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It’s Official: Starbucks Lands at Disney Parks

Update: Check out the discreet integration of Starbucks into Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe!

We speculated about a Starbucks-Disney collaboration a few months ago, and it turns out the rumors are true!

For decades, one of the biggest food-related complaints about Disney parks was the lack of decent coffee (Disney for many years relied on instant NesCafe and only recently brought in a few spots where Joffrey’s Coffee was sold). Now that Starbucks is planning to join forces with the Happiest Places on Earth, coffee addicts can finally ditch the jitters. ;-)

The coffee king will show up first in Disney California Adventure this June, at the brand new Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Café. Locations will serve coffee, espresso, frappuccino, and more, and guests will also be able to nosh on signature Starbucks sandwiches, pastries, and desserts.

Other locations will be popping up soon in all four Disney World parks and Disneyland Park. Note that the Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts have served Starbucks for quite a while.

One question I have: How do you “Disney-fy” something as highly-branded as Starbucks? Starbucks locations all seem pretty consistent to me…what would a Disney version be like? The Fiddler location will be themed to the 1920′s vision of Buena Vista Street — including Spanish/Mexican architecture and baristas in 1920s-inspired attire. Other locations will be themed as well.

Are you excited? Concerned? Don’t care as long as you can finally get good coffee? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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96 Comments

  1. Shayne says:

    Yippee!!! It will be interesting to see how the integrate Starbucks into the parks.

  2. Grace says:

    Oh happy day!!!!!! Any insight as to when we might see it in WDW? And where? Will it be there for our trip in October?

    Seriously, this is one of the bigger reasons we have always stayed offsite! Not spending big $$ on a vacation to not get decent coffee…

    Hubby will be SOOOOOOOO happy!

  3. Epcyclopedia says:

    Hey – just giving you a small update – we heard from CM’s that the existing coffe kiosk contracts aren’t ending and will continue. So the new Starbucks locations at WDW will be in addition to the current kiosk line up. Linky with info: http://www.epcyclopedia.com/2012/04/23/epcot-to-get-starbucks/

  4. Jayme says:

    Yes, I am excited. I love coffee and while I have found a few spots in the World that hit that spot (Kona Island Cafe Coffee Bar for example) a consistently good cup has been hard to find. It will be nice to have trained baristas on property and while Starbucks isn’t my favorite I will be more than happy to buy a cup of coffee prepared by someone who knows how to pull a good espresso shot.

  5. Pudge the Fish says:

    While I am not a huge fan of Nescafe, I’m not fully on the Starbuck’s coffee bandwagon either. There may be as many distractors, regarding taste, for Starbucks as there are for Nescafe. But I do see this as a step in the right direction. Any coffee that uses fresh grounds as opposed to questionable coffee is a marked improvement (I’m not 100% sure how Disney makes their Nescafe, but I would imagine that it is some type of syrup mixed with heated water.)

    However, I see the Starbucks corporate mentality as a step into the past in a very good way. They are very particular with their training and corporate culture. They remind me of how Disney operated 15+ years ago. I think that we can all agree that Disney’s level of customer service has sadly slipped. And while they are still better than many companies, they have been surpassed by many corporations like Starbuck’s.

    I’m looking forward to visiting “the Fiddler” in August for breakfast and/or lunch. The whole theme of Buena Vista Street looks very appealing.

  6. GracieG says:

    sooo excited… would go to SOG and Kona for a good coffee “fix”

  7. Eric says:

    I couldn’t be happier!!! I’m hopeful it will be in the parks for our November trip. We pack our own coffee for our DVC villa every trip. It would be great to see the presence in the parks.

    I would think Starbucks may be at the MSB in MK, not sure about Epcot unless maybe Fountainview, I would think either Writer’s Stop or Starring Rolls in HS, and Kusafiri or The Tea Company in AK. It will be great to have Starbucks some where other than MCO :)

  8. AJ says:

    Shayne — I agree! I think it will be fun to see how different a Starbucks can look from what I’m used to from my days in Manhattan where there was a Starbucks on every corner and they all looked the same.

