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California Grill for Fireworks and Dessert Question (50th Anniversary Dinner vs. Dessert)

sawtelle

New Member
Original Poster
Hi, We wanted to go to CG and watch the fireworks over Magic Kingdom... We have reservations and made them the usual way, yet, when we look at the reservation itself it shows "50th Anniversary Dinner...". Is this something that can be opted out of... We just want to have dessert/drinks having eaten in the park earlier that day. Thank you in advance...
 

danyoung56

Well-Known Member
Hi, We wanted to go to CG and watch the fireworks over Magic Kingdom... We have reservations and made them the usual way, yet, when we look at the reservation itself it shows "50th Anniversary Dinner...". Is this something that can be opted out of... We just want to have dessert/drinks having eaten in the park earlier that day. Thank you in advance...

I may be wrong, but I think for now you have to do the whole dinner. I don't think they're allowing just drinks/desserts, in an effort to increase dining revenue.
 

donsullivan

Premium Member
I may be wrong, but I think for now you have to do the whole dinner. I don't think they're allowing just drinks/desserts, in an effort to increase dining revenue.
The habits of people just going for ‘desert and drinks’ was also compromising the paychecks for servers. This is one of the more coveted server roles at WDW and draws the most experienced and highest quality servers to the location.

When people show up and just order desert and drinks it dramatically lowers the average ticket value, thus dramatically lowering the tip dollar value, thus lowering the income of the servers. This is one of the key drivers of lots of the pre fixe dining changes. People going to see the space but trying to get it as cheaply as possible, thus compromising revenue for the restaurant and tips for the staff. This is one of those changes that was triggered by guest behavior more than anything else.
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
The habits of people just going for ‘desert and drinks’ was also compromising the paychecks for servers. This is one of the more coveted server roles at WDW and draws the most experienced and highest quality servers to the location.

When people show up and just order desert and drinks it dramatically lowers the average ticket value, thus dramatically lowering the tip dollar value, thus lowering the income of the servers. This is one of the key drivers of lots of the pre fixe dining changes. People going to see the space but trying to get it as cheaply as possible, thus compromising revenue for the restaurant and tips for the staff. This is one of those changes that was triggered by guest behavior more than anything else.
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Chi84

Premium Member
The habits of people just going for ‘desert and drinks’ was also compromising the paychecks for servers. This is one of the more coveted server roles at WDW and draws the most experienced and highest quality servers to the location.

When people show up and just order desert and drinks it dramatically lowers the average ticket value, thus dramatically lowering the tip dollar value, thus lowering the income of the servers. This is one of the key drivers of lots of the pre fixe dining changes. People going to see the space but trying to get it as cheaply as possible, thus compromising revenue for the restaurant and tips for the staff. This is one of those changes that was triggered by guest behavior more than anything else.
Here’s an article explaining another reason restaurants are going to prix fixe at this time. But people going to CG for the fireworks instead of dinner is a long-standing issue.
 

donsullivan

Premium Member
Here’s an article explaining another reason restaurants are going to prix fixe at this time. But people going to CG for the fireworks instead of dinner is a long-standing issue.

Even before the pandemic, Disney was grappling with issues triggered by ‘cool’ locations that people wanted to see but they tried to do it on the cheap. BoG is a poster-child for this with people going in to get grey stuff and a beer only just to experience the venue. Or adults going into ‘fancy’ or ‘cool’ restaurants and ordering off the kids menu. The labor for the service staff is the same over the time that table is occupied but the check value is dramatically reduced impacting the restaurant and the server.

All of this skews the Revenue per Available Seat Hour (RevPASH) which is how restaurants manage revenue and costs. Every successful restaurant knows what their RevPASH target is in order to be profitable. If the RevPASH goes down because guests are ordering cheapest possible option, just to sit in the seat they don’t hit their targets to cover their costs which means they need to reduce labor, reduce menu quality, etc.. to get back above water financially. This isn’t anything unique to Disney, this is how the entire restaurant industry works.

And one of the ways to increase your RevPASH if this is happening is increasing prices.
 

