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Kevin Yee

Reader Feedback: Questions, Comments, and Corrections

Questions and Comments

Since many of you have great questions and observations of interest to everyone, this regularly updated section will try to address your restaurant concerns.

Feedback for 3/12/01:

Hi Kevin,

Having been an invited guest for all the events associated with the opening of DCA, I was immersed in the Disney Experience from February 5 - 11. Thought you'd be interested in hearing about my meals at several restaurants in the resort.

First one we tried was Rancho del Zocalo and the line system was rather confusing. Can't imagine how it will be when the place is packed. There was no wait at any station and also no host or hostess to direct us. We thought the service was good and the food very good. Prices seemed reasonable and the servings generous. The chili is a particularly satisfying dish and the barbecued chicken flavorful and juicy.   

The theming and decor in the restaurant are wonderful and the music enjoyable and really part of the dining experience in there.  

Next day was lunch at the Plaza Inn which we hadn't been in for several years. No longer offering the numerous selections of dishes, we found a fried chicken station, pot roast and a pasta entree. Also house salads and a Cobb salad and desserts.  Everything looked very good and I chose the chicken dinner along with the green salad. The servings again were very generous and priced fairly. The man ahead of me chose the pot roast and when I saw the large serving size, I went for the chicken. He was ahead of me at the register with his wife and as the CM was totaling his two meals he had a taste of the beef on his plate. His companion asked how it was and he said it was good but not very warm. The CM heard him and immediately told him she would get him another platter, took his plate and had the servers prepare another.  

The manager stopped by our table as we ate and asked us about the meal and we told him how pleased we were with the new, leaner menu and the food quality. We ate at Hollywood and Dine twice during the week and thought the food was good. Chinese one day and sandwiches and chicken noodle soup the next. Everything was good and the servings generous, but the serving CMs at the sandwich station seemed confused. Another stop at the Rancho del Zocalo Sunday night found us without a host or hostess again. I had planned to try the prime rib dinner which is the most expensive meal they have at $15.99. My companion ordered the combo platter and was served immediately while I was told my prime rib would be a 10 - 15 wait. This was at peak dinner hour of 7:30 p.m.

Not wanting to eat separately from my friend, I changed my order to the combo platter and we proceeded to the register. As the CM was ringing us up she asked if everything was alright and I said yes, but I really did have my heart set on trying the prime rib. A manager was standing at the register with her and asked what happened so I told him what the staff had told me about a 10 - 15 wait for medium rare beef. He said something wasn't right in the kitchen, apologized and thanked me for telling him and disappeared. We found a table inside and were barely seated and beginning our! meal when the manager appeared with a platter with a nice cut of medium rare prime rib on it. Told us it was compliments of the house and apologized again. Again, the food was very good that evening. 

We also ate breakfast 3 times at the Story Teller Cafe and found the food excellent. Huevos Rancheros one day and the beautifully presented buffet the other two. Also ate breakfast twice at Hook's Pointe and was pleased to find the servers from the old Monorail Cafe working there. I've known some of these ladies for years and it was nice to see them again and talk. The American breakfast was priced at $5.95 and seemed a very reasonable price for a Disney Hotel Restaurant. That included two eggs, potatoes, fruit and choice of ham, sausage or bacon.  

It is apparent that the Resort has really tried to upgrade food service.   

--- Frank
  

Dear Frank:

I think you've got the general idea quite right: Disney wants to elevate its reputation in food circles (and quite possibly among the large Annual Passholder crowd). I see managers - and even sometimes hourly guys - going to extreme lengths to make visitors happy. Thanks for the other assorted info here.
 

Kevin,

I was wondering if you could tell me if paying $225 extra on my package for 6 meal tickets is worth it. also do you think I can share them with someone and we could dine together or would they know all the meals were to be all for me? I've never gone to WDW before.

Thank you
 

Howdy,

You're talking about one of these package deals at WDW, right?

I would advise not getting the meals pre-paid. The only thing it does for you is remove uncertainty, but you end up paying as much (or more) than you would otherwise, plus you now do not have the freedom to choose seafood over Mexican (for example).

Part of the joy to the parks is walking around and "Discovering" things, including food!
 

Hello Kevin,

I've enjoyed many articles from MousePlanet and having been a Disneyland attendee for the last 40 years I am fascinated by some of the things I read about the IN's and Out's of this fabulous amusement park (I'm not a Disney maniac, I just enjoy the place).

