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The Great Disney Bread Incident of 2020

Who knew complimentary bread was so contentious? It makes sense though – I'm one of many carb fans. Disney’s recent back-and-forth with guests over complimentary bread service provides insight into the business-customer relationship and how much customers are willing to take.

Earlier this month, Disney Coral Reef cast members told guests that complimentary bread service was being phased out of Disney restaurants. Later, the restaurant’s General Manager informed guests that Epcot restaurants would no longer be serving bread with meals.

Some Disney fans described the move as an “all time low” and a “slap in the face” to Disney patrons, who spend thousands of dollars to visit the parks and patronize the restaurants.

Disney released an official statement that they are continuing complimentary bread service at their table service restaurants and have no plans to discontinue this service. Yet, WDW News Today checked in with cast members and learned that complimentary bread service was removed for a few days and recently reinstated. Regardless, complimentary bread service is here to stay (for now). So, what’s the big issue?

While it may seem absurd for Disney guests to be up in arms over bread, this is an example of a larger concern guests have about the company and its parks. From 2015 to 2019, Disney World ticket prices increased by $20; overnight parking, dining plan, and annual pass rates have increased as well.

Some may argue that the individual increases aren’t much, but there’s a breaking point where guests feel they can only take so much nickel-and-diming. Here, that breaking point was free bread.

While Disney, with its huge fan base and unique offerings, can get away with regular price increases and changes in customer benefits, your business likely can’t. Going to Disney is a unique experience that doesn’t have many, if any, substitutes. While your business may also be unique, it’s likely that customers can find substitutes that they’ll choose to patronize if they’re unhappy with their experience.

This makes it even more important for you to consider your customer’s needs during business development and seriously weigh the pros and cons of business offerings before making them available – you don’t want to offer a customer a benefit that you expect to take away in the future. If your customers are happy, your business will flourish.

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