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Walt Disney World / Year of a million nightmares!

1 United States Review updated:

On our recent trip to Walt Disney World, my family was almost ran over by a parking lot tram while we (and many other guests) were crossing in a marked crosswalk to the Handicapped parking lot at Epcot. My 78 year old father,in an electric scooter due to his Parkinson's disease, and my 10 year old daughter were nearly hit by the tram. It came within a foot of dad's scooter.

I have sent a letter to Disney, but after two weeks, I have heard nothing and don't expect to since Disney World is well known in numerous publications for ignoring complaints and problems. I am not asking for monetary compensation but a simple, formal, official apology and to know what their resolution of the persons involved in the situation were. (I live in Ohio, park admission tickets alone would be a waste anyhow.) Here is the letter I sent to Disney with all the details: August 13, 2007 Guest Claims Walt Disney Company P.O. Box 10000 Lake Buena Vista, Florida [protected] To whom it may concern: I am writing to you to tell you about our recent trip to Walt Disney World and one event near the end of the trip that totally devastated my 9 year old daughter and put a damper on the whole trip.

My family, along with some friends from Washington state, visited Disney World from July 30-August 5 of this year. This was my daughter's first visit to Disney World and my first since 1989. Our family group consisted of myself and my wife and our 9 year old daughter, my mother in law, my parents(both 78), my sister in law and her husband and 2 year old daughter and our friends a family of four (with 2 teenage daughters) who traveled from Washington State. We had been planning this trip for over a year. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease earlier this summer and as a result had to use a motorized scooter while at Disney World. We stayed for six nights at the Port Orleans French Quarter, had 7 day park hopper tickets with Disney Dining Plan. First, let me say that the French Quarter was a fantastic hotel, we all enjoyed our stay there and the staff is excellent. The Disney Dining plan is also a very good option as wellin fact we were trying to use up all of our entitlements the last few days! (I think we may have still had one child's sit down meal left!) As far as the weather and crowds: it was hot and the parks were crowded and we lost most of our day at Animal Kingdom to the rain. But I am not complaining about those items. We selected that time period to come and were well aware (and prepared) for those issues.

The one issue that is minor that I will bring up before my major issue was Valet Parking at the Contemporary Hotel. We went to the Contemporary on Thursday, August 2 for dinner and I was planning to drop my parents (and the scooter) off at the door. When I pulled up and told the Valets this, they said that since we had a Handicapped License on our vehicle (it was our personal vehicle that we had driven down), the valet parking was free. They told the second vehicle (which also had a handicapped placard) the same thing. When we got our final bill for the week, there were $10 Valet Parking charges on both bills from the Contemporary Hotel! The front desk staff of the Port Orleans was very helpful and removed the charges. It seem very Unprofessional of those Valets to tell people one thing but then go ahead and make the charge from the hotel registration in the window! I didn't think Disney would prey on handicapped people like that! How many other Handicapped patrons have been taken advantage of this way?? Now for the major issue and the real purpose of this letter. On Friday, August 3, 2007, our party was leaving Epcot at about 9:05 p.m. (This time is accurate because Illuminations had just begun and since we had seen it earlier in the week, we decided to leave.) We were parked in the Handicapped lot to the left as you are looking toward Spaceship Earth. There were two trams parked in the driveway between the handicapped lot and the main entrance. Our party, along with several other patrons, began to cross (in the crosswalk) the tramway between the lot and the gates. About 6 people, including my sister and brother in law (carrying his 2 year old), myself and some other guests were in the lead. All of a sudden one of the trams (#28) began to reve its engine, it jumped a couple of times and came roaring toward the crosswalk. We moved quickly and my brother in law and I (in the rear of this group) just got out of the way before the tram came roaring through. The tram went about four cars and stopped. I then looked through the tram cars to see my dad and daughter looking shocked on the other side. (the rest of our group was behind them.

