Disney World Mess

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May 19, 2019
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#1
Let me preface this letter by explaining that I am, and have always been a huge Disney fan. My dad and I are both Disney shareholders and have been for years. As a family, we have gone at least 15 times in my life of 33 years. We have gone for pleasure, but also for cheerleading competitions hosted in the parks which make up probably 10 of those trips. This was why I was so excited to go back with my own children for the first time, as well as with my husband who hasn’t been in 20 years to celebrate his 40th birthday, my in laws, my parents, my sister and her family. A total of 11 people in which I have been planning for two years. I did my research to make sure the trip was as seamless as possible so we could truly live in the moment. Needless to say, it was anything but that.
The truth is, I was hoping that during this trip, my husband would be able to see the magic of Disney that I talked about for as long as I’ve known him, and that we would be able to be apart of the Disney Vacation Club. Well, after this experience, he never wants to come back, neither do my parents, my in-laws, or my sister which is such a shame. Below you will read how inconvenient this trip was, in detail-day by day, and how many times Disney dropped the ball on a party of 11 vacation. I expect an apology and compensation for this vacation; in fact, my whole trip should be taken care of.
My immediate family and I arrived on Wednesday morning, 5/8/19, at 10 am to the Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort. We arrived with my mother-in-law, who was awaiting her aunt who was flying in from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Upon check in, we were told the rooms weren’t ready, which we figured would be the case since we were early, so we planned on exploring and using the pool. When we checked in, we set a pin number and my husband linked his American Express credit card to the room for additional purchases. That was the extent of the check in process. Nothing else was explained to us about the dining plan, we weren’t given a brochure, we were just told we would be texted when the rooms were ready. So we spent our day at the pool, and went to eat at Jiko at night. At Jiko, the waitress was excellent; she explained that it was a two point restaurant to give us the choice to use our dining plan or not. This was helpful so that we could plan out whether we wanted to use them.
Fast forward to Thursday night, when my parents arrive. Upon arrival, they also put a credit card on file, a Visa in their name, and were not given any brochures or explanation of the dining plan. They called and made a reservation at Jiko before they arrived at the hotel so they went immediately there for dinner. While at dinner, they had a different experience in terms of service. Although the food was delicious, they were never told it was a two point restaurant at any point, and the bill was not explained to them either. Since we were all new to the bands (as our last trip was in 2012 pre-band and dining plan time), they
didn’t know anything about points. In addition to this, My mom’s pin did not work and when she went to her room, it would not open her door. She went to the front desk to resolve this issue, which was the first of her many visits to the front desk. This was the start of the mess.
The next day the 11 of us went to Magic Kingdom. This was when my band stopped working. I tried using my dining plan for our breakfast at the Crystal Palace when my pin was not working. I tried 2 times and finally had to charge it. Then I tried to pay for my daughter’s Bibbidi Bop Boutique appointment when they said my pin was incorrect. I hadn’t changed it, and was able to use it Wednesday and Thursday so I couldn’t understand why. At this point I had no cash or credit cards on me, because isn’t that the point of the bands? Convenience? I then had My mom use her band to charge it because they said if I continued to type in the pin and it was incorrect, I would be locked out. After this, we took a group photo in front of the castle (specifically “Partners Left”). When I checked my photos before we left the park, there were none of the photos from the earlier in the day including these photos. I went back to the spot where we had the shots taken, and asked the new photographer who replaced ours, how I could find my photo. I was directed to the theater by the front where the photo counter was. I stood there for 20 minutes looking through photos from our Splash Mountain ride experience (between 10:15 and 10:45 am) and the group shot in front of the castle, both of which my band was tapped.
Later that day, I arrived back at our resort and while my family was at the pool, I went back to my room to shower for dinner. This was when I was locked out of my room. I then tried using the app on my phone to unlock the door and that wouldn't work. I made my way to the front desk for the first of my many visits to clear up band issues. They tapped my band and then I reset my pin and I was on my way. It worked for this night. However, my parents then went back to Jiko for dinner and took my nephew who is 5 years old. Once again they all had a meal and were charged for 2 points each. Again, they were not aware of the meal being two points, so at this point they already used up 4 of their 5 meals without even knowing, in addition to my nephew who also used 2 points- which is another issue entirely. A child’s meal should never be two points if they are being offered mac and cheese or grilled chicken. That’s just unacceptable! An adult’s meal I can understand, but not when the menu for kids is essentially the same in every restaurant, one point or two.
