News! Food Pre-order Test in Progress at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

It looks like the next phase of Disney dining technology testing is upon us!

Express Order screenshot

Express Order screenshot

Thanks to WDWMagic and OrlandoParkNews we learned that a limited-run test (from now until May 12) is currently in place for guests visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you have somehow indicated that you will be visiting Hollywood Studios via your My Disney Experience account (either by making a FastPass+ choice for attractions or a dining reservation for the park’s Table Service locations), you may receive an e-mail invite to participate in a test involving pre-ordering food items at Backlot Express Counter Service or Fantasmic! concession.

Hollywood Studios FastPass+ Selections

Hollywood Studios FastPass+ Selections

Express Order is the name of the free app that guests are invited to download in order to participate.

Express Order app Home Page

Express Order app Home Page

Upon opening the app, you’ll see two dining choices: Backlot Express or concession options for Fantasmic! Please note that Fantasmic! concession pre-ordering is only available prior to the start of the show each night.

Backlot Express and Fantasmic! options

Backlot Express and Fantasmic! options

Just swipe to the right for further choices and instructions. For instance, with Backlot Express, you’ll see that you can choose to

order your food To Go or for Pick Up (it’s anticipated, however, that options for table delivery will be available in other phases of the test).

Backlot Express intro screen

Backlot Express intro screen

Next comes the fun part… choosing your food! Though the full Backlot Express menu is available, these are just glimpses of a couple of the screens to give you an idea.

A few entrees from the Backlot Express menu

A few entrees from the Backlot Express menu

Desserts on the Backlot Express menu

Desserts on the Backlot Express menu

Just tap the “Plus” icon to add an item to your order, and you will see your running total at the bottom.

Running total at the bottom of the menu

Running total at the bottom of the menu

When you select “Checkout,” you’ll see that you will not be charged until you receive your food.

Charge notice

Charge notice

Go over your order to make sure everything you want is noted, and enter the required email and credit card info.

Final order review

Final order review

Credit Card request and info

Credit Card request and info

It’s important to notice on the Payment scroll that the Disney Dining Plan is NOT currently accepted — at least not during this testing phase.

After that, it’s just a matter of Placing Your Order and showing up at Backlot Express and heading to the Express Order sign! Your order will be prepared upon your arrival, which is why enabling location services on your phone for this app is a must.

Order Saved screen

Order Saved screen

You see that you also have the options to change the order delivery mode (Pick Up or To Go), modify, or cancel your order.

Now I think this next one is pretty darn cool… If you love seeing the Fantasmic! nighttime spectacular during your vacation, but aren’t as much of a fan of the HUGE concession lines in the back of the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater (or juggling a bunch of items on your way back down the theater steps), you may be thrilled to participate in a test for in-seat delivery of a limited number of popular items such as Popcorn, Hot Dogs, and Mickey Pretzels.

Fantasmic! intro screen

Fantasmic! intro screen

Upon arrival at Fantasmic, just choose your seat, open the app, and pick your items — FROM YOUR SEAT! Again — the app will remind you that this option is not available until prior to showtime.

Fantasmic! Concession limited menu

Fantasmic! Concession limited menu

You can even add some of the “Made with Magic” souvenir items to your order.

Made with Magic items

Made with Magic items

A limited selection of beverages are available as well.

Fantasmic! Beverage options

Fantasmic! Beverage options

The end of the beverage screen and Total area

The end of the beverage screen and Total area

In order to have your food “find you” —with the help of a Cast Member in a red apron who you should be on the lookout for — location services must be enabled for this app on your device. You will be asked to show your order number to the Cast Member on your device as proof of purchase. At this time, the pre-order options are only available for the first showing of Fantasmic! when two performances are scheduled.

UPDATE: We received feedback on this service from a reader sharing their experience from the original days of the test. While we understand experiences seem to have improved as the test has continued further than the original timespan and several users are hoping for an expansion of the program, there have been negative experiences as well. Thank you Amy G., for sharing your experience with us!

“I received an email from Disney to test out their new Express Order app at Backlot Express. I thought it was a great idea since I have 2 small kids and it’s always me sitting at the table trying to entertain them while Dad gets the food. Dad also has to juggle all the food by himself as he gets back to the table. I figured we could all wait at the table while our food was being prepared and we would all be a bit happier.