I have been critical of a lot of the changes to some of my favorite attractions (I'll never get over the loss of The Carousel of Progress), but I have to say that your almost childish, girlish caveat of your experience at the new Mexican/BBQ restaurant was a bit over the top. My wife and I spent last Friday at the part to celebrate my 8 year old daughters birthday. We are a family of 5 and so it is a bit too expensive for us to visit DL as much as we used to so this day was a real treat.

Now for budgetary reasons when it come time feed a family of 5 we really need to take into account the cost of a meal with the quality of the food. After visiting 4 or 5 eateries we decided to try the new restaurant. I knew what I was getting into price wise thanks to your article so the cost was not a shock. What was shocking was the size of the portions each of us were given upon ordering? My wife and I had Mexican food as did my two daughters and son. I also ordered the BBQ variety platter, because I can never turn down barbeque.  

The size and quality of my Tostada Ensalada was magnificent. The lettuce was very fresh and the ingredients were fantastically assemble. It not only tasted great, it looked good as well. My wife thoroughly enjoyed her tacos as did my children. Now about the BBQ. What can I say about the BBQ? The chicken breast was delectable with the meat being very tender and juicy. The Ribs were scrumptious. The meat just fell off the bones. It was wonderful. 

I just think your first impression was way off. Maybe you need to give it another go and try it by yourself without the burden of trying to impress any guests. 

SAL G
 

Dear Sal:

I don't what you mean by my "girlish caveat." You consider it man's work to eat things you don't like? Have it then! :)

And I'm not quite understanding your final paragraph. I ended up quite happy with Rancho. And what guests was I impressing? You've confused me.

Thank you, though, for sharing your experiences. I'm sure other readers find it helpful to hear about other dining examples.
 

Hi,

I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your food columns. I can't believe the Harbor Galley is going to replaced by MCDONALD'S my 9 year old will eat nothing else at DL now! Your article brought back found memories of popcorn shrimp and garlic bread. YUMMY!

I was also saddened at the closing of Big Thunder BBQ. I hadn't eaten there for years. We visit from Phoenix and my family has now grown to 5! It takes a larger budget to visit the park now. Our youngest is just 2 and he will be on his third trip to DL in March. Unless you count the trip when I was pregnant with him.

Just thought I would let you know the columns are great and the whole site is terrific. I have only been reading it about a month now, but have enjoyed every article.

Thanks,
Melinda
 

Dear Melinda:

McDonald's has yet to move into Harbour Galley, of course. Plans last year called for it to be here by now, so who knows - maybe we'll get lucky and dodge that bullet. I'd love to print a retraction to that effect.

The BBQ had simply wonderful atmosphere. Many of us will miss it.
 

Kevin:
I regret to say that today is the first time I have been informed of the impending McDonald's plans for Critter Country in Disneyland.  This is truly an outrage. Is there anyone or anywhere that I can write a letter of protest? City Hall comes to mind, but is there someone higher up with an accessible e-mail or snail mail address that I can vent my frustration to?

Thanks and keep up the good work...
MG
 

Dear MG:

Well, as noted above, it's not happened yet. And I'm not, as a rule, much of a fan of the grass-roots efforts. Nevertheless, I cannot deny your simple request, since it can never hurt! Write to:

Cynthia Harriss
Disneyland Resort
1313 N. Harbor Blvd
Anaheim, CA 92803
 

Kevin,

The parents of finicky kids will appreciate McDonald's in the Park. The dissenters should look on the bright side. Those noisy bratty little kids won't be at their favorite eating spots.
  

Dear Reader:

This is a simple, yet accurate statement. In defense of my argument, though, let me point out that the fact remains: McDonald's would be visible in Disneyland if it moved in. Isn't Disneyland's New Orleans Square supposed to be a place removed from actual reality? McDonald's just brings that back in.

I think McD is a better fit over in Paradise Pier, but I still resent it sometimes.
 

Kevin,

As a former Cast Member at WDW and as a person who has opened EPCOT, Disney-MGM and DAK I read your (and all the opening trouble) article with interest. I wanted to add to your perspective about the troubles at Mondavi's.

