What To Do When Things Go Wrong at Disney World
Disney usually gets things right but sometimes things do go wrong, especially during high attendance times when everything is having to run at full capacity. We’ve put together some guidelines for getting things resolved quickly.
It is reasonable to expect Disney to fix a problem that they caused or allowed. It may be possible to fix situations that happen but aren’t necessarily a “who is at fault” scenario. It is unreasonable to expect extraordinary treatment by complaining about small issues or things you just don’t prefer.
Unreasonable: Someone pays for a standard view room at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge which is the least expensive room category and clearly states parking lot and roof top views and then gets upset because they can’t see the animals so they scream at the front desk and demand a free upgrade. If you want an animal view, you need to reserve and pay for an animal view room.
Reasonable request - Issues that arise because you didn’t realize something: Perhaps you have a family member with mobility issues and they don’t generally require an ADA accessible room. When you made your reservation, you didn’t realize that Disney’s Caribbean Beach resort doesn’t have elevators so you really do need a ground floor room and they’ve put you into a second floor room. It is entirely reasonable to ask them to put you in a ground floor room.
Reasonable: You go into your room and it is not clean or something is malfunctioning so you ask the front desk to make it right. One of our agents got to her room and found that the electrical outlet near the sink was disconnected and hanging by the wires so she contacted the front desk and asked them to deal with it immediately. Remember that Disney may not know that a room has an issue unless you tell them so you’re not just improving your own stay but may also be making things better for future guests to that room. We had a client who told us after the trip that there wasn’t a bottom sheet on her bed for the whole time they were at Disney World. She didn’t want to be a complainer so she didn’t say anything but it really bothered her. Housekeeping should’ve noticed and fixed this but they didn’t and a single, friendly call to the front desk would’ve made the whole vacation experience better for her. Since she didn’t feel comfortable saying something, I wish she would’ve let us know while she was there so that we could advocate for her.
- Check your reservation details before departure, it is easier to resolve some errors before you arrive.
- Make sure you have a printed copy of your reservation information with you at check-in.
- You’ll have the most success by trying to resolve the issue as soon as it occurs. Disney can often fix what is happening while you are there but there isn’t much they can do when you complain after you get home.
- The first person you talk to may not have the experience or authority to help you; you may need to involve a manager or supervisor.
- Very Important – Be sure to note time, location, and the name of the Cast Member (Disney employee) involved, if you aren’t getting help on the spot and think you will have to pursue the issue at Guest Services or through your travel agent.
- Try to remain calm and communicate your needs or concerns clearly. Is there a medical necessity? Did you not receive what you paid for? Did a Disney error cause you to miss a FastPass+ or dining reservation?
- Involve your travel agent if you aren’t getting results. We usually cannot resolve ride-related issues but we can sometimes help with medical, resort or restaurant issues. A travel agent cannot help for reservations that were booked directly through Disney.
At your resort:
- The person at the front desk may not be able or willing to help so ask to see a manager, if necessary.
- Room location issues – remember that building and room requests are just that, requests; not guarantees. If you don’t get what you requested, go ahead and ask if it possible to be moved to a different room, the worst they can say is “no”. If you need an ADA accessible room, you should note that on the reservation and, if an accessible room is reserved, that should be a guarantee. If you pay for an upgraded room (water view, themed room, preferred location), those should be guaranteed as well. If you don’t get what you reserved, you should definitely press the issue. Please take a printed copy of your reservation confirmation with you so that you have proof of what you reserved and paid for, should an issue arise. Definitely get your travel agent involved if they aren’t able or willing to resolve your issue and you’re pretty sure you’re in the right.
- Room Cleanliness & Mechanical Issues - call the front desk or housekeeping and they can send someone to your room to resolve the issue.
- Are you willing to change rooms the next day? There may not be another room available today so let them know if you’re willing to change rooms the next day.
- If you need to change rooms and one isn't immediately available, it may make more sense to have bags stored at luggage services and get them yourself than have bell services deliver because you must be present to receive bags and waiting could cut into your park time.
- If necessary, they can move you to another hotel, assuming an appropriate room is available. They don’t love this solution so you may need to ask for it.
Example: One of our clients was put in room with a pull down bed at Disney’s Caribbean Beach resort and the pull-down bed kept falling down, which was potentially dangerous to the kids in the room and leaving the bed down took up too much space when they were all in the room. The first front desk person she spoke to was not particularly interested fixing the problem so she asked to speak to a supervisor who sent maintenance to the room. When the issue couldn’t be quickly resolved, they moved the family to another room.
At the Restaurants:
- If something is missing or your cold stuff is hot and your hot stuff is cold, just alert your server who will be able to straighten things out in most cases. Also, let them know about any food allergies or special dietary needs and they will try to accommodate.
- Ask to see a manager or chef if the server is unable or unwilling to help.
- If necessary, you can always press the issue further with guest services in the park or back at your resort.
- If you have a reservation and encounter a long delay in getting seated that causes you to miss a FastPass+, you can always ask if it can be reinstated.
- At the end of each meal, always check the bottom of your receipt to make sure that the right number of dining credits were used. It is easier to fix those issues on the spot. Non-Disney restaurants that accept the dining plan don’t print your dining credit balances on the receipts.
In the Theme Parks:
- Talk to the closest Cast Member (Disney employee). If necessary, ask to see their supervisor.
- If they were not helpful, go to the guest services desk near the front of the park.
- If the situation is not your fault and it causes you to miss dining or a FastPass+ reservation, ask them can help you replace it or to waive any dining “no show” penalties.
- Utilize the First Aid station located in each park if you have a medical situation; they can even help with small things like blisters.
- FastPass+ Issues – Go to one of the FastPass+ stations if you are having issues with your FastPass+ reservations. Remember that there is only a small grace period (about 10 minutes) for missed FastPass+ times. They probably won’t be able to help you because you missed a FastPass+ time because you decided to sleep in but they should be able to help you if you missed a reservation because the bus from your resort broke down and you had to wait for a replacement.
- Decide whether going to Guest Services is worth the time it will take. I personally wouldn’t take the time to go all the way to the front of the park and potentially stand in line at guest services because one ride attendant had a rude and snippy attitude but I definitely would go if something made me feel unsafe or caused a serious setback to my plans and experience.
- If you have an emergency, like an injury or a seizure, contact the closest Cast Member (Disney employee) as there are systems in place to get you the care you need as quickly as possible.
- There is a first aid station at each theme park that can often help you with simple situations like bandages, and over the counter medications and they can coordinate more complex medical needs. They can provide a private place to do things like give yourself an injection.
- Contact the manager of your resort about injuries or illness that occur at Disney World. They can help coordinate medical care and transportation and handle any issues like canceling dining so that you do not get changed a “no show” penalty. The manager may also get bottled water, crackers and similar supplies to keep you from getting dehydrated if vomiting and diarrhea are involved.
Example: My sister-in-law’s food was cut by something sharp at one of the water parks. The First Aid station dealt with the immediate issue (no stitches were required) and provided enough large bandages to take care of the wound for the rest of the trip and they provided complimentary use of a wheelchair.
One last word of advice - Decide in advance that you won’t let a small hiccup spoil your day or vacation. For your own sake and for the enjoyment of your family, do your best to get things resolved quickly and then go back into vacation mode as fast as possible.