this one-time favorite restaurant.

Yachtsman Steakhouse - this was our biggest disappointment! We hadn't eaten here for a couple years and were really looking forward to it. We were disappointed to see that the menu was not very original - three steak entrees had mashed potatoes, which when we received them tasted exactly like Whispering Canyon's potatoes we'd had at lunch. That doesn't make them bad, but not what you expect from a high-end restaurant. The steaks were lacking in flavor, the menu choices were dull and we won't return to this restaurant.

Whatever the reason, we have noticed a definite decline in the overall quality of the experience at the Signature restaurants. In fact, I told DD that, if this trend continues, there is no reason to book the Signature places in future. Just stick to Kona, Whispering Canyon, Grand Floridian Cafe, etc. At least there, you know what to expect - a decent meal without any exciting options at a (for Disney) reasonable price.

Peter Pirate 2
03-06-2007, 01:49 PM
MarieA, you're absolutely right re: the specials and menu changes. One of the things that attracted us to Flying Fish initially was that they had a great selection of everyday items you could count on (the potato crusted snapper, the charred strip, scallops over the risotto dujour) but the Chef's were free to improvise on a periodic basis. I remember when Chef John and Chef Barry were at the helm they brought us out a wonderful plate of lobster & shrimp risotto - They had just made a batch experimentally (it wasn't on the menu) and we tested it! It was GREATGREATGREAT but sadly never made it to the menu (lobster & shrimp together were cost prohibitive).

Anyway, I really, really want these professional chef's to cook! Let them have at it and we'll reap the benefits. Listening Disney???pixiedust:

wdw4us2
03-06-2007, 05:40 PM
I think a lot of folks miss the boat with regard to pricing, because they fail to factor in the appropriate premiums (1) for the convenience of serving a meal inside the theme park or inside the hotel, and (2) to account for the fact that diners are a captive market. While guests may not like paying for either of these things, the fact is that they are the reality, and they legitimately justify substantial pricing premiums.

What you didn't mention is that Disney raised the prices by 20%
right after they started offerring the Disney Dining Experience to all Annual Passholders and the DDP was brought into existence. I don't think that was a coincidence.

wdw4us2
03-06-2007, 05:48 PM
MarieA, you're absolutely right re: the specials and menu changes.

We noticed this back in the summer of 2005. We went to Boatwright's in POR because we love the ribs they served. Imagine our disappointment when we discovered they were no longer on the menu. Instead, it was the same boring Penne Pasta and Herb Roasted Chicken as everywhere else.

We mentioned this to our server. She had worked there since the resort opened. She said they were receiving lots of complaints about the menu changes. She also said the reason for the changes was that all of the restaurants were becoming centralized as far as their ordering their food and that the higher ups wanted things to be more standardized to save money.

What a surprise.:rolleyes2

Peter Pirate 2
03-06-2007, 06:31 PM
What you didn't mention is that Disney raised the prices by 20%
right after they started offerring the Disney Dining Experience to all Annual Passholders and the DDP was brought into existence. I don't think that was a coincidence.

Good point and I don't believe it was coincidental either.

Leota
03-06-2007, 07:58 PM
What you didn't mention is that Disney raised the prices by 20%
right after they started offerring the Disney Dining Experience to all Annual Passholders and the DDP was brought into existence. I don't think that was a coincidence.

Ugh! That burns me. I didn't realize that. No, I don't think it was coincidental at all. :furious:

leanan
03-06-2007, 09:36 PM
We always paid a premium price. Raising that price further to make up for the DDP was out of bounds. Lets be honest $27 for shrimp with pasta is more than a premium price. It is we know you are afraid to leave property price.

It is not just what they did in that aspect but what they have done to surrounding businesses. Have you seen 192 lately? It is destroyed because of the plan. Something Walt always feared. People are going to be less likely to leave property only raising their profits but ultimately those of us local will loose interest in a park that brought such poverty to our area. All those hotels on 192 are turning into rental slums. Sad but true.

bicker
03-07-2007, 05:26 AM
What you didn't mention is that Disney raised the prices by 20%No, not at all. There are a number of things that affect pricing. Perhaps the most significant is the fact that guests have far more disposable income, now. In bad economic times, leisure activities are severely under-priced, and leisure businesses suffer badly in terms of profitability. As the economy has greatly improved, leisure activities boost prices, just on the basis of more disposable income available.

bicker
03-07-2007, 05:28 AM
It is not just what they did in that aspect but what they have done to surrounding businesses. Have you seen 192 lately? It is destroyed because of the plan. Something Walt always feared.Actually, it was something Walt would have been pleased with. He hated the fact that businesses sprung up outside his parks, to sap away his revenue and add a less Disneyfied look to the entry to his parks. He built the Magic Kingdom four miles away from the entry to the property deliberately, so guests would be physically removed from any distracting aspects of the surrounding businesses.

Leota
03-07-2007, 06:50 AM
We always paid a premium price. Raising that price further to make up for the DDP was out of bounds. Lets be honest $27 for shrimp with pasta is more than a premium price. It is we know you are afraid to leave property price.