    Grace — Ha ha! This is RIGHT up your alley, then!! :-) No idea yet on when it’s coming to WDW. I’ll keep you updated if I find out!

    Epcyclopedia — Thanks for the info

    Jayme — Thanks for your feedback! Agreed that good coffee has been very hard to find in the parks — especially in Magic Kingdom where there wasn’t even a Joffrey’s kiosk! So glad you’ll be back in your espresso element! :-)

    Pudge — Interesting comparison between Starbucks and Disney corporate training/culture. This may make it less of an issue for folks who are upset about Disney doing more outsourcing these days.

    GracieG — Yes, indeed — Kona has some great coffee!

  9. Eric says:

    @ Pudge the Fish – I do not agree Disney’s customer service has slipped. It’s certainly not perfect, but I believe it is still the best in the business. Otherwise, why would we all go back and have such a rich affection for Disney?

  10. Meg says:

    I’m guessing that it’s not going to be a full-fledged run by Starbucks store – more than likely it will be a licensed store (similar to the ones you find in Safeways, etc). That would give them a bit more freedom with how things are operated, but I’m also guessing it’s a special contract allowing Disney to theme things. The only thing I can’t really see be themed is the term Frappuccino, but if I can get a Starbucks drink in the park, I’m ok with the Frappuccinos not being themed ;-)

  11. Christie says:

    I’m actually really unhappy with this! Part of the beauty of going to WDW is to get away from reality- including the big name brand food chains such as this. Even if they are themed to each individual park or location, when I am in Disney I want something that is specific to Disney, not a frappacino I can get at every corner back at home. I dont want the MK to start to look like an all american street corner with a Mickey D’s and BK just because they can. I would much rather foregoe a week of starbucks brew and enjoy the wonderful treats that are limited to Disney property. Shame on Disney!!

  12. AJ says:

    Eric — Glad to hear you’re pleased with the update! I love the speculation about where the other locations might go! My mind is reeling at figuring out what an Animal Kingdom Starbucks might look like! ;-)

    And — Eric and Pudge — I think the dilemma about Disney’s customer service is an interesting one. These days, so much of the food service at Disney is outsourced that it seems there’s a melting pot of corporate cultures represented there. My main concern is how inconsistent Disney can be with customer service — it can be personal and truly fantastic, or it can be truly awful. I guess with SO many people and such a huge area, you can’t control every single little thing, so guests can have widely varied experiences.

    Meg — Ha ha! I think that’s probably correct. Word on the street is that Starbucks didn’t hook up with Disney previously due to the lack of ability to train and maintain in the way Starbucks would like, so I guess that’s been worked out!

    Christie — Thanks for your feedback on this one! This is a point I considered as well. Interestingly, Disney used to have a McDonald’s contract, which meant McDonald’s was served in pretty much every park (themed to the park of course). That’s since gone by the wayside, so they’re both getting rid of brand names AND bringing them in.

  13. marcellina says:

    I’m happy about this development! I personally think it would be great to have starbucks in all of the resort food courts. I’m not a “gotta have it every morning” kinda coffee drinker but you have to admit on those commando Disney trips when you don’t get much sleep it would be nice to have a good cup of coffee available at your resort when you wake up!

  14. Joel says:

    It will be interesting to see how this turns out. While I realize previous sponsorships at Disney Parks go unnoticed, such as Dole and McDonald’s, not to mention numerous endorsements throughout Epcot, it’s important for visitors to feel like they have been transported to another place in time. Too much commercialization can ruin that.

  15. Janna says:

    I LOVE this! I also love marcellina’s idea about having one in the food courts – talk about starting your day right! :)

  16. Pudge the Fish says:

    @Eric..I still agree that Disney is a leader in customer service but they are no longer the leader that they once were.

