Home » 3 Ways Walt Disney World Could Fix the Massive Problem No One is Talking About

    3 Ways Walt Disney World Could Fix the Massive Problem No One is Talking About

    Though Walt Disney World fans are very opinionated about things like MyMagic+, the direction of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the inclusion of Frozen at Epcot’s World Showcase, you’d be hard pressed to find a Disney fan who would say that one of these developments actually ruined their Walt Disney World vacation. However, there is one BIG problem happening every day at Walt Disney World that is actually causing guests some severe stress, and is robbing some of their chance to experience their perfect Walt Disney World vacation. And oddly, no one seems to be talking about it. 

    When you think of scalping, you probably think of people selling merchandise or event tickets at extreme markups online. However, a different type of scalping is going on at Walt Disney World, and it involves something that is technically free: dining reservations. Now you may be wondering, how can you scalp something that doesn’t cost anything?

    Essentially, unscrupulous individuals are making a business out of scooping up high-profile dining reservations (think Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest dinner service, etc.) the moment they become available every night at 12:01 AM, and then reselling these reservations to guests for a modest fee. Though there are some legitimate businesses that monitor dining reservations at Walt Disney World (see this article at Theme Park Insider for more), scalpers have increased in number in recent months, thanks in part to the ease of booking that MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience have afforded.

    Though meticulous planners may not have an issue making reservations 180 days in advance, more casual visitors as well as annual passholders have been really hurt by this phenomenon. However, it’s not just guests that are suffering with the effects of dining scalping. If you’ve ever been to Be Our Guest or Le Cellier in the middle of a dinner rush and wondered why there were so many empty tables, this phenomenon is partly responsible, as any reservations that are “held” by these services are typically cancelled with as little window as possible in order to maintain the artificial scarcity that created the demand for this service in the first place. 

    Unfortunately, Walt Disney World has expressed little to no interest in fixing the dining reservation scalping problem, even though it has been going on for several years. However, in the interest of being proactive, here are three simple ways that Walt Disney World could potentially hit back at scalpers and make the playing field a little bit more level for all guests who are wanting to make dining reservations at the resort’s most popular locations. 

    1. Requiring a valid ticket for date of dining

    Currently, in order to make dining reservations 180 days in advance at any Walt Disney World restaurant, all you need is a credit card. Though there is no way to dine inside a Disney park without a ticket, you are actually not required to have a valid ticket or pass at the time of booking to make a reservation. This loophole has been exploited to great effect by dining scalpers, and simply requiring a ticket for reservations would go a long way towards solving this problem, as all scalpers would need to maintain annual passes that would need to be matched to guests at the time of reservation.

    Not only would this be a huge investment, but Disney may call into question passes that have dining reservations for every day of the calendar year on them. While we’d all love to think about eating every meal at Walt Disney World forever, the reality is that it is extremely unlikely that anyone would actually do this, making scalpers easy to spot. 

    2. Creating a waiting list for guests

    Under the system that is currently in place for making advance dining reservations at Walt Disney World, when a dining reservation is forfeited, it goes back into a “pool” and is available for the first person who can find it. Scalpers have been able to use this system to their advantage by taking reservations for themselves, and then releasing them at the exact moment someone using their service is online so they can scoop up the forfeited reservation immediately. However, Disney could easily thwart this maneuver by instituting a wait list system that would allow reservations to be made available for those who didn’t make the initial window in the order in which requests were received. 

    Not only would this ensure that those who miss the initial reservation period have a fair shot at getting a reservation later, but more importantly, it would actively prevent scalpers from being able to sell and release reservations the way they do now. This system would also ensure that no reservation is “wasted”, and will keep restaurants full on busy days. 

    3. Official condemnation of reservation scalping

    It’s not a stretch to say that scooping up reservations and then selling them for profit to Walt Disney World guests is ethically wrong. However, many scalpers continue to argue the legitimacy of their business by saying that they are not acting outside the official Walt Disney World guidelines. And they’re not wrong.

    Incredibly, even though Disney officials must know about the secondary market for Disney dining reservations, they have yet to take an official stance against this practice. Even though dining reservation scalping hurts guests, it also hurts revenue at Walt Disney World, as every unfilled seat at a dinner service is lost money.  

    We know from experience that Disney isn’t afraid to step up and change the rules where it needs to (it was only a few months ago that all selfie sticks were banned at the parks), and it is mind-boggling that this practice is allowed to continue.

    Though its true that there’s more to a Walt Disney World vacation than dining, for many people the opportunity to dine at signature restaurants like Chef Mickey’s, Be Our Guest or even California Grill is a once in a lifetime opportunity that is an integral part of their Walt Disney World experience. Unfortunately, unscrupulous characters are robbing guests of this opportunity. Walt Disney World owes it to guests to find a way to stop this practice and level the playing field for everyone who wants to experience a magical meal at the resort.