Now that mobile ordering has rolled out to multiple counter service restaurants throughout Walt Disney World, we thought we’d offer some tips for using this time-saving service, along with our review of how it works. (Last updated August 21, 2018.)
In case you’re not familiar with this Walt Disney World service, Mobile Order is a relatively new option to order and pay for meals on-the-go with the My Disney Experience app. Think of this as akin to FastPass for Food, or FoodPass. (Because who doesn’t want “unlimited” FoodPasses for Restaurantosaurus?)
Rather than standing in line at a counter service restaurant, you’re able to place your order on the go from your phone, bypassing the ordering line and picking up your food directly at the counter when you arrive at the restaurant. It works similarly to how real-world locations like Starbucks utilize the service, except with a couple of twists.
As of Summer 2018, we’ve used Mobile Ordering dozens of times since originally publishing this how-to, and it has become even easier to use. It’s also expanded to a ton more locations, and has rolled out a new slate of features that make it even more appealing, beyond just the time-savings component of not waiting in line at counter service restaurants.
For example, Mobile Ordering “unlocks” certain Secret Menu items, such as the Pork Belly Burger at Cosmic Ray’s, which is pictured below.
Mobile Ordering is also now available at a variety of popular snack spots, so if you want to get a Dole Whip or the new Pineapple Upside Down Cake topped with Dole Whip from Aloha Isle, you can do that.
Suffice to say, we are big advocates of Mobile Ordering at Walt Disney World, and in this post, we’ll walk you through the in-app ordering process, with step by step screenshots…
If you start from the home screen of your My Disney Experience app, you should see the “Order Food” button just above your plans. (If you don’t see this, there’s the chance your MDX app hasn’t been updated in a few months, in which case you’ll need to do that first.)
Even if you aren’t at Walt Disney World right now, you can go through the motions to test out how this works. There’s no geofence on the service (just be sure you don’t hit purchase at the end!).
After hitting “Order Food,” you’re taken to a page with the current list of restaurants that offer Mobile Ordering.
Mobile ordering debuted at Satu’li Canteen in Pandora – World of Avatar, and has since been expanded to include pretty much every counter service restaurant in the theme parks and Disney Springs, from Flame Tree Barbecue to D-Luxe Burger.
Realistically, we’d expect it to be added to far more restaurants than just those on the list over time. Automation is sweeping the fast food right now, and rolling this out far and wide once testing at the above-mentioned restaurants is over amounts to savings in labor costs for Walt Disney World.
After choosing a restaurant, you are directed to the “Build Your Order” screen.
From there, click on whatever menu item interests you…
Naturally, I’m drawn to Flame Tree BBQ’s famous dish: A Salute to All Foods, But Mostly Meats. Currently priced at $20.
After adding the item to your order, and clicking the bag in the upper right corner of the screen, you can adjust the quantity of the item or add extras, like fountain drinks and desserts.
Unfortunately, this is where we uncover the Achilles’ heel of Mobile Ordering: the $150 order limit. What do you do if you feeding a baby T-Rex or are acquiring plates of food for Meatopia? I’m not entirely sure.
For those of us with smaller appetites who only need 7 meat samplers (plus a drink and dessert to wash it all down), the ordering system on the app is flawless.
At this point, you’d click purchase and get an order confirmation. Alas, I am sitting at home right now, so my Flame Tree BBQ fest will have to wait a couple months.
Here’s what the screen would look like, based upon our times using the app at Satu’li Canteen…
You could place your order waiting in line at Expedition Everest for a meal a few hours later, or even from a different park. Then, when you approach the restaurant, you’re given a prompt by the app asking whether you’re ready to eat.
Once you tap the “I’m Here, Prepare My Order” button, the app notifies the kitchen to prepare the meal. Depending upon whether you place your order near the restaurant or not, you may not see this screen immediately.
We found that this prompt appeared even before we were physically inside the restaurant. In the case of Satu’li Canteen, you can hit this button while perusing Windtraders (or traversing the quarter-mile of exit queue for Flight of Passage, probably) and you’ll be alerted through the app to pick up your meal at the Mobile Order pickup line.
The system should work similarly with other gift shops that are in close proximity to restaurants, restrooms, attraction post-shows, or what-have-you. This helps to shave additional time off of how long you have to wait for your food.
We decided to take advantage of the Mobile Order right at the start of a monsoon, when virtually everyone in Pandora – World of Avatar was rushing out of the walkways and into Satu’li Canteen at the same time to take shelter. This meant a crush on the ordering kiosks, and atypically long lines.
We placed a Mobile Order as we stood there, instead of getting into line. Our meal was ready around 5 minutes later, with a push notification that we could pick it up. This was a good deal faster than people we watched who got into line at around the same time as we placed the Mobile Order.
It worked flawlessly, which is honestly a bit surprising for a new feature in My Disney Experience. This is not to say every Mobile Ordering experience will be perfect; just as not every in-person ordering experience is perfect. Human error is always a possibility. As a system, however, Mobile Ordering works very well.
The usefulness of Mobile Ordering as a time–and sanity–saving tool cannot be understated. The ability to multi-task and place your lunch order while waiting in line for an attraction is nice. If you’ve ever braved the chaos that is the Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe at noon during peak season, you know just how convenient bypassing all of that will be.
While Mobile Ordering certainly will not save you 60 minutes (or more) of time like a FastPass for Avatar Flight of Passage or Frozen Ever After, it will save you anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, and also eliminate the stress of having to deal with potentially crowded ordering bays.
Currently, the only downsides to Mobile Ordering is it does not accept Disney Dining Plan credits and you cannot use discounts at restaurants that offer them, such as the Annual Passholder or Tables in Wonderland available at Flame Tree BBQ. This is a bit puzzling, as My Disney Experience “knows” about these affiliations (they’re listed under “Memberships & Passes” in the app). Hopefully, this is added over time because as convenient as Mobile Ordering is, I’m not forgoing my 20% discount on 7 meat samplers for it.
Overall, we consider Mobile Ordering a modest victory, and another incremental gain in terms of guest service offered by the My Disney Experience app. While the whole NextGen initiative had a rocky rollout a few years ago, improvements like this have certainly improved our sentiment towards the app. I know I keep harping on this, but hopefully bus wait times are next. Unless you have an affiliation discount (Tables in Wonderland, Annual Passholder, Disney Vacation Club) that is not recognized by this service or are on the Disney Dining Plan, there’s really no reason not to use Mobile Ordering if you’re dining at one of these restaurants.
Have you used Mobile Ordering at Walt Disney World yet? If so, at which restaurant(s)? How was your experience with Mobile Ordering? Any other additional tips or anecdotes to share about the service? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of Mobile Ordering? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!