Ultimate Review: Disney Table Service To Go
I’m one of those movie critics with a reputation for cynicism and negativity because I’ve seen it all before and say when something’s disappointing.
I’m one of those Disney critics who is eternally optimistic because I’m in awe of the company’s dedication toward excellence and improvement.
Sometimes, I encounter something at the parks that needs improvement and feel like I should say so. This is one of those times.
Here’s a decidedly negative review of the new Table Service to Go service at Walt Disney World.
What Is Disney Table Service to Go?
The name’s not even a hint here. It’s entirely on the nose. The better restaurants at Walt Disney World fall into the category of Table Service.
Until quite recently, Disney doesn’t offer to-go service from these eateries, at least not in most instances.
During the pandemic, some park and resort restaurants introduced Table Service to Go as a way of optimizing efficiency.
Diners load the My Disney Experience app on their phones and then order their meal(s).
The process is akin to Mobile Ordering, only it’s for finer cuisine. To some, to-go isn’t ideal since the dining experience gets somewhat lost.
During the pandemic, my wife and I haven’t eaten inside a non-Disney restaurant any at all.
This behavior represents a complete 180 for us, as we often ate out two or three times per week before Coronavirus.
Since then, we have embraced to-go service at our favorite local restaurants and were excited to try the same at Walt Disney World.
In fact, I’d desired this offering for many years now, as I sometimes just want to pick up a good meal and eat in my hotel room.
Many Disney resort rooms include decks/patios that are perfect for this sort of scenario.
I particularly love Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, where we could stare at the monorail and Cinderella Castle from our deck.
So, I wanted to love Table Service to Go. For me, the whole thing played out like getting the Christmas present I desired, only to get bored quickly.
How to Order Table Service to Go
The ordering process occurs in three steps.
First, you select an ordering window. This will be your general pick-up time, although you may still wait once you arrive.
Cast members cook all Table Service orders fresh, which means that you’ll wait on meal prep. Otherwise, your food would grow stale.
Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows the dangers of The Lamp.
That’s when a meal sits under a heating lamp, thereby losing its flavor gradually over time.
Disney will avoid that risk with Table Service to Go, just as with a standard sit-down meal.
So, you should expect a similar delay in meal preparation as if you were dining at the restaurant.
The second step involves ordering. If you’ve used Mobile Ordering any – at any restaurant, really – you know how this works.
You must select your arrival window and should plan for that delay. I’d suggest ordering the moment you get on the Disney bus.
The Build Your Order screen on My Disney Experience will guide you through the process. It’s incredibly intuitive and also allows for substitutions.
Disney deserves credit for the straightforward interface. You’ve likely realized during the pandemic that some restaurants overly complicate the process.
Better yet, as near as I can tell, every item available at the restaurant is on Table Service to Go. So, it truly matches the sit-down experience.
After you’ve ordered, you’ll pay using whatever method you have on file with the app. That’s the third and final step.
From there, you’ll visit the restaurant at or near your arrival window. A push notification will indicate when your food is ready.
The Pros of Our Experience
We wanted to give the fairest possible evaluation, which caused us to select a familiar restaurant.
I previously wrote a glowing review of The Wave… of American Flavors. My wife and I love this place, making it the perfect option for a trial run.
We were returning from a hectic park day when we settled on this meal. It was the third or fourth day of our vacation, and we’d Park Hopped.
We were ready to grab a meal and take it back to our room. Alas, we were staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
I’ll strongly recommend that you only utilize Table Service to Go at the resort where you’re staying, as I’ll explain in a moment.
However, our pick-up process went smoothly. We hit the button to submit the order moments before we reached the Contemporary.
Then, we walked around and did some shopping until our Arrival Window triggered. At that point, we sat on a couch in the lobby for a few moments.
Roughly 10 minutes into our window, our meal was finally ready. The host inside the restaurant handed us our dinner in a timely fashion.
The ordering, payment, and pick-up processes went smoothly. The packaging was also excellent. Those are the pros.
The Cons of Our Experience
At The Wave, I’d expected the check-in area outside the restaurant to hand us the well-packaged meal.
Instead, we had to go inside, where a much busier cast member acted a bit dismissive and apathetic.
The behavior was un-Disney-like and a stark contrast to what we’d encountered last time.
I joked with my wife that it’d been a challenging four months for all of us.
Alas, his disinterest in our order caused a problem. While we sat outside waiting for confirmation, it’d clearly been ready.
I glanced at the contents to verify I had the right package. The host shot me an irritated glance at that, but I could already tell the food was cold.
From there – and this part was 100 percent on us – we had to go to the fourth floor and take a monorail to our resort.
For us, that meant an exit at the Transportation and Ticket Center followed by a walk to the hotel room.
I suspect the food sat for 25 minutes or so before we ever took a bite. That’s why I strongly suggest you learn from my stupidity.
The Wave did us no favors, but half the mistake was ours from poor planning.
And the Order Was Wrong
Alas, the most significant con stems from something basic. Our order was wrong in several ways.
My wife didn’t get the right side, my drink was missing, and two Valentine’s items we’d ordered weren’t in the package.
When I contacted My Disney Experience to inform them, the person suggested that I should hop back on the monorail and tell the restaurant.
That’s…not a great request from a Disney representative. It would have taken me 45 minutes and 2,000 steps to fix their mistake.
The point that I’d stress here is that you should ALWAYS check every item of your Mobile Order/Table Service to Go meal before you leave the restaurant.
Disney had problems with this throughout our trip.
However, this particular one wasn’t even close. We had eight items, and four of them were wrong/missing.
At least two of them came down to the apathy of the person handing over the food. I’m confident that there was a second bag they just forgot.
I understand that cast member fatigue is real and that we all make mistakes. As such, I don’t want to blow anything out of proportion.
Still, Disney has some work to do here. In our experience, Table Service to Go was a huge disappointment.
If you can somehow mess up a meal at The Wave, you’re doing it wrong.
I do expect the process to improve over time. After all, we once had a disastrous early Mobile Ordering experience at Contempo Café.
Since then, we’ve picked up multiple meals there without incident.
As such, I expect that this was a mix of bad luck and poor planning on our part.
I did want to explain our mistakes in hopes that you’ll learn from us and do better with your next Table Service to Go order.
As for Disney, Table Service to Go should only get better from here, but it definitely falls into the category of “needs improvement” for now.