Disney Shuts Down Web Scraping Dining Reservation Sites

Laurie gives her take on the Dining sites that were shut down.  I know there is a big mix of how people feel about these companies.  I didn’t like that you had to pay to get the dining reservations but I did use them on my own personal trip and got Be Our Guest for 9 people.  I have also had a few clients that used them too and loved them.  So I understand that some like them and some do not.  I look for reservations for my clients even after we can’t initially find them.  It is very frustrating not being able to get them.  I do whatever I can to see about getting them for my clients.  But I also hate that people had to pay to actually get them.

IMG_0872The first thing we need to understand is “web scraping”. Scraping is also known as Screen Scraping, Web Data Extraction, Web Harvesting, and other names. Scrapers are tools used to gather information from websites. Usually this is done for the Yellow Pages and marketing information not for scalping. Scrapers can be beneficial in collecting data for a phone directory however these tools now are leading to legal battles in court.

Scrapers are a global issue affecting many companies, not just Disney. Southwest Airlines charged that scraping is Illegal as it is “Computer Fraud and Abuse”, “Damage and Loss”, “Unauthorized Access”, “Interference with Business Relations”, “Misappropriation and Unjust Enrichment”, and “Harmful Access by Computer”. This is affecting companies like eBay, Ticketmaster, and QVC Channel. Some companies do not know they are being scraped.

In the case of Disney, the scrapers are using technology to beat out other guests who want dinner reservations. While it is an unfair advantage to the hard working travel agents and other guests, it has moved into charges of scalping. The companies that Disney is shutting down are profiting from scraping. While a travel agent and a guest repeatedly check the Disney site for a reservation, there is a scraper letting his computer do that work. The scraper then sells the information to his client for profit. The most common form of scalping is the resell for profit of tickets for concerts and sporting events. Disney and other companies will be shutting down anyone making a profit off of their site.

When you give your travel agent your information you are assigning them as your agent. They do not profit from this hard work and do not use a tool. If you let your friend or family spend hours calling the dining reservation line then you will not be affected. I doubt anyone would help a friend by calling 20 times a day or going online for hours. They are only going after people who use computer tools to make a profit and to gain an unfair advantage over others. Worst of all is, that these attacks on websites can slow down or shut down a website by the onslaught of requests for information.

Disney Dining Scout made $13,000 in six months while your travel agent fought off sickness, sat on line and on the phone for hours, and gave up their personal time, just so you, the guest, could get that dining reservation FOR FREE!! Imagine a person acting as your secretary for free while some guy gets paid for using a program. There are people out there who will hold your spot at a parade or help you around the parks. There are personal shoppers, as well, but all these are individuals who do not take up extra time and space. DiSDining Agent, Disney Dining Buddy, WDWTools, and WDWTableFinder all are being reported as inactive or shut down.

Feel free to contact Tabitha for information and help on your trip.