It is not just what they did in that aspect but what they have done to surrounding businesses. Have you seen 192 lately? It is destroyed because of the plan. Something Walt always feared. People are going to be less likely to leave property only raising their profits but ultimately those of us local will loose interest in a park that brought such poverty to our area. All those hotels on 192 are turning into rental slums. Sad but true.

Well, the downward spiral of the Disney dining experience is prompting us to leave WDW property in search of better dining experiences. Since we have been going starting in 1993 (I don't count my only trip as a child), we have never felt the need to leave Disney property. For our October trip, we are making plans to eat offsite. We already eat many of our meals lately at the Swolphin restaurants because their quality hasn't declined. I know friends of mine have also chosen to eat more & more meals off property as well in response to what is happening on the dining front in WDW.

Laura
03-07-2007, 07:59 AM
It is not just what they did in that aspect but what they have done to surrounding businesses. Have you seen 192 lately? It is destroyed because of the plan. Something Walt always feared. People are going to be less likely to leave property only raising their profits but ultimately those of us local will loose interest in a park that brought such poverty to our area. All those hotels on 192 are turning into rental slums. Sad but true.

No, this was something Walt expected from the experience of building Disneyland and the businesses that took over the surrounding orange groves. That's partly why so much land was bought for the Florida Project.

Peter Pirate 2
03-07-2007, 08:08 AM
It certainly will continue to work itself out at WDW but I am hopeful that eventually even the folks who believe they're getting the bargain basement deal will come to realize that you NEVER get something for nothing.

I know many of the DDP users state that the DDP has allowed them to eat at the Signatures that they'd otherwise never try, the folly being the only true thing they're getting from the Signatures now is the location. The menus have changed, the quality is not there and the service is not what it once was...So what Signature experience are they really getting??? There will be some who will rave about the meals, possibly doing so to validate their decision to use the meal plan (that's human nature) or honestly feeling these restaurants are the best they've ever eaten at...Imagine how they'd rave if they were still 100% in tact. This is all subjective speculation and only my opinion, of course.

RE: The DDP pricing, certainly we all know that many issues affect pricing but when locals have been given the 20% break with the DDP for a few years with no glitches, then in the span of a month Disney decides to offer the DDP to everyone immediately followed by a 20% across the board hike of prices, immediateley followed by the surge of marketing of the DDP's, well ... Coincidence? Maybe, but not bloody likely.

To end positively I will reiterate that it must say something to Disney's thinking that they did hire Chef Tim to take over FF instead of simply hiring from within or even consoloting Chef's perview or maintaining the status quo even longer (a kitchen being run by exisitng sous chef's).:beach:

gina2000
03-07-2007, 09:50 AM
The bottom line here is that the slide toward mediocrity has begun. In the beginning, the new patrons will be amazed and dazzled at the DDP and what it offers. As time goes on, however, they will second guess some of what they are doing vis-a-vis the cost verses the quality they are receiving. Right now, this works for WDW. It fills rooms at rack rates, it delivers patrons to restaurants, it bolsters the bottom line and hopefully their vendors are happy. It may work out that vendors don't see the profit margins and decline to participate in the future. It may be that too many DDP patrons can't get ressies when they want them or where they want them and that will cause another set of problems. Or it may be the change is here to stay. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, WDW is happy, the new DDP patrons are happy and some of us are not. Let's see what the plan brings to the bottom line. Only then will people know if this is here to stay. In the meantime, there are a whole group of wonderful restaurants out there in Orlando waiting to be sampled.

sotoalf
03-07-2007, 10:15 AM
For the record, we had two of our best meals at signature restaurants during our February trip. There was zero decline in the quality of service and food presentation at Citricos* or Artist Point. In fact, when we told the Citricos bartender about our superb meal at AP, he left to speak to the chef. "I let him know we have competition tonight," he said upon returning. When we were finally seated, the bartender actually brought samples for our entire table of some kind of truffle. And he wasn't even our waiter! This is what I call beyond the call of duty.

*Then again, Citricos has never been very popular, even before the DDP. Let's hope it stays that way.

leanan
03-07-2007, 11:21 AM
Actually, it was something Walt would have been pleased with. He hated the fact that businesses sprung up outside his parks, to sap away his revenue and add a less Disneyfied look to the entry to his parks. He built the Magic Kingdom four miles away from the entry to the property deliberately, so guests would be physically removed from any distracting aspects of the surrounding businesses.

Unfortunately this is not what he wanted. His problem here is now 10 fold worse than it ever was at Disneyland. Abondoned empty hotels and weekly rental hotels was something he never imagined would be just on the edge of his property. The holiday inn is now a weekly rental place for poor people and transients. There are a couple of others on the strip like that. It is scary out there. I roll up my windows and lock all my doors. Something I have never done before on 192. Ugly is better than SCARY and ugly.

sotoalf
03-07-2007, 11:30 AM
Let's also remember: these trends are cyclical. Until the early nineties WDW dining (with a few exceptions) used to be average at best. Restaurants weren't bastions of haute cuisine, or places in which new chefs experimented with recipes: they catered to the hungry park hopper who wanted a decent meal, nothing more. It's possible that Disney dining will reach its nadir in a few years, the company will make adjustments, and the attention will return.

