When Walt Disney World restaurants open or when their menus are changed over, it's pretty common place for Disney World fans to want to go try it out and review their experience. I know that I try check out restaurant changes whenever I can and then report back my findings. With ever rising prices at Walt Disney World across the board, does price even matter anymore in these reviews?
A few weeks ago I went back to the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant
at Disney's Hollywood Studios to try it out. For quite a while, I have not been a fan of the restaurant because of the mediocre, expensive food. Well as it turned out, some of the food was better than I remember but the price issue remained. So when I reported that although the food was better, it was expensive, I felt like I was telling people it's hot in Florida in July and expected it to be news to someone.
Following my Sci-Fi meal, I started thinking more and more about it and quite frankly, every restaurant in Walt Disney World is expensive. At this point, it's more of an issue of which of the expensive restaurants is not as expensive as the others.
That left me wondering if I should even bother mentioning if a restaurant is expensive? Does everyone assume prices are going to be high in the parks and they just accept it? Or does a $40-per-person charge to eat at Crystal Palace still surprise some?
Whether a restaurant is expensive or not is a relative thing. Typically when I eat at a table-service restaurant outside of Walt Disney World, I find a $20-per-person meal to be decent value for good food. That $20 should net each person an entree and beverage. If I go to an upscale restaurant where I may need to dress up, I would expect the food to cost more but by the same token I expect the food to be better than the $20-per-person restaurant. At Disney World, however, most restaurant pricing are so far inflated beyond the "outside world" that a $35-per-person meal seems like a bargain.
There is no question the prices Walt Disney World commands for its meals have something beyond just the food you eat. Often, as is the case at the Sci-Fi, the restaurant's decor, atmosphere and other "x-factors" all contribute to what you're getting. I do not think comparing a meal at Kona Cafe to my local Chilis is fair, but at the end of the day pricing is what a meal is often judged by. If Yachtsman Steakhouse charged only $10 for its steaks, every Disney geek out there would be booking up the place because the food is amazing for the price. By that same line of thinking, does anyone feel the food at Flying Fish Cafe at $35-40 per-person (for entree only) is what it's worth?
The comparison I draw is when I go to ballgames or concerts. I have seen concession stands there ask for $5-8 for a soft drink, which is lunacy. Even Disney World only charges about $2 for their drinks, which leads me to believe things could be worse. But when I am at a ballgame concession stand, I do pay $5-8 for a drink because I am stuck there and chalk it up to the price of the experience.
The conclusion I am beginning to draw for myself is when I review restaurants at Walt Disney World in the future, there seems to be little point in pointing out prices. Unless the prices are quite cheap or "Victoria and Alberts expensive", I cannot see a point to mentioning it. Perhaps like the concert arenas, inflated food prices are just par for the course.