Restaurant reservations at Walt Disney World are a hot-ticket item, resulting in an unauthorized online market for coveted tables at the Orlando theme park. Now, Disney appears to be cracking down on these third-party services. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Disney Dining Buddy has suspended its website at Disney's behest. The site authors write:
Disney has requested that we discontinue our services as currently provided, and we have honored that request. We understand this may be disappointing to those of you who have found through us a solution to the stresses of dining planning. We share your disappointment.
Disney Dining Buddy was designed to monitor Disney's reservation system and notify customers when reservations became available; however, similar services such as DiS Dining Agent have attracted critics because they operate as reservation scalpers, booking tables and selling them for a fee. According to the Inquisitor, Disney began investigating the paid reservation services earlier this month, which "interfere with the guest experience we strive to create." News of Disney's inquiry appears to have put other companies on alert. On September 10, Disney Dining Scout announced on Facebook that it "does not condone the hoarding of reservations for resell."
Then on Thursday, DiS Dining Agent responded to concerns on Twitter.
We are aware of similar services who have been asked by Disney to halt or alter their service.— DiS Dining Agent (@DisDiningAgent) September 24, 2015
We will be happy to meet any requests made by Disney, should we hear from them.— DiS Dining Agent (@DisDiningAgent) September 24, 2015
Happy Friday! Just a reminder that DDA has never used a bot or automated program to search for or make ADRs as it bogs the system down.— DiS Dining Agent (@DisDiningAgent) September 25, 2015
Online reservation scalping and pay-to-play reservation apps are nothing new. In January, chef Heston Blumenthal and his team led a crackdown on ticket scalpers who were reselling reservations for Fat Duck's already pricey Melbourne pop-up at huge mark-ups. Meanwhile, apps like CharityWait are offering customers a chance to jump to the top a restaurant's waitlist in exchange for a donation. OpenTable is even testing a Premium Reservation option that gives users the option to pay a fee for "prime-time reservations at popular restaurants."