We decided to test out the app on Saturday, May 9. It was horrible! To start, I didn’t realize we had to be inside the restaurant before we could order. I thought we could place our order then walk over to the restaurant before it was finished. Oh well. We got to the restaurant, found a table, and began ordering. We were ready to place the order but it wouldn’t work. After a few frustrated minutes, we discovered we had to turn on WiFi and location services. We weren’t prompted to do so, it simply wouldn’t place the order until we turned them on. After the order was placed, the app said our food would be delivered soon. We waited and waited and waited. Much time passed and our little ones became more and more restless as they were hungry and wanted to eat. We sat near the front so we could see the line of people go up order and get their food. Why didn’t we do that?! During this time, we saw several cast members deliver food to tables that were also using this service. After about 20 minutes, my husband went to the Express Order area of the counter to inquire about our food. Oh, it’s right here, said the cast member, and pointed to our food sitting on the counter. They said they couldn’t find us. No one even walked around our area with a tray full of food; it was like they didn’t even try to find us. So, we finally got our food and everything was ice cold, not just “not hot” but I mean, ice cold! We ate it because we were so hungry and we waited so long but it was very poor. We made sure to provide our feedback to the survey that they gave us with our food. We will not use this service again until it has improved greatly. It was sad to see such a good idea managed so poorly.”

So, what do you think of this next wave of technology testing? Would you give it a shot? Or have you already? Though the test is brand new, if anyone has participated in pre-ordering for Backlot Express or Fantasmic! Concession, we would love to hear how it went for you as we learn more about how technology continues to grow in terms of Disney dining and vacation planning!

What do you think of the options to pre-order your food at these select locations? Please let us know with a comment!

Comments

  1. Roger says

    For Fantasmic! this sounds fully awesome, and I hope to be able to take advantage of this in July when we will be there.

  2. Dee says

    Good grief! Between choosing your rides so far in advance and placing your food orders ahead of time, you can “virtually” enjoy your vacation before you even get there. Then you can just cancel all your plans at the last minute and save those thousands of dollars and go somewhere where they don’t want you to decide whether you want a burger a month in advance. All of these apps and “features” seem designed to make it easier for Disney to run their business, rather than providing any “service” to the guest.

  3. Megan Green says

    I think this is fantastic! We have traveled to Disney World twice with our triplet boys (they were toddlers both times) and one of the hardest things was getting to a quick service restaurant, figuring out what everyone wanted, sending my husband up to order (and carry back) all five meals, and then trying to keep the kiddos happy and seated until he finished navigating the long lines. If this is available when we go back we will definitely use it!

  4. tammra says

    This is a great idea for Fantasmic. The last show I went to I was by myself so I couldn’t go to the concessions stand without losing my seat. And the vendors walking the aisles either never made it to where I was or ran out of what I wanted by the time they got there.

  5. Katie says

    Dee – I agree with you here. Although when I was reading this article, what immediately came to mind was:

    ‘a big family that’s already in the park, the kids are screaming/crying/acting out, the family wants to eat but Backlot Express (they’re ultimate destination) is on the other side of the park)…so the parents order the food the family will want and then can pick it up as soon as they are there… streamlining the process for the stressed out parents and hungry kids’ … if it makes for less cranky kids kicking and hitting me in the line .. then I’m for it

  6. Sarah says

    I don’t mind doing a lot of advance planning for Disney, but I’ll have to draw the line at ordering my meals months ahead of time. That said, I’m sure there are plenty of other families like Megan’s that will love this option.

    The option for Fantasmic! is pretty awesome. Who wouldn’t want to have their food delivered straight to them without waiting in line? I like that it appears to show the wait time before you place your order so that you can decide whether you want to wait for this service or just go get it yourself.

  7. says

    I’m confused by some of the comments. Do you have to order your food ahead of time (i.e. days or months like some are saying)? Or can you just do it ten minutes beforehand? I think that would be awesome. Say I just finished the Beauty and the Beast show and I want to eat at Backlot Express. I can order from my phone right then and it will be ready when I get there. Plus I love the idea that I can see all of the options on my phone. I’m always squinting at the screen trying to read what’s there, or trying to find one of those handouts they have at some of the restaurants with the menu.

  8. says

    I’m confused by some of the comments here. Do you have to order your food before you get to the park (i.e. weeks or months in advance like some are saying?) Or can you just do it ten minutes before you go eat? I think that would be awesome. Say I just finished the Beauty and the Beast show and I want to eat at Backlot Express. I can order from my phone and then when I arrive there it’s already ready, no waiting on line. And I like the idea of being able to see everything with pictures and prices right on my phone, instead of squinting at the big menu or counting on one of those handouts some of the places have of the menu.

