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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

11/15/01

-In this special edition of "Notes From TO the World" I'm going to share some of the letters that MousePlanet readers have sent to me about their personal concerns about the state of matters at Walt Disney World as well as some actual letters that have been sent directly TO Walt Disney World in response to the recent cutbacks.  I'll also share some of the more pleasant notes to me on the situation at WDW.  If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about, feel free to read the piece that was recently published on
 the cutbacks at WDW.

Q.

Richard asks: Where do I send e-mail to let the powers that be at Disney know how dis-satisfied I am at all of their closings.

A.

Richard,

You can write to:

Walt Disney Guest Communications
Post Office Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830

Personally, I think a mailed letter is more effective than an email note... but if you really don't have time to write a formal letter, you can email Guest Communications at wdw.guest.communications@disney.com.

-

Q.

James writes: Hey Brian... I've enjoyed your Walt Disney World info site. Very nice job indeed.

I may out of place, but I wanted to share some thoughts with you, and get your input... if any... on my thoughts and feelings.

My first trip to WDW was 1986... and of course... I knew I had found heaven !! It was beautiful... the people all so very nice, and of course the rides were fantastic. WDW set the trend for all to follow.

I didn't know it at the time, but a few years before... along came "Eisner"... cutting and slashing and making a "buck" wherever he could at anyone's expense, (including the WDW guests). As the years have gone by, I have seen the annual passport discounts vanish... all the fun rides at Epcot such as "Imagination", ( with Figment ), "World of Motion", and now "Horizons" (which was my favorite ride at the whole park), torn down.

Everything thing has been replaced with the ever so common, "stand in line for 2 hours or more for a 60 second quick thrill." My children loved those old rides, and they don't want to go back anymore. The park is just not fun anymore. The employees aren't very nice, and in fact sometimes quite rude.

I've made more than 50 trips to WDW in my career, but have lost all interest and have no desire to go there anymore.

Walt Disney once said, "if you give the people what they want, they will pay back." Well, I'm not supporting those outrageous salaries and bonuses for Eisner and his few special select executives, who have raped Walt Disney's effort to make people happy.

Don't know if you have any connections with anyone important Brian, but I just wanted to voice my feelings about a beautiful place that has been turned into a huge city with a lot of traffic, and terribly expensive. It's not fun anymore, and just not worth the money and time.

Thank you, Brian for listening to me.

Q.

Carolyn Writes: Dear Brian, My husband and I have been avid Disney fans for years. We joined the DVC (Disney Vacation Club) in 1995 and have been visiting at Disney Resorts for 25 years. We have always paid the exorbitant prices because we felt that the value was in the cleanliness and entertainment. Disney always made you feel special.

We have just returned from a six day trip. We spent three nights at Vero Beach and Two nights at the Old Key West resort. It was truly our first disappointing trip. The parks were not operating on full schedule and Typhoon Lagoon was dirty and the water was cold!

The Carousel Of Progress (a personal favorite) was closed with no sign to even explain. The Living Seas sea cabs are indeed not working and there are no explanations given. Lets face it the sea cabs were the best part of the attraction! While in the Living Seas they began a Dolphin show which ended abruptly when the hostesses batteries died on her microphone! No attempt to replace them and continue the show.

Many things were closed and the attitudes of the park employees is poor at best. I think we feel cheated because we all know what Disney is capable of. We watched in amazement as Disney expanded itself literally at this point it seems to its own demise. Gone is the Magic of feeling special. You are left feeling that you wish it were the good old days! I sent a letter of complaint 2 days ago via email but have yet to get a response. I doubt in this time I will even get one at all. Keep up your info on the site. It is a shame that Disney cannot see that they have cut off their nose to spite their face.

A.

James and Carolyn,

Thanks for writing... I would strongly suggest, though, that you contact Guest Communications at Walt Disney World! You (along with other folks that send similar notes) CAN make a difference! Let them know why you won't be back, and maybe, just maybe, things will start to turn around.

-

Q.

And in a follow-up, Carolyn wrote: Brian, thought I would let you know that I received a call from Disney yesterday. The man was very polite and went over my letter. He claims that the Carousel of Progress had very few guests as well as the sea cabs at the living seas. I told him that I waited on long lines for both when I was there in May! He basically said that Disney is running a business. I told him that we have never had that impression prior to this visit. He was polite but firm, stating they follow surveys that they conduct as well as their own internal surveys. I was glad they called and hope they will take some of my comments back. Keep up your good work too. 

