Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In The Kitchen With the Chef (Mickey)

So the talk lately among the Disney community has revolved a lot around the characters. First on the list is the new character Duffy the Bear that's coming to Epcot, which has it's own debate surrounding it. But that is another topic for another debate. (And trust me...I have some strongish opinions on the issue.)

Instead this debate revolves around the changes that have happened at Chef Mickey's.

So, as the rumor goes, Mickey is no longer greeting guests at tables, but instead is greeting at the front where they take your picture, which they proceed to try and sell you later. Of course, then the rumors are also swirling that this has failed and Mickey is back doing what he normally does, meeting guests at their tables. Now, I haven't seen anything concrete one way or the other on this matter, so first, if you know for sure, please, let me know.

Now among the community, outrage has poured out from the beginning on this subject. Many are strongly against this measure and I've even seen some saying that if this were to continue, they would be canceling their reservations to dine here. They say that not getting "quality" time with Mickey is a deal breaker.

But it brings me to this question...

Why is this getting the outrage that it is? I mean I do get part of it. I get the fact that the only way to get your pictures taken with Mickey here is now by purchasing it...and many consider these packages to be a poor value (which coming from a's really not such a bad price, but that's also another fight for another day too.) And trust me, cost factor is always a good reason. And definitely a valid one...

But Disney already does this practice of meeting a character for a photo opp at some other restaurants. Restaurants such as Cinderella's Royal Table, Akershus, Tusker House, and 1900 Park Fare already take a character that meets guests and poses for pictures our front.

What makes people so upset about the idea of taking your picture with Mickey at the front at this particular dining establishment? So that brings me to a few options of reasons. And I can't tell which one it really is, or if it's a combination of all of them.

So, I've laid out a few of the issues I've seen and an option of maybe how to fix the problem.

Option A:

Is it because it's Mickey that's the one doing the meeting? I mean this restaurant is named after the Big Cheese himself, why wouldn't he "welcome" you to his restaurant? Would it be as big of a deal if they characters rotated? Would that appease people a little more?

Option B:

Then I wondered if it had to do with the commercial aspect of it. I mean this is a restaurant where getting a picture taken with Mickey is a big deal. He's a main reason why people dine here. But at Tusker House and 1900 Park Fare, they also do meets with photos and there are no complaints there. I know at Cinderella's Royal Table and Akershus the picture is included in the price of the meal...would that make people less upset? If you automatically got the photo included? Would you be willing to pay more then? (Which is of course, is something Disney would end up charging more for, I'm sure.)

Option B2:

And that brings me to my next question...what if you got your picture included in the price at all character meals...where at every meal, you would have to stop and pose with a character at the front? Would this be a better value to you? Would that turn you off character meals in general or would you still be willing to partake in them? Is this a viable option that Disney should consider?

Option C:

Ok, so like I've said before, Disney is in this business to make money...but what if Disney offered these types of photographic memories on their Photopass system? This may take the sting out of buying the CD because more photos would be included on it and Disney could still possibly end up selling the image by itself at a later date. Of course, they could maybe offer it at a more discounted rate at the restaurant, to try to help boost sales, but at least the option could still be there for the future if you decided later that you wanted it. Then, it wouldn't be AS big of deal that Mickey was only available for meets at the front, if there was other ways you could purchase the photo in the future, whether included on the Photopass CD or just as an individual print.

These were all musings I had in my head while going over this new "meet and greet" opportunity.

Of course, I'd rather see it be the way it was. Where Mickey gets to greet guests along with the other characters at the table.

But if I had to have one of the options I laid out, I think I would choose option A's solution. I can understand wanting to make more money off of those photo opportunities (ah...the business side crops up again) but I think that to include all the characters as options for the meet and greet, at least it wouldn't be as bad. It would take the sting out of things a bit more. You'd still get to meet all the just would randomly miss one. (Much like they do at 1900 Park Fare.) I think that's a little more fair in the grand scheme of things versus having Mickey be the one that won't come to your table every single time.

Although option C's solution definitely has some appeal as well. At least there would be a way to get the image at a "better" value. And you wouldn't have to buy the package either, you could buy just the items that you need.

So what do you think? Which option's solution would you rather see if you could choose one and Disney wasn't about to go back to the way things were? And what is your take on this whole issue? Make sure to let me know in the comments!


Cozyflier said...

Rikki, Now I'm going to have to go read my Disney Files magazine and see if there is any information about this issue.

I like I think C, the photo Pass. I always buy the CD because I'm such a scrapbook fanatic and think that the CD is a great value. I search out the Disney photographers now and make them take pictures!

I do think it is sad that Disney is changing things. After all, it is Chef Mickey's we go to the restaurant to eat and have one on one time with Mickey! The kids love having him come to the table. Can Disney NOT understand this?

Thanks for the info, I have been so busy, I have been out of the loop!
take care,

AA Preschool Events said...

I like having Mickey at the table. If I remember correctly, about 10 yrs ago you did a picture with Goofy. Since it is one of the few places you can eat with Mickey, I'd prefer to keep the interaction at the table with Mickey.

I hate when they print out all the pictures & then try to sell them to you at an added cost. The costs are raised to cover the costs for the people who don't purchase. It is quite a waste of resources.

Also, I prefer to take my own pictures. I often get better pics than the Photo Pass Photogapher

Jessica @ Wanting Adventure said...

I would love it if they offered the pictures on the PhotoPass CD! Paying an additional fee for that photo is frustrating, given the price of the buffet.

I think people are bugged by this because they want a snapshot of Mickey rather than just one photo. By putting him up front, people don't have that option.

angela s said...

I think if it were a different character it wouldn't be a big deal... but we go there to interact with MICKEY! It's the pictures of us hugging and talking to Mickey, the candid ones that we always end up loving best and framing, not the posed ones. Plus the meal is already so pricey... you're paying EXTRA, more than the meal is worth, because of the character interaction, and people go to Chef Mickey's specifically for Mickey. It would maybe help to have it part of the photopass CD, at least better than just having to purchase their package, but it was best the way it was before.

Holly said...

Two years ago when I ate at the Tusker House character breakfast, Donald walked around inside the restaurant, but this past January when I went, he was stationed outside as you mentioned. However, this did not prevent us from using our own camera; we actually asked the photopass photographer to use our camera, and he was more than happy to oblige.

Also, at Goofy's kitchen at DLR, they do this too (but it's usually not Goofy that you meet at the beginning, because he has to stay in the kitchen of course!). Personally, I like meeting the signature character at the beginning, because there is a nice background (not someone else's family stuffing food in their faces).

I also wouldn't mind if they switched out the characters throughout the day. One time, at Goofy's kitchen, Minnie Mouse was the one to greet us and pose for a picture. Halfway through our meal, I noticed that Pluto was there. Being my boyfriend's favorite character, I asked if we could take another photo. They even let us buy two of each instead of four of just Minnie.

Overall, you are still getting some great character interaction without waiting in line in the parks.