First, with the exception of EPCOT and World Showcase, all the new Disney Parks have struggled with sit down service restaurants. At the Studios, the Brown Derby has found an audience but does not always get full except of truly busy days. At DAK, Disney didn't even bother to put in a sit down and allowed Rainforest Cafe to build (but notice it has the option of accepting non-park guests) there. The problem is as you have stated that families are not looking for an expensive sit down meal during the day. Even the Castle has added character to that dining experience. And the people who do like sit down dining experiences, older guest, probably are not attracted to the park.

Second, When do people want to sit and have a nice dining experience? At night. Even World Showcase Restaurants aren't busy at lunch. The problem with DCA is that there is nothing there at night to hold the guests in the park. If there were a large night time show or parade then the guests would plan a nice dinner then the show as part of their experience. Without that must see attraction to stay in the park Mondavi's will not stand a chance to attract the upper clientele.

Lastly, My guess is that Disney sold Mondavi's a much more rosy picture of the possibilities than the reality of what the park was going to do even if it were busy. The reality (and Disney knows this... why else no Disney run sit downs at DAK)? Is that DCA was always to be a family park. Paradise Pier tells you what type of park it is. And families do not want to sit down for a nice meal with kids and at that cost. I have spoken to many participants over the years and they have always commented on how the picture they were sold in the park was different from the reality.

Do I think Disney lies? No. Do I think they paint an overly optimistic picture? Yes. That is their job. It is a shame and I think it is one of the reasons sponsors drop out after their contract. I don't know about CAL, but in FLA we lose a lot of our smaller sponsors at the end of their contract. When I asked one sponsor if they would renew, he laughed and said "why, we are losing money here." We were told that we would make a lot and the exposure here would be great. It costs us a lot to be here and we are bound to Disney rules and we see no effect from that exposure outside of Disney. Interesting.

Well, this went on far too long. And I may have rambled some. Sorry for that. Keep up the good work.

Steve
 

Dear Steve:

Oh, this is not rambling. You brought up some tremendous points for us all to consider! I agree that Disney does paint a rosier picture than they should, but I also agree this is their job.

Your other points are equally valid, but they get echoed by others so let's move on...
 

Kevin,

The person who wrote about the lack of large cups of tea should know that the reason the CM did not give them a soda cup for hot tea is because the soda cups are made of a different material and will melt. They should be happy to note that DL recently started offering hot drinks in 2 sizes.
 

Dear Reader:

I know just what you're talking about. Sodas are served in wax cups, coffee in styrofoam. We used to have a water refill station with wax cups at the Cafe Orleans right next to the coffee refill station.

I saw plenty of folks take the free wax cups and try to get coffee without paying. I'd let them, because I knew how it would turn out: within 30 seconds they would get wax floating everywhere and undrinkable coffee. Some even had the gall to complain about it.
 

Kevin,

My daughter and I love Disneyland. She is a vegan however and the only two places that have a "real" meal for her, (that we know of for sure) are The Blue Bayou, (portabella mushrooms) and Critter Country with a vegan patty. Is there any place else that serves up a decent meal, (not just a veggie bowl, or salad). We would appreciate knowing. Also if there are any places at California Adventure. Thanks do much. 

Thank you,

Sue
 

Dear Sue:

I do not have a complete answer for you, I'm afraid. My only method of compiling the existing vegetarian list is to go through the giant list of items by hand and select ones. I'm not positive what is vegan at the Park, and in fact I'd be pretty suspicious about sauces and preparation methods if I were you. Probably best to bring food yourself with you.

California Adventure has many locations that offer food, but sadly nothing leaps to mind as purely vegan. I'm sure there are such items, I just don't know them all yet.

Did you glance at the "menu items and prices" website I run here on MousePlanet? The link is at the top of this page, on the right side.
 

Kevin,

Excellent article on the Mondavi exhibit in DCA!

It seems to me that if you are going to spend $12M on a project in a theme park, that you should know a little about a theme park's clientele.

If you are paying $40+ per person to get into a theme park, you are going to attempt to get the most out of your money. Sitting in a restaurant, no matter how nice or what the view is (Paradise Pier is not exactly a view IMO), sipping wine is not making the most of your $40+ entrance fee. Theme park patrons would rather have a quick bite with expedited service in a cafeteria style arrangement or fast-food style. Then it is off to get in line for Soarin' again or maybe taken in the view of DCA while riding the Ferris Wheel. Add the insulting prices they must be charging after you have paid your admission price and no wonder they are turning away in droves.

