14 January 2013

We Hope You Had a Wonderful Time

After every trip to Walt Disney World I feel the batteries are still drained, if not more so, but that the idea bag is full of fresh new articles, the Main Street Gazette archive has a bunch of the latest photographs, and that my tummy is overly stuffed with dishes I hadn’t tried yet. However, before we begin rooting around in all of that, how about we little overview from the trip. Call it The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – Walt Disney World Edition.

The GoodSneak Peeks of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Almost a year ago precisely, I begged and pleaded with Walt Disney World and the Magic Kingdom to put up some sort of preview area for guests to see what was happening in New Fantasyland. Now, whether or not they listened to me, they have done precisely that around the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train construction.
In several spots surrounding the site you can sneak a peek through the spaces between the slats and the knot holes of the boards of the mine shaft. I should also mention that the scenes of the Dwarfs, Dopey in particular, acting out scenes from the animated films in the surrounding areas are priceless. Included among these scenes are reenactments of Beauty and the Beast, Alice in Wonderland, and The Little Mermaid to name just a few.

The BadMaintenance

This has been touched upon by a lot of wise people recently, and it is a running problem. Torn seat cushions, scent machines in attractions not working, dirty films, chipped paint around every corner, and a host of other problems just screamed at me. Of course, the average guest is likely focusing on the attraction or the wienie ahead of them and not noticing these overlooked parts of the experience, but long-time visitors notice and remember, or at least believe we remember, when this sort of lack upkeep didn’t happen in the parks and resorts.

The UglyMy Disney Experience at Pop Century

For those of you following me on Twitter of Facebook, you may have already heard, but Pop Century seriously dropped the ball on our check-in day. We arrived before 7:00am to check-in. We weren’t expecting a room to be ready, but we wanted to pick up our keycards so we could take advantage of Extra Magic Hours that morning. Surprise, we were told our room was ready!

I opened the door to find people still occupying the room. I shut the door and immediately called the front desk. I was told if I would come down they would get me another clean room. I asked how close it would be to where we were currently standing and was put on hold. I left my wife with the luggage and began the trek to the lobby. As I reached the lobby Luggage Services came on the phone. I explained I just wanted to know how close the room was, that I did not need luggage service. I was then told there were no rooms available.

I hung up, as I had reached the desk, and the manager was waiting for me. There had been a computer problem overnight and even though the resort was 100% booked, every room was showing up as clean. I said I understood. I was a bit put out when I was told they could see if a cart was available to help my wife schlep all of our luggage, currently sitting in a courtyard, but they weren’t sure they could find one, but let it go. The manager promised that we were first on the clean list and that he would call as soon as my room was ready. No help with luggage, we made our way back to the car and to the parks.

The manager, or any other Cast Member, never called me about the room, and I was only told the room was clean when I called the resort at 5:00pm that evening.

I went down to the desk a couple of days later, I took time to cool off so as to not cause a scene in the lobby, to speak with the General Manager about the situation. My main reason for harping on the scenario was that their customer service didn't fail just one time, which I understand can happen. It was supposedly rectified (albeit not in a very satisfactory manner for us) and then failed a second time with the same guests, which should never have happened. I was told they were unavailable by the shift manager, who listened intently, took notes, and told me that he was imputing my situation into the system and someone would be in contact with me about the situation within the next day or so.

I was never contacted again.

I know Pop Century isn’t the Polynesian or BoardWalk, heck I know it isn’t even Port Orleans - Riverside, I do, but that does not excuse mishandling guests. I’m not sure if management needs a stern talking to, training, or to be replaced, but this customer service experience has made me more likely to visit one of the All-Star Resorts than ever darken Pop Century’s doorstep again.

The MagicalAgent P’s Cast Member

My wife had not had the opportunity to try her hand at the new Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure yet, but remembered that she loved the Kim Possible version and wanted to give the Phineas & Ferb inspired experience a go. The agent who helped us (I won’t use his name here as I didn’t ask his permission at the time) was very clearly nervous, possibly on the high-functioning side of the autism spectrum. I noticed that the entire time he was talking us through the training he was fidgeting with a Times Guide in his hands. When he sent us on our mission, he did so with an origami crane made from the Times Guide.

This Cast Member has found a way to control his emotions and focus in on a repetitive task that soothes him, in the process he creates a one of a kind souvenir for guests to take home with them. While I am shocked that Walt Disney World allows a Cast Member to distract themselves in such a way, I am extremely pleased and proud that they understand the needs of Cast Members as individuals and allows them to find their own path to functioning as part of the Walt Disney World family.

In addition, we may not remember our mission in Mexico next month, but years from now we will still cherish that paper crane and tell the story of how it came to reside in our house.


Estelle said...

Eek! I'm so sorry to hear about your experience at Pop. I think you are plenty more patient than I because I would have probably been very attitudey the next time around.

Do they send a comment card to you when you return back from your trip? I guess that would be another way for your to express your frustration because at that point I wouldn't trust the other manager to pass along the info.

I'm glad to hear about the happy other parts of your trip! I mean, geez you were gone long enough. ;)

Netmongrel said...

Great, great article with some great insights I've had (maintenance fails) and some I have not (your The Magical section is inspiring).

I'm still flabbergasted at your experience at Pop however. My wife and I very regularly recommend WDW as a special destination whose unparalleled customer service is capable of winning repeat guests who return simply because of this reason and this one alone.

We know families who don't really get into the stories or back stories, but will return because of food accommodations for allergies, or the fact that DIsney cast members go out of their way to make the experience magical.

How "they" could have let this happen though is beyond me.

Glad it didn't ruin the trip though.

Rich T. said...

That Paper Crane has got to be one of the most unexpectedly awesome surprises I've ever seen emerge from a cast member encounter! :)

Unknown said...

Good Cast Members are totally incredible, I am so touched that Disney allowed this CM the space to develop his own "show" in the old terms. This CM really deserves a WWWD pin!

What amazes me about your Pop Century experience is that your key cards worked in an occupied room! Sounds like it was a complete system failure and the CMs were working pretty-much manually. I don't remember my family's experience at Port Orleans being that great either, checking into a dirty room, etc.