  9. Alan says

    I don’t get it. I keep pressing the order buttons on the screen of my tablet – but I’m not getting any food.

  10. Gigi says

    I agree with a few people… as a 5-member family with small kids, it would be AWESOME to place our order in peace – say while the kids are having a bathroom break or otherwise occupied and then strolling up to the counter to get it. I also agree that it’s usually me trying to hold down a table with at least one screaming kid while my husband and one of the kids tries to carry back all the food.

    I also LOVE, LOVE having the menu access on my phone. Often we are looking at the map and trying to decide what to eat and remember exactly what each venue offers in terms of kid’s meals. I hope as far as quick service goes, they do more of this… as long as it is order a few minutes before.

    …which leads to… I feel Dee’s pain. Our last trip was our least magical yet. We did NOT enjoy the fast pass plus and it was so limiting. Meals were a pain also to schedule. It was all we could do to keep up with our “appointments.” I felt we were constantly racing to get to a ride or meal, then not able to enjoy it if a line or dinner ran long because we would be missing our next appt. It didn’t feel like the old Disney. And, we are fanatics… we even honeymooned there!

  11. Essie says

    It’s def not for me. I’m glad that it’s there for those whose life it will make easier, but when I vaca at WDW (my fave place), I like to take things as I find them and plan them as they come. We like to plan out TS meals, but other than that, QS and rides are planned freelance with the Magic unfolding as it happens, just like Mr. Disney had planned it.

  12. Galloping Gourmond says

    This is a great idea. It sounds like Chili’s pickup window option. You don’t have to order this way or oder a week ahead of time, or book a seat. It’s an option. Less time ordering means that Disney can get more people through the line faster, they can get people out of the restaurant and back to seeing attractions or (I’m sure they hope) shopping at busy times. It’s a win-win-win if you ask me.

    It would be cool if they could make this Automat style. Link it to your magic band, walk up to a wall of windows, find the one with your name, and then use the band to open. Fast, efficient (and less messy personal contact for those of us who are more introverted.)

  13. Sarah says

    @ Becky:

    Yes, you’re right. After reading the article again I realize it doesn’t say how far ahead of time you need to order. I was thinking of the Be Our Guest process at Magic Kingdom where you ordered your meal when you made your reservations. This sounds like a much better option.

  14. Steph says

    We got the email invite for this yesterday. We are planning to try it out at Fantasmic just for fun. The app says no matter which location you choose, if you want delivery, to order once you are seated so the delivery person can locate you (through Bluetooth which you are prompted to turn on at the opening of the app). If you do pick up (which I believe is only available at Backlot) then it tells you how long the wait is. Neither option charges you until delivery. The Backlot pickup option specifies that if you don’t pick up your order, the order charges will be canceled out “at the end of the event.”

  15. Steph says

    Correction, no delivery for Backlot, just pick up or to go. Apologies. Not enough coffee yet.

  16. Katie says

    I just got and email inviting me to test this out. I’ll be at WDW next week and I might have to try this out for Fantasmic! It seems really cool and it will be nice not to have to wait in the long lines at the concessions stands. I can’t wait!

  17. says

    Tarantula — Not to our knowledge, but you never know when Disney will bring something like this back. Right now, I believe the only pre-order option available is Be Our Guest breakfast and lunch.

  18. Tarantula says

    Thanks Brooke. I hope that Disney always keeps things flexible for the spontaneous people (I know they’re out there somewhere lol!) but I really love it when they come up with *options* for the crazy planners like me. To me, being able to plan stuff ahead of time allows me to kick back and relax when we get there. I don’t like having to make decisions and constantly discuss plans while we’re there – I would just love to pick up my pre-ordered food and take it with me to a show that I FPed months ago, sit there munching and relaxing while everyone else wonders why don’t I have food right now. So beautifully seamless and calm :)

    Anyway, thanks for all the hard work you guys do on the blog, and I hope Disney keeps up the good work of giving all personality types options for their park experiences!

    Thanks again!

  19. says

    Tarantula — Haha! Perfect and exactly right! It’s great that they’re taking strides to appeal to both planners and spontaneous folks alike…and those of us who are somewhere in between. :-D

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