Date of Award

Spring 2011

Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems


Human Factors and Systems

Committee Chair

Jason Kring, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Shawn Doherty, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Lynn Koller, Ph.D.


The Disney Dining Plan (DDP) is a pre-paid meal plan guests can purchase when they make their reservation at Walt Disney World (WDW). Under the current system, the information provided to guests explaining the program is unclear which leads to confusion for guests. For example, guests are not sure what food they can purchase using the DDP or at which dining locations they can use the DDP. Given these problems, the present study evaluated a new information system for the DDP. The independent variables in this study were symbol type, the symbols used in the current DDP and new symbols created for this study, and system type, the current paper-based system and an electronic, integrated system.

Participants (N = 44) were randomly assigned to one of four conditions (old symbols-paper system, new symbols-paper system, old symbols-electronic system, and new symbols-electronic system). After reviewing the DDP, participants then completed a series of tasks including scenario-based task, a multiple-choice test based on the DDP, a symbol discriminability measure, and a measure of system usability (System Usability Scale [SUS]). In addition, participants provided open-ended feedback to the researcher about their experience with the system.

Results indicated no significant difference between the type of symbols used and the amount of time it took to complete the scenario, the amount of time it took to complete the questionnaire, accuracy on the symbol discriminability task, or the overall system usability scale (SUS) score. However, significant differences were found between the type of symbol used and the accuracy and confidence rating of varying symbols in the symbol discriminability task. Furthermore, there was a significant main effect for system type with participants using the electronic system taking longer to complete the questionnaire.

Although results showed that it took participants significantly longer to answer the questions during the multiple-choice task, there are factors that could have a played a role; scanning-time, click-throughs and motivation. Participants in the paper-based group were able to scan over a list of all the dining locations whereas participants in the electronic version were forced to click through multiple screens to view various dining locations. This test, however, does not accurately represent how the electronic application would be used but it did demonstrate that participants were able to answer the DDP questionnaire regardless of system. In the field, guests would most likely access one theme park or resort and view the various dining locations in the area they are in. This study forced participants to constantly switch between theme parks and resorts. If participants were also in a theme-park environment, they may also be more motivated to use the application.