Walt Disney World has been making an unprecedented amount of changes in recent years, and with guests pouring into the resort in record levels year over year, it has never been more important for Disney to strive to optimize the guest experience in as many ways as possible.
However, like anything else, change at Walt Disney World is slow, and ever since the stunted rollout of MyMagic+, there's been some caution exercised in recent years when it comes to big, sudden changes, with Disney electing to test new ideas like merchandise reservations, pre-booked quick service dining and even transportation changes on small amounts of guests for a limited time before deciding whether or not to roll them out resort-wide.
With the busy summer season now in full swing at Walt Disney World, the resort has wisely been trying out several more new tests. While some of these tests are cast only and hint at new features that are coming soon to the theme parks, others are aimed at analyzing guest behavior and hopefully finding new ways to improve the experience and efficiency of a Walt Disney World vacation.
1. Dining tests at Magic Kingdom Hotels
There are plenty of amazing places to eat around Walt Disney World, but if you are relying solely on resort transportation, it can be tough get around if you want to visit signature dining locations at other hotels. However, guests staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort are now part of a test that aims to make it much easier to visit a select number of signature restaurants at other resorts.
Upon check-in at one of the three participating hotels, guests selected for this limited-time test are asked if they plan to dine at one of the participating restaurants at other resorts. Dining locations that are a part of this test include Artist Point at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort. If a guest says they are planning on visiting one of these restaurants, they will be given free round trip taxi vouchers for use when visiting the restaurant of their choosing.
The test is currently scheduled to last until June 30th, but if it proves to be successful, it could inspire some new transportation options for resort guests that will make it easier to hop between resorts without stopping at a park first.
2. Coffee shop test at Territory Lounge
Another dining test that is happening now at a Walt Disney World resort involves turning an afternoon and evening watering hole into a makeshift coffee shop in the mornings. Just a few weeks ago it was announced that the Territory Lounge at Disney's Wilderness Lodge would temporarily be opening every morning from 7-11AM and would serve specialty coffee drinks, lattes, and light breakfast items including muffins, danishes and other pre-packaged items before transforming back into the bar/lounge for the afternoon and evening hours.
Though this test has been going on for almost a month now, many are expecting this pop-up coffee shop to continue serving guests at Disney's Wilderness Lodge at least through the end of the summer. Though Disney hasn't made any announcement one way or another about the future of this temporary coffee shop, the fact that it has lasted this long is a good thing for coffee lovers looking to get their fix before heading out to the parks. Looking farther into the future, the success of this test could potentially lead to something a little more permanent as part of the massive refurbishment coming soon to Disney's Wilderness Lodge.