Saturday, July 27, 2013

Disney's Response to My Bitching

Two months ago I posted by complaint letter to Disneyland. I was upset, certainly, and I was disappointed.

I promised to post their response, and I've been sitting on it all this time, because...well... It made me sad. I don't want to say anything else before posting it.

First, as a refresher, here's my letter to them:

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

Here's Disney's response:
Dear Mr. Cohen:

Thank you for your e-mail to the DISNEYLAND® Resort. We appreciate you 
taking the time to share your experience with us. 

We are concerned with the disappointments you mentioned in your e-mail. 
As you are aware, our goal is to provide the finest service and 
accommodations. Please be assured we do take our Guest comments very 
seriously, and take them into consideration when evaluating our 
operation. Your remarks have been shared with the appropriate leaders so
they are aware of your experiences. 

As stated in the "Annual Passholder Terms and Conditions" The parking 
benefit, as applicable, is subject to availability and valid only at 
pay-on entry lots at the Disneyland Resort. Regrettably, Annual 
Passholders who have parking on their Annual Passes do not qualify for 
free parking at any of our Resort Hotels or at the Downtown Disney 
Parking Lot. We do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused 
you or your family. Please accept our sincerest apologies. To view the 
"Annual Passholder Terms and Conditions" you may see them at the 
following website address:

Again, thank you for contacting us. Comments such as yours are welcomed 
in that they assist us in evaluating our operation and our success in 
generating happiness for our Guests. We hope you will have the 
opportunity to visit the DISNEYLAND® Resort soon and that our 
attractions and entertainment will delight you in every way.


Terry Sampson 
Guest Experience Services

I can't decide if maybe my expectations were too high, but this seems like a blow-off, doesn't it? 

I'd like to hear your thoughts.

I'm almost ready to return to blogging about Disney and the good stuff. I just haven't totally gotten over this yet.


  1. You got the, "we have your money, watcha gonna do about it?"

  2. Corporate apologies are always so sincere and warm.

  3. I still think that you should send another letter. Disney customer service is usually better at this.

  4. My fear is that if I write them again and get more of the same, it will only make me feel worse about the whole thing. I already had to take a break from Disney for 2 months just to come to terms with my feelings about this. I know that sounds dramatic, but you know me... 1) I'm dramatic, and 2) it really does matter to me.

  5. In 1995 I wrote to them to complain about something and copied the LA Times and the OC Register. The Register published the letter and soon after Disney called to invite my mother, sister and myself to a round table discussion with a head of each division in the park. We got there, they took us backstage and we were escorted into a conference room that was packed with leads of all the different divisions that run Disneyland. They wanted us to tell them what our disappointments were and really seemed interested in changing things. Sure, they probably only invited us because the newspaper published the letter but it made us feel good. Sadly, I doubt that would happen know. The park has changed a lot.

  6. In 2003 we stayed at the bc in wdw and had breakfast with the manager along with others. Sadly they don't do this anymore. I just came back two days ago saw huge breakdowns of rides and hotel maintenance and a really bad confrontation between a manager and guest family that should not have happen. Along with three familes the night before with no rooms. yelling in the lobby of the beach club. The parks have changed sad. I understand your sadness. It didn't happen to me and it makes me sad. I said to my husband on what trip can this problems happens to us. With booking two times a year how long til we have no room or other problems. Like those people. We are rethinking disney. I have to say I am crushed to even think I may not return. It's like a family member dying. customer service is dead at disney managers and executive branches. You will still see it in the parks at times and their nice restaurants.

  7. Their rules are their rules though. You said so yourself you didn't read your booking correctly. You can't just decide that you are exempt from them as everyone else who holds annual passes has to abide by them - that's a hell of a lot of people, you are no more special than anyone else, no matter how many times you've been, I'm sure there are thousands that are more 'loyal' than yourself. They can't give you extra perks or refund your money because you're not happy about the charge. Your email is very self-entitled and their reply was courteous and respectful as they have to go by their own rules and regulations. I hope you see that you can't just demand to be treated extra special by a large corporate company with strict regulations that they can't bend at every customers whim or moan.

  8. I appreciate your post "Anonymous", but I think you're severely misunderstanding my point, and my letter. I was not asking them to make an exception to the rule, and I certainly don't believe I'm "entitled" to special treatment.

    The point of my letter was:
    a) The response by the CSR at the time wasn't good. (I admitted even then that I hadn't understood the idiosyncrasies of the policy), so for them to simply re-state that it's their policy isn't really an appropriate response from a customer service standpoint. I believe that I am qualified to speak as an authority on customer service standards based on my own professional experience in the high-end client services industry.
    b) the larger point of the letter was that I was encouraging them to change that policy. I specifically didn't ask for money back or any concession. I simply was telling them that I felt their policy is bad, and that it made me far less likely to return to stay at the resort.

    I'd be curious to understand exactly what points you felt came across as self-entitled, or where you interpreted that I was asking for special perks or money back...

    I realize you're "Anonymous", so it's likely you'll never see this comment, but I welcome the discussion.

  9. Well, it seems pretty crystal clear in their Terms and Conditions. It DOES state that you can't park there for free, and your pass is only good at the toll plazas where you enter, not exit; just like at Downtown Disney. Maybe you should read the things you purchase instead of assuming that since you're a passholder you can just do what you please. Disneyland has WAY too many of you passholders and it really does make things unfair to those who pay full price just to enter on one day. Maybe if you folks DID your research prior instead of ASSUMING that A) Disneyland is open until Midnight every day, or B) that EVERY ride is ALWAYS open, or that C) passholders are RIGHT. you are NOT. I think that Disneyland should eliminate passes period! Disneyland is NOT a necessity. It is a LUXURY. You do not need Disneyland to survive. Get over yourself and find something else better to do than by crappy pins or complain over something that was clearly outlined in the Terms and Conditions. Maybe you should take the extra few minutes and READ everything before you purchase, or maybe go online, or call if you have questions. Don't assume. You're going to make an ass out of yourself, unless you are already one!