Also, WDW was a lot smaller then and there were a couple of dining plans too! With only a handful of Disney-owned resorts it was easier to concentrate on good things done well. I remember creative recipes at The Disney Inn's Garden Gallery and the Village Restaurant; and while we never ate at the Empress Room and Gulf Coast Room, friends often boasted of these restaurants' superior cuisine and service.

mrsltg
03-07-2007, 12:40 PM
I read through this entire thread and several things come to mind-

1. Yes, there is a move toward standardization at the restaurants and bars. The lack of diversity at the bars really bothered my on my last trip.

2. Yes, Jiko has removed two items from its menu. The place has been there for about five years - I wouldn't jump into a conspiracy theory just yet. Disney is allowed to adjust the menus in its resturants. The food quality at jiko was excellent in December. My husband declared the lamb shank one of the best meals he's had - ever.

3. Yes, the restaurants are packed and that's good for Disney. I may be miffed about difficulty of getting ADRs, but frankly, it's not impossible and all it takes is a small amount of planning.

4. Portion size - are you kidding? I have seen so many complaints about portion size on this board lately. Seriously folks, look around - especially the next time you go to WDW - America is having an obesity epidemic. There is nothing wrong with a 6 oz piece of meat, a small serving of potato or rice, and a vegetable on the side. You do not need to eat until you feel like you need to vomit or until your pants are uncomfortable. I can comfortably share my meals with my 6 year old. I have yet to find a restaurant at Disney where I left feeling unsatisfied. I really don't think portion sizes are the problem, rather the American perception is completely out-of-whack.

5. DDP is here to stay - at least for the time being. People like it. People who weren't staying onsite before to eat are now doing so. Disney is getting $38/per day upfront and whether you eat or not, you're paying for it! It works for them. For me, I'll stick to more signature restaurants and other favorites I have developed over the years.

bicker
03-07-2007, 12:55 PM
The bottom line here is that the slide toward mediocrity has begun.I don't think it is any kind of slide to mediocrity. We're talking about a customer-facing business listening to its customers and doing what that want -- not what a few vocal ones say they want (talk is cheap), but doing what the customers as a whole really want. There has never been a time when what the general public wanted perfectly matched what every member of the general public wants, and there never will be. I personally would prefer the ticket price be doubled, solely to thin out the crowds. I can afford it, so I would like them to do it. However, it isn't practical to expect that they'll do what I say I want, or even what I personally really want.

In the beginning, the new patrons will be amazed and dazzled at the DDP and what it offers. As time goes on, however, they will second guess some of what they are doing vis-a-vis the cost verses the quality they are receiving. Believe it or not, that's always been the case. I can remember discussions back in the late 1980, the mid 1990s, the early 2000s, etc., exactly like this one: A bunch of people saying things have gotten worse (because they changed) and a bunch of people saying things have gotten better, and a bunch of people saying that overall things haven't changed much -- and, most importantly, park attendance continues to climb, hotel load-levels continue to climb, division revenues continue to climb, etc. If this is what a "slide to mediocrity" sounds like, I sure wish every company would do it.

bicker
03-07-2007, 01:05 PM
Until the early nineties WDW dining (with a few exceptions) used to be average at best. Restaurants weren't bastions of haute cuisine, or places in which new chefs experimented with recipes: they catered to the hungry park hopper who wanted a decent meal, nothing more. A lot of folks forget that Dining at WDW used to be a really bad experience, back in the beginning. Indeed, I feel any assertion than dining was better in the 1970s that it is today is disingenuous, a product of nostalgic memory.

I do agree with you that this is somewhat cyclical, but the cycle isn't an independent one as you asserted. I believe the cycle is actually a cycle of customer preference, which varies over time, and the state of dining at the parks is just a reflection of that. Given that, I don't think we can expect to see regular zeniths and nadirs (as you put it) but rather perhaps what we've seen is a massive, head-strong climb-up from 1990 through 2000, perhaps stretching way beyond what guests really wanted. I remember how empty some of the best restaurants were in our 1999 trip. So what we're seeing now is perhaps just a normal, necessary, and appropriate correction. Perhaps there never was that much customer interest in haute cuisine at WDW, and so the reclassification of restaurants like Coral Reef and Le Cellier to casual dining is a natural reflection of reality.

Peter Pirate 2
03-07-2007, 01:25 PM
I don't think it is any kind of slide to mediocrity. We're talking about a customer-facing business listening to its customers and doing what that want -- not what a few vocal ones say they want (talk is cheap), but doing what the customers as a whole really want. There has never been a time when what the general public wanted perfectly matched what every member of the general public wants, and there never will be. I personally would prefer the ticket price be doubled, solely to thin out the crowds. I can afford it, so I would like them to do it. However, it isn't practical to expect that they'll do what I say I want, or even what I personally really want.

Believe it or not, that's always been the case. I can remember discussions back in the late 1980, the mid 1990s, the early 2000s, etc., exactly like this one: A bunch of people saying things have gotten worse (because they changed) and a bunch of people saying things have gotten better, and a bunch of people saying that overall things haven't changed much -- and, most importantly, park attendance continues to climb, hotel load-levels continue to climb, division revenues continue to climb, etc. If this is what a "slide to mediocrity" sounds like, I sure wish every company would do it.