UNCgolf

Well-Known Member
I understand the reasoning behind shifting to prix fixe (especially in lieu of the dessert/drinks issue as discussed above) but it's bad for consumers. A prix fixe menu generally offers much less value to diners, either because they don't want and thus don't order the more expensive items necessary to make the pricing work, or because they just don't want that much food in general. I almost never want a meal with a soup/appetizer, an entree, and a dessert, but with prix fixe you are paying for those items regardless.

That's not to say there aren't instances where prix fixe is a good value (I will always remember an incredible prix fixe meal I had in a small town outside Barcelona), but on average it is not. It's probably even worse at Disney since the overall food quality isn't especially great, even at places like the California Grill.
 

donsullivan

Premium Member
I understand the reasoning behind shifting to prix fixe (especially in lieu of the dessert/drinks issue as discussed above) but it's bad for consumers. A prix fixe menu generally offers much less value to diners, either because they don't want and thus don't order the more expensive items necessary to make the pricing work, or because they just don't want that much food in general. I almost never want a meal with a soup/appetizer, an entree, and a dessert, but with prix fixe you are paying for those items regardless.

That's not to say there aren't instances where prix fixe is a good value (I will always remember an incredible prix fixe meal I had in a small town outside Barcelona), but on average it is not. It's probably even worse at Disney since the overall food quality isn't especially great, even at places like the California Grill.

Unfortunately, at least at WDW this transition is caused by guest behavior. If guests were choosing a restaurant because they liked the menu and having a normal meal when they sat down, (regardless of the physical environment) this wouldn’t be needed.
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
I understand the reasoning behind shifting to prix fixe (especially in lieu of the dessert/drinks issue as discussed above) but it's bad for consumers. A prix fixe menu generally offers much less value to diners, either because they don't want and thus don't order the more expensive items necessary to make the pricing work, or because they just don't want that much food in general. I almost never want a meal with a soup/appetizer, an entree, and a dessert, but with prix fixe you are paying for those items regardless.

That's not to say there aren't instances where prix fixe is a good value (I will always remember an incredible prix fixe meal I had in a small town outside Barcelona), but on average it is not. It's probably even worse at Disney since the overall food quality isn't especially great, even at places like the California Grill.
It is bad for a certain type of consumer and that is kind of the point.

Every business, be it a restaurant, repair shop, or whatever has certain customers that they make a lot off of and ones that they make very little or even lose money on. When the customers that you make little to nothing on are taking up space that the customers that you make a killing on want and often can't get, it behooves you to cut the dead weight.
 

UNCgolf

Well-Known Member
Unfortunately, at least at WDW this transition is caused by guest behavior. If guests were choosing a restaurant because they liked the menu and having a normal meal when they sat down, (regardless of the physical environment) this wouldn’t be needed.

Yes I know, that's what I said -- and I'm fully on board with stopping it; it's a selfish practice in a place lacking dining capacity, especially at higher end locations. It hurts the staff and it hurts other guests who actually want to eat a meal.

It is bad for a certain type of consumer and that is kind of the point.

Every business, be it a restaurant, repair shop, or whatever has certain customers that they make a lot off of and ones that they make very little or even lose money on. When the customers that you make little to nothing on are taking up space that the customers that you make a killing on want and often can't get, it behooves you to cut the dead weight.

Prix fixe is bad for 99% of consumers outside of very high end gourmet restaurants. As I said in my comment, it's not just bad for people who are taking up a reservation/table to just eat dessert and/or have drinks, it's bad for people who want to sit down and eat a regular meal.

Generally speaking, prix fixe ends up costing diners more money than they'd otherwise spend by either forcing them to pay more for their food than it's worth (prix fixe pricing is typically based around the most expensive items, so diners are overpaying for the majority of options -- it's very easy to end up paying $15+ more for a prix fixe meal than that same meal would cost a la carte), or forcing them to pay for food they simply don't want (generally the appetizer and/or dessert selections).

We had a long discussion about this in another thread, and again, I understand why Disney is doing it. They're attempting to correct a problem caused by guests. The reasoning behind the switch is essentially irrelevant to my point that prix fixe dining is anti-consumer for the vast majority of restaurants, though. There are other ways Disney could have addressed the issue, although prix fixe is admittedly the easiest solution.
 
