What Does Disney Do When Your Vacation Goes Wrong?

in Disney Parks

A child hugs Mickey and Minnie toys at Disney World

Credit: Disney

If there’s one thing that sells a Disney vacation, it’s the promise of magic.

Ever since the Disneyland Resort opened in 1955, the Parks have marketed themselves as “the most magical place on earth” or “the happiest place on earth.” The idea of a place where you can forget the outside world and thrive on Disney magic is why so many Guests visit on a regular basis.

But what happens when a Disney trip isn’t so magical? While the Walt Disney Company goes above and beyond to give each Guest the typical Disney experience, sometimes things inevitably go wrong. What sets Disneyland, the Walt Disney World Resort, and other Disney Parks worldwide apart from their competitors is how they respond when a Guest’s trip turns sour.

Reddit user RachelEng2415 recently asked how Disney made up for other people’s “less than stellar vacations.” Here’s how Disney restored the magic for these Guests.

Disneyland Tickets
Caption: Hip To Save

Free tickets and event passes

Several commenters shared their experience of receiving free tickets – even for circumstances beyond Disney’s control. User AdamJocon attended Disney’s Boo Bash at Magic Kingdom in 2021. They experienced constant rain, zero candy, the closure of every outdoor attraction, such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and downtime on Pirates, Peter Pan, and Small World. “Everyone at the party got a one-day Park Hopper added to our account automatically as compensation,” they said.

Another user, Throwaway582947272, tried to ride Rise of the Resistance during its virtual queue era, only for it to break down twice. They were also gifted free Park tickets. When Jazzkidscoins tried to attend a Villains event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, they experienced chaos. “The line to get into studios was over a mile long,” they wrote. “We sat in traffic for at least an hour. Then we were shunted over to EPCOT parking, where they had buses to shuttle us over. It was so crowded you could hardly move. It sucked.” They later received Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party tickets as an apology.

family staying at the Disneyland hotel
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Hotel upgrades

Staying onsite at Walt Disney World is notoriously expensive – especially when you choose a moderate or luxury Resort over a value Resort. That makes it even more disappointing when things go wrong. Before the Parks closed for the pandemic, user RonPaul_WasRight spent a week at the moderate Resort Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside, only to find their room “trashed” upon arrival.

“Trash everywhere, Skoal chewing tobacco tins, water bottles of chew spit and dirty towels,” they wrote. As a result, Disney upgraded their room, refunded a night, and offered a $200 gift card.

User Thetruebanchi had a similar experience on their honeymoon. The couple checked into the Animal Kingdom Lodge, only to be told their first room wasn’t ready. After entering their second room, they found it full of someone else’s luggage.

“Desk staff left and came back shortly with a manager,” they explained. “They apologized and upgraded us to a one-bedroom, two-bath savannah suite for all four nights. We also got a corner one, so the balcony was like double the size. Overall, the slow start was worth it tenfold, and we appreciated it.”

Two female Guests shopping for Minnie ears at Tokyo Disneyland
Credit: Disney

Disney gifts

Multiple commenters talked about a time when Disney turned their trip around with magical gifts. For user Redgreenorangeyellow, that happened when their mom received a “super undercooked” burger at Backlot Express in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. After asking for a new one, they received a new burger – and more. Cast Members brought over “literally every dessert on the menu as an apology for the mistake and for the wait. I think those Star Wars cupcakes lasted all weekend.”

This doesn’t just happen in the Parks. When user MyrrhMom went on a Disney Cruise, she and her daughter got “projectile vomited on by a fellow passenger.

Even though that’s far beyond Disney’s control, they replaced her sweatshirt, laundered their clothes, and gave them gifts, including “two Rainforest passes to the Spa, two stuffed animals (a Pua and a pirate Mickey), a box full of free canned drinks and waters, and two special light-up skull cups on the Pirate night.”

Credit: Disney

FastPasses (or Lightning Lanes)

Back when paper FastPasses were still a thing (RIP), it wasn’t uncommon to see Cast Members handing them out to Guests whose days were affected by weather or ride closures.

Sometimes, this happened just make up for the most minor discomfort. “I did a Disney Keys to the Kingdom tour and lunch was maybe 5 minutes late,” wrote user CauliflowerOk5533. They gave everyone in the tour FastPass tickets.

For BrainKandy87, free FastPasses came when they got stuck at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort’s Skyliner station in the middle of a storm. Not only did they have to get shuttled back to their Resort, but they lost most of their Park time and missed a Le Cellier reservation at EPCOT.

Thankfully, Disney knew how to reinject the magic back into their day. “They gave us a bunch of FastPasses/whatever they call them when they comp them now in the Genie+ age,” they wrote. “Also reimbursed our Le Cellier no-show charge.”

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