Times they are a-changing and the economy is tough all around. It’s not unusual to pay $2 to $4.00 just for a bottle of water at a ball park or amusement park.
But $48 for a coke?
How did this happen?
My family and I were recently on vacation at Disney World, which pretty much by definition elevated the cost of most ordinary things right there. We dined at the Garden Grill Restaurant in EPCOT at The Land pavilion. We have dined there many times before on their rotating restaurant and have always enjoyed a good experience.
But on this particular occasion, my youngest son ordered a coke but did not eat the meal, which is served family style. The waiter asked about this, and cleared his clean plates dutifully.
When it came time to settle the bill, our waiter announced that he “had” to charge my son the full meal price.
Naturally, I questioned him about this, pointing out that he knew he hadn’t eaten and cleared the unused plates and utensils himself.
He was very sorry, though he didn’t sound sorry, but told us that it was the restaurant’s policy. He would have to check with the manager. My daughter’s friend, who was on a separate check, paid $48 for her meal, drink, tax and tip, so it was not an inconsequential amount of money we were talking about here.
Now here is where it gets really interesting. We have been coming to Disney about every other year since 1994. We are members of the Disney Vacation Club. I would hazard to say that we ate at the Garden Grill restaurant all but one or two of those times, as it
is was one of our favorites.
My youngest son is our pickiest eater. This is not just an issue of what type of food is served as it also is where the food is served. He ONLY eats steak–prime rib–at Outback. He won’t eat steak at LongHorn or Texas Roadhouse. He will not eat it here or there, he will not eat it anywhere but Outback. He will eat spaghetti at Olive Garden with tomato sauce. He has NEVER ordered anything else at Olive Garden. He will not eat spaghetti anywhere else. If we eat at Friday’s or Chili’s or any of the other myriad establishments, we generally just order him a drink (sometimes a dessert since his criteria for sweets is much lower) and we drive through McDonald’s or Arby’s on the way home for his meal.
By the way, he has never eaten a meal at the Garden Grill. Oh, and by the way, we have never paid for a meal for him at the Garden Grill.
Until this fateful day.
With a Disney smile on her face, and Mickey Mouse scooting behind her
running to get away from any crossfire trying to get to the next table for photographs, the manager informed us that the restaurant had a policy that each diner is charged, regardless of whether they ate or not. She tried to offer him things off the children’s menu to appease us (he NEVER eats Mac and Cheese ANYWHERE.) He wasn’t really hungry anyway because he knew we were coming to the Garden Grill and he knew he didn’t want to eat there. He already ate something earlier. He played games on his phone the whole time.
I couldn’t believe they were going to charge me $48 for a coke–which he only drank about two-thirds of anyway. There was still $16 worth of coke in that glass and there are kids dying of thirst in a desert somewhere!
Now in all honesty, I understand why this restaurant might have such a policy. I’m sure there are parent’s with young kids that want to get their pictures taken with Mickey Mouse and Goofy, but the little ones wouldn’t eat enough to make even the price of a children’s dinner worthwhile. So mom and dad think they’ll sneak little Johnny a few bites and save a few bucks.
But my son is 15 years old and we weren’t sneaking him bites. And this is Disney! Is the bottom line that tight that we can’t let a kid ride a rotating restaurant and get his picture taken with Chip or Dale or both for that matter, without forcing him to eat, or forcing his parent’s to pay for a meal he never had any intention of digesting?
The manager then noted that had we told them that ahead of time when the reservation was made, then he would have not been charged. How were we supposed to know this?
Another Disney smile and an apology.
So I guess we got a glass of coke and an apology for $48.
I wasn’t aware the price of apologies had gone up.