Picture it: it’s early fall 2021. Crowd levels are low. When someone mentions Genie all you do is get upset about the Will Smith version. You expertly use your TouringPlan and things are pretty predictable. You wander over to Ronto Roasters for a leisurely lunch. You get your ronto wrap, you enjoy it in peace, and you move about your day. Fast forward to November and December. Genie has everyone up in arms, and when you go back to revisit your beloved Ronto Roasters … it’s completely swarmed with humans! There is no place to sit or eat, and your experience is nothing like it was before.
Satisfaction at quick service dining locations can change for any number of reasons, especially in this crazy era that we live in. Supply chain issues can mess with the menu. Staffing shortages can make things take much longer than expected. And now Genie could be suggesting your favorite meal spot to everyone that is silly enough to be following the free itinerary. In a world with so much change … we need some data that will keep up with the change. So that’s the idea behind our Winter 2021 Quick Service Power Rankings. Satisfaction scores that keep up with current sentiment and performance better than our other metrics.
Explain the Math!
After you go on the lovely and amazing WDW vacation that your TouringPlans Travel Agent so helpfully booked for you, you have the opportunity to fill out a post-visit survey to tell us all about how your trip went. Then, we can take those results and use them to pull together satisfaction data for these great analyses and posts for you.
One part of that survey lets you give each dining location that you visited a “Thumbs Up” or a “Thumbs Down”. Then I get to go into the database of answers, group all of that data by dining location, and sum (or average) it up. That way I can see what percentage of responses were a “Thumbs Up”. And then that percentage becomes the overall satisfaction at that location.
But just doing that overall, all-time average doesn’t reflect when the survey-taker experienced that dining location. A review from a trip yesterday only impacts the score as much as a review from 7 or 8 years ago. I could introduce some arbitrary cut-off, but then I lose historical information that I still want to consider, at least a little. So for these quick service power rankings, I’m going to use a weighted average. If you already read the Fall 2021 power rankings, or the Winter 2021 resort and table service power rankings, you know the deal. If not, go back and read them now 🙂 Or read the details on calculations here.
As with all of our power rankings, we’re going to keep the weighting as simple as possible. We want the most recent reviews/surveys to impact the score the most – so we’re going to let them keep their full “weight”. That means they’ll impact the final score the most. But as we travel back in time, we will remove “weight” from those scores so that older scores have less and less impact on the final score. Anything in the past 3 months we’ll let keep its full weight, and then we’ll use the following weighting criteria:
- 3 to 6 months ago: 1/2 weight
- 6 to 9 months ago: 1/3 weight
- 9 to 12 months ago: 1/4 weight
- 12 to 15 months ago: 1/5 weight
- 15 to 18 months ago: 1/6 weight
How does that impact the score? A review from yesterday (or any time in the last 3 months) will have 6 times more impact than a review from 17 months ago. This lets us have a Quick Service Power Ranking that doesn’t totally ignore the history of any given location, but does get influenced more by recent reviews. When we calculate these rankings again in a few months, we can see what changes happen. And that lets us get new information about how satisfaction has changed recently.
Which Locations are at the Top of the Quick Service Power Rankings?
- Let’s call out differences from the fall first! Les Halles and Tamu Tamu swapped spots at 3 and 4, Ghiradelli jumped from 8th to 5th, The Polite Pig also increased from 9th to 7th, Ronto Roasters dropped from 6th to 9th, and Geyser Point dropped off the list and was replaced by Trolley Car Cafe.
- This list is good for you if you own shares of, or otherwise enjoy Starbucks. Two Starbucks locations are in the top 10 of all quick service locations. And one is the very highest rated quick service spot of all. Goes to show that on those early mornings at Animal Kingdom, people are just desperate for coffee.
- Similar to the fall rankings, Animal Kingdom is well-represented here, with three out of the top 4. EPCOT has 2 spots in the top 6, and Hollywood Studios sneaks in with spots 9 and 10. Magic Kingdom doesn’t have any quick service locations that appear in the top 10. In fact, you have to scroll all of the way down to spot #25 to see your first Magic Kingdom entrant – the Main Street Bakery.
- In the fall I mentioned that Ronto Roasters was highly rated, and also being suggested to nearly everyone using the free Genie itinerary creator at Hollywood Studios. Turns out that being constantly overrun with people might not be good for satisfaction results, with its drop from 6th to 9th place. We’ll see if that trend continues.
Which Restaurants are Making Positive Moves in the Quick Service Power Rankings?
- Only five quick service dining spots made positive moves of 5 or more spots when compared to fall 2021. There were plenty more slightly positive moves, but not a lot of major improvements overall.
- Four out of the five presented here were also on the biggest negative moves in our fall quick service power rankings, compared to their all-time average. That means that Gasparilla Island Grill, Everything POP, 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck and Cafe Rix all are still below their all-time averages, but have least made something of a comeback compared to their awful post-reopening scores.
- It’s also worth noting that these “big” positive movers aren’t very highly-rated at all. Gasparilla Island Grill and Cafe Rix top the list, but even still only make it to spots 64 and 65 overall.
- The Smokehouse at the House of Blues is a walk-up window offering some pretty standard BBQ fare. It has the biggest positive move of any quick-service location compared to fall. But it’s still just a 79.9% weighted average for satisfaction. If you want barbecue in Disney Springs, you’re statistically much more likely to enjoy The Polite Pig, with its 94.6% weighted satisfaction average.
Which Restaurants are Making Negative Moves in the Quick Service Power Rankings?
- Seven different quick service locations had ranking decreases of more than 5 spots compared to our fall quick service power rankings. Ouch.
- Similar to the positive movers, three out of the seven here were on the list for biggest positive moves in the fall compared to their all-time average. Those are Java Bar, Turtle Shack and Chicken Guy! So perhaps their improvements were short-lived.
- Tortuga Tavern is only open seasonally, and was open on some of the peak days this winter. So I guess its lower scores reflect that people realize that it’s just not a worthy option even when it happens to be open. At 114th overall, it should be VERY high on your “avoid” list.
- On the other end of the spectrum, Harambe Market dropped from 17th on our fall list to 23rd this winter. This makes me personally very sad because my family loved Harambe Market. It looks like its menu has undergone some changes, though. So apparently any changes made may not have been for the better.
What Does This Mean For You?
- Animal Kingdom is still the place to be for high-satisfaction quick service dining, even if Harambe Market has taken a recent turn for the worst. Head to Pandora in the evening for dinner at Satuli Canteen and a late-night ride on Flight of Passage when waits are lower.
- On the other hand, Magic Kingdom suffers from a lack of almost any appealing quick-service options. You’re much better off finding something to eat at Sleepy Hollow (yum, waffles) or Gaston’s Tavern (hello, cinnamon roll of my dreams) than any of the counter service locations.
- Ronto Roasters still has good food, but is frequently overrun with humans thanks to the Genie itinerary creator sending almost everyone in the park there for lunch. If you enjoy not eating on top of trash cans, then you might want to choose other counter service spots in Hollywood Studios, like the nearby Docking Bay 7.
Did any of the results in our winter rankings surprise you? Did you have an experience at any of these quick service locations that was particularly awesome or awful? And do you have any predictions about what we might see in the spring? Let us know in the comments!