If you’re a regular Walt Disney World visitor, you probably have your favorite spots to eat. I love grabbing a waffle sandwich from Sleepy Hollow and eating by the castle. Or picking up a pastry from Les Halles for dessert as we finish up a stroll around the World Showcase. And if I’m eating lunch at Animal Kingdom, you will almost always find me at Flame Tree Barbecue. Sure, it’d be fun to branch out and try new things. But I tend to stick to my comfort zone. I could easily pull other highly-rated counter service spots. But that just tells me what everyone else likes. What about what I like?
Good news – I have data about me! I know what I already like. And if you’ve visited WDW before, you have that same data about you. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could use our own data to find some semi-personalized recommendations about what we might enjoy if we tried it on our next visit? Today we’ll look at some of the most highly-rated quick service locations and see what you should (or shouldn’t) try next if you like those spots.
Explain the Math!
Here’s your fancy term for the day: conditional probabilities. A conditional probability is the chance of something happening, given what you know about a prior event or outcome. So in our analysis today, that “prior outcome” is whether you liked a certain counter service location. We’ll use that information to calculate the new chance that you’ll like some other location.
So what do we need to calculate? First, we calculate overall satisfaction at every counter service spot at WDW. That’s our base case. If we know nothing about you, those overall averages are going to be our very best guess about what you might or might not like. I get those from every single WDW post-visit survey that gets submitted through TouringPlans.
But now let’s say I do know something about you. As soon as I get one data point about you, that changes everything. Because now I can filter my overall data to be more similar to you. For example, if you like Pizzafari (don’t point fingers here, I know there are some of you out there), I can pull surveys for just people that like Pizzafari. Now you might trust the results more, because the satisfaction scores at every other restaurant will be coming from other Pizzafari fans like yourself. You can ignore the taste of all of those Pizzafari haters.
I pulled conditional satisfaction scores for every single counter service location, given that you gave a thumbs up to any other counter service location. There were 106 counter service spots in my list. So that means I pulled 11,236 different satisfaction scores. I did 11,236 comparisons against the overall satisfaction scores to see if they were significantly different. If it wasn’t significantly different, no big deal. That means your Pizzafari fandom doesn’t impact whether or not you’re likely to enjoy Restaurant X. But if it does, then we know something interesting. What are the two types of interesting things we could find out?
- Positive Correlation: If I like Restaurant A, I am significantly more likely to enjoy Restaurant X. This doesn’t mean I’m guaranteed to like it. I’m just more likely to enjoy it than the average WDW visitor. These will show up under “Eat This”.
- Negative Correlation: If I like Restaurant A, I am significantly less likely to enjoy Restaurant Y. This doesn’t mean I will hate it. I’m just less likely to enjoy it than the average WDW visitor. These will show up under “Not That”.
- If you like Creature Comforts …
If you like Tamu Tamu Refreshments …
- If you like Satu’li Canteen …
- Eat This: Les Halles. This is a relationship I personally wouldn’t have made off-hand. Which makes it an interesting one. Les Halles already has a pretty high satisfaction rate. But if you like Satu’li, you’re even more likely to be a fan of French pastry.
- Not That: Beach Club Marketplace, ABC Commissary, PizzeRizzo, Casey’s Corner, and Cosmic Ray’s. This is the first time we’re seeing a big cohort of food-court-ish options pop up. We’ll probably see it a few more times. But if you’re a Satu’li fan, avoid this group.
- If you like The Trolley Car Café …
- Eat This: Main Street Bakery, Creature Comforts, Sassagoula, Starbucks – Disney Springs, Landscape of Flavors. Once again our little group of Starbucks locations are showing up, but with some additional friends this time.
- Not That: None! There are no significant negative correlations for Trolley Car Café.
If you like Ronto Roasters …
- If you like Docking Bay 7 …
- Eat This: Satu’li Canteen, Flame Tree BBQ, and Dockside Diner. The first two here make sense to me. Satu’li and Docking Bay both have food and atmosphere that is supposed to transport you. Rib fans have options at Flame Tree and Docking Bay. Dockside Diner .. is a mystery to me. Maybe there is a crowd of people that likes to eat anywhere with “Dock” in the name?
- Not That: Snack Shack, Catalina Eddie’s, Golden Oak Outpost, and Fuel.
- If you like Les Halles …
Eat This: Tamu Tamu. Huh, what? I am a self-professed pastry groupie. So Les Halles is near the top of my counter service list. But I’ve never tried Tamu Tamu. There are some interesting pastries on the breakfast menu there, so maybe I will give it a shot on our next trip.