At this point, myself and another gentleman from the group who had got across headed to the front of the train as did my father and a couple of other people who were still on the other side. (the tram was now blocking the crosswalk.) As we approached the cab, several Epcot Parking people (in yellow suits/vests) had converged on the cab from the other way. As we approached I saw what appeared to be the person in charge showing some flashlight symbols to the driver (still in his cab.) and shaking his head. (Could that mean the driver wasn't properly trained?) As we approached the cab, some of the parking lot workers saw us and said: 'we are handling this, it is under control.' At that point my father was very upset and said: 'that guy almost killed us!' (He explained that the tram had missed the front of his scooter by mere inches and my daughter was right beside him!) The gentleman I was with identified himself as a season pass holder and asked to speak to a Manager.I also expressed my opinion about the driver. The lead parking lot worker and an African American woman then began to become very irate with us and told us things like: 'it was a mistake,' 'he didn't mean to do it' 'we are handling this' and then the clincher: 'this is an internal matter, its none of your business.' (none of our business we almost got killed!!). The leader then instructed the driver to move the tram. We were incensed; he was going to let this plainly incompetent driver continue to drive! Both the season pass holder and I stated that if the guy was allowed to continue driving, we would make a large scene and call everyone we could. The person who appeared to be in charge then replaced the driver and drove the tram away himself. The season pass holder then told the parking people that he was going to wait to speak to a Manager. My father, mother and daughter were still shaken by these events, so I chose to leave the scene at this point to get them back to the hotel.

Once back at the hotel, my father had to go to Concierge for another matter and while there, he reported the incident. The concierge at Port Orleans was fantastic! They made several calls right then and there about the incident and said that someone from Epcot Management would be calling us the next day on my cell phone. They also gave us the card for the manager of Epcot. The call never came until Tuesday, August 7 as we were driving home from Florida. They were supposed to call the next day, but of course waited until we had been checked out for two days. The person on the phone first spoke to my father and then me and we told her the whole story. It sounded as if she had never heard about it, so my guess is that no incident report was filed the night of the incident in spite of the fact that people were almost ran over!! She thanked me for my report and said she would look into it. I asked her for a follow up call to make sure the situation was handled. She said that Disney does not do that. I told her that I expected a follow upcall or I would pursue this through a legal course. She did call me back on Saturday, August 11 and informed me that Epcot had handled the situation but she could not provide me with any details. I then informed her of the latest development and she was the one who gave me the 'Guest Claims' address to write to. I most likely would have dropped this whole issue after her follow up call, except for something that happened after we got home. On Thursday, someone asked my daughter what she remembered most about her trip to Walt Disney World. Her reply was: 'Grandpa and I almost got ran over by a tram.' I'm sorry, but a 9 year olds memory of her first visit to Disney World should not be that. She has also been very quiet about the trip to Disney ever since that night. When school resumes in 10 days, I plan on asking the School Psychologist to talk to her and I am hopeful that this incident has not scared her. As a result, I have decided to write these letters to you and others at Disney. Since I can't read the report of that night and know that the driver has been properly punished, I am also considering telling my story in a letter to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel (which someone the Unofficial Guide gave me the address to) so that the driver will see what he has done to a little girl and get a real punishment. (since he probably is still on the job with no loss of time or pay) I may also write the story to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch, my hometown paper. You should also know that I am waiting on a response from the State of Florida as to who I need to contact there to file an unsafe operation complaint about the tram operation at Epcot. I have also began to tell this story on Travel Websites and may write to travel magazines and my father is preparing a letter for the AARP. I have read many books in preparation for my trip to Disney and the one thing that sticks out from the 'Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World' is a comment that Disney World's biggest flaw is that it does not really respond to or act on complaints, so I don't expect a response. I'm sure this will all be shoved under the rug. Epcot should be ashamed of this whole incident and especially the attitudes and actions of the cast members around that tram that night. They were certainly the worst examples of Disney I have ever encountered. The whole bunch should have been punished.

