Monday, October 11, 2021

If You're Still Giving Out the Cards, Why Remove the Dining Information?

One of the most useful things you can bring around with you on a Disney cruise is the Key to the World card that you receive at the beginning of your cruise.  You can use it to unlock your stateroom's door, see the start and end dates of your cruise, see the assembly station you are assigned to, make purchases, get on and off the ship, and see the dining rotations.  That last one is one of my favorite features of the card.  It's so convenient to quickly glance down at your card and check what restaurant you're scheduled to dine at.

Well, that was one of my favorite features of the card, because Disney is no longer printing the dining rotations on Key to the World cards.  Key to the World cards will still be distributed and used for everything they were used for in the past, they just won't have a dining rotation on them.  Don't worry, this doesn't mean that Disney's rotational dining system is gone.  It just means that the schedule of each night's restaurant won't be on the Key to the World cards anymore.

According to the Disney Cruise Line Blog post, a recent minor change to Disney cruises is that the Key to the World cards are printed onboard the ships, instead of at the terminal.  Because of this, the cards are distributed to the staterooms instead of directly to the guests.  That post says that the removal of the dining rotation cuts down time for the Guest Services cast members who are printing them.

So, if it's not on the Key to the World cards anymore, how can guests see where they are scheduled to go to dinner?  The DCL Navigator app, of course.  The app has all of the dining information that used to be on the card, like the restaurant order, the table number, and the seating time.  It also includes the menus.  So, if you want to check where you're going to dinner, you have to pull it up on the app.  Sure, many people carry their phones around with them on a cruise, but taking out a phone and opening up the app then navigating to where the dining information is located takes longer than just quickly looking down at a card on a lanyard.  

This change has many of the same issues as many of the other changes we've seen that place more emphasis on the app.  How do people without smart devices view their dining information?  Maybe they could go to Guest Services and get a copy of it printed out.  For these people, it's an inconvenience that wouldn't even have been an issue if Disney had kept the dining information on the Key to the World cards.

In addition to being problematic, the removal of the dining information doesn't make much sense.  The Key to the World cards are still distributed and they're still necessary for every guest, so why is the dining information gone?  How much time does not printing it on the Key to the World cards save?  Probably around a second or two per card.  Maybe there's another reason.  Was it changed to use less ink?  That's not really a good reason, because the dining information wasn't even that large on the card.

Since I can't come up with any benefits of removing the dining information, I think the most likely reason for making the change is that Disney wants guests to use the DCL Navigator app more.  When it works, the app is good.  However, it often doesn't work as well as Disney wants it to, thanks to poor connection on the ships.  Connection problems could make the dining information inaccessible at times, a problem that could be completely avoided if it was still printed on the cards.  

If it works well, I'm okay if Disney wants us to use the app more.  However, that doesn't mean that they have to remove a useful feature that's been around since before I went on my first Disney cruise.  It's a shame, I never fully realized how nice it was until DCL got rid of it.

Disney seems to like getting guests to use the DCL Navigator app more often.  If this trend continues, could phones be an alternative method to open stateroom doors or disembark the ship in the future?  It's possible, but if it happened, the Key to the World cards would still be used, as people without compatible devices would need a way to go into their staterooms or get off at a port of call.  Plus

If something like that happens, it won't be for quite some time.  For now, we can hope that Disney brings back the dining rotation on the Key to the World cards.  If that doesn't happen by the time you go on a cruise, I suggest writing your dinner schedule and your table number on a piece of paper and putting that into your lanyard's card holder, next to your Key to the World card.  Maybe fill out a comment card as well, as Disney actually reads them and listens to guests' feedback.  

What do you think about this change?  Should DCL put the dining information back onto Key to the World cards?

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