Sunday, January 6, 2013

You Can't Fix What You Don't Know is Broke!

You Can’t Fix What You Don’t Know is Broke!

            A Disney experience is unique. Usually you go to a Disney Park, Cruise or Resort and you find if you leave your problems at door there are few real problems that can’t be quickly solved. But what do you do when there is a problem that is Disney’s responsibility or doing? As much as I love Disney and believe that most companies could learn a lot from Disney Management and the way they treat guests there are things they miss or just do wrong from time to time.
            My favorite saying is, “You can’t fix what you don’t know is broke.” In other words if a person does not know something is not working they can’t do something about it. This goes from the small things like an overflowing trashcan or broken faucet to the way people are handled during security. This also includes how shows are done.
            Disney is not afraid to change things. If they find guests don’t like something they do change it. The change can run from trying to improve it to removing the show, ride or experience.
            So what do you do when you see Disney doing something wrong? Let me share some of my experiences.
            Right after 9/11 Disney rightly chose to check bags as people came into the park. I have no problem with them looking into my bag to make sure I’m not bringing in something dangerous. If they are looking in my bag they are looking in other peoples bags as well. Safety first is my motto. Still the way Disneyland was doing the security check did not work well.
First problem: The two parks share an esplanade. When you entered the ticket entry gate for either park you had to have your bags checked. This made park hopping CRAZY.
Second problem: Guests would have to hold open their bags at the turnstile, holding the bag in their arms while the Cast Member checked the bag. This was awkward and many guests dropped things while trying to juggle several bags and children. This also allowed the pickpockets that do frequent the parks to freely grab things.
A few weeks after 9/11 I was at Disneyland with my family for the day. I, like many had a backpack with things I needed for the day at the park. In my backpack was my wallet with $150. I was holding out my bag to the Cast Member to check when a guest behind me with a child in a stroller hit my from behind with the stroller knocking me off balance. I thought nothing of it at that second and quickly went through security and the gate. Once inside the park I stepped to the side to close my bag. It was too difficult to do it standing at security and I had not wanted to hold up the line. As I was closing my bag I noticed my wallet was no longer in my bag! During the momentary distraction of being hit with the stroller my wallet had been removed from my backpack! My empty wallet was found on top of a trashcan later in the day.
I reported my loss to Guest Relations and was told I’d have to talk to Risk Management. Guest Relations felt bad about the incident but said they did not feel it was the parks problem! When I called Risk Management to talk to them I let them know while I understood and agreed with them searching my bag I felt it was the fact my bag was opened for Disney to inspect that allowed the thieves to steal my wallet and money. I also pointed out if they had tables for the guests to set their bags on during security checks the pickpockets would not have been able to get into my bag.
I took several calls and letters along with showing proof of the money I said I’d lost to get my money back. Within a few weeks Disney set tables up for guests to set their bags on for inspection.
Now I’ll share another example that I mentioned quickly in the first example. Disneyland has the Esplanade between the two parks, when they first started inspecting bags the Esplanade was open and unsecure. You had to have your bag checked when park hopping. This caused senseless delays going from park to park with them being so close. Once again I got to letter writing! I suggested they put Security Check Points at the entrances to the Esplanade and the Hotel Entrance to Disney California Adventure. This would reduce lines going in the gates. By centralizing the Security Checkpoints you could reduce staffing, saving money. I also pointed out if they inspected the bag once on entrance to the Esplanade and it would eliminate checking it again when park hopping reducing the time spent on security with each guest that park hopped therefore once again saving money. It would also reduce guest frustration while park hopping making for happier guests and we all know happier guests spend more money! This took a little time for them to work out but they did finally put security checkpoints at the locations suggested eliminating park hopping security checks unless you leave the secured area by going outside the parks and Esplanade.
I’ve also seen Disney pull cars off rides when guests mention the ride did not feel right. My daughter jumped off Space Mountain and told them the car made noise and ‘felt funny’ going up a lift. She was about 8 at the time. When I told them we had ridden that ride hundreds of times and I agreed with my daughter they pulled the car.
These are just a few of the examples of how Disney has positively responded to letters. They have responded to both positive and negative comments!
The point I’m trying to make is if you have a problem and say, “Well if I write a letter or talk to Guest Relations it will not make a difference.” or “I’m sure someone else will report it or Disney will notice it.” Disney can’t fix it! If they don’t know something is broken, a system of management is not working or guests are unhappy about service or cost they can’t make a change and correct it!
I am positive my letters about security after 9/11 were not the only ones. I am sure other people had their pockets picked while struggling through a poorly set up security checkpoint. One letter may get them to glance at the issue. Many letters about the same problem will get their full attention and they will make changes.
So if you are unhappy about changes being made or prices going up by ridicules percentages write a letter! The more letters they receive the better chance there is that Disney will make a positive change!
Now that I’ve said that I will end by saying be just as quick to write a letter or make a call about the positive things. Did a Cast Member go above to make your day special? Get their name! Remember it! Don’t think you will remember it? Write it down before leaving the area or text it to yourself. Note when, where and who! Go to Guest Relations and make a comment! Go online to Guest Communication when you get home and drop them a note! Tell them where, when and who made your day magical! This makes a difference to them. It lets them know when they are doing well so they continue. It lets management know who is doing good and going above and beyond and needs to be recognized.
Do you want to write a letter? Here are ways to contact Disneyland, Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line.

Mailing Address:
Guest Relations
Disneyland Resort
P.O. Box 3232
Anaheim, CA 92802-3232
Online e-mail:

Walt Disney World:
Mailing Address:
Guest Relations:
Walt Disney World Guest Communications
PO Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040
Online e-mail:

Disney Cruise Line:
Mailing Address:
                                                                Guest Relations:
Disney Cruise Vacations
Guest Communications
P.O. Box 10238
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0238
Online e-mail:

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