by Brian Bennett
this special edition of "Notes
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
| 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.
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 email@example.com.
|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.
|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
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
|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.
|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.
|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. :)
| Heather Writes: Brian,
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:
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
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
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.
|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
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!
|Thanks for the notes. Hopefully someone at WDW
will start to respond to all of these concerns in a positive
|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
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.
|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...
|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
(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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
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
|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.
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! :)
|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.
|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.
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
|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
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.
Thank you so much for the kind words regarding the September
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planner
Click here to see
some awesome WDW pieces that have run on MousePlanet recently!
here to check out the rest of Brian's Archive, including all of the previously
published "Notes From the World" pieces!
always gotten email about the WDW Trip Planning Guide, but since we added
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!
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!