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donsullivan

Premium Member
……. There are other ways Disney could have addressed the issue, although prix fixe is admittedly the easiest solution.

I’m genuinely curious what these ‘other’ ways are that Disney could have addressed this issue in a guest friendly way at scale.
 

UNCgolf

Well-Known Member
I’m genuinely curious what these ‘other’ ways are that Disney could have addressed this issue a guest friendly way at scale.

None would be especially guest friendly, but it's not like prix fixe is remotely guest friendly itself so I don't really see that as a concern.

Doing something like requiring everyone dining to purchase an entree would be more guest friendly than prix fixe, albeit not as easy to implement. Prix fixe is essentially a more extreme version of that, though.

Again, though, I'm not angry that Disney did it. It's unfortunately anti-consumer, but they were essentially forced to do something.
 

donsullivan

Premium Member
None of them would be especially guest friendly, but it's not like prix fixe is remotely guest friendly.

Doing something like requiring everyone dining to purchase an entree would be more guest friendly than prix fixe, albeit not as easy to implement. Prix fixe is essentially a more extreme version of that, though.

I think the key issue with Prix Fixe is that it’s really easy to explain to nearly anyone- that’s kind of what I meant when I said ‘Guest Friendly’. You pay a fixed price and you choose one item from each category. The more complicated you make it- the more people will try and find a loophole to get around it

Given the broad diversity of guests at WDW, simplicity is often the best choice, even if it isn’t the cheapest.
 

UNCgolf

Well-Known Member
I think the key issue with Prix Fixe is that it’s really easy to explain to nearly anyone- that’s kind of what I meant when I said ‘Guest Friendly’. You pay a fixed price and you choose one item from each category.

Given the broad diversity of guests at WDW, simplicity is often the best choice, even if it isn’t the cheapest.

That's fair, and why I agree that prix fixe was likely the easiest solution (despite my strong dislike for prix fixe in most restaurants) to a problem that ideally wouldn't have existed in the first place. It's not Disney's fault, though.
 

Hockey89

Well-Known Member
The idea of going to the CG to just get a desert and a drink so it can be done cheaply but you still see the fireworks is what is wrong with this world. You have people trying to go there to really eat and servers trying to make a living.... Gross
 

Chi84

Premium Member
The idea of going to the CG to just get a desert and a drink so it can be done cheaply but you still see the fireworks is what is wrong with this world. You have people trying to go there to really eat and servers trying to make a living.... Gross
I wouldn't go as far as calling it what's wrong with this world, but I sure would feel uncomfortable going to an expensive restaurant during the most sought-after time and not ordering dinner. Clearly, the fireworks are meant as a perk to those who happen to be dining there during fireworks time. But as always, people do what they do and Disney responds, usually with something that is overly restrictive and lessens the experience for everyone.
 

danyoung56

Well-Known Member
It's probably even worse at Disney since the overall food quality isn't especially great, even at places like the California Grill.
I just can't agree with this. I've enjoyed many terrific meals at the CG, and regularly have an appetizer and dessert. So prix fixe doesn't bother me, as long as I can still find items that I like.
 

Chi84

Premium Member
I just can't agree with this. I've enjoyed many terrific meals at the CG, and regularly have an appetizer and dessert. So prix fixe doesn't bother me, as long as I can still find items that I like.
We enjoyed the prix fixe in October, but we're not dessert lovers so two desserts were pretty much wasted. We do love good wine, though, so we would have spent well over the price of a regular dinner; that's why I'm not thrilled with the change. At the end of the day, we were just happy to be there.
 

UNCgolf

Well-Known Member
I just can't agree with this. I've enjoyed many terrific meals at the CG, and regularly have an appetizer and dessert. So prix fixe doesn't bother me, as long as I can still find items that I like.

I don't think the California Grill is bad -- it's one of the better restaurants on property, although it's nowhere near as good as Flying Fish (at least in my experience). I just don't think it's worth the price they're charging, as I've had much better meals elsewhere for similar or even cheaper prices. That's mainly due to the Disney markup, though, and there are certainly many other restaurants on property that offer a lesser value.
 

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