A.

Thanks for the note back, Carolyn.  The sad thing is that the gentleman that called seemed to explain things... rather than express any interest in fixing the situation.

Hopefully, as you stated, the WDW folks will yet fix some of what's been broken. :)

-

Q.

Heather WritesBrian, Just wanted to let you know I've joined in the emailing campaign. I sincerely hope they take back some of the changes, because I've got a trip planned for next September and now we don't want to go! Here's what I wrote:

Dear Disney,

I am writing to voice my concerns over the recent spate of cutbacks from Disney's theme parks. I wonder if you know the effect these cuts are going to have on your long term business? While I can certainly understand, in the recent economic climate, how hard it must be for Disney to take business risks greater than that which they already have done, I cannot support these actions.

Disney is about more than that. Disney represents an ideal of America that is beyond business risks and is about the strength of community and the goodness of love, faith and humanity. If you cave into the "economic hurdle" excuse, you are representing to the world that America is beaten down and running for cover. We are not and cannot.

Disney is the first and only place I think of when I want to get away from it all. But these changes, "closings" and diminished services only serve to remind me what "it all" is that I am getting away from. And that, sadly, turns Disney into just another vacation, and a rather expensive one at that.

I cannot fathom spending $3,000 a year on a "vacation."

Please re-think your business strategy. Business overall is in a downturn - people are losing jobs and money. The ones who don't really care about Disney won't come to the parks because they wouldn't for any excuse. But those of us who relish the Disney ideal need your help in weathering this storm. If you stay in this fight with us, we will stay in this fight with you and keep you in business.

I personally pledge to make my next trip Disney, if you retract some of your business changes. It will be expensive and hard for me to do, but I feel that as a customer, if I want you to keep your services, I owe you my patronage in return.

I hate to use quotes from movies to make my points, but here goes: "If you build it, they will come." Keep it open, keep the perks, and make working with your company special, not like any other company, and people will seek you out for comfort in this time of need.

I stand by my promise, and I hope you know that I just represent a class of people who really cares about your future. However, we need to know you care about us, too, and not just the bottom line. 

Q.

Marc Writes: Hi Brian, Just sent the enclosed letter to Walt Disney World. You may publish it, if you like.

I just hope, I wasn't too harsh or rude. Sometimes it's a bit hard for me to find the right and polite words, especially in complaints, since English is not my primary language.

Letter I sent to WDW today, through their "Contact us" link on "www.disneyworld.com":

I'm planning a trip to Walt Disney World in January 2002. However, in the last few days, with great dismay, I learned about several changes at Walt Disney World, which greatly reduce the value of the vacation.

I'm aware of the regular shorter hours of the parks and fewer entertainment offers in low season. In the past, this was ok for me, since I knew it was outweighed by fewer crowds. But now, with even shorter hours this is not true anymore. Since my last visit in low-season, prices at the resorts and for park admission went up. And in the same time you take away value. Something's not right here...

Also, one of the major reasons for me to stay in a Disney Resort are the early entry privileges and E-Ride nights. I can't see the characters caravan at the resorts as a compensation. If I want to see characters, I can go to the parks. There I can also experience the attractions and shows as well as the unique atmosphere.

As you might feel from my mail, I'm very disappointed in the recent changes. I really hope you reconsider this! If guest attendance is low, as I heard, shouldn't you add some perks to get the "audience" back, instead of taking away?.

I really hope you go back to the good quality, I used to love Walt Disney World for!

Best regards,

Marc

A.

Thanks for the notes. Hopefully someone at WDW will start to respond to all of these concerns in a positive way!

-

Q.

Karen writes: I have read a lot of criticism on various cutbacks made by Disney World including the cancellation of early-morning entry for resort guests. I was very upset about this since I have told many friends and relatives who are planning trips to stay at a Disney resort for this perk.

I e-mailed and expressed my concern to Disney. Now for the surprise -- instead of e-mailing me back, they gave me a personal phone call.

I just thought with all the criticism about customer service it is nice to know that they are making an effort. They said they don't know yet if it is permanent or temporary, but it was done because of lower attendance and not enough people taking advantage of it to warrant the early opening.

They are reviewing all feedback at this time. Apparently a lot of people like the character appearances at the hotels, but I would certainly prefer early entry since my kids are older. 

A.