Wow bicker. Have you ever posted withought demeaning someone? We disagree with your assertions so we're loudmouth antagonists pushing some evil agenda? Get some air, man.

Moderators, this has to stop. This has been a good discussion but evertime bicker posts the opposite side is grouped together and insulted.

Further your arguements are baseless. Who cares if you can afford and want park ticket prices increased? There is no logical analogy from this to declining food issues and still off topic but wrong Disney theme park attendance is still BELOW 9/11 figures.

bicker
03-07-2007, 01:32 PM
I'm sorry, but it wasn't my intent to demean anyone. I'm expressing my opinion about this issue. I know you don't like my perspective, but please don't take my disagreement with you personally. :goodvibes

gina2000
03-07-2007, 01:33 PM
Hey, thanks for quoting me! I was beginning to feel left out! :rotfl:

Truthfully, I do believe WDW's food has tended toward mediocre over the last few visits. I think they were at their best in the late 90's. And for the record, I always put my money where my mouth is. I totally enjoy the dining experience wherever I go. It's a huge, huge part of a vacation experience for me. But I'm truly not limited by on-site verses off-site venues. We've always been explorers and our exploration of WDW restaurants seems to be at an end....at least as an OOP diner. We'll just go and do what we please elsewhere. When we can't, we'll eat CS. I'm sure WDW won't miss us all that much.

However, that doesn't mean that in the long run they won't miss the accolades and the subsequent revenue good reviews produce. Locals and businessmen have always been a part of WDW's signature restaurant scene. That may change in the months to come. The question remains, "Does it matter?" And I think it does in the long run.

I'm also aware that WDW patrons have complained throughout the years about the consequences of change. I see a ton of changes at WDW, some for the better, some for the worse. I could pick apart meals, restrooms and CMs' attitudes should a thread arise that interests me. I could also heap accolades on many aspects of the WDW experience. But this thread, in particular, has asked regulars about their recent dining experiences and their opinions. Since WDW is trying to create an all-inclusive type atmosphere, the food had better live up to expectations or the all-inclusive part of the package revenue is lost. Right now it is for many. For others, it's not.

And all we're doing at this point is semantically picking apart posts phrase by phrase looking for an advantage. It's pretty counterproductive to say the least.

sotoalf
03-07-2007, 01:39 PM
Whoever posted a little while ago about Disney's generous portions is right on. In fact, it's chain restaurants like Cheesecake Factory serving Hindenburg-sized portions that have spoiled us.

Wow bicker. Have you ever posted withought demeaning someone? We disagree with your assertions so we're loudmouth antagonists pushing some evil agenda? Get some air, man.

Nothing bicker has said is demeaning or insulting. She's refuting logic with logic. Maybe it's because he/she rarely uses emoticons?

bicker
03-07-2007, 01:42 PM
And all we're doing at this point is semantically picking apart posts phrase by phrase looking for an advantage. It's pretty counterproductive to say the least.I agree.

Nothing bicker has said is demeaning or insulting. She's refuting logic with logic. Maybe it's because he/she rarely uses emoticons?Perhaps you're right. Maybe I should do a lot more emoticoning. ;)

Incidentally: I'm a he:

I think this discussion is effectively over. I'll let those attacking me get the last word.

jodifla
03-07-2007, 01:46 PM
A lot of folks forget that Dining at WDW used to be a really bad experience, back in the beginning. Indeed, I feel any assertion than dining was better in the 1970s that it is today is disingenuous, a product of nostalgic memory.

I do agree with you that this is somewhat cyclical, but the cycle isn't an independent one as you asserted. I believe the cycle is actually a cycle of customer preference, which varies over time, and the state of dining at the parks is just a reflection of that. Given that, I don't think we can expect to see regular zeniths and nadirs (as you put it) but rather perhaps what we've seen is a massive, head-strong climb-up from 1990 through 2000, perhaps stretching way beyond what guests really wanted. I remember how empty some of the best restaurants were in our 1999 trip. So what we're seeing now is perhaps just a normal, necessary, and appropriate correction. Perhaps there never was that much customer interest in haute cuisine at WDW, and so the reclassification of restaurants like Coral Reef and Le Cellier to casual dining is a natural reflection of reality.

I can't recall one person saying the food was good in the '70s.

We are saying it hit the glory days in the 90s, and the nasty, dreadful, horrible, terrible (you get the idea) DDP is dragging it back to '70s levels, because Disney is slashing all the good stuff out so people can have their "deals."

Peter Pirate 2
03-07-2007, 01:56 PM
Perhaps I over reacted?:confused3 If I mistook the sum of those statements as being demeaning then I apologize to everyone.

The fact is we're discussing the decline of dining at WDW. Not whether the DDP is successful.

There are more than a fair number of regulars here who can unequivicably state that dining is going downhill. There are a few long time regulars who disagree (and that's ok too) but the evidence that fine dining is on the decrease seems overwhelming.