Saturday comes, 5/11/19, and we would go to Hollywood Studios. As I got breakfast this morning, I was not able to use my pin because once again it said it was incorrect. Thank goodness my husband was with me so he used his band. I could not go to the desk because we had fast passes to get to and just figured it was a fluke. At the park I tried using my band for lunch, and it didn’t work so my husband had to pay cash. I then went to use my snacks for some ices for us and once again it wouldn’t work. I knew we had a ton of snacks left on our plan, but I couldn’t use them. As soon as we got back to the hotel, I went to the front desk to clear up the
pin issue again. They then said when my band was tapped that it was coming up that I was two people; myself and my mom. They said this is why we were both being locked out of our rooms and why our pins wouldn’t work, and they did credit me the amount of lunch which was extremely appreciated. At the same time, My mom had to go to the front desk because her pin was not working either and asked to be told the amount of meals she had left. She was told she had one and was only then explained about the point system. She was completely shocked that she had one left after just two dinners. This was when the front desk asked if she was given a brochure upon check in to explain the dining plan. This was the first time we were informed that we were to be given an brochure and explanation. The front desk, at this point, told her that they would put back the two points per person which would make a total of four, to her dining plan. This didn’t happen, instead they added quick service meals, but they didn’t realize this until Sunday.
Going back to Saturday night, my immediate family had dinner reservations at Yachtsman’s Steakhouse. I made sure to check whether or not this was a 2 point meal before we left and decided to use our points for this. When I tried, I could not use my pin once again so we paid cash. The next morning for Mother’s Day, we planned on going down to the buffet as a family, all 11 of us, for breakfast, and then we would spend our day at the pool. When I left my room, I tried to get back in just to see, and I couldn’t. My band once again, for the third day in a row, did not work. So before I went to meet everyone for our Mother’s Day breakfast, I went to the front desk, again. Here I was helped by Zach and Tempest (I think this was her name, and I believe she was a manager). For more than a half hour, they tried to figure out why my band and my mom’s band were still connected making neither one work. They tried a bunch of things, and finally they asked me if I had plans in which I told them I was missing my breakfast being there. So they told me I could go down so I didn’t miss anything and gave me back my band. Instead of going to the buffet, they had gone to Mara- the quick serve- because they felt bad eating without me. Once I got to the cashier, my band DID NOT WORK, after just wasting another 45 minutes of my day. I was so flustered, the kind gentleman let me go. I needed and wanted to spend time with my family, because that is what I paid close to $10,000 to do in Disney. I figured I would go back to the front desk after we spent time together at the pool. Which my first hour was ruined due to the fact that I was so frustrated that this was still happening. Around 1pm, my mom, my sister, and I went to the front desk together to straighten everything out once again. At this point, My mom asked about the points that were supposed to be put back on her account. This was when they asked us again if a cast member explained the dining plan to us when we checked in, to which we all said that they hadn’t. They also said that one of us, either my mom or myself had to delete our My Experience accounts and create another one in order to fix the issue of the bands together. Anne was the cast member helping us at this time, and I am unsure of the supervisor’s name who was helping also, but she was very helpful. My mom said to delete her account. We just did not understand why or how this happened; most importantly why it took this long to fix.
Another half hour went by, and mom got her 4 points back on her meal plan, my sister got her 2 points for her son’s meal from that same night, and they reimbursed me for my meal the night before because we could not use our points. They also had to fix the charge that was placed on my mom’s bill that was from my meal at Crystal Palace. Again, we have no idea why or how this even happened. So they transferred that from her bill to mine. While we were at the front desk, my mother-in-law had a turkey sandwich and an alcoholic beverage at the pool bar. Her aunt also had an alcoholic beverage. They thought they were getting charged for one quick meal and were paying for two alcoholic beverages (charged to the room). They each had one table service meal deducted instead. Since they were unsure of how the meal plan worked they assumed everything was what it should be. To top things off, when I left to go get lunch, they then said my band had no charging permission. I was done at this point, and I was not wasting another minute at that desk! We later spent our evening in Epcot where half of our party rode “Test Track.” My husband tapped his band, and nothing showed up. I waited until we got back to New York to call, in which I spent another 23 minutes on the phone with the PhotoPass department explaining when they rode the ride (between 8:15 and 8:45 pm) and what they were wearing. They were finally located, and put on to my account. Once again, another thing I paid for that didn’t work.
