Walt Disney World / Year of a million nightmares!
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! '
More Walt Disney World Complaints & Reviews
- Walt Disney World - They do not care 
- Walt Disney World - Absolutely sucks 
- Walt Disney World - No Refund 
- Walt Disney World - Rip off 
- Walt Disney World - Injury 
- Walt Disney World - Disney employees hating on guest 
- Walt Disney World - Employee Entered Room 
- Walt Disney World - rsvp 
- Walt Disney World - paid for nothing 
- Walt Disney World - Passholder Renewal Price Descrepancy