I'm glad you got contacted, Karen. I was called, too, by a person from guest relations (actually, I wasn't home but my wife spoke with them). They said it was a preliminary call as they were still checking into the issues I'd written about. They said they'd call me again in three to four weeks... but no return call since then so far.

In any case, I agree with your comments about early entry. I think, for most guests, EE is better than the caravan. I truly understand why WDW has eliminated EE for now. It just isn't justified. The problem is that they are cutting back on things that they've been using to sell accommodations...

-

Q.

Jim from Eastern PA writes: Brian, First, I want to thank you, again, for your trip report and input concerning your Sept. trip to WDW. It provided me with insight as to what to expect when I went there from 10/20-10/27.

While I am not, at this time, giving you a trip report, I would like to pass on some things I experienced while there. I feel this would be helpful for anyone going to WDW in the near future:

  • Just like Dominic wrote (10/29 letters), I found the CM's were all doing their jobs. I did not come across any problems with them. Few seemed to go the extra step to create the Disney Magic, but all contributed to a good experience. When quizzed, they would acknowledge the cutbacks, issues, etc. Everything I heard from them confirmed what was already reported. (An example was the unannounced closing of Carousel of Progress - I was told it only takes 2 CM's to operate, but requires a lot of maintenance.)
  • Fastpass was often closed for most rides. As I understand it, there were not enough CM's to operate it. It usually wasn't necessary, but occasionally could have been helpful (see next item).
  • The parks, in general, seem just as busy as normal; however, many of the lines to rides are much shorter than they appear. Only a few had standby lines that were backed up. (We only used Fastpass twice, and one of those was during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween. The only exception was DisneyQuest. During the week, most things at DisneyQuest were walk-ons or walk-ups. The exception being Virtual Pirates (short wait with not all rooms operating) and Virtual Space Mountain. In fact, rather than wait for busses, we drove to all of the parks. We would often arrive 1/2 hour after the official opening and still would get relatively good parking. Based on this, you be the judge as to how busy it really is.
  • Disney did little to tell us that Magic Mornings had ended when we checked in on Saturday, 10/20. I had to ask. However, they did leave everyone a Voice Mail message on Sunday explaining the change from Magic Mornings to the Character Caravan. (See the already reported cutback information.)
  • Most CM's were understanding about our concerns and complaints (especially about ending of Magic Mornings). They were freely telling us to write to Disney. They were quite open about the only way to make a difference is to tell Disney in writing.
  • Disney is offering a free Internet Pin (it is suppose to look like a computer and reference the Internet on the screen) if you purchase a light-up Magic Moments pin ($15) and present the special Internet Coupon from DISNEY.COM. You MUST make this purchase at the store under the big hat at Disney Studios. The problem is, there were out all last week. If you go and they are still out, Disney will offer to ship your free pin(s) for $8.50. Don't accept it. Go to Guest Relations at the studios with your receipt and coupon and complain. If they say it will cost shipping, challenge it! They will ship it free if you complain strong enough.

(BTW, while I was dealing with the pin issue at the studios, I, also, complained about the Hat Icon (I hope to see go, my wife likes it), the ending of Magic Mornings, and another issue. The CM I dealt with on the complaints appeared to be very used to the Hat and Magic Morning issues in the writing of his report.)

  • Finally, I do want to discuss Security. I will try to not be too specific, but I do want to provide some warnings and examples:
  1. If you fly, you or your luggage may be searched. They are doing random spot checks of people, carry-ons, and full luggage. I am sure two of my suitcases were searched on my flight down. My carry-on was checked for explosives one time, and I was hand checked for metal another time. Be prepared, and be cooperative. So far everyone has been good about it.
  2. While driving, do not expect to be allowed into any Disney resort parking areas without ID. As an example, I could not get into the All Star Resort area without a picture ID, my valid room key, and my parking permit. Both entry lanes at the Security Gatehouse were usually being manned by security. I did not run into the same problem you had, Brian, with going into another resort's parking area, but I did make sure I had all of my ID, etc., easily available to the guard.
  3. You will not be allowed into any park (including DisneyQuest) without all items being searched. If you go to a park, be sure to open all zippers, etc., before approaching the checkpoint. This will speed things up. Expect everything to be checked. I had an empty pocket in my fanny-pack checked and the entire thing felt for hidden items.

That enough?

If you go, have fun. If you find something you don't like, complain in writing. If you find something you do like, tell them, too.

Brian, again, thank you for your input and forum about WDW. I hope, in the future, the coverage about WDW will compete with the DIG information Al puts on MousePlanet.

