Disney’s Mobile Order Feature
Disney loves you, and they’ve proven it once again with their latest innovation. When you visit Walt Disney World, you no longer have to wait in line to order your food. Yes, automation is coming to restaurants around the world, with at least one American chain already experimenting with a robotic workforce. As usual, the Mouse House is ahead of the curve.
The goal is to eliminate all pointless lines at the most popular theme park on the planet. The new strategy to achieve this goal is via smart phones and the My Disney Experience (MDE) app. Park guests now have the ability to use an impressive new technology. It will let them order a meal ahead of time from their smartphone. Then, they skip the regular line and walk up to a special counter where the food is ready for pick-up. It’s legitimately one of the greatest advancements at Walt Disney World in recent memory. Here’s a quick guide to Mobile Order at Walt Disney World.
What’s Mobile Order?
You can guess the basics from the name. This service gives people the means to order food from a mobile device. You can do this at any time. All you need is access to the MDE app and a cellphone signal. As long as your phone can connect to the internet, you can select food at more than 20 restaurants without having to wait in line.
The benefit of Mobile Order is obvious. Line queues at the most popular Disney Quick Service restaurants are insane at lunch and dinner. Guests sometimes feel overwhelmed by the chaotic nature of standing in the queue. Some lines aren’t clearly defined, rude guests bump into you or even try to cut in front of you, and you may feel a bit of panic when you reach the front of the line. If you can’t decide what you want, you’ll sense some unspoken pressure to order quickly so that you don’t hold up the people behind you in line. It’s not fun.
Mobile Order is a godsend, because you get to skip all the aggravation and skip straight to the eating. The system isn’t quite perfect yet for reasons we’ll discuss in a bit. It’s a service that you should use on every Disney trip that you take from now on, though. So, let’s discuss how it works.
How to Use Mobile Order
You’ll order your food through the My Disney Experience app. After you load this program, you can access the Mobile Order option a couple of ways. You can choose the Dining header. This page will display a map of all Disney restaurants. You can pick the one you want, presuming you know it’s a participant in the Mobile Order program.
Alternately, you can click the giant button at the bottom of every page on MDE. This button takes you to the My Account section. On this page, look for the My Plans in the middle of the page. It has three options: Get FastPass+, Reserve Dining, and Order Food. Click the link that says Order Food, and you can start to pick your food.
The Selection Process
When you’re ready to order, you see a screen that says, “Select a Restaurant.” The list is alphabetical, and you can filter it by park if so inclined. As such, this step is easy. You know where you want to eat, right?
Let’s say that you want to eat at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café. When you click that restaurant, you’ll reach the Dining Details page. Toward the bottom of this page on the right, you’ll see the Order Food button. Click it, and you’ll go to the most important page: Build Your Order. This is where the magic happens.
This screen will show the hours of operation for the eatery, letting you know when you can (and can’t) order food. It will also list food options. You can click on each one to see a picture and some details about the preparation.
When you’re ready to order an item, simply hit the Add button on the side. The system will notify you of optional foods you can add for free or, when applicable, a small fee. In other words, when you order a cheeseburger, Mobile Order will ask if you want fries with that. Even in a future without human interactions, some things never change about fast food.
An important note here is that you should check to see if customization is available for your entrée. If you hate pickles, you can order your burger without them. You need to do this on the customization page, though. Otherwise, the restaurant has no way of knowing your food preferences. You’re going to have a learning curve here since it’s new technology. Err on the side of caution by providing as much information as possible.
Once you’ve added all the food that your party desires, you’ll reach the confirmation screen. Here, you’ll see the number of items in your order, the cost of the food, the tax surcharge, and the overall total for your meal. You are now ready to hit the shiny Purchase button.
This is the moment when things get interesting. You’re billed immediately for the meal. Disney doesn’t start to prepare it immediately, though. Instead, they’ll wait until you tell them that you’re ready. Any time you walk close to the restaurant, a pop-up notification will ask if you’re ready to eat. You will indicate that you are by hitting a button that says, “I’m Here, Prepare My Order.”
You then wait until the screen updates. Once it says, “Order #XXXX is Ready for Pickup!”, you’re good to go! The delay in preparing the meal is a huge benefit to you. You can plan your meal in advance, using free time you have while waiting in a line queue or riding a bus/boat/monorail. Whenever you’re ready to eat, you simply walk up to the counter that says Mobile Order Pick Up. It’s that simple!
Here is the current list of participating restaurants at each park (plus one at Disney Springs):
- Aloha Isle
- Casey’s Corner
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
- Pinocchio Village Haus
- Columbia Harbour House
- Tomorrowland Terrace (Open seasonally)
- The Lunching Pad
- Electric Umbrella
- Liberty Inn
- ABC Commissary
- Backlot Express
- Fairfax Fare
- Rosie’s All-American Cafe
- Harambe Market
- Satu’li Canteen
- Flame Tree Barbecue
- D-Luxe Burger
Disney is adding new participants on a near-weekly basis at this point. If one of your favorites isn’t on the list, keep checking. It may get added soon.
The Flaws with Mobile Order
This service is new. I’m not saying that it’s a public beta or anything, but Disney added it in May of 2017. They’re still fine-tuning the app and its functionality. Currently, the only restaurants that participate are Quick Service restaurants, the equivalent of fast food. I’m not sure Disney envisions this technology as translating well for Table Service restaurants, although I can see a few situations where it would work. If you don’t like Quick Service meals, you’re out of luck, though.
Mobile Order also has financial limitations right now. For convenience, the only payment method you can use is a credit card. You pay in advance, which rules out Magic Bands, Disney gift cards, cash, or any other form of payment. You also can’t use Disney Dining Plan entitlements, either. Disney doesn’t want lines at the counters, which is what would happen if people paid for food at the restaurant. That would defeat the entire purpose of the Mobile Order service.
For various reasons, Disney also doesn’t honor any discounts on the Mobile Order app right now. Annual pass holders and Disney Vacation Club members can get up to 20 percent off at many Walt Disney World eateries. Those aren’t available on Mobile Order, though. So, guests have to pay more if they want to use the service. Disney has given every indication that they’ll add many of these features later.
Right now, the most important thing is getting people the food that they order in a timely manner. MickeyBlog will update any time Disney adds new functionality to the service, of course. Mobile Order is already the greatest addition to Walt Disney World park visits since Magic Bands, and it should only get better from here. A decade from now, kids won’t believe you when you say that you used to wait in line to order!