The sad part about all of this is that IF that tram had been just a foot either way from its path, this would have been handled completely differently what would the public reaction have been if a 78 year old man in a scooter and a 9 year old girl had actually been hit OR if my brother in law had been hit carrying his 2 year old??? We give thanks to God that he was watching out for us that night. (My friends from Washington State were also in an auto accident on Sunday afternoon as we were driving from Disney to Cocoa Beach. They were in their rental mini van when they were rammed at a toll booth, totaling the car and destroying much of their luggage. God watched over them as well then as there was no injuries!) Year of a Million Dreams??? Hopefully my daughter won't think of this as a ' year of a million nightmares! '

Va
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Comments

Ev
  15th of Sep, 2007
0 Votes

You are crazy if you think that by sending idle threats to Disney they are going to send you a copy of the pink slip they issued when they fired the tram driver. (Which probably didn't happen.) Disney is probably not afraid of you or anyone else who says they'll write to the Orlando Sentinel or any paper. Besides, the trams don't exactly sneak up on you. They're like 100 feet long and loud. Who would REALLY be to blame here? The manager told you correcty, how they handle it is none of your business. If it was, then every day you'd be getting people fired wherever you go and have the slightest of issues. No respectable company in the world would inform a customer of the discipline being parlayed to an employee, and certainly would not react on the customer's demand.

What do you hope to accomplish by writing this memoir to Disney? If it makes you happy, I guess it was worth it. I'm sorry I wasted my time skimming through it, but figured since I had, I would let you know what a lunatic I thought you came off like. For the sake of your family, I hope you behave a little more sanely at home! ..and at work, or a nutso customer might have you fired. :-)

Ga
  17th of Sep, 2007
-1 Votes

You might get a better response from a company if your complaint letter at least attempts to be gramatically correct and readable. The letter is also far too long for anyone to want to read through, much less an employee who reads long, ill-written complaint letters all day, every day. Some of the things you're complaining about aren't even worth it... the valets gave you information but there was still a charge on yor bill. Did the front desk hassle you at all, or did they remove the charges with a smile? PEOPLE MAKE MISTAKES and it does not mean that someone is trying to take advantage of you! You come across as whiny and having an overinflated sense of entitlement.

Ga
  17th of Sep, 2007
+1 Votes

Oh my god... you know, I actually did muddle through to get to the details of your "major" issue... you are a real piece of work. You know nothing about the situation of the tram driver, and honestly, it's not for you to know. Someone made a mistake and you are threatening to take it through legal courses if you are not satisfied that he has been "punished"? For all you know, the man could have become ill, the tram could have malfunctioned, or anything. If your daughter is "damaged" from all this it is probably because you are being neurotic about it and she's being raised by an absolute basket case. It's people like you who make CS reps want to completely ignore even valid complaints.

Ro
  4th of Mar, 2008
-1 Votes

I too have had a trip of a million nightmares and received no apology from Disney. I tried contacting guest services and was told that they do not deal with little people just travel agents.
I received no response to questions to Disney corporate or the ceo so I probably will not get any information I asked for.
A member of my family is also handicapped as am I so I believe that people such as us will never be treated with respect at any Disney property.

This trip was also a first trip for two grandchildren and I am glad that they were too little to understand what was going on( which I shall not go into here).

I was very upset that children under 3 are not feed on a meal plan unless they eat off your plate.(children do not like the same things as adults as a rule) so meals had to be purchased over the cost of the meal plans.

I would not reccomend that anyone go to ANY Disney park, I know that I will not.

Lg
  5th of Apr, 2008
+1 Votes

Disney does not discriminate against the handicapped! That's crazy to even imply that they do!

I have a handicapped individual in my family and we have never had any problems! As a matter of fact, we have had cast members go out of their way to make our experience even more magical!

We have gone to Disney World so many times that I have lost count and have never had a problem! And the trams don't just sneak up on you. How can you miss a very long and very loud tram coming at you??

Da
  12th of Jun, 2008
+1 Votes

let me get this straight...you were ALMOST hit by a tram??? And you want what? Look, the first response was correct, these trams are LOUD and clearly visible. And quite frankly, people in these scooters seem to think they are entitled to having the world stop for them. Quite honestly, if I was a juror, I'd side with Disney for wrongful lawsuit (if you filed one).