Fast forward to check out, my parents leave 5 am from the hotel on Monday, 5/13/19. They receive their itemized bill which only has the 11th and 12th on it. They ask if this is all they owe, and they were told yes. They then paid their bill which was about $204 and went on their way. I received my bill via email that same morning and checked it. It was the first time, everything looked correct. We left around 10 am that morning and before I left, I checked with a cast member regarding two charges on my husband’s Amex card that were not on the bill. He explained that they were just pending and would go away within 24 hours-this is also not true; it takes 5-7 days for most financial institutions as I was told when I made a phone call in the upcoming days. After getting home from a 9 hour delayed flight, I went on my credit card just to check things. This was when I found a charge for $587 on a card that I used to book the trip and pay for the balance, but was NOT given to the front desk to use as room charges. For that we used my husband’s Amex, as I said. So I was completely thrown and confused as to what this could be for. I sent two emails via the app the next day, which I still haven’t gotten a response to. On Thursday, 5/16/19, I called the billing department and spoke to Michael who explained to me for the first time that on Saturday, 5/11/19, the AKL desk created a new reservation for my parents, and that all the charges for the days prior (5/9 & 5/10) were charged to my card.
This was troubling to me since I did not even give this card during check in, but they used it since the room was booked on it. Once again, no one was told of a new reservation being made or anything. At this time, I had my mom check her credit card to make sure she was charged and she was. I told Michael that I am not responsible for those charges to my card because they come up as My parents’. He then explained that as a courtesy, he would refund half. This again was unacceptable because I didn’t make these charges, and it is not my bill to pay.
Since My mom already paid her bill, it is not hers either. Michael then said he would credit me half of the $435.66- not the $587.55, and then that mom would have to call with the reference number, pay the other $217.83, and then I would be refunded. With this, mom calls, gives the reference number and says she owes money. They cast member on the line said she owes nothing and doesn’t know what she is talking about; her bill was covered. I call back, and by chance, get Michael again. I explained how she just called and the situation. He said that she would have to call back and pay, and I said absolutely not. We spent hours of our time at the front desk during our vacation, now we spent hours on the phone during our own working hours. None of any of the issues were our fault. NOT ONE! If my mom was just told she owes nothing, then I am not the one to pick up her tab because of mistakes on Disney’s end. To which I told Michael that my mom will not pay a cent more and nor will I, so the charges on my card need to be taken care of. He transferred me to his Supervisor, Justina, who didn’t want to refund the money that I didn’t spend. This was when I got really upset. I explained that this was my kids’ first Disney trip, my husband’s 40th birthday celebration in which I spent way too much time stressed over my band that was supposed to be “so convenient” and “easy”. Let alone my Mother’s Day being ruined while she thinks I’m trying to get over on a $217.83 charge after I just spent $10,000. I was disgusted, and truly turned off by all of Disney at this point. She threatened to hang up which was when I started to cry. Only then did she say should would talk to her leaders to see if she could do something about it. She came back on the phone and said that they don’t normally do this, and wouldn’t normally refund money, but she would out of good will (strange to be out of good will if it’s clearly stated on a bill that the charges are not mine). I thanked her, and apologized for getting loud, and went on with my day. Although the charges have not been credited to my account yet, I hope they will (although I still don’t know why I am being charged the difference of $152.22???).
As I stated earlier, my hopes were to leave Disney being apart of the Disney Vacation Club, but that will never happen after this experience. For two years it is all I talked about; even my coworkers were so excited for us to go, only to have one disappointment after the next, and to then be treated like we didn’t deserve any compensation. When asked how Disney was upon our return, I couldn’t lie or fake my feelings because I was and still am disgusted by what actually happened versus my expectations; very valid expectations! I could NOT wait for this experience because we knew it would be the last time we would all be able to go on a family vacation of this magnitude and that is what upsets me the most. Sure I have memories with my children on their first trip that I will cherish, but unfortunately the negatives blow the positives out of the water. This was not a quick weekend trip; it was a very expensive, well thought out, vacation that should have been far beyond expectations for the price. Something needs to be changed on Disney’s end. The bands and the system they are connected to need to be revamped. The booking system needs to be fixed so credit cards don’t get crossed, and there should be a simple way fix or just replace a band. Something that was supposed to be seamless, was anything but that.
Sincerely,
VPS
 
