Customer Service – Ups and Downs in Disney Parks

We have had an interesting week here at Still Small World. Though we love talking Disney, we’re a relatively normal couple living a mostly average life. This, unfortunately, includes having to deal with some awful customer service. This week each of us were faced with some terrible service from companies that are supposed to help us make our lives run smoother. Through our frustration we really started to miss the customer service we receive at Walt Disney World. The bright smiles and infectious cheeriness of cast members on Disney property can set the tone for our interactions before we even say a word but, since they are just human after all, that doesn’t mean they’re without the occasional hiccups. Today I wanted to discuss some of our best and worst customer service moments at Walt Disney World, and how we dealt with them.

Our Worst Moments of Customer Service

Inattentive Cast Members – Most of our poor customer service in the parks really just stems from being ignored by employees. On the bright side, it happens pretty rarely. On the down side, as frequent visitors it is bound to happen. With the amount of cast members that interact with the public in Walt Disney World, it would be a near miraculous feat for every one of them to have a 100% positive interaction rate. Most issues are pretty minor, such as a couple of cast members having a conversation about their post-shift plans while we were waiting to be acknowledged. One serious incident did occur at the Haunted Mansion: a member of our party, in a wheelchair, had made the difficult transfer to get in the ride. However, when we reached the end the same cast member was no longer there and no one came to assist us off. Luckily, they were able to handle the walkway and nothing bad happened. For most of these issues, we forgive and forget and move on.

Dietary Restrictions Usually Help Customer Service

Aggressive Wait Staff – One of us has an uncommon food allergy. Most of the time this is dealt with just by avoiding specific foods or items that where we’re unsure of ingredients. However, when I was first getting used to making Advanced Dining Reservations online, I would list this constantly. Most restaurants at Walt Disney World would just ask us if we wanted to speak to the chef and if we declined they’d leave it at that. One restaurant refused to leave it at that. They gave us a specialty menu (which does not address the rare allergy) and continually kept announcing the allergy alert to us despite the fact that we had told them it would not be an issue for us. This was relentless and, after awhile, embarrassing for our party. We understand that they take food allergies seriously but the food there wasn’t exactly exotic. Poor food topped this breakdown in customer service and made that night our worst experience dining in Walt Disney World. The incident actually drove one of our party to actually write to guest relations to have this issue addressed.

Bad Information – I have spent most of my life in Florida and grew up with an annual pass. But as an adult, I went a long time without visiting Walt Disney World. I finally returned this past year and all that love I had for Disney as a kid rushed back to me. However, there had been a lot of changes since I had been a passholder. When planning one our first trips, I was interested in DisneyQuest but I could find very little information about it on the website. Nothing on the annual pass pages listed whether or not it was included for admission. When I called up, I was told it had been removed from the website because it would be closing in the near future but that it was included in our annual passes. So, we planned to spend a day there. When we arrived, though, we found out that this was not included in our passes. At the guest relations booth, we were referred to a smug manager that pretty much told us we were wrong and that we just had to go do something else. This was really planned as a more relaxed day than our time in the parks and we needed one, because this specific cast member really pushed us into ugly moods. But it has a silver lining! We called up the same number I had gotten the false information and told them about our experience. Because of the misunderstanding, we were comped day passes to DisneyQuest! Back then, new jobs and family health issues made it uncertain if we would be able to get back for a long time and real-life pressure mixed with vacation disappointment got to us. But Disney, eventually, came through with some fantastic customer service and we got to salvage our day!

Our Best Moments of Customer Service

It’s On Mickey! – Walt Disney World can be incredibly expensive. We often use our Target Redcard to save 5% on Disney gift cards and use them in the park. But sometimes the registers aren’t working. This can lead to awkward moments where a cast member keeps swiping your giftcard to no avail. On some items, like the Mickey Bar we were trying to buy one morning, Mickey will treat you! In one of the nicer bits of customer service to keep lines moving and smiles on faces, Disney will give you a free treat when an error happens on their end. This seems to especially happen in the Magic Kingdom. Our last treat on Mickey’s bill was at Gaston’s Tavern. We had stopped in for a quick bite and sat down to eat. As we were finishing our food, we decided that those pastries at the counter started looking really good. I went up to order a couple, but the registers were already shut down. The friendly cast member served me the pastries and let me know that it was a gift from the main mouse! We enjoyed our dessert before heading out towards Main Street!

A Room With A View – The Disney Vacation Club resorts have a lot of nice rooms and options. If you have the points to spend you can get some fantastic views out your window, but if you’re a bit more frugal like we are you can be content with a parking lot view. When we used points for the very first time, we were met with a lengthy wait time at the front desk of Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village. The problem was that our room did not show ready even though we arrived a couple hours past check-in time. One cast member informed us that every once in awhile mousekeeping forgets to mark the room cleaned after they have visited. After a bit of time, they tried to find us a different room but all the standard views were gone. So they gave us a free upgrade! Because of a small mishap, we were given a savanna view room and got to wake up the next morning to some zebras outside our window. Despite the long wait we had, it was such a wonderful first impression of the DVC rooms.

Making Up For Our Mistakes – Last year, I started using a Fitbit. Since it was something to put on my wrist, I instinctively went to the same wrist that I normally use for MagicBands. When I visited the park I would still put the MagicBand on the same hand because that was what was familiar to me. Despite the discomfort of this, I did not switch wrists. Well, a couple months later we made a visit to the Magic Kingdom and then planned to rush over to Hollywood Studios to check out the new scene in Star Tours. On the way out of the Magic Kingdom, with a few extra minutes, we went through the Emporium and suddenly I noticed that I didn’t have my MagicBand anymore. I searched and I searched but could not find it anywhere. Eventually, I asked a cast member if they had seen it. They had not but they sent me to the Guest Relations booth at Town Hall. I arrived, described my band, gave them my name and a minute later it was brought out from the back. This was maybe ten minutes at most from when I noticed it was lost. This was an absolute life-saver. While a new MagicBand could have been purchased, it would have wrecked our plans. So despite this delay, we were still able to hop the bus and get to Hollywood Studios in time to ride before park closing.

Any long time parks goer knows that customer service is a priority for Disney. But even as a priority, sometimes there are faults. Luckily, even when something bad happens, the company makes strides to ensure it feels like the exception rather than the rule.

What are your stories of customer service in a Disney park? Let us know in the comments below!

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