The winery would have done much better in Downtown Disney than inside a park. To get to the winery now, you have to buy an expensive admission ticket. But, if you were a local or an adults without kids, a winery sponsored restaurant with good food would be a nice change of pace to the Disneyland Resort. After you feel that you have gotten your admission's worth of DCA or Disneyland you could unwind with a glass of wine and an elegant meal.

I guess no one even thought to look and see the percentages of families attending the resort that are probably not interested in visiting a winery at all. Maybe Disney painted a rosy picture about how DCA will draw a much more mature crowd and they will be flocking to eat and and drink at a winery inside a theme park. If that is the case DCA certainly is not coming through for them, and I doubt it ever will. Mondavi certainly had the wool pulled over their eyes. Whether they did it to themselves or allowed it to happen by Disney, they easily could have looked at their own operation in Napa to see if they drew a crowd that modeled the crowd attending a Disney resort.

Denis E
 

Dear Denis:

You think a lot like many other readers who have written to me. I agree that the food service part of Mondavi "fits" better in Downtown Disney, but what of the brand awareness and education?

Also, I should mention that you and I may think no one wants expensive theme park food, but this is not completely the case, as we'll see in a few letters below....
 

Hi Kevin,

Great article on the Mondavi winery, by the way. 

I think I have a solution to the tepid response to the winery so far... and it really is common sense. My fiancˇ and I are wine lovers and we regularly take trips to Temecula and visit the wineries. Its always fun to do the wine tastings, and its very inexpensive to plunk down the requisite $5, get a free glass and 4 glasses of wine. We inexpensively enjoy a number of higher end wines and usually end up picking up a $25 dollar bottle of a vintage we particularly enjoyed.

We were expecting a similar situation at DCA, only to be knocked out by the outrageous prices, even for a wine tasting. $5 at the least for a glass is NOT a wine tasting experience, its an attempt to sell wine, NOT to introduce a new style to the public. If Mondavi used the method that the REAL wineries used I can guarantee you their profits would soar from people who normally wouldn't buy wine.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.

Joeybats
 

Dear Joeybats:

I'm not all that wine-literate, so I was unsure if $5 to $8 was an outrageous price for a glass of wine. Now I know.

You're right, a cheaper tasting alternative would do much to goose their sales. If nothing else, it would draw attention to the place, which frankly right now can never make money if it's always deserted: people think it's an empty building. Crowds attract crowds - one of the first rules of running a restaurant.
 

Hi Kevin,

Epcot shows that tourists will pay for expensive in-park meals. I think the real problem with Mondavi's restaurant is the overall problem with DCA - there's no reason to go to DCA because there's nothing to do that warrants $43 to get in. 

I'm a die hard Disney fan with hundreds of visits dating back to 1964. But all who know me are amazed that I haven't been to Disneyland since 1999 and find no reason to go now. Even Epcot, which is heavy on shopping and dining, has sufficient attractions to keep guests entertained and not feeling like they paid money to go into a shopping mall. But Disney still hasn't figured this out with DCA - had they decided to go ahead with one or two more original attractions, such as a blockbuster Armageddon attraction, I might have been persuaded to plan a trip, but they're going to put in a kiddie-show stage and Ursula spinner ride instead. Why in the world would I want to take my family to go see those? 

And I'm precisely the kind of patron who would buy the prix-fixed lunch or dinner at the Vineyard dining room (without the wine - seeing as we're Latter-day Saints and don't drink alcohol). So I don't think we need to blame Mondavi - we need to blame Disney for building a park where the attractions are only an afterthought in the planning and the budget, for building a park no one wants to see.

Bryan W
  

Dear Bryan:

I should clarify that I'm not attempting really to blame anyone. I'm more just pointing out an unfortunate situation which results in both Disney and Mondavi "losing." And the customers, for that matter.

Your attitudes toward DCA are ones shared by many potential visitors. But not all! There are those who find DCA entertaining... though I admit these are mostly locals happy to have another Disney park in the area.
 

Kevin,

Mondavi is a piece of Epcot's World Showcase at DCA. The problem right now (to me) is that they restrict you from leaving the area with a glass of wine. I didn't buy a glass of wine the first time when I was told I had to enjoy it there -- killing off the time it took to "enjoy" the wine while I could be walking and exploring the park. We did end up buying two bottles of wine, several glasses during our two days in the park, and going through the $10 wine tour (which included four half glasses of wine at the end -- a good deal). I've never done something like this before at Epcot, but it was just so easy to do and enjoy at DCA.