Disney does go out of their way to make everything handicap accesible, as my 93 year old grandmother can attest to. WDW does try to make everyting "magical", but geesh buddy, life happens. Get over it, be glad your afther wasn't hit, and find something real to complain about

Jo
  22nd of Jul, 2008
-1 Votes

I have just returned from Disneyworld. My granddaughter and I went to Disney's French Quarters on July 7, - July 18, 2008. I have no complaints with the resort, they were wonderful. My complaint stems with the workers who check your bag before you enter the Magic Kingdom.

Let me state my views on this first. They seamingly check the bag your carrying, but they don't check your person. This to me is a farce thay Disney started since 9/11. Anyone can bring a fire arm in his pocket at anytime. So I con't see the reasoning for checking the bag/bags that you carry into Disney.

In any event, my complaint stems from one of the bag checkers, named Flo. An African American women at Magic Kingdom. As I was standing on line to be checked, I noticed that the line was going very slowly. When she came up to me, viciously she said, "open your bag!!". I proceeded to open the bag. It had two raincoats and my camera in a camera case. She squeezed the camera case. Then in a vicious manner told me to open up the case!!! I was very offended by the way she attacked me. Afterall, I could have had a gun in my pocket, and she would never have realized it. She tore open the camera case then proceeded to check another person. I then proceeded to tell her that she didn't check the small purse I have around my neck. She then said again in a vicious manner that I was to stay and she was going to do it. She tore open my purse. I told her that she a very nasty person. Then she told me that she was calling security. I told her good!!! Now I can take care of her.

I stepped aside and a nice man came to me. He was smiling and asked me what the problem was. I proceeded to tell him how I was treated by this women. I told him that her demeanor was vicious and I am officially complaining about her. I wanted her name. He would only give me her first name, FLO. I asked for her last name but would not give me it. I then asked for an ID number and was told that she didn't have one.

Well now I'm officially complaining. I guess she thought that I was going to be kicked out. He was very pleasant to me. I made my point, then I was on my way to Magic Kingdom. My granddaughter could not understand why she was so unpleasant to me. I told her that she must dislike her job. Too Bad!!!Disney has a policy that any complaints could justify them from firing you. I just hope that someone from Disney checks this complaint site and gets to the bottom of her demeanor and behavior. I go to Disney every year for the past 8 years and never encountered anyone like this person. I hope Disney cleans up their act. As I said the check site is a farce as anyone can bring in a weapon in their pockets.

Ge
  22nd of Nov, 2008
+1 Votes

Please tell me that this is a joke??!!! A school psychologist???? WOW!!! I feel bad for this child, not for a tram ALMOST hitting her (prolly b/c no one taught her to look both ways before crossing) but b/c of your overreactions!!! WOW-poor kid...disney won't mess her up--you will..

Bu
  29th of Jan, 2009
-1 Votes

I am a seasonal cast member and I do agree that the way the cast members in and around the tram handled the situation was completely wrong, especially their attitudes. We are taught to be courteous and polite to the guests at all times, regardless of the situations. There is better ways they could have dealt with this. The firs most being that the cab driver and the cast member look out on the back of the tram should have both apologized immediately, no matter who was at fault. Second, a manager should had been called to come as in the case with any accident. A season pass holder should not have had to ask for a manager to be called. The cast should have already done it. The rudeness was uncalled for, to tell you that it is none of your business...that is rude.

But then, I also think that you are overacting by writing the newspapers and threatening lawsuit, especially the latter. Disney is known to settle cases so that they do not have to be bothered with cases. And as others have said, they would not tell you in what way the employee(s) were dealt with. Writing a letter to Guest Services is a very good idea. Unlike what post people think, guest service letters are read. We have a cast paper that comes out every so often that has publicized letters from Guests who have wrote to Guest Services.

Move on. Do not tarnish the memories of your trip any more than you already have. And I hope that your next trip is a more enjoyable experience.

