Single riders are marginalized

Disney dining: Magic Kingdom eateries test seating program — OrlandoSentinel.com.

The article linked above is from the Orlando Sentinal. It was posted at a Disney-related discussion board I frequent, The WDB.   I had an immediate, visceral and negative reaction to the concept of assigned seating at a counter-service establishment.  It took me THREE posts over the course of two days to get to the bottom of how I was really feeling about it, and why. 

That’s actually good, for me.  There were years and years in my life whereby I’d submerged how I really felt so well, nothing came through except for anger.  At least now, I can have it figured out in a matter of a day or two.

Anyway, here’s how it went:

FRIDAY – POST #1

I hate this idea. I really hate it. I really don’t want the CMs controlling EVERY aspect of my Disney experience.

The place [Pecos Bill’s]wouldn’t be so crowded if they would open other eateries when the park is crowded, such as the Terrace. I have seen the Terrace locked up like Fort Knox, plenty of seating but no food available, on Memorial Day Weekend. Yes, a holiday weekend, park is packed to capacity, and the Terrace is closed. They would not have such an issue at Pecos Bill’s if they would open enough eateries given the size of the crowds.

This idea gets a resounding thumbs down from me.

FRIDAY – POST #2

Another thing I thought of – Disney is NOT going to provide this service for free. As soon as CM intervention is introduced, the prices of the food will go up to support paying that person’s salary and benefits + making a profit off of providing the service. Counter service is supposed to be the less expensive option. The more labor counter service has to support, the less differentiated from “sit-down” the pricing will be. In effect, the “less expensive option” is slowly being removed.

Yes, I’m cynical. IRL, I work in “big business” and I see this tactic all the time.

Next thing you know, they’re going to regulate the benches to sit on. Pretty soon, you’re not going to be able to park your butt anywhere without waiting in a queue and ponying up more cash! I predict the onset of the $5.00 Mickey Head Ice Cream Sammich!

SATURDAY – POST #3

Oh, I keep thinking of more reasons why I don’t like this!

I often find myself touring the parks and eating alone. I think this is just another way that Disney is going to marginalize me. For instance, singles consistently get put in the back of the boat on POTC. Why? Because that is the smallest seat, the seat that can accommodate the least amount of guests. The front seat is reserved for larger parties.

Now that might make logical sense, but by this logic, I am destined to NEVER have the front seat experience on POTC. I can see doing this if the ride is packed, the queue is long, conditions like that – but they do it ALL the time, whether I’ve spent 2 minutes in the queue or 20.

Is my money not as green as the money of the larger party? Is it not worth as much as that of the larger party? I paid to get in, same as every individual in the larger party, yet I do not get to have the same experience that these individuals do. Instead, I get to have a back-of-the-vehicle experience. The same thing happens on Splash and a few other rides where, because of the design of the vehicle, there’s a smaller row at the back of the car.

This may seem a small thing to many of you, but trust me, it wears on your last nerve when you are constantly being held to the side until all the happy families have boarded ahead of you, only to be placed in the rear of the vehicle. It’s discriminatory, and it’s not right. I have spoken up about it, but the CMs get really uncomfortable. They are only obeying their training. There are very few of them who are willing to buck the system and put a single woman up front for a change.

Now, before anyone starts breaking out the violins to play a few choruses of “My Heart Bleeds For You”  I want to say that I’ve figured out a way to deal with this. While I am in the queue, I look around for a party of three – preferably either teenagers or else a family with an older child. I approach and tell them what I’ve just told you – I know I’m going to get put in the back of the ride, and I’m tired of being there, so will they please adopt me for the duration of the ride? Invariably, the answer is yes, and I get to sit somewhere other than the back. Maybe the front, maybe not, but at least now I’ve got the same chance as anyone else.

So what does this have to do with dining? They are going to make me wait and wait and wait for a table for two. Have you looked around? Have you noticed that there aren’t a lot of tables for two? Mostly they are for four. But if I’m next, and there is a table for four but no table for two, guess who is going to get seated? The family behind me, that’s who. I guarantee this is what is going to happen. And it is not fair or right.

There’s a vast difference between getting “adopted” for a ride and getting adopted for a meal. No one is going to want to share their table with a stranger and I don’t want to, either. I want the freedom to sit down and have my meal and not be marginalized and shunted to the side.

OK, I have ranted long enough.

END OF POSTS

Yes, I’ve really had those experiences – at Disney, of all places! It’s depressing. I’ve actually written about this before. Before I had blogs, I had a static site where I filed my trip reports. You can read my original 2005 rant on this subject by clicking here. And note I had a delayed reaction back then, too.

Mostly, I’m ok being a single rider. And then there’s THIS sort of crap. 🙄

4 thoughts on “Single riders are marginalized”

  1. Interestingly, knowing your views on this subject, I spoke of your observations to my son when we visited WDW in September 2008. He told me as bad as that is, try being MALE and on your own in WDW.

    You see, we also visited WDW when my son was in college. And I observed during that visit that on 2 occasions, when we had split up for an hour and then were meeting back up, that a CM would be talking to him.

    Apparently, the CM’s take a particular interest in young males who are alone. My son, who can be (I don’t think I’m biased here) fairly charming and mannerly, knew exactly how to talk to the CM’s so that they quickly realized that he was no threat to the many little ones running about.

    But because my son found it mildly annoying to be approached by CM’s when he was on his own, for our visit in September 08, we came up with a few adaptive strategies (not unlike your 20 minute adoptions).

    As for myself, I have only been to WDW on my own once, but I would not hesitate to go on my own again. I have always enjoyed my own company, but during that trip, I discovered how much I like traveling on my own. I guess since I was enjoying being on my own so much, I can’t really say that I observed anything such as you write about – although I’m sure your observations are correct.

    Now to get back to the article in the topic, I can see a few pros – but many cons – about such a system. For example, I wouldn’t be likely to eat there simply because I’d be unlikely to eat at a place that had stools instead of proper chairs.

    But the bottom line is that bumps in the ‘new’ dining system exist for singles or groups or twosomes or families. If I was on my own and going to eat at Peco Bill’s – I’d get my food, and then I’d march up to the CM at the podium and ask for a “table for one, please.”

    It remains to be seen – by ALL people who eat at these ‘counter-service’ places – if this system turns out to be a better system than the old one.

  2. Jeez, what a ramble that was.

    To be shorter and more to the point – they better not be making singles stand aside until a more right-sized table is available. Or make anybody share.

    I have a lot of confidence that Disney understands that they first person – or group – in line gets the first available table. No exceptions.

  3. While I would certainly prefer for that to be the case – I don’t have as much confidence in Disney as you seem to have. Can you loan me some? 😉 Seriously, I feel strongly that they will load the dining tables the same way they load a ride. *sigh*

    Erin

  4. Okay…but try this.

    What about if next time you ride POTC on your own, when the CM loading asks, “How many?” – you reply: “* Not in the back seat – just one please.”

    *put what you want first. My son doesn’t like ice in his drinks, so now he routinely orders, “No ice – coke please” and 99% of the time, he gets his drinks with no ice. (Before he ordered like this, when he said, “Coke please, no ice” – it was a 50-50 as to whether he got no ice.)

    I often request the back when I’m riding Splash Mountain (I think you get less wet there). I have been in a group that requested the front row of Soarin’. Sometimes you are made to wait a little bit longer to sit in a seat of your choice, but never has my request been denied, or have I been told ‘No’.

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