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When Good Rooms Go Bad: Lodging a Complaint with Disney.

I trust Disney resorts. I trust that they’ll be clean, that they’ll be safe, that the staff will be friendly and efficient, and that issues that come up will be addressed quickly.  That’s been my experience.  Part of the joy of staying on property is knowing what you’re getting every time, whether you pay $58 a night or $458 a night.  But no company is perfect.  Such was the case last weekend at the Contemporary Resort.

My good friend had never stayed on Disney property before. Truth be told, until this trip she wasn’t much of a Disney parks fan.  But she was coming down for the Wine and Dine marathon and remembered wanting to stay at the Contemporary as a kid, so she decided to give it a try and booked a Magic Kingdom view for a two night stay.  The room was gorgeous. I know not everyone “gets” the theming of the resort, but I think most people can appreciate the room itself. Nice comfy beds, an incredible, big bathroom, and nice modern accents that make the room luxurious.  She lucked out and got an 11th floor room right in the middle of the tower, possibly the prettiest view of the Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon you could ask for.

There was just one problem:  The room wasn’t clean.  There were crumbs all over the floor in the entry way. The rug was dirty and had not been vacuumed.  The windows were covered in little hand prints.  The fold out couch had a large stain on it, as did one of the lampshades.  And the built-in closets were covered in a thick white dust. Clearly, no one had bothered to dust in a couple of weeks.  At this point, this wasn’t an issue with the cleaning crew so much as one with supervisors.

Now, my room that same weekend at the All Stars was immaculate.  That’s what I expected.  And I think if you’re paying more than four times as much as I was paying, you deserve the same thing.  At this point, I just want to make one thing clear. I’m not a complainer.  I was once a Private in the Army, so I know what it’s like to work for demanding people who never thank you.  I won’t ever forget that and as a result I try to be as accommodating as possible.  This is especially true at Disney, where I try to give cast members a break.  All Disney fans know that there’s a certain type of resort guest who makes a lot of unreasonable demands; some of them pride themselves on it.  We all know that being a cast member is a really hard job and that a lot of them do it because they love the company and they enjoy bringing some magic into people’s lives. So I don’t complain, I say thank you and please even if they’re too busy to notice, and I always tip at least 20%, even at buffets.  But at a certain point, you have to say something. This was that point.

My friend called down to the front desk and a bit later was moved to another room after the manager, who was both friendly and professional, confirmed that the room was unacceptable. Even he seemed a little surprised by its condition.  Unfortunately, this room had a very obvious safety hazard that the manager noticed right away. Since there were no other rooms available with that view, she was moved back into her original room. They gave the room a quick cleaning and compensated my friend rather generously, even by Disney standards.  She didn’t let this ruin her stay and is looking forward to going back. I felt pretty bad though. I was the one who talked her into going.  This was my “happy place” and I wanted to share it with her.  It would have been nice if things had gone more smoothly.

As I said, I try not to be a complainer, but I also think it’s important to let a business know when they’re doing something wrong, especially when it’s a place you care about. This shouldn’t have happened. In fact, this almost never does happen.  As I stated above, that’s why I stay on Disney property.   That same weekend we had such great service at the California Grill from our server, Charmaine, that I sent Disney an email to let them know. I also sent in comments about my room at the All Stars. I wasn’t crazy about the theme, but every cast member I ran into there was excellent and the room could not have been more clean.

If you have an issue with your room or the service you’re receiving, by all means, let Disney know.  But don’t forget your manners. Just this last trip, I witnessed a woman using very loud, four-letter words in the lobby of the Contemporary over some room mix-up. She wasn’t helping her family or her case and I couldn’t help but really feel for cast member she was verbally abusing.   Remember that Disney is a unique company and many cast members take a lot of pride in being part of it; in my experience, they’ll bend over backwards to help you. The company holds itself to a higher standard. Because of this, most of us expect better from Disney than we do from, for example, the Marriott or Holiday Inn.  But that also works against it, because it brings out a strong sense of entitlement in some guests. So remember when you complain, be nice.  This person has a hard job.  But by all means, let your comments be known.  Good or bad, they count.

If you want to compliment a cast member or relay an issue you’ve had during your stay, email Disney at WDW.Guest.Communications@disneyworld.com.  It’s especially important to let them know about good service, as this helps deserving cast members advance within the company.

10 Comments

  1. I loved my stay in ’09 at the Contemporary.. I don’t think we had any complaints. But this summers stay at the Caribbean was disappointing – very uncomfortable beds. Not expecting that for $200 a night! But, the cast members were fantastic when our fridge didn’t work. They’ve never been a problem for me! Hope your friend found the magic!

  2. Of all the times I’ve been to Disney, my rooms have been spotless! It’s unfortunate to hear about your friend’s room on her first trip to Disney! :( But Disney’s great with giving her something in return for her messy room..gotta love it! The only problem I’ve ever had with Disney hotels was that the Wilderness Lodge’s hot tubs weren’t open past 10! haha awesome blog girl..love disney and love reading about it!!

    xoxo http://juicylifegirl.blogspot.com/

  3. I worked in the service/retail industry for many years and sometimes, things just happen. We’re all human..I understand that and I am pretty understanding when it comes to these things, anywhere I go. But I do lodge complaints when necessary. A business cannot make changes and learn and grow from experiences, if they don’t know about them.

