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Disney Dining Satisfaction vs Accessibility

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In the past few weeks, we’ve peeked into a few data silos about dining at Disney. We looked at satisfaction with dining locations. And we’ve looked at how accessible locations are, using data from the Reservation Finder. But as with most things in life, lonely data in a silo is pretty sad. Data is not grain. It doesn’t belong in a silo! The more exciting information is unlocked when we tie different data sources together. I made my first attempt at doing that early this week when I compared attraction satisfaction with wait times. With dining, the things you care about might be slightly different. Some specific location might be really, really high in satisfaction, but almost impossible to get a reservation for. Wouldn’t it be great to know which locations are reliably high-satisfaction and also more easily accessible and easy to get reservations for? If we visualize satisfaction vs accessibility, we get insight into that information.

Explain the Math!

For this week, I’m going to focus on WDW table service restaurants. In order to find these hidden (or not-so-hidden) gems, I have to calculate two different things. I need to know overall satisfaction for each restaurant, as well as some measure of accessibility. I will pull satisfaction from post-visit surveys – percent of surveys that received a thumbs-up from each review. And for accessibility, I will pull the percent of Reservation Finder requests that were successfully found. For example:

  • Over the past 3 years, if there were 100 post-visit surveys responses for Boma and 96 of those gave Boma a Thumbs Up, Boma gets 96% satisfaction (96/100).
  • And over the past 3 years, if there were 200 reservation requests for Boma, and 140 of them were found successfully, Boma gets 70% accessibility (140/200).

Visualizing Satisfaction vs Accessibility

Initial visualization of satisfaction and accessibility combined

A few things to tell you to help you understand this colorful confetti:

  • You can see at the bottom that each color represents a different location grouping
  • The vertical red line shows the average overall reservation success across the whole property for the past 3 years, which is 82.5%.
  • The horizontal red line shows the average overall Thumbs Up satisfaction across the whole property for the past 3 years, which is about 86%.

Understanding Quadrants

Splitting the data up with these two red lines give us four segments. And those segments (I’m going to call them quadrants) are seriously informative, especially to folks that aren’t very familiar with all of the dining options at WDW.

  • The top-right quadrant has high satisfaction and high accessibility. I’m going to call these “Easy Win”. You’re likely to have a high-quality experience, and it’ll be relatively easy to get a reservation there. Awesome.
  • The top-left quadrant is a little different. Still high satisfaction, but below-average accessibility. I’m going to call these “Still Worth It”. You’ll probably have to work a little harder to get a reservation, but you can be confident that your effort will be rewarded with a high-quality experience.
  • The bottom-right quadrant is less fun. Satisfaction is now below-average (I’m not going to call it “bad”, because everyone has different tastes), but accessibility is at least high. I’m going to call these “Meh”. You won’t have to fight for a reservation, but there’s not as much of a guarantee that you’ll enjoy or be satisfied by your experience.
  • The bottom-left quadrant is the most … icky. Satisfaction is below-average, and reservations are more difficult to get. I’m going to call these “Not Worth Your Effort”. You’ll have to work harder for a reservation, and even if you get one there’s a worse chance that you’ll have a high-quality experience.

Overall Impressions

Looking at that confetti explosion above, two things immediately jump out at me:

  • There are a lot of gray dots on the left side of the graph. So in general I could say that reservations at Disney Springs are probably more difficult to get than other reservations at WDW. This makes sense. A lot of those restaurants are owned by third parties, and have reservations systems outside of Disney’s reservation system. So there’s likely a smaller pool of reservations to make this one way.
  • A lot of orange dots are concentrated in the top right – the Easy Wins. So in general if I’m looking for a high-quality reservation that easy to get, I should probably default to exploring resort dining. Personal aside here – this will actually drive my behavior moving forward. I will purposefully be seeking out restaurants located at different resorts that I haven’t experienced before.

Drill Down on Satisfaction vs Accessibility

The confetti is interesting, but not really very impactful unless I know which restaurants each of those dots stand for. I can’t label all of them in that picture. And hovering isn’t a great function in a blog. So I’m going to split all of the restaurants by average entrée cost, just to make enough space to be able to include labels.

