Friday, May 17, 2013

A Rare Complaint

Below is the exact e-mail I sent to Disney Customer Service regarding my recent stay. I have not yet received a reply. I'd be curious to know what other fans think of what I had to say.

Hello Disney Customer Service

I’ve taken a while to decide if I wanted to write this e-mail. I’m not a complainer anyway, but it’s especially difficult for me to complain about anything “Disney”.

I am a very big Disney fan. A defender. A Walt Disney aficionado. I’m a Charter Member of D23. I’m a current Disneyland Annual Pass holder, and I’ve been a Walt Disney World Annual Pass holder in the past. I’ve visited Walt Disney World literally dozens of times. I have collected Disney Pins for 13 years, and have spent thousands and thousands of dollars.  I have been a loyal lover of The Mouse for many, many years and I am certain I will continue to be for many years to come.

All of that said, after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to bring some issues I had on my last trip to Disneyland, May 9th to 11th of 2013, specifically regarding my stay at Paradise Pier.

The short version is that I failed to read the details of my hotel reservation, and didn’t realize that the “free parking” extended to annual pass holders does not apply to hotel parking. When I asked about it, I was told that the “free parking” associated with the annual pass only applies to theme park parking. I asked if I would be able to park overnight at the theme parks to take advantage of the “Free Parking” and was informed that I could not, and that my car would likely be towed.

In essence one of the great benefits of having an annual pass is nullified by my choice to stay on site at Paradise Pier.

This policy will almost certainly prevent me from staying on-site at Disneyland ever again.

I specifically chose to stay at Paradise Pier so that I could walk to and from the park and create a more immersive experience (similar to the kind created by staying on site at Walt Disney World). I realize I’m not being deprived of that experience by being charged for parking, but there’s also a “feeling” I look for while visiting Disney. When I go to Disneyland I want to get the “feeling” that my visit is valued; that my loyalty is valued. I am certain that part of valuing a customer is making them feel that they’re getting something of value in return. I believe we all implicitly agree to spend 30 dollars a person on a mediocre breakfast buffet in exchange for the amazing feelings our kids have when they see Mickey. I believe it’s perfectly reasonable to be asked to wait for an hour to ride ‘Soarin’ Over California’, because what you get in return is nothing short of an amazing experience. Value.

I’m certain you are aware of this, but staying on site at Disneyland is a significantly more expensive proposition than staying at most of the other hotels anywhere nearby. I assumed the additional cost willingly, believing I’d have a more valuable experience in exchange for the higher cost. Instead, in exchange for the extra cost of staying in a “Disneyland resort” I was confronted with even more additional fees. I’m not even suggesting that you don’t charge for parking, but I do know there are more seamless methods of carrying out these fees without making the customer feel like they’re being shaken down. Far be it from me to begrudge Disney from making your money, but the more transparently capitalistic you become, the less enchanted I become.

I called the hotel where I stayed last time (Sheraton Anaheim). They also charge for parking (*though their rate is $14 dollars per night as opposed to your $15).  They also charge significantly less per night to stay (about half). So my question is…If I’m not getting ridiculously great, seamlessly executed service at your Disney hotel, why wouldn’t I save the money, stay at Sheraton Anaheim, and simply drive the .5 miles to park for free much closer to the entrance?

It’s so disappointing to say this, but I sincerely doubt I’ll ever stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel again unless I can be sure I won’t have this kind of cold experience the next time.

Listen… I know this is ultimately a small thing. 30 dollars for parking in the grand scheme of a Disneyland visit is nothing. It’s 3 pins. It’s not even a full dinner for one at The Blue Bayou. It’s nothing.

And yet, truly it’s everything, because for so many years I’ve defended my visits as a grown man to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Sure… it costs more, but Disney does it right. Disney makes you feel special. Disney makes you glad to give them your money, because even though they’re a business they make you feel like they’d be there for free.

It’s such a little thing, this silly parking policy, but it’s taken away my feeling that I’m valued.

I’ll always go to Disneyland and Disney World, because they’re as much a part of who I am, and what I love, as where I went to high school or where I grew up. I just don’t know that I’ll ever wear quite the same shade of rose colored glasses again.

Just thought you should know.

Daniel P. Cohen, Phone -***-***-*075
Annual Pass #********431


  1. This is so sad to read. Even though I have not been faced with the same situation, I can feel your disappointment. If one of the benefits of the annual pass if free parking, how can you then be penalized with having to pay for parking, simply because you chose to stay at Disney Resort? Ridiculous. I hope you are able to see some resolution to this issue, and maybe...just maybe...Disney can reimburse you for an even sweeter shade of rose colored glasses.