I believe once DCA opens up their liquor restrictions, like Epcot did, it will help Mondavi out quite a bit. Note the "sign" at the Taste Pilot's Grille in Condor Flats on a post near the right side (facing the building from the walkway). It looks like it is metal and permanent, but its just foam board printed to look like metal -- the "keep your alcohol here or else" sign is totally temporary. (A few other areas issue the yellow cups you can walk around in.)

Honestly, I think just allowing the wine to be carried around and perhaps allowing them to open up "wine carts" in other areas will be a big boost. I'm not a wine drinker (when I drink it, I drink cheap stuff ;) but I now have found a Mondavi I will look for anytime I dine or shop. I was never much of a drinker and don't ever want to see it in the U.S. Magic Kingdoms, but enjoying a cold beer or a glass of wine while hanging out at Disney is by far my best "drinking experience" :-)

Allen
 

Dear Allen:

Thanks for writing in. There are folks out there like you, and I think Mondavi is banking on you actually being something of a large minority (to the tune of 2 out of every 7 people, in fact). 

Opening up the liquor restrictions is an interesting idea. Would it help? Maybe. Maybe... I'm not convinced that it's just the restriction keeping folks from buying. I think it's the price.

And don't forget: DCA is a much different audience from EPCOT. At DCA, you have an awful lot of locals, a lot of annual passholders, and an audience that skews a bit younger and includes more teen groups than EPCOT. Liquor restrictions might stay in here.
 

Greetings!

The Mondavi article was great! Some wonderful pictures and information.

As a resident of Gilroy, California, I live next door to several wineries and the last thing I want to do is drive 400 miles, pay $43 for a ticket to DCA, and see another winery. I think Mondavi and Disney missed the point here. The new park is supposed to be an adventure, not a museum. Believe me, there are few things less adventuresome than watching grapes grow.

Thanks for all the great articles.

Don H
 

Dear Don:

Well, to be fair here, you are not the target audience. A family from the frozen north - say, Minnesota - that's the target. They don't have wineries there! (Whether Disney was dumb to build a park that doesn't much cater to the locals is another issue, and a longstanding debate).

As for grapes being boring, I have to admit I felt the same way... and yet "Seasons of the Vine" is an engrossing movie. For me, at least. Your mileage may vary.
 

Kevin,

I enjoyed my dining experience at the Vineyard Room on the last AP holders preview day, and the menu prices were full price not half price as stated in your article. Also I have been twice since and it has always been a full house. Does this website have a vested interest in publishing negative articles about DCA? I have yet to find a objectively written article on this website and find this just another example.

Bryant
  

Dear Bryant:

First off, I'm glad you enjoyed your experience there!

I have never seen Mondavi have a full house, and I've checked quite a few times. In fact, most times I've looked, the Vineyard room was either 100% empty or very close to it.

(Al Lutz's note: I can confirm that last Saturday night, we ate at Mondavi's (we did the four course wine tastings menu) - and basically during an early dinner shared the room with one other couple. A larger party was scheduled that night (according to the waiters) but even they lamented that business was very slow. As we left one other party arrived besides the group scheduled.

We had a similar situation at Avalon Cove - and the staff also commented business was very slow there.)

MousePlanet has no vested interest in negative things about DCA. We here just call it as we see it! I could go on and on about the wonderful things Disney produces, and I usually do when I'm talking about the marvelous cast members at the parks.

Also, please note that I very much want to see Mondavi succeed, and said so in the article itself. The food, employees, and company behind it all are top-notch. From my perspective, I'm reporting the emptiness of the restaurant, not causing it.
 

Dear Mr. Yee:

I would like to comment on your recent article "Mondavi's Hangover". Your observations regarding the situation at the restaurant appear correct to me. My family and I were at the Disneyland resort from February 7th through the 14th. While visiting DCA, we considered having lunch at the Vineyard Room.