Satisfaction vs Accessibility at Lowest-Cost Restaurants

Satisfaction vs accessibility for lowest-average-cost table service restaurants
  • Lots of orange dots in the Easy Wins again here. Sanaa, Beaches & Cream, The Wave, Kona Cafe, Whispering Canyon Cafe … yum. I’m hungry now.
  • Lots of gray dots in the top left. High satisfaction, but harder to get reservations for – at least through Disney’s site.
  • In this grouping, the dots below the horizontal line are actually pretty close to the line. Other than Rainforest Cafe, the “below-average” restaurants for satisfaction aren’t that far below average.

Satisfaction vs Accessibility at Slightly-Low-Cost Restaurants

Satisfaction vs accessibility for slightly-low-cost table service restaurants
  • Lots of restaurants falling into “Not Worth Your Effort” here – The Edison, Coral Reef, Tony’s Town Square, Il Mulino. These restaurants still all get over 70% Thumbs Up, but they’re less reliable than average.
  • Wine Bar George shows up very high on satisfaction and pretty easy to reserve, along with Teppan Edo and Olivia’s Cafe.

Satisfaction vs Accessibility at Higher-Cost Restaurants

Satisfaction vs accessibility for higher-cost table service restaurants
  • You’d hope that as price increased, you’d start getting more reliable high satisfaction scores. That’s somewhat true here, but there are still some definite losers, notably Planet Hollywood (which has several highly-priced entrees) and The Diamond Horseshoe (which is currently closed, but sometimes operates as an all-you-can-eat BBQ meal).
  • Some clear winners in this group include Topolino’s Terrace, Jiko, and Boma. More data pointing toward excellent dining at resorts.
  • Several character meals begin appearing in this group. Thankfully most of them fall into the “Easy Wins” quadrant, but Hollywood and Vine drops because of its relatively lower satisfaction.

Satisfaction vs Accessibility at Highest-Cost Restaurants

Satisfaction vs accessibility for highest-cost table service restaurants
  • We’ve made it to the most expensive dining locations (on average) at WDW. One would hope that expensive meals would all be satisfying. But that’s unfortunately not the case. STK Orlando and the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show are both difficult to reserve and less-than-satisfactory.
  • For your money, you’re probably better off spending time at Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue for dining with entertainment, or California Grill if you want a fancy meal.
  • Some interesting comparisons show up on this graph too. For example, Cinderella’s Royal Table is an “Easy Win”, while Akershus comes in as a “Meh”. But in reality, their satisfaction scores are less than 5% apart, and you have almost 15% better odds of getting a reservation at Akershus.
  • Another interesting pair is Le Cellier and Yachtsman. Both are steakhouses, and both are relatively close to each other even though one is inside EPCOT and one is just outside of EPCOT.

What Does This Mean For You?

  1. Disney Springs reservations are relatively more difficult to obtain than other locations. You may want to go to the restaurant’s website or OpenTable to try to find a reservation at those spots.
  2. Want a good shot at a high-satisfaction meal that’s easy to reserve? Aim for resorts. This is especially good advice during the era of limited park hours when you can close out your day in the park and still have time to go to an enjoyable dinner in the evening.
  3. Just because a reservation is hard to get doesn’t mean that you’ll be satisfied with your meal if you manage to get in. A little bit of research into overall satisfaction rates, as well as available menu options and prices, goes a long way.

Does visualizing how dining locations differ in satisfaction vs accessibility help you discover new information or make better decisions? Would you like to see other data on the axes of the graph? If there were an interactive tool that let you filter the results, would you use it? Let us know 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

5 thoughts on “Disney Dining Satisfaction vs Accessibility

  • I feel like there has to be some sort of bias based on what the Reservation finder is used for. Your data is suggesting that Cinderella’s Royal Table and Chef Mickey are easier reservations to get than Grand Floridian Cafe and the Plaza?

  • I love your articles and analyses. Thanks much for crunching the numbers and making sense of them for the rest of us!

    • Thank you for the positive feedback, Bob! I’m glad that it’s helpful.

  • Thank you for doing this! It will definitely help with prioritizing my ADRs. It’s nice to see so many restaurants that have high satisfaction and are easier to reserve.

    • You’re right – that’s definitely the good news. Even if your favorites are packed, there are always other options.


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