    As a former cast member I know the standards that I was asked to uphold. I can assure you that these are not the same standards that Disney puts forth in todays theme parks. I was asked to strive to exceed expectations in every way and nearly everyone did just that. Many, many cast members still exceed but more and more cast members have difficulty just meeting expectations. The cast members are not to blame. That is the culture that Disney is promoting in the parks through the lack of proper training.

    Sorry to interrupt the blog, AJ. I am just looking forward to a partnership with a company that has similar beliefs in promoting a level of classic Disney customer service. :)

  17. Epcyclopedia says:

    Well, Disney is stressing that these will be integrated and not blatant – no green aprons.

    Essentially none of the dining in World Showcase is run by Disney, but no one ever really stops to think about it. Take the news of the bakery expansion in the France pavilion or the new Gusto place coming to Italy. We’re excited for both.

    Neither is run by Disney. Those are the same sort of contracts you’ll have with Starbucks.

  18. Rachel says:

    I am not a Starbucks (or any coffee for that matter) drinker, so I hope that the branding won’t permeate the parks. A subtle sign similar to the McDonald’s fry carts of old would be fine, or a label on a store like the Writer’s Stop indicating that they serve Starbucks there. I’m just trusting Disney on this one not to oversaturate Disney World like they have the real world.

  19. Eric says:

    @Pudge – I’m grateful to the standards you were asked to uphold and I hope that you are incorrect that those standards are not still implemented but sadly many agree with you…

    I think to AJ’s point it’s the inconsistency in the service. I too have had sub-par service but b/c I’ve has so many magical experiences I think maybe I don’t think about the negative experiences. I hope that Disney can raise the bar again to be even better :)

  20. Melissa says:

    I’m excited, I’ll admit I like Starbucks! Thanks for the news!

  21. I’m still not holding my breath for WDW or DCL. I’m not a coffee snob, but anything is better than Nescrape

  22. Christie says:

    @ Joel- I couldn’t have said it better. Commercialization within Disney parks makes each park feel less authentic.

  23. Joanne says:

    I will enjoy DisneyWorld so much more if I can look forward to getting coffee at Starbucks. There are many many of us coffee drinkers out there and I couldn’t be happier. Yippee!

  24. Happy!! Happy!! Happy!! Happy!! :)

  25. Janet says:

    I don’t drink coffee at all. (I know, I know – how do I even survive?) Coke is my friend.

    But I’ve read the horror stories about Nescafe & for those who “gotta have the good stuff”, I’m happy for you.

    Just be prepared to pay more for that fix, then you would outside the resorts. McDonald’s was higher on property & I don’t think Starbucks will be any different.

  26. @Janet,
    The sad thing is that it is worth it compared to Nescafe.

  27. Jon Grant says:

    This hurts, specifically because I’m sure this deal will push Joffrey’s Coffee out of Walt Disney World. Joffrey’s is great coffee, not burnt to ash like “Char-$$$” is. Furthermore, I wonder if the signature restaurants will still get their custom blends from Joffrey’s, or if Starbucks will be pushed into those restaurants as well. Many people will think that this deal will bring better coffee to WDW, but true coffee connoisseurs know the opposite is true.

  28. Carrie says:

    I don’t drink coffee, but I’m so glad I’ll eventually be able to get a decent hot chocolate for a cold night’s viewing of the fireworks. So long, gritty Nestle cocoa!

  29. Judith says:

    I’m a coffee drinker, let me clarify and say a black coffee drinker. Hate Starbucks coffee, it tastes burnt, but I hate Nescafe even more. I don’t really want to see that Starbucks logo in any of the parks…whats wrong with a no name with good coffee?

  30. AJ says:

    Jon — I wonder about this. Currently, Starbucks is only opening six locations, and it seems that all other coffee contracts will still be in place. I do wonder if this is a “trial period” that may expand, though…

  31. Scott Sanders says:

    I agree, Joffrey’s is great coffee and it would be a shame if they get forced out.