Mr
  5th of Feb, 2009
0 Votes

I have been to Disney 9 times. I can tell you from my experience that Disney does NOT descriminate against handicapped people. I myself have a handicapped son and would not have taken him there the four times that he's been there if they were. To the lady that wrote the complaint, if your daughter has to see a school psychologist because you say her grandfather almost got ran over by a Disney tram, you and your family have some serious issues and probably all need to get help! You've seemed to complain many times that you've almost been ran over by a tram. Yes, the trams move quickly, especially at night. They have lots of people to move, but there are also markings on the pavement and place for you to stand so that you don't get ran over! Everything attraction and ride is made so handicapped people can ride or take part in them. Workers at Walt Disney World are extremely cautious. I've never seen anything like what you're describing. As far as being over charged for something that's It's sounds to me like something that can easily be taken care of. You people sound like people that should stay home!

Sl
  3rd of Apr, 2009
+2 Votes

WHAT A ###. God I thought I was reading War and Peace. This LOSER has nothing better to do then write a 20 page report on "Grandpa getting run over by a tram" People like this have virtually no life whatsoever and shuck corn in Nebraska 12 months a year then go to "THE BIG CITY"where they almost get KILLED by a Walt Disney Tram! Next time I suggest a vacation to HARLEM. Only then will you understand that GRANPA was safer then he has EVER been at WDW.

Se
  6th of Apr, 2009
+1 Votes

Seriously? Obviously you have no sense. If you had been paying more attention you wouldn't have come anywhere near the tram. They don't exactly come speeding down the TRAM LANE (yes...imagine that...a lane devoted to the trams!) at sixty miles an hour. And as far as your daughter being "traumatized"...HAHAHAHA! She overreacting since that's what kids do...looks like she learned it from you. I hope you never go back so those poor cast members don't have to deal with you and your nonsense.

Ac
  6th of May, 2009
0 Votes

I want to respond to the woman who complained about Flo checking her bags at the Magic Kingdom.

I am a season pass holder and have been to all of the WDW parks more than I can count. I have NEVER had a cast member physically touch any of my belongings. They ask you to open each item they need to look at and poke and prod with a stick what they need to move.

I know that they can be abrupt at times when asking for you to open your bags. I would complain about the handling of your possessions and chalk the bad attitude up to being in the heat all day checking bags of people who give them attitudes over doing their job, having to ask EVERY person to open the bag when they get there even though EVERY person was standing in line watching the people before them doing it, and then getting attitude from people who felt the line was moving too slow (even though it was the fault of the unprepared visitors)!

It's unacceptable to get attitude from anyone, but put yourself in their shoes, be happy that you don't have to get attitude from the thousands of people you see everyday, and enjoy the rest of your day at the most magical place on Earth!!!

Cr
  2nd of Jun, 2009
+1 Votes

Get over it lady...it was an accident...I guess the "world" owes you something for "almost" being ran over huh? Move on, realize people make mistakes...You certainly did by coming on here and making a big deal out of nothing...Something would have been if you were actually ran over...THEN COMPLAIN by all means...but not over an accident. Get on with your life and if you think it is acceptible for your daughter to have to seen mental aid at school due to this issue...YOU TOO NEED MENTAL ATTENTION and Medication...chill...It was an honest mistake...move on...and if you are that unhappy don't go back to WDW...that would be great so then when I return every year I don't have to be around downers like you! Have a great life!

Lm
  14th of Jul, 2009
0 Votes

Exactly, I agree with crazyfamily...It was an accident! Get over it!!!

Bd
  13th of Aug, 2009
0 Votes

Boy> I just stumbled onto this site. I can't believe of some of the complaints that people make. I just seems that people look for any reason to complain about anything. I understand that Disney charges alot of money just to get into the parks. If you're going out of your way to visit Disney You should have your player face on. Relax and take a easy. I rather see someone complain about the food prices or the junk that Disney pawns off to the visitors. Oh well maybe time.

Di
  19th of Aug, 2009
+1 Votes

I think you were right to complain. The nastsy comments must have been from Disney Employees standing behind their company. I have just returned from Disney and the Disney workers make many mistakes because they do not focus on their job like they should. You are lucky that you did not loose a family member.

