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Disney is increasing its lead in the food war


Two months ago, we said that Disney was winning the food war against Universal. Today, we can report that Disney is looking to build upon that momentum already.

The story goes a little something like this: starting next Saturday, May 27 – the day that Pandora: The World of Avatar opens, not coincidentally – Mobile Order will be unleashed. Guests can use the My Disney Experience app to place, customize, and pay for their meals; once they’ve arrived at the restaurant, they hit the “I’m here” button, which tells the kitchen staff to begin cooking the meal, allowing it to still be fresh and warm when it’s picked up. A special window will be set up at the eatery, allowing Mobile Order patrons to skip the main standby line.

When Disney initially unveiled this program, it said that only Pandora’s Satu’li Canteen would be eligible on day one, but that other counter-service locations would be included by year’s end. Interestingly enough, the company announced just yesterday that this expansion would get started much more quickly than anticipated – this summer, in fact.

Three additional venues will be rolled into the new “wait-less” initiative, all of them located at Animal Kingdom: Pizzafari and Flame Tree Barbecue, located in Discovery Island, and DinoLand, USA’s Restaurantosaurus. While no exact date was given for their induction into Mobile Order, it’s generally believed that it’ll be within the next one or two months; after that, Disney is still promising that even more restaurants will follow all across Walt Disney World Resort.

The press release did come with some fine-print, it should be noted: during this “initial launch period” (which presumably means not only at Satu’li Canteen, but also at its Animal Kingdom brethren), several restrictions will be in place. For starters, only standard credit card transactions will be supported; anyone who wants to pay with cash, apply a discount, or use the Disney Dining Plan will have to use the old-fashioned standby line. Furthermore, if a special order has to be made due to dietary reasons – such as an allergy – the smart-phone app similarly won’t be able to handle that. We expect the company to incorporate these functionalities into the program moving forward, however – and hopefully well before 2017 comes to a close.

Meal at Satu'li Canteen in Pandora - The World of Avatar
All this can be yours with just the click of a button (or three)

Perhaps the biggest component of this sooner-than-expected rollout, however, is in how, exactly, Universal will respond; just this week, after all, it had revealed that it intends to expand its TapuTapu infrastructure to its two theme parks, allowing for the cashless payments and, presumably, Virtual Line management that will take place at Volcano Bay starting this month. If Disney is not only winning, but already increasing its lead, in the battle over food (what has easily become the dominant front of the themed industry this decade), then Universal will have to answer, and sooner rather than later.

Learn everything there is to know about Pandora: The World of Avatar in our complete guide.

And for continuing coverage of Animal Kingdom’s expansion, be sure to follow Orlando Informer on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest news, tips, and rumors at Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World, and other Orlando attractions.

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About Marc N. Kleinhenz

Marc N. Kleinhenz is the former editor of Orlando Informer.

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