  32. Meg says:

    For those who say that Starbucks coffee tastes burnt to them (and I’m included in that), you may want to try an Americano (espresso + hot water). While it’s not as good as other really good coffee, it’s definitely better than the burnt taste and/or Nescafe. It is a little more expensive than drip coffee, but at least gives you something that tastes pretty good. Just an ex-barista tip ;-) (Though I know this doesn’t fix the overall problem)

    As a West-Coaster, this is better than what has been offered here previously, so I can’t really comment on Joffrey’s (since I always took my own to WDW when we went). I have to agree with Judith, I’m not sure why they’re not getting a really good not so recognizable coffee brand, unless it’s one of two things: 1) They want to utilize the Starbucks brand and 2) Starbucks, who had been having a bit of a rough patch financially, probably saw this as a good investment and paid handsomely for it (and may have relaxed their issues around control in order to make this). I’m just wondering what kind of menu their going to have – will they carry seasonal drinks, etc? Because if I can get a Pumpkin Spice Latte while I’m in the parks in October, I’ll be an even happier Disney patron!

  33. Jon Grant says:

    AJ – That is my fear, that if they don’t immediately take over the “coffee-espresso-pastries” locations, they will be able to down the road. Once Starbucks has a foot in the door…

  34. Robert says:

    The only issue I’ve had with a resort stay is the coffee. I’m sorry but the Nescafe is just not good. Will Starbucks coffee be served in the resorts? I hope so.

  35. Diane says:

    When we were in Disneyland 2 years ago we were walking in the Marketplace and I saw a beverage kiosk cart. Coke products etc but then I saw a very small Starbucks sign!! My DH was thrilled! They only had 2 blends (regular and decaf) but he was so happy to have his Starbucks on vacation. Hopefully Disney will keep it subtle like this was. I wonder if it was a trial of some sort.

  36. Jon Grant says:

    Meg – great tip, but the Americano is still made with the espresso blend, which is an even darker roast than most of their drip blends. Now, I will admit, I tried their blonde roast the other day, and it was actually enjoyable. I can finally order coffee when my wife forces us to stop at SB.

    I’m thinking they’re bringing Starbucks in because 1.) Disney listens to what people say about them, and know that a lot of people complain about coffee at Disney parks, and 2.) Starbucks is the most recognizable American brand that is, by general consensus (cringe) ‘good coffee.’

  37. Rich says:

    I thought the goal of replacing Nescafe was to find GOOD coffee. Char-bucks is not it. Anything else would have been better.
    Still bringing my own….

  38. Janelle says:

    I am just glad to get good coffee, although I would rather they had picked a local grower option if that is even possible. I try to shop local as well as local businesses.

    BUT, living in Seattle, Starbucks is local.

    THEMING: We have several Starbucks in Washington State that are not same Starbucks look. I just noticed one yesterday in a section of Seattle called Capital Hill…almost did not even realize was Starbucks. Also, we have a town east of Seattle (over the mountain pass) called Leavenworth. It is a Bavarian themed town. The one Starbucks there is Bavarian themed. (not the drinks, just decor).

    What is interesting to me is why they have to go from Nescafe to Starbucks! There are so many different options of good coffee, and just surprised nothing till now. But, being from Seattle, we are coffee freaks, and maybe that is not the way of the nation. :)

  39. Angela says:

    I’m a Starbucks barista, and the starbucks people LOVE them some Disney. All of the higher up managers are well known for using Disney World as an example of exemplary customer service and will hire anyone with Disney on their resume in a second. I think the two companies will go perfectly together :)
    Also, after working there for a year and a half, Disney coffee has gotten pretty un-drinkable for me haha…. I’m excited to be able to get an iced caramel macchiatto in the parks! Unfortunately, these stores are sure to be licensed Starbucks stores (like the ones in airports) which means that a) I can’t use my partner discount haha and b) means that they’re not run with quite the uniformness of the normal stores, which I have found to mean that quite often quality is MUCH lower. I don’t think it will be much of an issue though, since I’m sure Disney will hire and train better than their airports do!

