The Current State of Mealtrip
August 15th, 2021
| by Curtis Lawyer
I started Mealtrip 100 years ago
— (ok, that's not true, the internet wasn't even around back then) — I started Mealtrip quite a few years ago because I had fun dining at the various restaurants that our theme parks and resorts had to offer. They were immersive environments that provided a small taste of different worlds and different time periods. It was fun, and I wanted a place to store my thoughts and photos of those experiences.
As time went on, various festivals at the parks really entered into their heyday. They offered authentic bites and sips from around the globe — main ingredients that were not often seen in these parts… Barramundi from Australia, a Kimchi that actually had a bite to it, a proper Duck Confit — I would go on, but I'm making myself hungry.
Special events also stepped up their game — from informative Tequila-based meals complete with Tequila pairing and everything you needed to learn about how that Mexican spirit is made, crazy fun Beer -vs- Wine pairings with Italian flair, and over the top, extravagant dining events that put guests in direct contact with chefs, fromagers, vintners, brewers, baristas, and chocolatiers from around the world.
I don't know if we will see these events and festivals come back quite in the same way that they had been. I hope so — but my gut feeling is those truly special affairs — are going to be harder to find, fewer, and further between.
Money is connected to fun, although not often in a positive way. Attending these dining events and festivals are fun for me, because for a few hours you can almost forget about the real world and be transported to a different place, or a different time. It’s no fun attending a dining event, if the cost of that event was so great, you spend the entire time wondering how you’re going to buy groceries next week.
I don’t sell any travel packages here on Mealtrip, and we have one of the lowest per page ad counts among websites in our category. I’ve actually gone to great lengths to ensure there are no more than three ads on any given page. (Most ad networks want to automatically plaster ads all over the place.)
I don’t get invited to many “media day” opportunities either, but the few I have gratefully been invited to — I have let you know in each related article or review that I had been a guest.
Those opportunities can be fun, informative, and provide me with interview access to chefs and event planners that I would not otherwise have — but they are also a lot of work. The invitees are usually looking for coverage very quickly after the event and being part of someone else’s timeline is not always easy.
It's also sometimes difficult to know if you're getting a real feel for the actual experience — which is why it's so important to me — to clearly identify the information that was collected at those media events, and to try and use that time to collect even more detailed information, than I would normally have access to.
So where does all of this leave Mealtrip, in the age of airborne viral infections?
Well, I still really enjoy eating food.
I’ve never been one to chase down the newest food crazes, dining locations, or snack food things, just because they’re new. The pandemic has caused me to be more steadfast in my resolve to NOT cover those things.
For now, I'm just going to visit places and events that I think I'm going to have fun at. Places that are a good value for the few hours of diversion that they provide, places that I think are going to have great food that I'm going to enjoy, and places that are operating in a safe way.
I will try and update the Mealtrip directory as much as possible. Many of the locations listed on Mealtrip are currently operating as "modified experiences", with "modified menus", and some (like dessert parties) are just not being offered any more.
It's difficult to know when (or if) they will go back to they way they were, which in turn, makes it difficult to know when to update the Mealtrip directory. The thought of "archiving" nine years of photos, articles, and reviews — only to start over from scratch — is gut wrenching.
Work is going on behind the scenes though. There are still minor changes I'm making to the site — to continue keeping the Mealtrip experience as fast, informative, uncluttered and fun, as possible.
Mealtrip is a living website, that along with the current state of leisure dining and travel, will continue to evolve. Most importantly though, thank you — to everyone that continues to visit the site. I hope Mealtrip has been able to provide a little bit of information, dining inspiration, and through my photography — a small glimpse into how enjoyable an immersive dining experience or food festival can be. —CurtisPublisher/Owner of Mealtrip