Misuse of Video Screens in Public and Commercial Environments: McDonald’s and Disney World

Recently, I have had some experiences in which video screens meant to be helpful have effectively done more to hinder their purpose. The first was a visit to McDonalds. If you have been inside a McDonald’s Restaurant recently, you may have noticed video screens have replaced the menu boards on the back wall above and behind the counter where you order your meal. These video screens change ever few seconds, so if you are scanning through the menu items and trying to make a decision or compare prices, you repeatedly get interrupted as the menu list is hidden from you for another round of advertisements or lists of unrelated menu items. This is very frustrating, and it slows down the decision process. If you ask for a paper menu, they will most likely tell you that they don’t have them because “the environment”… McDonald’s, you’re making the environment worse with your rotating menu screens. Either keep static menu item lists on the screens, or provide alternative menus on paper or physical boards like you used to have. The McDonald’s experience doesn’t become better by emulating Times Square.

Disney World, you’re guilty of this, too! There is an area formerly called Downtown Disney, which does not require a ticket but consists of many stores and restaurants. I was meeting family there, and they mentioned a restaurant by which to congregate. There are precious few kiosks with maps, and there is no sign saying “map” or “directions”. It’s such a winding place that it is hard to know if you are going East, West, North, or South. Some of the stores do have paper maps, but you have to know to ask for them, and they are likewise hard to follow because they use a system of colors and numbers referring to a list on the side of the map, to label the hundreds of structures and attractions. Well, they do have at least one video kiosk with a map, but it rotates with a bunch of advertisements on its own schedule, so much like the McDonald’s example, you’re left waiting for it to cycle through to the map again so you can try to find where you are and where you are trying to go, and try to decide on a path to take. Downtown Disney probably has an interest in getting people lost at this cluster of restaurants and Outlet Mall attractions, but they should know that they have seriously failed to provide adequate resources for directions, and this surely serves to keep friends and families separated when they visit Disney attractions.

McDonald’s and Disney, you need to do better. Everyone else, don’t make the same mistake in trying to impress people with flashy electronic screens everywhere while neglecting customer service. Provide static electronic or paper resources to facilitate a positive customer experience. Thanks for watching.