Dec 19, 2014
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#2
Your post is effective unreadable.

Your request for "The whole trip being taken care of" is unreasonable and will not be granted.

It sounds like the crux of the issue was with the magic band and misinformation over the dining plan.
All dinners at signature restaurants (ie Jiko, Yachtsman) are 2 credits.
You are missing critical information in your post. Was there 1 room booked or multiple rooms?
 
May 19, 2019
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#4
Your post is effective unreadable.

Your request for "The whole trip being taken care of" is unreasonable and will not be granted.

It sounds like the crux of the issue was with the magic band and misinformation over the dining plan.
All dinners at signature restaurants (ie Jiko, Yachtsman) are 2 credits.
You are missing critical information in your post. Was there 1 room booked or multiple rooms?
Multiple rooms, 4 to be exact. What critical information do you think I am missing? I am going to edit the post to highlight the issues.
 

Michelle Couch-Friedman

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
I would suggest that you read this article written (below) by our publisher Christopher Elliot before you rewrite your complaint. It will help you understand what kind of letters are most favorably received by company executives (and what kind of letters are often completely ignored).

The most effective problem-solving missions contain a short, polite rendition of the problem(s) and end with a reasonable resolution request.

How to fix your own consumer problem
 
Dec 19, 2014
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#10
VPS,

I’ve had some more time to digest your post. It appears there are 3 issues:

  • Dining plan issues. All signature restaurants are 2 credits for dinner. A CM (cast member) should have informed your parents that Jiko is a 2-credit meal. Since this was not explained, had you brought this up to a CM, the solution would have been to adjust your credits. The appropriate supervisor is empowered to do that. Did you mention this to anyone during your stay and did anyone offer to adjust the credits during the stay?
  • Magic band issues. This should not have happened. This should not have occurred, and I would focus your letter on this fact. Disney will offer you appropriate compensation. I’m surprised that no one could fix your issues during your stay.
  • Room charge errors. From what I can surmise, there were 2 separate accounts created when you and your parents checked in. Your parent’s balance got placed on your account.
  • “Since My mom already paid her bill, it is not hers either.”
  • But it is her bill.
    Ultimately, it depends on how this was booked. Is it under 1 reservation number? Or separate reservation numbers. If it is under 1 reservation number, then the amount owed by your parents would default back to the primary account holder, which in this case is you.
When you write Disney, focus on the above issues. Obviously, your experience is not typical of a Disney vacation. Disney goes above and beyond to make things right, but as far as expectations for a full refund, that is unreasonable and unlikely to be granted.

Regardless, it is Disney’s policy to respond to every complaint, and you will receive a phone call.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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#11
What I don't understand is why you did not ask about the dining plan? Apparently, you have never used the Dining Plan on previous trips. If I buy something like a membership or a pre-paid dining plan, I'm going to ask how it works. I'm going to ask for the brochure. Neither you nor your parents requested the information. Yes, they should have given it to you, but they didn't. That's when you need to speak up and get the info yourself. After your Jiko experience, I would be at the front desk at AKL making sure I got that brochure and one for my parents. IMHO, the Dining Plan is horrible--a waste of food, a hassle, and not a good value--the ONLY time I think is a good buy is for school groups whereby mom and dad who are not going on the trip, can pre-pay Little Susie's meals and know that food money won't be spent on souvenirs.

The Magic Bands issue is valid, for sure. I have been to WDW at least 30 times since 2008 (and owned DVC at Bay Lake Tower). I have never had a problem with my band, but I do know that it does happen.

I see that you had issues with the bands:
photo pass (were you able to retrieve all your photos?)
being locked out of your room,
Dining Plan, (did you eventually get all your credits and did you use them?)
and room charging

For the last one, I always make sure that I always have some cash with me to help out if there is a glitch. With so much trouble with your magic bands and charging, you could have simply used your credit card for purchases. It is not required to use the bands as a charge card.

Did your magic bands work for your scheduled Fast passes?
 