As you probably know the weather in California during that week was cool and rainy. We were surprised to see that the Vineyard Room was all open air seating. While we would have happily spent $50 per person for a nice lunch and to experiment with wines, we decided against doing so for two major reasons. First, if I'm spending over $50 / person for lunch, I certainly do not want to be freezing the entire time. I believe that once the weather gets back to normal in California, their business should pick up because it will be a nice place to relax and watch the people pass by.

Second, we were disappointed to learn that when choosing the price fixed meal, the entire table must share the same entrees. My family prefers to experiment and when each member of the family can get a different entree, it makes the meal more enjoyable. I think the chef would be wise to alter the menu to allow every member to choose their own meal.

Also we declined to participate in the opportunity to taste some of their vintages. We did not want to spend $5 - $8 per glass to taste test wine when we could buy a decent bottle for around $12. When we are at Epcot center, we usually buy a glass of wine in France or Germany. I know they don't charge that much.
 

Dear Reader:

A number of good observations here. Thanks for pointing out that the Vineyard Room is open-air, I'd forgotten to mention that. And the sharing of the same entrees is another great point that needs to be said.

I wonder what the price of a glass of wine is in the EPCOT pavilions?
 

Kevin,

Attendance levels are down at DCA. If they would still be offering dual passes to Disney (annual) passholders it would solve a lot of their problems. It rained almost every weekend day in Feb, and early March so that affected the turn out. However passholders go into the parks after work (myself included) and grab dinner and walk around in the process. We also buy sweatshirts if its cold, etc. 

I only have the Disneyland Premium passport. I was waiting to see if it was worth it to purchase the DCA passport as well. Well it was worth it but now I can't purchase it, which also means I can not go into DCA and spend my hard earned money. I would have no problem putting down $80.00 for dinner and a bottle of wine at Robert Mondavi's restaurant. But I will not pay park admission and pay for dinner for a night that consists of about 3 hours. See what I'm getting at. Disney missed getting the dollars from their most faithful followers. 

By the way we attended the premier passholder weekend event on Feb 3, and 4th. I bought tickets for both days and stayed at The California Grand hotel for the night as well. Do you know that they treated us like criminals every time that we tried to go from the park into the Hotel we were asked for identification to show we were hotel guests. They had a very nice gift shop in the Hotel but they won't allow the general public into the hotel lobby or the hotel restaurants. That has to be effecting their dollar intake as well. As well as making Disney customers feel like they are not worthy. Very bad management decisions in my opinion. Thank you for the forum to voice my opinions. I appreciate it.

Michelle S
 

Dear Michelle:

It's a tough situation for Passholders shut out of the park for now. I wish Disney hadn't done that. It would be more fair if they allowed no upgrades at all, actually. Now it's a two-tiered system, sigh.

I think you are right that Mondavi is suffering slightly from the lack of AP's. The fact that DCA is not busy may not be a temporary thing, though... we tend to believe the park just isn't the draw Disney hoped it would be. At least, not yet.

Still, let's remember that AP's are almost universally local folks. Will they spend $50 for a meal or $8 for a glass of wine? Some of them will, sure. But enough of them?
 

Kevin,

As the father of 3 children I wanted to put my 2 cents in about why Mondavi's may never reach the type of capacity that they either hoped or were promised.

1) We live on the east coast so we visit WDW more often then Disneyland. By the time we pay to travel, hotel, tickets and stuff we are very careful about the rest of our budget. This means that we usually do fast food most of the time and usually one nice sit down meal.

When choosing a restaurant I have to balance my wife's and mine interests along with the needs of my children. So that more often than not means one of the themed restaurants. (My kids love Prime Time and Sci Fi) We can have a nice meal and the kids feel special.

2) DCA strikes me more like a Six Flags Park than a Disney park. So if I were to visit I probably wouldn't have expected a nice sit down restaurant in the park. And if we are going to do a nice dinner I would probably look off property than at Disney. (Mondavi sounds nice but not nice enough to hold me in the park late)

3) My guess is that I wouldn't stay in DCA too late after dark, which would be around dinner time, without an evening event in the park (can we say Electrical Parade or Fantasmic?) Something that would give me a reason to keep my, by this time cranky, kids out for an evening in the park.

4) People who might use this type of a restaurant, young singles or married on dates or older folks with grown kids, as a date night type of restaurant have a lot of choices not only in the Disneyland Complex but in the surrounding area. Not to mention the need to park and walk to eat.