  40. Kyle says:

    This is somewhat depressing to me. I think Starbucks overroasts their beans and creates a very, very bitter drink. I hope this isn’t the standard coffee at resorts that I would fill my drink mug with in the morning.

    This is disappointing. Folgers would be a far better option, imo.

  41. Epcyclopedia says:

    Notes..

    Epcot is the park with all the contracts. Joffreys started there with the little outpost by Energy that expanded to World Showcase promenade areas and then they picked up the Epcot front gate and the TTC.

    So from a “will Starbucks force them out” it’s unlikely. It’s pretty much an Epcot-unique situation. Epcot has always had contracts like that. NesCafe was the “official coffee” of Walt Disney World while Nestle sponsored the Land pavilion and those kiosks existed the entire time, and even with the Fountainview Espresso and Bakery Cafe braned directly as NesCafe in existence as well in the same park.

    Epcot simply doesn’t function that way when it comes to sponsors.

    “Compartmentalization.” Epcot has it.

  42. Rachael says:

    Will the Joffreys coffee stands still be open? We prefer Joffreys coffee to Starbucks!

  43. Jackie says:

    Oh, HAPPY DAY!!!!! I am so so so excited about this!!!!!! The only coffee I’ve really enjoyed is the press pot at Narcoossee’s, Kona, and Boma! So excited that I’ll be able to walk around the Parks with my Peppermint White Mocha!!! <3

  44. AJ says:

    Yes, Joffreys stands will still be open we’re hearing (thanks Epcyclipedia!)

  45. Jordan says:

    While I do understand–and appreciate–the concerns of others regarding the commercialization of Disney, I did get a bit of a chuckle. Isn’t Disney all about commercialization? Just look at Disney in general. It’s a huge corporation, which uses the parks to promote its own products, from ESPN’s Wide World of Sports to attractions based off their own movies. And quite honestly, I don’t blame them one bit for it.

    Largely, Disney is in touch with what consumers want. They’re excellent at seamlessly incorporating products and goods into their parks. They have been doing so since the start. Just look at Epcot. Most pavilions are sponsored by a corporation; Spaceship Earth is Siemens, The Land is Nestle, Test Track was GM (will be Chevy). Heck, Test Track had a GM showroom when you walked off the ride.

    None of it has taken away from the joy I experience. I believe the same will hold true for Starbucks, just as it did for McDonalds, and Coca-Cola. My only gripe with Disney is that it didn’t replace all of it’s coffee with that of Starbucks.

  46. canadianslovewdw says:

    yay.. reall coffee.. isnt there a starbucks at the dolphin???
    TIM HORTONS would have been better. but their prices are too reasonable for WDW.. wonder if they will acept the Dining plan???

  47. Scott says:

    This is indeed good news. While there were certainly some places (few and far between)around WDW that you could get some quality coffee ( press pot in Polynesian restaurants for one) the majority of coffee was pure swill. Admittedly Starbucks can be strong and not for all palates it is certainly an improvement over coffee-hinted hot water currently served.

    An interesting question would be one of cost. We all know that Disney has a ‘slightly elevated’ pricing structure for their food; and Starbucks is no stranger to a healthy profit margin for their product. Combine those two variables and what will come of that? What will a cup of coffee actually cost, what will a serving size be for that cost, will they allow unlimited refills in the food stations, can DDP snack credit be used?

    We shall wait and see, and I will eagerly read my DFB daily for any updates as they ate available.

  48. Jon Grant says:

    Thanks Encyclopedia & AJ, Happy to hear that Joffrey’s will be sticking around. I know where I’ll be going for coffee.

  49. Julie Miller says:

    So, so excited! :) getting a good cup of coffee has always been tough. It will be interesting to see how Disney and Starbucks merge. Disney always does such an amazing job, I’m sure we won’t be disappointed!

  50. JoAnn says:

    Yay! I heard this on the news tonight.

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