  4. Thanks for your comments. I hesitated to post this because I love Disney (yeah, it’s obvious) but I figure it’s good to put it out there. That room goes for around $550 w/out a discount. That’s a lot money! You could stay at Pop (clean and cute) and buy yourself some nice shoes.

  5. I can think of three times I’ve had to complain at Disney, although none were about room quality – one was the hotel’s failure to provide a crib after saying they had one and would put it in the room right away (this went on for an entire weekend – it was almost farcical, actually) and the others had to do with disabled accessibility issues in a water park and on Disney transport. The last was particularly disappointing because we had tickets to a spring training game at Wide World of Sports and missed the first couple of innings because the lift on the Disney bus didn’t work – and the driver admitted he’d not checked it before starting his run, which he was supposed to do. In all cases, Disney was great about fixing what they could and giving us some sort of compensation when they couldn’t. They will do whatever it takes to make sure you are happy at Disney!

  6. Apparently you Disney fans haven’t been back in a few years. The Disney magic is slowly disappearing. My daughter and her family recently stayed at a moderate Disney Resort for 10 days. As a family we have been staying at Disney since 1971. There was not a day that there was not a problem. Item missing from room, poor service, rude employees, Misinformation,etc. Needless to say, Disney no longer has the policy of making guest happy. I feel very bad because my daughter has saved for 4 years for this vacation and now she never plans to return. Disney needs to do some revamping and get back there magic.

  7. Disney does not care about repeat business…..It promised to stop construction going on outside of our windows and didn’t for 6 days. It forced all of our party of 10 to wake up 7;30am every day…they know they have leverage against you because of your little kids…so they will say anything and do anything to keep you there…we spent 25,000 dollars and stayed at the Polynesian(Garbage hotel for the money in every way) and all they did was dangle carrots to keep us there. No Customer service whatsoever!!!!! P.S. GM of Polynesian is the same as Grand Floridian…So good luck people.

  8. Disney resorts charges the time-share owners a whopping 52.000 dollars per room a year in maintenace, can anyone believes that still you have to put up with anything wrong when you have a vacation there???

  9. I booked a stay at the Caribbean Beach Hotel for Father’s Day weekend, checking in the 14th and out on the 15th. We are annual pass holders, and live in Tampa just over an hour away, so it is not necessary for us to spend a couple of hundred dollars to spend the night at Disney, or a couple of hundred more on food and drinks, but we do enjoy the amenities of the hotels and like to do so. We had spent a weekend at Caribbean Beach last month and had enjoyed it immensely, so we decided to return to the same resort.

    This time, our stay was a complete let down. We went to our room, and immediately, the rain and thunder began. I understand this is not the resort’s issue, it is June in Florida, this is to be expected as a possibility. However, it was an issue for the resort that when I went to turn on the TV for our 2 children, I was met with “NO SIGNAL”. I called the front and was told maintenance would have to come look at our TV. This was at 1:15-1:30. After 3:00 when no one had come, I called again. Maintenance showed up within 30 minutes of this call, took one look, and said “Sorry, it is out because of the storm. I cannot fix this”, and left. He was there maybe 2 minutes. And our cell signal was so poor, I could not even get our cell phones to adequately run Netflix to entertain our children. The weather was such that it would not be a good idea to go to the theme parks during this time, as it was lightning outside. I call the front one last time to ask when the TV and internet might be up (seeing as how my children had been confined to a quiet, tiny hotel room for 4 hours now with nothing to do but stare at one another), and received the rudest rep I have ever spoken with in my life. I asked about the TV and explained that we could not go to the pool, could not watch TV or use the internet, and could not go to the parks, and that we were growing somewhat frustrated with the few things we should have been able to do in room not working. The rep informed me of course I could go to the parks- well… yes, I guess I could, if I wanted to be struck by lightning. She then proceeded to ask if my party was injured, if anyone was hurt, and if not, then our stay couldn’t be that bad. I was appalled that our concerns were being trivialized to the point where if one of us was not bleeding or injured, then we should not feel dissatisfied with our stay. The rep then told me there had been a “terrible storm with extreme damage”. This was not true either, we had been there throughout the storms, and while a hindrance to anyone who wanted to leave the room, it was not an extreme storm, and I pointed this out. I was then told, “oh, you wouldn’t believe the damage caused to the parks and resorts!”, and at this point I did tell her she was correct, I didn’t believe it and decided to end the conversation. During all of this, the pools remained closed as well, due to the weather, which is understandable. Finally at 10:00 our kids finally were able to swim for an hour. When we returned to the room, I checked the TV and of course it is still out. I didn’t even bother calling at this point. We got up and returned home the next morning.

    No working TV, no working internet, no decent phone signal, and a rude rep who told us we should be thankful no one was hurt or injured. We would like to continue coming and spending the night at the Disney Resorts, but we will not if this is the treatment we can look forward to.

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