Thursday, August 13, 2015

Open letter to Mickey Mouse

This is an email I sent to Guest Relations at Walt Disney World. WDW does a lot of good things, this, unfortunately is not one of them:

Let me state that we are satisfied but disappointed on how we got there. My wife and I have been visiting Disney World, twice a year, for nearly 40 years and once we are on property it truly is the happiest pace on earth. And now we bring our kids and we have a great time, every time. It is our preferred [vacation] destination.

We have a vacation planned for [redacted]. And this year we are planning to visit "be our guest" for breakfast on the [redacted]. The path to our reservation was very bumpy. Let me explain.

- we made our resort reservation at about 150 days
- [reservations for] lunch and dinner at "be our guest" is 180 days, however, breakfast is 90days
- when we tried to make our reservation at 90days from or arrival date there were no reservations available

** If you've ever tried to buy premium ticket from TicketMaster you know our level of frustration. 

OK, so we made approximately 6 calls to reservations... what was amazed us was the number of different, inconsistent or incorrect answers.

- the website says that "be our guest" breakfast can be reserved 90 days
- one CSR said it was 180 days
- one CSR said it was 90+10days
- another said 180+10days
- one CSR said that we could fastpass "be our guest", however, fastpass is/was only available at 60 days [if you're staying on property]
- one CSR recommended calling at 11:30p EST, every night, looking for cancellations
- one CSR said the 90day clock started at midnight EST 
- one CSR said the 90day clock started at 6am EST (phones do not open until 7am)
- one CSR said the 90day clock started at 7am EST 

One cannot just make this stuff up. We realize that there are probably thousands of CSRs working for Disney at all times of the day and night. But as my wife put it. What about those people who save their money for years for a Disney experience only to be short changed by misinformation. (I want to maximize my children's experience and I cannot get a fair or reasonable answer)


- What is the official policy or rules?
- Is it possible to get this in writing?
- The next time I call reservations what key words can I use to guide the CSR to the right supporting documentation?

It would be great if someone from the CSR training department would call us with the correct information and an assurance that there is an action plan.

The WDW experience is not getting any cheaper. On the contrary it's getting more expensive. While Disney should be characterized as "too important to fail" it has to be available to everyone. Any economics 101 or Shark Tank student will tell you that increasing prices can increase profits while you lower expenses serving fewer customers.

See you soon Mickey

UPDATE:  I received a reply to my complaint. The optimist in me wants to believe but it is hard.

  • if you are staying "on property" then you can make dining reservations 10+180 days in advance of your arrival date and fastpass 60 days.
  • if you are NOT staying on property then dining reservations are "just" 180 days and fastpass is 30.
In the case of "be our guest" it was a new product and Disney was experimenting an many different levels including quick service, fastpass, breakfast, and scheduling. Keeping all of the customer service current has clearly been a challenge; and not the first time we've experienced it.

Finally, When is the best time to make reservations? That's still a mystery. The most recent information that I was given was "The morning of your 10+180/180/60/30 day arrival after 3:30am eastern TZ). This is also plausable as someone needs to update inventory in advance of the next block of reservations and yet there is no real way to know what to add, in advance, as reservations and schedules vary. If I arrive on Monday and I am staying for a week then the "process" that I'm waiting for 180days prior needs to add inventory to account for my complete stay. Not likely. I, also, cannot imagine that the operations staff is going to take the reservation or fastpass system offline daily for maintenance or any other function.

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