In the old days … no, not in the old days. I’m talking about before the pre-Genie madness of the last few weeks. Yes, those easy times. Then I started a series of Power Rankings in the fall of 2021. First it was the WDW Resort Power Rankings, and then the WDW Table Service Power Rankings. And then I joined the Genie’s black hole for a while. But it’s time to get back to some of these important numbers to help you make decisions outside of the Genie realm.
Fast service locations at Disney World are constantly changing. They change their menus so that your favorites (or least favorites) from previous trips are no longer there. They try new items for special occasions. So how do you know where to go on your next trip? That is the purpose of these power rankings. We’ll classify each quick service location in WDW so you can easily compare between locations. But we also want to take into account recent changes in satisfaction, so we will do so by mathematically highlighting the most recent results from our satisfaction surveys. This means you’ll be able to see how locations have been trending (better or worse) recently and how they compare to other locations.
Explain the math!
Once you’ve taken your WDW vacation and then returned home (I hope you’ve used the wonderful TouringPlans travel agencies), you can fill out a post-visit survey to tell us about your trip. From here we extract all our satisfaction data for these fun analyzes and publications. And part of this survey invites you to give every dining place you’ve experienced an “Thumb Up” or a “Thumb Down”. I can then summarize all this data and group it by the location of the dining room. This allows us to see the percentage of responses that were a “thumbs up”. And this is the figure we present as general satisfaction in this place.
But this general satisfaction is not taken into account When the survey was filled out. A review from yesterday has as much weight as a review from 3 or 4 years ago (in those premature), if I do not introduce some arbitrary cut. In the ever-changing world of Disney’s fast food dining halls, even a review from a year ago shouldn’t matter as much as a review from yesterday. Therefore, for these fast service power ratings we will use a weighted average. If you’ve read the table service power ratings, you know what happens. If not, we will review it here again.
As with the other Power Rankings, we will keep the weighting fairly straightforward. We want the latest revisions to maintain their “total weight”. This means that they will maintain their full impact on the final score. But as we go back in time, we want to remove the “weight” of these scores so that older scores have less impact on the final score. We will do our “total weight” window for the last three months and then implement the following weighting system:
- 3 to 6 months ago – 1/2 weight
- 6 to 9 months ago: 1/3 of weight
- 9 to 12 months ago: 1/4 weight
- 12 to 15 months ago: 1/5 weight
- 15 to 18 months ago: 1/6 weight
What does it mean? It means that a review from yesterday (or 2 months ago) has 6 times more impact on the final score than a review from 16 months ago. This translates into a Quick Service Power Ranking that doesn’t ignore the past, but is most affected by recent revisions. When we return to these rankings in a few months, we will be able to see what changes happen in the Power Ranking. And that will give us a lot of new information about recent changes in satisfaction. For today, we will compare the power rating with the all-time average, to see what differences there are.
Which locations are at the top of the table service ranking?
- What amazes me is the dominance of Animal Kingdom on this list. I’m a fan of fast service at EPCOT, but Creature Comforts, Satu’li Canteen and Tamu Tamu are in the top three. Not a bad start.
- On the other hand, Magic Kingdom is the only “area” where there is no fast service location in the top 10. This doesn’t surprise me at all: most of Magic Kingdom’s fast service locations are pretty blurry overall.
The two EPCOT sites that make the top 10 reach places four and five. If you can visit EPCOT non-stop in Les Halles, you are a stronger person than me. They call me those cakes. Out loud.
- The only participant from Hollywood Studios in the top 10, Ronto Roasters is next on the list. If you read our face-to-face summary at Hollywood Studios, you know that Genie is sending a lot of people to Ronto Roasters for lunch. At least it’s a satisfying place for now; we’ll see if it stays that way, as it deals with the crowds that descend there.
- Completing the top 10 are two Disney Springs locations (Ghirardelli and Polite Pig) and two tourist locations (Oasis and Geyser Point). What have we learned here? If you want a good fast food restaurant, go somewhere with “Bar & Grill” in the name in the Magic Kingdom resort area.
Which restaurants are making positive moves in ranking fast services?
- To be the first list, the weighted average of a fall 2021 location had to increase it by at least 18 places compared to its all-time average. This means that, compared to other fast service sites, their recent reviews have been much better compared to all-time reviews. So these may not be the best restaurants in general (in fact, they aren’t even close by), but they are the ones you might want to give another try if you haven’t enjoyed them in the past.
The Java Bar is basically a place to grab and take to the Swan which also serves breakfast sandwiches as well as other sandwiches and salads throughout the day. He is ranked 97th (out of 122) of all time, but the weighted average takes him to 68th. It’s not a place you have to look for just because. But it’s good news if you’re staying at the Swan anyway.
- Of all the major positive drivers, Marketplace Snacks ranks closest to the top of the overall list of fastest service rankings. Want to know why? Because of Dole Whips and rum. Marketplace Snacks serves a variety of Dole Whip desserts and pineapple rum floats. There is nothing to dislike. Except, if you’re like me and you don’t like pineapple. I’ll trade it for chocolate, thanks.
- Interestingly, of this list only two of the most improved fast service locations are in the parks. There are so many on this list only in Old Key West. I don’t know if that says more about how things are going in the parks or how things are going in Old Key West. Turtle Shack and Good’s Food To Go are much improved, but they are still quite low on the overall list.
Which restaurants are making negative moves in the fast service rating?
- In order to make the list naughty, the weighted average of a fall 2021 location had to lower it by at least 22 places compared to its all-time average. This means that compared to all other fast service points, their recent reviews have been much worse compared to their all-time reviews. So if your past favorite is on this list (eek, I hope not), don’t expect it to be the same the next time you visit.
- The biggest drop we see is at Everything POP, which ranks 53rd overall overall all the time, but drops to 87th overall when we regret the recent revisions more. This is a big problem. The menu has burned since the reopening after the pandemic, and this dining area that was once a bit of a food destination now … isn’t.
- The next biggest drop is at Gasparilla Island Grill. Their menu hasn’t been as annihilated as some throughout the property, but the drop in score is probably a misalignment of expectations. The fast service to the Grand Floridian should be something special to impress the people who pay to stay there. And while the food here after reopening is fine, it’s certainly not something special.
- Snack Shack and Typhoon Tilly’s haven’t reopened, so those on this list are saying something about their declining pre-pandemic quality. It’s interesting to note, but it may not affect how these locations are if and when Typhoon Lagoon reopens.
- In general, there are many “eating areas” in resorts that appear on this list or that have barely missed the cut. Post-pandemic cuts have further hurt such locations.
What does this mean for you?
- The supreme park for fast-service dinners is definitely Animal Kingdom. There are many good fast service options. So if you’re looking for a day off to skip a table service meal, it’s a good choice. (I actually have it May had a table service meal at Animal Kingdom … shh … too many other good options.)
- In a world where resort resort areas are plummeting, the swan and the Old Key West seem to be staying and can become more attractive places to stay if a quick and convenient service to the your complex is really important to you. We will be watching them to see if this trend continues in our next update.
- Pop Century is a very popular resort. It is (usually) affordable and has good access to Skyliner and updated rooms. But if you’ve stayed before and gotten excited with friends and family about the great dining area, leave it at that. Don’t do it again. And reset your expectations before your next visit.
Were you surprised by any of today’s results? Do you have predictions for the big winners or drivers of the winter update? Interested in ranking another quick service location I didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!