I agree that this will be a cycle because at some point a certain number of guests, who will fit a trackable demographic, will prove to Disney that their fine dining is lacking and there is money to be made from catering to and pleasing that segment as well.

wdw4us2
03-07-2007, 01:58 PM
I can't recall one person saying the food was good in the '70s.

We are saying it hit the glory days in the 90s, and the nasty, dreadful, horrible, terrible (you get the idea) DDP is dragging it back to '70s levels, because Disney is slashing all the good stuff out so people can have their "deals."

Hey Jodi - tell us how you really feel!;) :)

BTW, I totally agree with you.

sotoalf
03-07-2007, 03:11 PM
Perhaps you're right. Maybe I should do a lot more emoticoning. ;)



No! Please don't! I can't stand them.

Anyway, continue with the discussion...

figmentvi
03-07-2007, 03:45 PM
Very interesting discussion and thank you to all posters for your thoughtful insights. We're going as a large family group the second week in Dec. and I've been reading these posts with a great deal of interest.

We will not be on the DDP (we're staying at SoG) and I'm beginning to give a lot of thought to where we will be dining. My feeling right now is to give Disney the benefit of the doubt and I will make some ADR's for some old favorites like the Biergarten, and 50's Prime Time Cafe, etc. If I feel that we're not getting our $$ worth, I'll simply take my $$ outside the property.

We all have different tastes and different pocketbooks. If we're not pleased with what we're being offered, we have lots of options still open to us.

We can write letters of complaints until we're purple. If the restaurants and resorts are full (which it sounds like they are), Disney will not care one whit if some of us take our dining $$ elsewhere.

Leota
03-07-2007, 04:10 PM
Perhaps I over reacted?:confused3 If I mistook the sum of those statements as being demeaning then I apologize to everyone.



Personally, I don't think you were over-reacting at all. I have felt the same exact way & suffered full on assault on this thread.

I feel some apology should happen, but not from you.

gina2000
03-07-2007, 04:33 PM
There was no reason for you to apologize, PP. I think you had honestly and factually appraised the situation.

Peter Pirate 2
03-07-2007, 05:51 PM
Thanks guys!:thumbsup2

LSUDis
03-07-2007, 06:12 PM
Okay, maybe this would be enlightening.....

How many of you have used the DP before (during a non-free DP time) AND now won't use it SPECIFICALLY b/c of food quality, service, time availability, etc.? Be honest.

This may seem OT, but I think that it goes to the "put your money where your mouth is" idea--is the quality declining to such a point that you are seeking the option to eat at other places?

PlutoLuvr
03-07-2007, 07:03 PM
Okay, maybe this would be enlightening.....

How many of you have used the DP before (during a non-free DP time) AND now won't use it SPECIFICALLY b/c of food quality, service, time availability, etc.? Be honest.

This may seem OT, but I think that it goes to the "put your money where your mouth is" idea--is the quality declining to such a point that you are seeking the option to eat at other places?

Yep. We still enjoy the parks during the day, but we no longer stay onsite, and we plan our dinners off site, too.

LSUDis
03-07-2007, 07:33 PM
In the interests of full disclosure, I will say that I will not use the DP UNLESS it is a necessary part of a FABULOUS package deal. Why??

Honest reasons:

1) I don't need the calories.
2) I don't like my mealtimes being so regimented.
3) My 10 yr. old doesn't eat enough/or type of food for the cost.
4) Steaks are better and cheaper at home at Outback.
5) My kids are just as happy eating at a food court and going swimming.
6) The "ooh" and "aah" factor is largely gone when a Disney plate is set in
front of me--although the Afternoon Tea is still great.


(When I say FABULOUS, I mean either free dining or 50% or so off room rates or free tickets.) :laughing:

donaldtutter
03-07-2007, 09:03 PM
Okay, maybe this would be enlightening.....

How many of you have used the DP before (during a non-free DP time) AND now won't use it SPECIFICALLY b/c of food quality, service, time availability, etc.? Be honest.

This may seem OT, but I think that it goes to the "put your money where your mouth is" idea--is the quality declining to such a point that you are seeking the option to eat at other places?

We did use the DP one time but it did not fit our needs. We like to eat 2 TS meals each day and basically build our trip around dining.However on our next trip, we will put our money where our mouth is and eat mainly counter service because of the decline in food quality and service at table serice locations. I doubt Disney will suffer financially because of our decision but when others do the same they will change course towards better quality.

MarieA
03-07-2007, 09:18 PM
Perhaps I over reacted?:confused3 If I mistook the sum of those statements as being demeaning then I apologize to everyone.

The fact is we're discussing the decline of dining at WDW. Not whether the DDP is successful.

There are more than a fair number of regulars here who can unequivicably state that dining is going downhill. There are a few long time regulars who disagree (and that's ok too) but the evidence that fine dining is on the decrease seems overwhelming.

I agree that this will be a cycle because at some point a certain number of guests, who will fit a trackable demographic, will prove to Disney that their fine dining is lacking and there is money to be made from catering to and pleasing that segment as well.

