It looks like the next phase of Disney dining technology testing is upon us!
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.
Express Order is the name of the free app that guests are invited to download in order to participate.
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.
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).
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.
Just tap the “Plus” icon to add an item to your order, and you will see your running total at the bottom.
When you select “Checkout,” you’ll see that you will not be charged until you receive your food.
Go over your order to make sure everything you want is noted, and enter the required email and credit card 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.
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.
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.
You can even add some of the “Made with Magic” souvenir items to your order.
A limited selection of beverages are available as well.
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!