After entering an enchanted Castle with talking suits of armor our days worth of magic might seem to have been fulfilled but the real magic of the Be Our Guest lunch is just about to begin. We make our way into the Beast Castle study filled with books, a fireplace, hanging lamps and a whole lot of technology underpinning the mostly seamless experience we are about to encounter. You see Be Our Guest restaurant is one of the first showcases for the purported $1 billion Next Generation Experience technology project that the Walt Disney Company has undertaken to infuse new technologies into much of its theme park operations and resort-wide operations at Walt Disney World. Soon the repercussions will be felt far and wide, with the inclusion of FastPass+ and other technology driven initiatives that should make for an enhanced experience and it certainly does here at Be Our Guest restaurant in the heart of New Fantasyland.
We are handed a red plastic puck imprinted with the shape representing the infamous rose from Beauty and the Beast, the one that captures the essence of the spell that has come over this castle. Only here it captures more than just the magic from the movie. Indeed this little puck carries a bit of tech including a Near Field Communication (NFC) radio that allows it to communicate with other devices and both capture and send crucial data to them. Of course this is nearly invisible to the typical guest who will only be worried about securing their final menu choices on a large touch screen that has improved fluidity over previous generations of these Disney touch screen menus. The user interface has also been improved with small but noticeable features that overall present nice iterative improvements over what we’ve seen before at other implementations.
But the real magic happens when you go to pay as an NFC enabled scanner (identical to the ones we saw tested earlier this year at the Contempo Cafe within the Contemporary Resort) is at the ready to transfer your order onto the magic rose and you can use your new enhanced Key To The World cards to make payment or it will accept traditional credit cards as well. Your order is now complete and your food selections made and now the rose is tracking your location until you decide where in the three rooms of the Beast Castle dining areas your party will choose to sit and dine. As you help yourself to the beverages of your choice (at the refillable beverage station) the food is being prepped and soon will arrive just where you are sitting with the use of a little tech by the waiters who push up a cart as they tracked your location down using that magical rose and their specialized app on their iPod Touch.
Though this explanation makes this seems like a dragged out process it all happens quite smoothly and it certainly reinvents the way we have lunch at the Magic Kingdom. It removes some of the more burdensome work of dealing with crowds, fighting your way to a table with teetering sodas on your food trays and makes for a more relaxed enjoyable experience you won’t soon forget. And that is the point isn’t it, you are the Beast’s guest after all.
Make sure to click-through the images to see their full-sized version.