I am one of the regulars that feels that dining at WDW is going downhill. One of the reasons I feel this way is the limited menus (6 or 7 entrees at best) and the complete lack of creativity. One of the 1TS restaurants that we enjoy is LeCellier and have been there several times in the past two years. I have an ADR for our upcoming trip but I'm really not looking forward to it. The menu has remained the same for the past two years and it needs some changes or additions. The only reason we even considered LeCellier again is because my mom is traveling with us and wanted to try it.

Peter - do you remember Flaglers at the GF? It was one of our favorites. We used to dine there several times a trip. Do you remember when Narcoosee offered twin petite filet migons for lunch? How about when the Concourse Steakhouse had a dessert chef? Our last meal at the Concourse Steakhouse was our last meal there - we will not return because the meal was horrible.

My DS (19) has been traveling with us to WDW since he was 2. After our last trip to WDW he commented on how disappointed he was with the dining. He wasn't impressed with Yachtsman's Steakhouse and thought that Jiko was ok. We had a good meal at LeCellier and Kona and the rest of our meals were forgettable, nothing special. Part of the magic for us on our WDW vacations is dining, and I feel some of the magic is dying. :sad1:

Hey Disney - We have an Italian restaurant here on SI that would be a great addition to the Italian pavillion in EPCOT. The menu is tremendous, service is outstanding and the food is GREAT!

sotoalf
03-07-2007, 10:11 PM
Actually, I remember when Narcoosee's offered lunch: gator meat and beer by the yard. Those were days...

But it was never very crowded, though, and perhaps too formal for a theme park.

k&a&c'smom
03-08-2007, 12:58 AM
I've been keeping up with this thread far longer than I usually do, and realized I had left something out of my previous post.

Several posters have stated that no one should gripe about portion sizes being reduced, as Disney's portions were notoriously over-generous. While I can certainly agree that the portions are too large for me or my teen daughter to eat alone, we often split entrees while at WDW. (and other eateries with large portions, for that matter, Cheesecake Factory being one! lol) I think my complaint with the reduction in the portion size is not the amount of food on the plate, but the lack of flavor and creativity, which makes the dish seem even less value. Reduction in taste, reduction in portions while raising prices - doubly insulting.

For instance - we've eaten at V&A's, and though there are 6 courses, the portions are very small. But the taste! Wow! We didn't feel cheated or stuffed, the amount of food was just right, and we felt that we got a quality meal for the price paid. I think that's the key - coming away feeling that you got what you paid for. When you've come to expect a certain level of service and quality, it's quite disappointing to find them lacking.

gina2000
03-08-2007, 06:29 AM
We did not buy the plan last month because we had several days left on our hoppers. After our second meal, we cancelled the rest of our reservations and headed offsite for dinner for the remainder of the trip. I believe I would more than call that putting my money where my mouth is.

As I have said elsewhere on these boards (if not on this thread) WDW restaurants are a more than fair value with the DDP. Since only a percentage of the people visiting WDW use it, the rest of the folks are paying "rack rates" for undistinguished, overpriced food. On our next trip, we will either eat offsite, eat CS or use the DDP. Notice that it's the last resort, however. We don't care for undistinguished food at any price and supporting it suggests that we endorse the concept as well as the ramifications of the plan. We don't.

Leota
03-08-2007, 06:31 AM
Okay, maybe this would be enlightening.....

How many of you have used the DP before (during a non-free DP time) AND now won't use it SPECIFICALLY b/c of food quality, service, time availability, etc.? Be honest.

This may seem OT, but I think that it goes to the "put your money where your mouth is" idea--is the quality declining to such a point that you are seeking the option to eat at other places?

I have used DDP one time - during the Free Dining period & Wouldn't use it again even if it were free.

Reasons -
- I had to stay at a different resort to get the DDP (I usually stay at the Swolphin, which I prefer to Disney owned resorts on many levels which also correspond to cutbacks in service/value)
- It doesn't work for the way we like to eat now due to cutback issues, see below. My 18 yo son, yes, DH & I, not so much.
- Even back then (2005) we were noticing the decline in value.
- We usually have our TS at Signature restaurants. You can do that every other day on DDP, but not everyday.

As far as putting my money where my mouth is & eating elsewhere - you bet I am. The last several trips, we eat alot of our meals at the Swolphin restaurants which have not been hit by the cutbacks. These coming trips will be significant in that they will be the first trips since 1993 that we will leave WDW property. We are doing that to seek better dining value off-property since we can't get it on property right now.

We have a few places at WDW that we are still finding meals that please us, but it requires some digging & some experience to find them. We have found, in general, that we are starting to eat most of our Disney meals Tapas style since we seem to be finding more creativity/ value in the appetizers than we are in the entrees. Even there, we are losing some of our favorites (back to that quail again ;) )

I do firmly believe that there will be a pendulam effect to what we are seeing right now. There was a time when Disney recognized that fine dining was missing from their offerings. If they continue to hack away at it, like Gina2000 said, they will lose the positive reviews & the status that brings. They will lose the Foodie Market. At some point, I believe that will be significant enough for them to address. I believe they will build at least the signatures back up.