A.

Thanks for the note, Jim. The only way I'll be able to compete with Al, though, is if I was to move to the Orlando area.  :)  It's hard to get insider information from 1600 miles away.  ;)

-

Q.

Machelle writes: Brian, despite the cutbacks, I will be going to WDW. I will tell you why, my sister survived cancer this year. So what if early entry is no more? Then we will get more sleep. Yes, I do not think it's right that Michael gets so much money/. I feel that my family and I will still have a great time. maybe I will not get too see beauty and the beast but I've seen the Broadway show and the ice show.

This trip is what got my sister though the cancer and I will not let cutbacks disappoint her. Yes I was angry about some things that may not be there but at this point I don't care. Thanks for letting me blow off steam.

A.

Machelle,

I think you've done a great job of evaluating the pros and cons of continuing with your trip plans. I think everyone would be wise to do the same and if, as you decided, the conclusion is that there is still enough value in a WDW vacation to warrant the high price, then off to Florida with you! :)

-

Q.

Patrick Writes: Just to add to your list of people Disney is losing try Lori and I. We were staying at AKL for the trip, then when some cutbacks came through we downgraded to Dixie (well PO). Now with all the cuts we are probably doing a house off site. So Disney not only loses our hotel $$ but we will eat off site a lot more.

Short sited IMHO.

A.

Yep. Very.

-

Q.

Rich Writes: Add me to the list of people switching to a hotel outside the resort. I can get a suite at the Hawthorne for $69.00 a night that includes a hot breakfast in the morning. I'm one of those annoying morning people and really took advantage of the early entry program. Also, it's rumored that the Port Orleans French Quarter will be shutting down (Editor's note: this is no longer just a rumor, as it's been confirmed by WDW) and this has been my resort of choice at least once a year for the last eight years. It looks like it's true since I can no longer get an online reservation for that resort. I usually go the second week in December to avoid crowds and in the past have been able to get a room there right up till December. I tried various non-holiday dates in December and January through the on-line reservation system and no rooms are available.

A.

Rich,

I've never had so much email as I've gotten in the last couple of weeks. I hope the company gets the message that the cutbacks are driving people away even as it does, indeed, cut operating costs.

-

Q.

Jill Writes: Dear Brian, We are from Manchester, England and have followed your site since planning our trip for the past eighteen months, saving for the past five years in reality. We are staying at the Animal kingdom lodge from 11-19 November with a 10 day pass. This is our first visit to Disney & the USA as a family with 2 girls 11 & 8 yrs old.

All our deepest sympathy goes to all Americans and others who suffered in the September 11th attacks, but this has not prevented us from going ahead with this trip. Disney's actions however as now made us rethink weather this trip will be worth the cost, time & travel.

We have just contacted Disney by phone, who have told us early entries to all parks have now been withdrawn. We have also checked the latest opening hours on Disney.com which effectively shaved off 2 hours more at Animal Kingdom (10:00-4:00) compared to what they were quoting 2 weeks ago and the rest is just unbelievable. One Hundred Years of Magic as now become One Hundred Minutes of Magic as Disney's special event.

We are horrified at the latest 'cutbacks' in opening times and early entry benefits. In effect shortening the "Magic" available. Are Disney therefore willing to "shave off" 30 % of the cost of our park tickets and accommodation. At this rate daily schedules will include, ride space mountain and see evening parade at the Magic kingdom. Make a beeline for Honey, I shrunk the "world" as a day at Epcot.

Please advise if you think we will realistically gain any compensation from Disney if we complain before we arrive or is it worth postponing our trip until things get back to normal.

A.

Jill,

Thank you so much for the kind words regarding the September events.

In answer to your question, I would strongly suggest that you contact Disney now, before your leave for your vacation. You may very well be able to negotiate lesser room rates in partial compensation for the cutbacks.

Let me know how things go!

Well, I hope you enjoyed the reader feedback for the WDW Trip Planning Guide!  Feed free to send more questions or comments to brian@mouseplanet.com!

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Brian's Archive - Contents

I've always gotten email about the WDW Trip Planning Guide, but since we added the feedback form to the site several months ago, the number of questions has increased dramatically!  I do my best to answer each and every question personally, but I've noticed that a lot of the questions are asked again and again.  The question that one person asks might very well be the question that someone else is wondering about.  Thus this page!

So...I'll post reader email and feedback every once in a while, because the question someone else asks might be the same one you're thinking about yourself!

 

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