Aug 30, 2015
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#12
I see the main problem was with the recurring Disney band problems. Did everyone have a separate Disney account? Or were there two bands on one Disney account? We had a party of 13. The travel agent, my mother's travel agent, had no clue how to set up Disney. No clue at all. I got the whole family on a conference call,and got everyone set up on Disney accounts. Even the children, with parental control. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom lodge too, and there was not a single problem with the bands. That said, the travel agents who sell these packages need training. They absolutely must be set up properly. Sorry you had such trouble.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,505
15,836
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#13
When you book on your own, you need to read yo and know about what you purchase. The front desk employees are not in the business of knowing whether you know about the dining plan, fast pass or anything else unless you ask them.

Their website has everything you need to know.

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/plans/

The magic bands absolutely were an issue and Chris in NC has great advice on what to do.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,505
15,836
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#14
I see the main problem was with the recurring Disney band problems. Did everyone have a separate Disney account? Or were there two bands on one Disney account? We had a party of 13. The travel agent, my mother's travel agent, had no clue how to set up Disney. No clue at all. I got the whole family on a conference call,and got everyone set up on Disney accounts. Even the children, with parental control. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom lodge too, and there was not a single problem with the bands. That said, the travel agents who sell these packages need training. They absolutely must be set up properly. Sorry you had such trouble.
No indication she used a travel agent. But if you want an agent who know how to set up the bands you need to find one that specializes in selling Disney. Agents that don’t focus on Disney don’t usually travel to Disney and may not have time to learn besides doing all their other work. We have a Disney Specialist on staff because my wife has no time to keep up with Disney and their changes.
 
Aug 30, 2015
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#15
No indication she used a travel agent. But if you want an agent who know how to set up the bands you need to find one that specializes in selling Disney. Agents that don’t focus on Disney don’t usually travel to Disney and may not have time to learn besides doing all their other work. We have a Disney Specialist on staff because my wife has no time to keep up with Disney and their changes.
My mother was paying for the trip and insisted on using her travel agent, who did not have a clue how to sell it. The trip cost about $30,000. I jumped in and made sure it was set up properly after giving her ample time. But since it had come to the point where we could have booked the fast passes, I jumped in as if she'd known what to do, she would have had it done by then. They did not learn about her mistakes with one of the plane tickets until the first leg of the trip (I booked my plane tickets separately).
 
Feb 12, 2019
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#16
Just an fyi but the Disney dining plans did exist before 2012. Like was said above they're not really good deals, maybe when you get them "free" with a hotel if the prices aren't jacked up for it. As much trouble as it was, it sounds like they compensated by giving you the points back. Make sure to always look into what you're buying before you try to use it!

The magic bands should have been fixed. It likely stemmed from you booking all the rooms on your account and then wanting to separate them upon checkin. The bands don't use just one system - it's several all working together and problems arise if it's only fixed in one program and they don't talk well together or you try to use that's on a separate system from the one you just fixed it in. My friend and I had an issue when our accounts got locked together - luckily it was only our tickets, but it took several instances to fully fix.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
8,061
7,948
113
San Francisco
#17
Full marks to everyone who read this post! I stopped after reading twice that "nobody explained the dining plan". That could also read "nobody asked the hotel about the dining plan".

Our OP needs to make a concise list of the relevant facts, in chronological order. Leave out all the extraneous information. I'm sure we can help if we know exactly what happened.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,505
15,836
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#18
My mother was paying for the trip and insisted on using her travel agent, who did not have a clue how to sell it. The trip cost about $30,000. I jumped in and made sure it was set up properly after giving her ample time. But since it had come to the point where we could have booked the fast passes, I jumped in as if she'd known what to do, she would have had it done by then. They did not learn about her mistakes with one of the plane tickets until the first leg of the trip (I booked my plane tickets separately).
I understand. I am talking about the OP- there is no
indication she used an agent.

My point is that agents that specialize in Disney are the ones you should use if you book Disney.
 
Aug 30, 2015
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#19
I understand. I am talking about the OP- there is no
indication she used an agent.

My point is that agents that specialize in Disney are the ones you should use if you book Disney.
Yes, everyone should use someone that knows. Unfortunately, in my mother's case, she was not referred to an expert, and the agent that made the booking made the impression that she was qualified to sell Disney, which she absolutely was not. The OP's problems might well be related to improper disney account setups, and the people at the hotel likely did not recognize or know what to do. Although it is mystifying that one with problems on a band would get into the park. These bands have been around for years, even though they changed to a newer one some time ago, and tens of thousands of people use them each day, without PIN problems, so I don't think it is a problem with the system per se.
 
Likes: Neil Maley