Disney's Hollywood Studios testing mobile app pre-ordering at restaurants and during Fantasmic!

Apr 29, 2015 in "Backlot Express"

Posted: Wednesday April 29, 2015 7:04pm EDT by WDWMAGIC Staff

Disney's Hollywood Studios is testing pre-ordering of food and merchandise using mobile apps at Backlot Express and during Fantasmic!

In a move that could dramatically reduce wait times for quick service food, the Studios test will use the guest's phone as an ordering and delivery tracking device.

Backlot Express

The test at Backlot Express will comprise of two phases. 

  • From April 28 to May 4 2015, guests will be able to order from the app and pickup food at a counter on a tray for dine-in, or pickup in a to-go bag for take-out.

  • From May 5 to May 12 2015, guests will be able to have an order ready for pickup in a bag to take out, or have the order delivered to a table.


At Fantasmic!, the test will take place from April 28 to May 12 2015, and guests will be able to order from a food and beverage menu, along with a range of merchandise. The service will be available during the Fantasmic! pre-show and the first performance of the night only.

The service is made possible with the 'Express Order' app from VenueNext, and requires Bluetooth and location services to be available on the phone. You can download the app from the App Store now on both iPhone and Android.

In both cases, the order will be paid for at pickup or on delivery. Payment is via credit card or Apple Pay only. There is no cash option, or using Disney Dining Plan credits. 

Have you tried it yet? Let us know on the forum how it went for you.

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englanddgMay 09, 2015

GPS on a phone is not terribly accurate. It has a variance of about 15-25 feet at best. The number of towers in an area helps (rather, your position/distance between three of them). But, its not that great. That is fine when you are getting driving directions, but not for pinpointing a table. Bluetooth makes a lot more sense. That said, supposedly a lot of the LE infrastructure was installed to support the long range capabilities of the bands, so they could, I believe, piggyback this on that infrastructure if they chose. The question really is how much of that infrastructure truly exists. Wifi and improved cellular does, but those are different. It is hard to tell from the outside how complete their bluetooth mesh is.

RSoxNo1May 08, 2015

E-mails went out today asking people to test this.

BigHero4May 08, 2015

I think this is an awesome idea - especially for those of us with kids that we need to keep moving or else they become ticking time bombs... or is the time bomb considered part of The Magic?? Whatever, keep up the great innovation Disney!

MinnieWafflesMay 08, 2015

True. I love the idea of possibly ordering my lunch in line for Star Tours and having it ready and waiting for me when I'm finished. Maybe they need to use a GPS system with better range so it covers the whole of the park not just a small area of a QS.

englanddgMay 08, 2015

Seating is cheap if this takes off.

MinnieWafflesMay 08, 2015

I can see this being good for families- no need to take the whole clan over to order or send some to find a table and some go to order. Just order from the comfort of your table and the food comes to you. However, what will happen in busy times when they require you to have food in hand before seating? Unless proof of an ordered to table meal is enough for the CM.

englanddgMay 08, 2015

Eventually. Apple watches, and glass tops in general, won't take the beating that a band can. It will be a while (at least a few years) before you see this, I suspect. Bands, for example, are perfect for water parks. Apple Watches, are not. But, it will eventually happen, pushing the expense of hardware onto the consumer and they see it as a benefit. Software has huge margins after the development cycle. And then there is consumer adoption. Most of the retailers in my area accept touch pay (not apple pay, touch RFID pay), but I rarely see anyone in line use it, same with Apple pay.

WondersOfLifeMay 08, 2015

So when is Disney going to change "magic bands" to "magic apple bands" and use the apple watch concept?

englanddgMay 08, 2015

Bluetooth LE is NOT RFID in the classic sense. It's like the term "cloud" has come to mean "web hosted service"...it's just a term people who are non-technical use to describe technical things because they think it's the right phrase. Technically every web site you visit is "in the cloud"...so how is this new? It's this same ignorance that people who marketed "apps" for phones which were not much more than phone formatted websites vs real apps written for the platform (MDE is the latter) made a LOT of money the past 5 years or so... I'm not saying that's not a valid angle to take, but it's not an "app"...it's a website, running in a shell. I just get in a tizzy when some marketing guy calls it an "app"...when really he's harmless, he's not talking technically, he's talking consumer. To correlate it to something, it's like calling a torx driver and a philips head driver the same thing. They sortof are, in that they put a screw in a hole, but they interface completely differently, and are not compatible. The Band DOES use what is classically considered RFID for the touch aspects (room doors, purchases, etc...)

englanddgMay 08, 2015

Nah. No new "tech" with Magicbands. Just old tech with a new application and a spit shined public image (as most tech is). People confuse the tech with the application far too often, and the application with the concept to be frank (tablets were not "new" when the iPad came out, touchscreen phones were not "new" when the iPhone came out, smartphones were not "new" when the iPhone came out...all of this is consumer memory, not technical advancement...it was new to the masses, so it is "new". For example, I had a phone running PalmOS in 2003 that could surf the web, had a touchscreen interface, and could do pretty much everything that a 1st gen iPhone could do, and could do a heck of a lot more than the Blackberries of the time (when they really started to catch on) could...it could store and play music, it could play video...it even had a color screen (though the first model lacked it). Point is..."new" to the consumer market generally isn't "new" in the technology world. As far as putting in chargers...the real issue is digging up the concrete (what is under all the carpets at Disney), or sawing it (more likely) to run the power lines for the outlets, as well as circuit upgrades. Not undoable, but it's not as simple as running extension cords. It wouldn't take long (a week per venue would be generous...I've been around a lot of that style of work, and it can be done rather quickly), but it would involve restaurant closures and or construction drapes, and since they seem to avoid that at Disney (as they should), I'd suspect they'll just do closures. The receivers, on the other hand, are easily installed and easily hidden.

Jon81ukMay 08, 2015

Okay, I was led to believe that the long-range powered RFID was a different standard to Bluetooth. But yes, I did already know that Be Our Guest and the On-Ride Photo systems relied on the powered RFID. I assume the phone is only for the test and if they roll this out it will be MagicBand linked,. Charging stations at restaurant tables is a great idea though, just a couple of USB ports in each table is all that is needed (and of course lots of cable to the tables!).

englanddgMay 08, 2015

Same tech. Cel phones have had them for years. The Magicband uses 2 "RFID" chips (as they are commonly called, they are actually quite different). One is Bluetooth LE. The other is unpowered low range RFID. I'd suspect the difference lay in the fact that BoG was designed with enough LE receivers to get it down to a few feet. This system being tested obviously hasn't had that level of infrastructure investment. GPS alone off a phone has about a 15 - 30 foot variance, so that's not nearly accurate enough. So, when I first read it, and people said it was using GPS from your phone...well, I thought, that doesn't accomplish much except that I, as a server, get in your general area, and then start calling out your "order number" or something hoping you either wave your hand or are paying attention. I've heard it first hand from a CM friend who works at Fantasmic that is pretty much exactly how their test is going at that venue. Not a surprise for me, but it will get better if Disney sees the opportunity. I don't think it brings much to a stadium venue that other solutions couldn't do better, but for QS, it intrigues me. For this to work, it needs to be seamless service. But, as it uses Bluetooth, it's far more likely. That said, all these features they are adding is gonna drain the heck out of cel phone batteries. I hope they are planning for charging stations at tables (which, would be a rather nice addition, frankly).

Jon81ukMay 08, 2015

Does just make me think, why bother with bluetooth when they already have an RFID system that works at Be Our Guest. Link a MagicBand to the app, order from the app and get a location with the Band.

englanddgMay 08, 2015

Thank you for repeating me.