Fr
  26th of Aug, 2009
0 Votes

Hi. I too have a complaint. I was at Magical Kingdom yesterday (Aug 25th)with my husband and two children. Anyways, we were riding Splash Mountain and were halfway through the ride when the ride developed problems. We were stuck inside the mountain in a log for almost an hour. There were about 8 other logs inside this mountain with about 6-8 people per log. Anyways the wait was long with small children, especially when they needed to use the bathroom. Workers came through the building on the side of the displays a couple times and they were heard speaking over a microphone system. Various other people asked if we could kindly get out of our logs and walk out of the ride just like they(the workers) could do. We were not allowed until 45 mins into being stuck on the ride. To make things worse my daughter is handicap and there is no way to get her wheelchair to her. So she endured much pain as we helped her out of the log and the 10 min it took to get her out of the ride area. She needed her wheelchair however it was impossible to get it to her and we (my husband and I had to half carry her out. Not a fun adventure. Anyways, we went to the customer service area to complain and got no where. They just said that things happen and it is out of their control. So not only did we waste 45 min stuck on a ride but daughters suffered an exteme amount of pain while attempting to get to her wheelchair. Not nice at all!!
Plus, for the most part yes the parks are handicap friendly. The part I did find difficult was the bathrooms. I found few (if any) had the handicap buttons to push to open the door for the wheelchair. It is difficult to open a door and direct a wheelchair at the same time. We ran into this problem a lot at the EPCOT Park.

D Small

Da
  11th of Sep, 2009
+1 Votes

What most of you people who are commenting on the tram incident are forgeting, is that thoes people were in a MARKED CROSSWALK!! as you people so clearly missed reading. Now, I dont know what state you live in, but here in Florida, the law clearly states that any kind of vehicals must YEALD TO FOOT TRAFFIC if they are in a CROSS WALK! . I can understand it if they were not in a crosswalk and almost got hit, then go ahead and make fun of them and put them down, but they were in one. You all need to go back and read the complaint very carfully again!!!

An
  25th of Oct, 2009
0 Votes

I think the point here is that Unsatisfied customer is very pissed off about what happened to his family. We should throw gasoline on the fire by commenting how stupid he is. That's ridiculous! He's upset, he spent tons of money saving for this trip, drove for days there and back and a crazy tram driver almost hit his dad. To make it worse, the employees did not take the situation seriously and handled it wrong. They should have just said sorry. A "sorry" goes a long way. Kindness and good customer service skills go a LONG way. He would never feel like he had to write in this forum.

As a business owner, I know I've had to say "sorry" for things my employees did that upset my customers. Sometimes it was the customer's fault and I still had to find away to make them walk away happy by compromise and treating them well, like their opinions matters. Common courtesy can be a huge blessing in business.

Just today I had Rich, the security guard from the Boardwalk treat us like convicts just for wanting to eat dinner there. It was my 10th wedding anniversary and we were there for dinner. He could have said "Happy Anniversary" or smiled. He just interrogated us as to why we were there and had us park across the street. We parked, and walked, which was fine. It was his gorilla like attitude that was hurtful. We walked around and then left. We decided to not drop the usual $125 on dinner at Disney and ate nearby.

Just 2 months ago at Hollywood Studios, two employees were arguing about their break time. One woman slammed her ice cream cart cover down so hard it made my husband's ears ring for quite a while. Stuff like that, or the parking lot attendant, or what happened with the tram driver needs to be addressed with a smile. It's just that easy to make someone walk away with a better image of Disney or any other business.

And to the person who had never seen a bad tram driver, once at Animal Kingdom our tram driver ran over a rabbit because of his crazy driving! Another woman and I almost fell out when that guy went around a curve he was driving so fast!!! Then when he hit the bunny, all the kids on the tram started screaming and crying, including mine!

But anyway sir, my suggestion to you is to write about what happened to Disney and send it until you hear back from them, that they really did handle it. Your daughter will be fine though. Children are amazing and they get over things easily that adults don't. Children are a miracle, they are so kind and forgiving. You need to find peace with this for your own sake, and hopefully Disney will write to you one day and tell you your opinion matters, because it does.

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