- Not That: ABC Commissary, PizzeRizzo, Pinocchio Village Haus, Cosmic Ray’s, Pizzafari, Backlot Express, and Restaurantosaurus. Our food court cohort is back! If the authentic French pastry shop makes you happy, don’t go near the standard food court fare.
- If you like Refreshment Port …
- Eat This: Refreshment Outpost, Capt. Cook’s, and Promenade Refreshments. Two of the refreshment options here are approachable snack/drink locations around the World Showcase. No surprise to see them grouped together.
- Not That: Pizzafari, Oasis Bar and Grill, PizzeRizzo, Pinocchio Village Haus, and Leaning Palms.
- If you like Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe …
- Eat This: The Mara. Another interesting one for me. I enjoy both, but wouldn’t have associated them on my own.
- Not That: PizzeRizzo, ABC Commissary, Pizzafari, and Cosmic Ray’s. Our not-good old friends, the food courts and pizza places.
If you like Main Street Bakery …
- Eat This: Landscape of Flavors, Capt. Cook’s, Trolley Car Café, BoardWalk Bakery, Starbucks – Disney Springs, and Harambe Market. Now this is a fascinating mix. Trolley Car makes the list, but Creature Comforts doesn’t. There’s another bakery in there, but also … Harambe Market?!
- Not That: None! There are no significant negative correlations for Main Street Bakery.
- If you like Columbia Harbor House …
- If you like Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop …
If you like Blaze Pizza …
- Eat This: Landscape of Flavors. The menu here has been totally gutted since Art of Animation reopened, so you may want to sit on this advice for a while.
- Not That: Docking Bay 7, Dino Diner, Polite Pig, Pinocchio Village Haus, Catalina Eddie’s, Sand Bar, ABC Commissary, Promenade Refreshments, and Java Bar.
- If you like Earl of Sandwich …
- Eat This: Sunshine Seasons, Landscape of Flavors, Flame Tree BBQ, Riverside Mill Food Court, B.B. Wolf’s, Yak & Yeti, Cookes of Dublin, and Main Street Bakery. I’ll admit, before the whole Disney Springs rebranding, Earl of Sandwich was my go-to counter service spot at Downtown Disney. I haven’t been there in years, but there are a few other places on this recommended list that I also like.
- Not That: ABC Commissary and PizzeRizzo. How many times can I write PizzeRizzo in one article? Probably a few more …
- If you like Beaches & Cream To Go …
- Eat This: Riverside Mill Food Court. Before their closures, Riverside Mill and Sassagoula both offered hand-scooped ice cream options.
- Not That: Lotus Blossom Café, ABC Commissary, PizzeRizzo, Pizzafari, Refreshment Port, and Cosmic Ray’s. If you like typical ice cream flavors, the caramel-ginger and lychee varieties at Lotus Blossom are apparently not for you.
If you like Le Petit Café …
- Eat This: Sunshine Seasons. I’ve got nothing on this one. Let me know if you think of a good connection to explain the correlation!
- Not That: Avalunch, Lowtide Lou’s, Leaning Palms, Cosmic Ray’s, Lottawatta Lodge, and Pizzafari. Lesson here? If an Aristocat-themed café is your style, don’t expect to find anything satisfying at a water park.
- If you like Geyser Point Bar & Grill …
- Eat This: Harambe Market.
- Not That: ABC Commissary, Pizzafari, Cosmic Ray’s, PizzeRizzo, Backlot Express, Dino Diner, and Primo Piatto. The pseudo-food-court contingent makes another appearance. But Primo Piatto surprises me. Perhaps this is a battle of the burgers and Geyser Point is the winner?
What Does This Mean For You?
- We tend to analyze things like overall average satisfaction a lot around here. But no human is exactly average. We each have unique tastes. And just like any other data, satisfaction data becomes more powerful when you put it into context and turn it into actionable information. In this case, the context is what you know you already like.
- Any two dining locations could correlate for any number of reasons. Maybe they have similar atmosphere. Or convenient locations. Perhaps they both serve macaroni and cheese, which is the only meal your toddler will eat after a long and tiring day. And sometimes we might identify correlations that we just struggle to explain. That’s why it’s fun to pull these numbers and then discuss to see what we can figure out together.
- Since I pulled all of the highest-satisfying locations at each park for this post, PizzeRizzo shows up a lot in what to avoid. But even that is useful information. It typically appears in a list with Pizzafari and Cosmic Ray’s and Restaurantosaurus, etc. So if your family enjoys those places, you know what to stick to.
Did any of the correlations here surprise you? Do you have a personal favorite that doesn’t show up in the post, but you’d like to know the correlations? Let us know in the comments! And stay tuned for table service recommendations on Saturday.