But, I also believed in Santa until I was like 12 or something. I love a Half-Full glass. :)

Uncleromulus
03-08-2007, 06:48 AM
Funny thing I guess, but for me , a part of the "excitement" of Disney Signature Dining is the fact of going to the hotels themselves--seeing the Wilderness Lodge, seeing the Animal Kingdom Lodge, going to the Grand Floridian. I'm wondering (now) exactly how much that contributes to my accepting the portion size and quality of food??

Leota
03-08-2007, 07:48 AM
Uncle - I totally agree with you on the atmosphere being part of the experience. That's the reason we still do some Disney meals even tho we are feeling a bit dissatisfied with the dining thing right now. Dinner is an event for us. The whole night centers around our dining plans. We love getting ready & the anticipation. We love arriving at the different resorts & spending time soaking in each ones unique atmosphere ie. sitting by that gorgeous fireplace in WL Lobby before a meal at AP or strolling the beach & wandering down to the Marina at GF to view Wishes dancing off the water after a meal at Citricos.

This is the Magic that draws us to WDW every year & that keeps us coming back even if one part of the puzzle is a bit lacking right now. Even if the Food doesn't always Transport me, Disney does. In that, I am & always will be a member of the Captive Audience.

MarieA
03-08-2007, 08:01 AM
Actually, I remember when Narcoosee's offered lunch: gator meat and beer by the yard. Those were days...

But it was never very crowded, though, and perhaps too formal for a theme park.

I remember the gator and the beer by the yard too. The gator was a spread they used to put out with bread.

Peter Pirate 2
03-08-2007, 08:01 AM
I agree, as well. The atmosphere of the Boardwalk surrounding Flying Fish is one of my favorite things. As Leota says, certain parts of the equation may not be up to snuff but the picture in total is still worth an occasional effort for us (following with lots of hope & finger crossing). But still the restaurants at the Swolphin (Blue Zoo and Shula's) do beckon and a short few miles away are the great restaurants of City Walk and the Universal Hotels which give very much the same feeling, IMO.
pirate:

gina2000
03-08-2007, 08:16 AM
I agree with the last 3 or so posts. I have loved CG and hope to get back there but I won't till I feel the quality is there. We've expanded outward to include the Citywalk restaurants and a few favorites along the way....notably Rengetsu and Hanamizuki. I'm dying to try Enzo on the Lake and a few others.

WDW restaurants have alot going for them especially in the theming category. I think that's why the quality and authenticity of their offerings have become so disappointing. I go in expecting one thing and come out with another all too often. So for us, we'll travel as we can or go to Swan/Dolphin restaurants. BTW, Il Mulino is a great restaurant. I've been to the one in NYC several times. It's pricey....but pretty fabulous!

Peter Pirate 2
03-08-2007, 08:24 AM
Thanks gina for reminding me that I've been wanting to try Enzo, as well.:thumbsup2 Il Mulino has snuck up on me. Is that is the Swan?
pirate:

gina2000
03-08-2007, 08:31 AM
Il Mulino has opened in the space formerly occupied by Palio in the Swan.


http://www.ilmulinonewyork.com/

Ron from Michigan
03-08-2007, 08:56 AM
I agree Uncle about visiting the resorts as being part of our night out at the restaurants. I will say that we ate twice at Jiko & California Grill last year and the food and service were excellent. The lamb shank i had at Jiko was one of the best meals I have ever had out. I can't wait till later this year when I can have it again. We also dined at O'hana's and Liberty tree Tavern because the coulple we went with wanted to try them and I did not like either one. We will not be repeating them anytime soon. To me being at WDW and eating at some of my favorite places is what counts. Even if every meal is not that fantastic , it's being back at our favorite vacation spot. One example is Rose & Crown Pub. We always eat here on every trip and we always enjoy ourselves. The food has always been good for the simple fare they have. :)

mmcguire
03-09-2007, 09:59 PM
Maybe my imagination, but a number of posts mention improving Signature restaurants for the foodies; with the suggestion that mid-tier restaurants be abandoned to the DDP folks who apparently wouldn't recognize quality if it walked up and bit them.

Mid-tier restaurants need some serious attention to quality as well. There are many of us who prefer the mid-level meals ('Ohana, Boma, etc.) aren't on the DDP, and also aren't unwashed hillbillies lacking the capacity to appreciate quality dining.

Some of us see no sense in taking children to restaurants targeted to adults, and paying exorbitant prices for them to be bored senseless and eat like birds. My idea of fine dining also doesn't include slogging into a restaurant after an exhausting day of tackling the parks. I appreciate and enjoy fine dining, but I prefer to do it when I can dress up, relax and make an evening of it.

That's not to say I don't enjoy an excellent piece of salmon or filet mignon and a good glass of wine; I just don't need linen tablecloths and china to enjoy my food. Quality, variety and reasonable prices needn't be mutually exclusive.

Uncleromulus
03-10-2007, 07:04 AM
Well said!! Tho the OP didn't mention any particular type of WDW restaurant, it's certainly true that food quality can be (and is) a concern at any restaurant.

rayelias
03-10-2007, 11:01 AM
Mid-tier restaurants need some serious attention to quality as well. There are many of us who prefer the mid-level meals ('Ohana, Boma, etc.) aren't on the DDP, and also aren't unwashed hillbillies lacking the capacity to appreciate quality dining.