I believe that sit down restaurants have always had a tough time making it in theme parks. They either need to offer an incredible eating experience or an incredible themed experience to attract people who are rushing from ride to ride. While Mondavi's may be a nice place with good food, I think they will always have a tough time finding an audience.

Thank you for your informative articles.

SJH
 

Dear SJH:

It's interesting that Disney largely gave up on full-service restaurants at Disneyland (the Bayou is the only one left!) and yet offer so many in Downtown Disney and DCA.

I don't think people resent full-service or just want fast food. I think some do want to be on their way real quick, yes, but I think there is a market for sit-down restaurants. However, and this is something they are not understanding, that market will not pay for very expensive sit-down restaurants, especially if the theming doesn't catch their fancy. The prices are just too high at Mondavi. I know, I'm a broken record by now.
 

Hey Kevin,

I was reading your article about the problems Mondavi are having with there investment in DCA. I was very sad to hear they are doing so poorly.

My wife and I were at the park on opening day. We wanted something light to eat for lunch, and being a wine fan, I suggested the deli at Mondavi. It was the perfect place to pick up sandwiches. We WERE the only people eating there at 2:00 that afternoon, but the sandwiches were Very VERY good. Exactly what we were looking for: No wait and good, relatively inexpensive food.

An added plus to lunch was my very pregnant wife had a craving for salmon, and to our delight they have smoked salmon for sale in the the deli too.

We also enjoyed the Wine Ambassadors displays. It was very interesting to see how different scents could be brought out in wine. AND as much as people complain about Paradise Pier and the San Fran areas, the outdoor patio provides very nice surrounding views. Very nice way to rest our feet and sit off the beaten path.

And I guess that is what your article was saying. The Mondavi Vineyard is very much off the beaten path, even though it sits on the main thoroughfare in DCA. It really is too bad people are passing this GREAT area by. Not only is the food good, the service was great the people were nice, and there is LOTS of seats. I pray that other people recognize this wonderful area of the new park. I really is a nice place and something that shouldn't be missed.

As a sidebar thing, how are the Tortilla and Bread attractions doing? Are they having the same problems as Mondavi??

Thanks for all the great work.

Tim
 

Dear Tim:

I've heard nothing but good things about the Mondavi deli. I think I'll have to get my sandwiches there from now on.

You raise the issue of great service. This is something else I didn't mention for the sake of brevity, but I've heard the same thing from everyone who's been to Mondavi - the staff is truly excellent. The fact that the restaurants are not busy only means they have time to lavish even more attention on you.

Tortilla and Bread exhibits aren't restaurants, so I haven't paid particular attention to their numbers. I can report that these things never have a line outside them. I can also say that simply sitting at the exit to those exhibits is enlightening. I don't think anyone finds them "fascinating."
 

Kevin,

A nice article on the Mondavi complex, but I totally disagree with you on why it is failing. I recently visited the Disneyland Resort for three days. I like wine. I'm willing to pay a lot for a good meal. But I see 4 problems with Mondavi. They are:

1) DCA has been EMPTY. The park itself is getting only a fraction of the predicted crowds. If the park is empty, of course Mondavi is going to be empty too.

2) The weather. It has been a VERY odd weather year. Here in Seattle it has been sunny every day for 6 months. In L.A. it has rained every week for months. This further diminishes crowds.

3) The prices are too high. I'm willing to spend a lot to eat, but not this much (you hit on this).

4) The theming is not good enough. I considered eating here (at Disney World we eat at nothing but sit down restaurants), but decided against it. Why? 

a. there's nothing unique about the restaurant. Unlike World Showcase at EPCOT or eating in the castle at WDW or eating underwater at Living Seas, there is no unique hook. Its too much like any restaurant available outside the park. 

b. Even with the theme it has, there is no good view. If I'm eating in "wine country" I want my view to be of wine country, not Paradise Pier or other lands in the park. c. all the seating is outdoors in uncomfortable looking chairs with limited theming.
 

Dear Reader:

Good call on the theming thing here. I found it reminiscent of Napa buildings, but you're right, it's not much of a "hook."

Otherwise I'm not sure how you can see we disagree. I agree with everything you're saying here. Too expensive, bad weather, and low DCA attendance. 

Also note that low DCA attendance is something I predict will not change, at least not dramatically. And if DCA is going to continue to have low attendance, then Mondavi, for whatever reason, is going to continue to have some real headaches.
 


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