By The Numbers: Dining Satisfaction Pre-Pandemic vs. Post-Reopening

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TouringPlans subscribers generate a lot of data. There are data sources that are used to generate crowd predictions, and Lines App submissions, and post-visit surveys … lots of numbers. Up until now, most readers and subscribers don’t interact with those numbers unless it’s to select days to visit parks or to generate a touring plan. That’s all about to change! In this new series my goal is to make all of this data more accessible and useful to more people. And don’t worry – you don’t have to be a numbers geek like me to follow along.

Did you know that TouringPlans has been collecting post-visit surveys for over 10 years? There are more than 55,000 surveys that we can draw information from. And each of them can tell us things about hotels and resorts, dining, attractions, where people are visiting from, who is in their party … that’s a lot of data!

This week I’ll use some of those surveys to investigate a claim recently made by Bob Chapek. In an interview on March 17, 2021, he said, “Our guest satisfaction scores since we’ve reopened across the world have shown that, indeed, our guests are even more satisfied than they were prior to the pandemic.” A bold claim! And the good news is that we have the satisfaction scores from surveys to see if subscribers agree with him.

Comparing Dining Scores Pre-Pandemic and Post-Reopening

In post-visit surveys, you can give each restaurant you visit a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. For now let’s call thumbs-up “satisfied” and thumbs-down “not satisfied”. The parks re-opened about 9 months ago, and even though attendance is down, we still have 2500 surveys since reopening. And in those 2500 surveys there are more than 33,000 dining reviews!

At a high level, the results don’t look good for supporting Bob Chapek’s claim of higher satisfaction scores. Pre-pandemic, 89.1% of dining reviews got a thumbs-up. After reopening, that number has dropped to 86.8%. That difference may not sound very big at first glance. But I can run some fancy statistics to figure out how much we should trust that difference. Thanks to the large number of surveys, we are more than 99.999% confident that visitors are less satisfied with dining now than they were pre-pandemic. Oof.

Maybe we won’t break out the 2021 celebration cake just yet. . .

Let’s give Disney the benefit of the doubt. We’ll take Mama Odie’s advice and “dig a little deeper”. Good data always makes me ask more questions. So now I wonder if certain types of dining are performing better (or worse). Or maybe even particular restaurants have seen a significant shift in satisfaction.

Satisfaction by Dining Type

  • Bars and Lounges decreased from 92.1% satisfaction pre-pandemic to 89.7% satisfaction post-reopening. I can be 99.996% confident that guests are less satisfied at bars and lounges now.
  • Counter Service locations decreased from 87.7% satisfaction pre-pandemic to 87.3% satisfaction post-reopening. Now that doesn’t sound like a big difference. You’re right. I can’t be quite as confident anymore – only about 85% sure that guests are less satisfied at counter service locations now.
  • Table Service locations decreased from 87.5% satisfaction pre-pandemic to 87.2% satisfaction post-reopening. Again, not a big difference. I can only be about 80% confident that guests are less satisfied at table service locations now.
  • What about everything else? Markets? Room Service? EPCOT booths? All of these other locations decreased from 93.0% satisfaction pre-pandemic to 85.4% satisfaction post-reopening. Ouch. I’m back to being more than 99.999% confident that visitors are less satisfied now.

Satisfaction by Specific Location

Now I’m tempted to investigate whether there are certain dining locations that have performed significantly better or worse on their own after re-opening. I ran the comparison on 464 different dining locations across the WDW property. Let’s look together at the biggest stand-outs in each category. I won’t be include my confidence with each of these. Just know that in order to show up, I had to be at least 95% confident in the difference.

Table Service Locations

  • Crystal Palace – Biggest satisfaction loser of all table service restaurants

    Which table service restaurant experienced the biggest drop in satisfaction post-reopening? This is an easy call, by a long-shot. Crystal Palace dropped from 90.2% satisfaction pre-pandemic to 69.0% satisfaction post-reopening. Ouch! But this probably isn’t a big surprise, given TouringPlans’ staff experiences on opening weekend and more recently and a Buffet with Character that is lacking, well, a buffet and characters.

 

  • The second-highest drop in satisfaction happened at Enzo’s Hideaway in Disney Springs. Diners at this location were 87.3% satisfied pre-pandemic, but only 74.2% satisfied post-reopening.

 

  • STK Orlando – Biggest satisfaction winner of table service restaurants

    Not all news is unhappy! One table service restaurant has remarkably higher satisfaction now compared to pre-pandemic. Maybe Bob Chapek has only talked to guests that have visited this particular location? This one may come as more of a surprise, but STK Orlando improved from 62.2% satisfaction pre-pandemic to 73.9% satisfaction post-reopening. 74% still may not be very great compared to other dining options, but it’s certainly much better than it was.

 

  • Close behind in improved satisfaction is Ale & Compass Restaurant, which has improved from 80.6% satisfaction pre-pandemic to 88.6% satisfaction post-reopening.

Counter Service Locations

  • El Mercado de Coronado – Biggest satisfaction loser of counter service restaurants

    The biggest loser out of all counter-service locations is El Mercado de Coronado, which dropped all of the way from 80.2% satisfaction pre-pandemic to 52.5% satisfaction post-reopening. Yikes. We have a review coming out soon that will justify that dip.