You mentioned probably 2 of the best examples of what I want to see MORE of at WDW.

It seems that many (most) of the other restaurants are become more and more generic - very similar menus, very similar experiences.

Boma and 'Ohana (especially Boma) are two of my favorites because they're a rather unique experience that is pretty true to the theme of the resort. I particularly like Boma because there are so many different dishes that you can't find anywhere else and would not get the chance to try otherwise. Plus, being buffet, there are things that I never would order as a "full meal" not knowing whether or not they would be to my liking.

This is why, IMHO, the Food & Wine Festival is so popular, and why we go every year.

SecretFan
08-22-2008, 03:25 PM
I agree with the last 3 or so posts. I have loved CG and hope to get back there but I won't till I feel the quality is there. We've expanded outward to include the Citywalk restaurants and a few favorites along the way....notably Rengetsu and Hanamizuki. I'm dying to try Enzo on the Lake and a few others.


Shhh--don't TELL everyone! ;) Don't start going to Hanamizuki more! It's our secret hideaway when we are at Disney: quiet, friendly, excellent food. It's always our arrival-day meal.

Is Rengetsu actually any good? It looks like it's there for tourists in the worst way--in that "look at our pretty building while we separate you from your money, foolish Wisconsin-dwellers" way! :lmao:

We ate at Enzo's for a birthday party in March and it was very good, even for a large party of thirty or so. Passed appetizers were boring, but fish and beef entrees were both excellent and the lobster bisque was amazing, rich but not heavy, lightly fragrant with fresh fennel. It's a looong drive from the parks, though; almost an hour, I should think. I don't think we would go there normally, just because of the drive.

We are that unfortunate species: the broke foodie. I am a grad student (in an unprofitable field), DH works a non-profit job. Our palates have surpassed our pocketbooks for sure! What happens for us on vacation is we eat CHEAP fast-food style for many meals, and then a few "special" dinners to make it up. We don't really see the point of in-between if it's going to be mediocre. We don't do "casual dining" chains--it's simply not worth extra money food we won't enjoy much. Most Disney restaurants aren't worth it to us either, but we get tired of sandwiches and fast food all the time.

We were from Chicago up until recently, and we miss the food there A LOT. It didn't seem worth it to spend money on food at Disney before, because we had so many great restaurants locally, but this year we really started looking into it more, since there is nothing for us locally anymore. We were hoping for a bit of a food vacation. We're so depressed to hear how much Disney dining has lost in the last few years.

I want more recommendations for off-property "foodie" or "foodie-light" places! Anyone else have any? Or maybe we can start a new thread if this is too far off-topic.

rcraw45425
08-22-2008, 08:37 PM
Shhh--don't TELL everyone! ;) Don't start going to Hanamizuki more! It's our secret hideaway when we are at Disney: quiet, friendly, excellent food. It's always our arrival-day meal.

Is Rengetsu actually any good? It looks like it's there for tourists in the worst way--in that "look at our pretty building while we separate you from your money, foolish Wisconsin-dwellers" way! :lmao:

We ate at Enzo's for a birthday party in March and it was very good, even for a large party of thirty or so. Passed appetizers were boring, but fish and beef entrees were both excellent and the lobster bisque was amazing, rich but not heavy, lightly fragrant with fresh fennel. It's a looong drive from the parks, though; almost an hour, I should think. I don't think we would go there normally, just because of the drive.

We are that unfortunate species: the broke foodie. I am a grad student (in an unprofitable field), DH works a non-profit job. Our palates have surpassed our pocketbooks for sure! What happens for us on vacation is we eat CHEAP fast-food style for many meals, and then a few "special" dinners to make it up. We don't really see the point of in-between if it's going to be mediocre. We don't do "casual dining" chains--it's simply not worth extra money food we won't enjoy much. Most Disney restaurants aren't worth it to us either, but we get tired of sandwiches and fast food all the time.

We were from Chicago up until recently, and we miss the food there A LOT. It didn't seem worth it to spend money on food at Disney before, because we had so many great restaurants locally, but this year we really started looking into it more, since there is nothing for us locally anymore. We were hoping for a bit of a food vacation. We're so depressed to hear how much Disney dining has lost in the last few years.

I want more recommendations for off-property "foodie" or "foodie-light" places! Anyone else have any? Or maybe we can start a new thread if this is too far off-topic.


DH and I dined at RenGatsu ages ago, I was pregnant with our first (she's 13 now) and we were semi broke right out of residency and staying on I-Drive (only time we ever did that , next stay was at the Swan). The food, IIRC, was quite good, traditional Japanese, not chop suki throw it at you Japanese that a lot of people (my children included) enjoy. I always wanted to go back but we don't voyage offsite.

TDC Nala
08-22-2008, 08:42 PM
Hello old thread, nice to see you back from wherever you've been.

This is the Disney dining board. Although we've allowed here and there a few threads about off-site restaurants, they really should be posted on the Orlando Hotels and Attractions board. If this thread from 2007 is turned into a discussion of off-site restaurants, it will indeed be off topic. I'd suggest starting a new thread on the Orlando board.