How far can you push immersion in a modern theme park? That is the question Walt Disney World is currently trying to answer. When it opened Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Docking Bay 7 opened with all kinds of “exotic” foods like Tip Yip, Kaadu and Burra Fish.
After all, if we are on Batuu, why would we find pork, chicken or fish? Those items don’t exist on a planet in another galaxy and why would they? Unfortunately, Disney has yet to figure out how to actually source meats from other planets, so in fact they are pork, chicken and fish. And this is where the problem lies.
Recently, Walt Disney World pulled the Batuu names off the menu at Docking Bay 7, the quick-service restaurant for Galaxy’s Edge. Instead, the menu reflected their more earthly names like pork and chicken. Then a few days later, it seems that the Batuu names were reverted back on the menu. Why the tug of war between names?
While I’m not privy to any insider discussions on the menu tug of war, I’ve got a pretty good feeling as to why things changed. Keep in mind, none of these menu name changes have occurred in Disneyland, which has been using these names for about three-months longer than Walt Disney World. This actually gives us a pretty good indicator as to why the changes occurred in the first place.
Disneyland is mostly made up of locals and annual pass holders. Sure, they get their fair share of international guests, but they are usually far from the majority on any given day. Contrast that to Walt Disney World, which has a much smaller percentage of locals and a much much larger draw of international guests.
Imagine trying to work the register at a fast food location at Walt Disney World and trying to explain food to groups of tourists who don’t speak English. Now imagine taking that extra step and explaining not only that Tip Yip means chicken and no, it doesn’t even look like chicken in the picture.
Sure, you can say that taking the extra time with those guests is the right thing to do. But this is fast food. Not a table service restaurant where you have more time. If you get an entire Brazilian tour group of 50 or more at once, it becomes difficult and time consuming. Thus, gumming up the line for everyone else.
Which I will also tell you, might not be much better. I’ve eaten at Docking Bay 7 several times and overheard (every single time) someone who speaks perfectly good English what a Tip Yip is. Yes, it does say directly below the word Tip Yip that is in fact, chicken. But running a text-based website for several years, I’m here to tell you, people just don’t like to read.
You, yes you, are a unicorn. You’ve gotten this far in the article and I’ve still got your attention? Bravo. You are a special breed. The reality is, people get their news from memes and headlines now. Reading beyond a bold headline “tip yip” is as far as many will go. Our attention spans as a society are shrinking and that’s an operational reality Disney has had to contend with compounded with the international tourist component.
Thus, the menu names were changed for a few days. The next thing you know (as of the writing of this article), they are back to Batuuian versions. What do I think happened? I am fairly certain food and beverage leadership at the location basically gave up trying to support their cast in using the Batuu counterpart answer to meat. For operational reasons, it actually makes sense.
However, once that story broke and went viral, I’m sure members of upper management saw that the names had changed. Those who put a lot of time and effort into that immersion. Somehow, phone calls were made and discussions were had, and we are now back to tip yip.
For the record, I get both sides of this argument. On the one hand, you want guests to experience total immersion. On the other, Disney feeds a massive amount of people a day. What can seem like cool immersion to one person, others may not totally understand. I have a feeling this isn’t the last we are going to hear about this story. What are your thoughts?
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