 

  • The second-highest drop in satisfaction is at Landscape of Flavors. Visitors to this location were 87.0% satisfied pre-pandemic, but only 72.7% satisfied post-reopening. Perhaps if you’re considering booking a stay at Coronado Springs or Art of Animation and expecting excellent counter-service meals like in the past, you should reconsider.

 

  • ABC Commissary – Biggest satisfaction winner of counter service restaurants

    Where are the bright spots in counter service dining? The biggest winner is ABC Commissary, which has improved it’s 76.4% satisfaction pre-pandemic to 86.2% satisfaction post-reopening. Once again, this isn’t a surprising result. You can read about Dani’s positive experiences shortly after re-opening, and on a follow-up visit, if you need to be convinced.

 

  • A more surprising second-place is the BoardWalk Pizza Window, which had 78.8% satisfaction pre-pandemic. It has improved to 88.0% post-reopening.

 

Do any of these results surprise you? Do you have any predictions about what resort satisfaction will look like when we explore it next week? Let us know what you think in the comments.

 

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Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/ or instagram @raisingminniemes

14 thoughts on “By The Numbers: Dining Satisfaction Pre-Pandemic vs. Post-Reopening

  • April 3, 2021 at 5:46 pm
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    I mean, an 85% confidence level isn’t going to get published in the New England Journal of Medicine. But it will make you money all day long in Las Vegas. So that’s the way I’d bet.

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    • April 3, 2021 at 7:57 pm
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      Thank you for poking holes in what was clear misinformation from the Disney CEO. Having been twice since reopening I could hardly believe Mr. Chapek would say something so clearly untrue or severely manipulated. We can always count on TP to get the truth. Thank you again.

      Reply
  • April 3, 2021 at 8:49 pm
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    Thanks for the logistics! The margin in Crystal Palace’s percentage dip is mind-blowing. Not sure when you’ll pull follow-up stats, but it will be interesting to see if there’s improvement.

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    • April 4, 2021 at 9:48 pm
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      Great idea Anastacia! I’ll make sure to keep track of Crystal Palace for a while. Trends over time would definitely be fun to look at.

      Reply
  • April 4, 2021 at 9:00 am
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    Thanks for showing us the details behind the numbers and how you guys use data. It’s like we are looking at Touring Plans’ utilidors!

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    • April 4, 2021 at 9:54 pm
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      Gabriel, I love this metaphor! Looking forward to letting more people tour the Touring Plans utilidors in the future.

      Reply
  • April 4, 2021 at 10:22 am
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    This is such good information! I’ve been trying to plan our May trip and kept hearing just alot of random noise on the interwebs about the dissatisfaction. Having real names and numbers make it way easier to plan. We loved our CP Breakfast in Feb 2020 with all the Pooh characters. *sigh.

    Reply
    • April 4, 2021 at 9:50 pm
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      Thank you for the feedback Angie! Hoping to make the numbers more and more actionable and helpful in the future. If you have any specific questions about particular dining locations, resorts, etc – feel free to send me an email at beckyg@touringplans.com and I’ll see what I can find.

      Reply
  • April 4, 2021 at 12:07 pm
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    We loved the post pandemic dining, but we only eat at counter service dining. Loved not having to wait in queues for people to decide what to order and not have to search for a table with your food. Order online, wait for your order outside, go in and get it, sit and eat. Best ever!

    Reply
    • April 4, 2021 at 9:52 pm
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      I personally totally agree with you, Brooke. We loved the convenience of mobile ordering, especially since it allowed us to keep as much distance as we needed to feel comfortable.

      Reply
  • April 5, 2021 at 11:07 am
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    If you take out the biggest losers (especially crystal palace) does that shift the overall satisfaction for table service or counter service as a whole? Especially since the overall loss was so minimal and the outliers so big.

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    • April 5, 2021 at 11:22 am
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      A good point, Christopher. But if I take out the biggest losers, am I allowed to take out the biggest winners too? I hesitate to skew the data on purpose by only removing losers, or something similar. But in general, just removing one or two locations doesn’t have a large overall impact because there are SO many reviews spread across the property.

      Reply
  • April 19, 2021 at 1:34 pm
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    I wonder if different types of ratings would fare differently for the overall result. Would something more granular (like a 1-5 star) setup reduce the swing in situations like this, perhaps locations that were borderline before are just dropping over folks’ tipping point to a thumbs down (like a 1 star shift down) but others are performing much better than they used to and would see a several star increase. I like the simplicity of your binary system (in spite of my general disagreement with binary viewing of things) and I think Len has discussed its merits in the past but it does make a close study a bit harder I suspect.

    Also, I’m not familiar with who runs all the individual restaurants but I wonder if excluding non-Disney owned locations would help or hurt Bob’s claim. Are STK and Enzo’s Disney owned, of course that’s one from each the better and worse list but overall is there a filter that could be applied there?

    Lastly, the dissatisfaction with places that are either no longer including characters or including them in a different format is not surprising to me at all. Most of the character meals seem to have always been hailed as worth it for the characters and OK at best for the food.

    Reply

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