Good Can Come from a Bad Experience

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Kristen K.'s picture
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Good Can Come from a Bad Experience

This got long, but hang in there because the end is really great.

When I was at MNSSHP in October, I tried to go on the Haunted Mansion. I was told that ECVs could now fit through the queue and that they were no longer able to go in the previous accessible entrance unless the guest had gotten a guest assistance card. I did my best to go through the normal queue, however cobblestones and ECV/Wheelchairs do NOT get along when the rider's disability ins a chronic pain or back issue. After about 20 feet on the cobblestones I went from having a medium manageable pain night to having to leave the Park from the damage going over the cobblestones did to my body. We stopped by on my way out and complained, to what seemed to be indifferent Cast Members at Guest Relations.

In February I was having a high pain night, and they were out of ECVs, so I was in a wheelchair that my daughter kindly offered to push. I made sure to get the Guest Assistance Card so that I could use the back entrance and headed to the Haunted Mansion. As I headed to the back entrance, the cast members at the front of the queue started yelling at me across the walkway. I told them that I had a guest assistance card that said I could use the alternate entrances, and held it up so they could see. They continued to shout at me across the walkway. My party and I turned around to go explain to them what I needed. This experience turned ugly, and degraded very quickly as Matthew, a very tall and large cast member, stood over me in my wheelchair shaking his "Disney Point" hand in my face. I explained that if I had to cross the cobblestones, that I could not ride the ride. Members of my party (a nurse) explained the medical need, but Matthew and his cohort Joyce raised their voices and shouted at me that the new queue was ADA compliant and they the policy had changed, it didn't matter what my condition was. A crowd gathered around us, because who doesn't want to watch cast members yelling at a woman in a wheelchair who was now sobbing. We asked to speak to a manager... three times. When the "manager" got to us, it was not actually a manager. I think she said that she was a Cast Member Coordinator, and she was less then sympathetic to me (the troublemaker). Members of my party explained everything again to her and told her how poorly treated I was by the two cast members. She again told us that the new queue was ADA compliant, and begrudgingly got on the radio to get more help. The person on the radio, told her to let me go through the back, and she scolded me that it would "never happen again".

This experience was one of the most humiliating of my life. As I've mentioned before, being in a chair is not an easy choice for me to make. To have cast members yelling at me as they tower over and shake their hand in my face was awful, the awareness of the crowd forming around me, was horrific, and the rude, degrading treatment was anything but magical. It ruined not only my night, but scared the whole group as we all remained in shock over what had happened.

The next day, our last one on vacation, as I left the Magic Kingdom I decided to try and address the issue with Guest Relations. Three of my companions and I stopped in and met a very lovely cast member named Victoria, who actually listened to me. I relived the humiliating experience to her, and she grabbed a piece of paper to take notes, I started crying again and continued to explain the night. She tried to make restitution, and i told her that the only thing that I wanted was for it never to happen to anyone else. That I didn't expect them to re-pour the ground in the queue, but that something really needed to be done because the new ADA compliant queue was not accessible to everyone. Victoria, and her boss, and her bosses boss, listen to my story and all agreed that I had been seriously wronged. They assured me that the issues would be addressed, and my party left.

Yesterday, one of the friends who had been by my side throughout the experience was at the Magic Kingdom. It's only been a month since my bad experience. She tweeted me a picture of wheelchairs sitting at the alternate entrance, and told me that she saw many disabled guests going in and out that way. That means that what happened to me, and my being brave enough to continue to speak up about it made a difference. Apparently the policy has been changed. I appreciated Disney's efforts in making their parks accessible for all, and hope that they now understand that this means more than just creating a wider queue that you can get a chair through. Not all disabilities are created equal, and I hope that they continue to make exceptions for people who may need a little extra help.

This is a story about speaking up, about not settling, it's about finding the right person to talk to. So many folks tell me that Disney never listens, but that's not true. They do listen, and they do care, they want every guest to leave happy, and when something has truly gone wrong that is their fault, they do their best to fix it.
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That's Magic...

Mase's picture
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Joined: 03/02/2011
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Kristen K. wrote:

stars
That's Magic...

Yes it is! I can't believe they would just argue over it. I know they are saying its fine, but obviously its not, and they were not thinking clearly about it. Might had been fine for most people in a wheelchair... but if your flat out telling them its not... it's killing my back.... that in itself should be enough. Im sorry you had to fight it again, but you made changes happen! Thats awesome!

clapping clapping clapping clapping clapping clapping clapping clapping clapping clapping clapping clapping

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Kris1971's picture
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Wow, what a great thing you did to make sure others never have to have that same negative experience. Way to go!

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The fact that you did it not just because you were hurt, but that you didn't want it to happen to anyone else shows qualities of a great person! You personally affected many others because you stood up for what was right! This was a great story to start my morning! Big smile

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What an awesome story! Well, the ending anyway. awesome

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I give you credit for continuing to pursue the wrongs against you so that others would not have to have such negative experiences. I have not been back in over a year due to issues on our last trip. It ended horrible! We had issues with housekeeping staff walking in while I was changing (a supervisor no less without a knock while my husband was down the hall getting a soda so it was not dead-bolted) with never getting an apology, my dad being trapped on a bus as it was so crowded the driver did not see he needed assistance to get his ECV off - when my husband tried to get her attention by tapping the bus with his flip flopped foot as she was beginning to drive away she yelled at him. Two drunk guys then got in my husband's face (littterally) and threatened the kick his you know what and when my husband pushed one of them out of his face they accused him of choking the drunk man! So my husband got arrested as no one cared about the drunk guy who had been swearing horribly the whole bus trip. Everything worked out okay legally as it stands but it is hard to go back to WDW even though I miss the good times. It was my happy place....I want to go back to see if it still could be but am not sure I can...

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Kristen K.'s picture
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Hi Jenn, and welcome to a great message board!

I'm so sorry to hear about your poor experiences at WDW.

I have heard other stories of issues with the bus system, but like all public transportation it has it's problems. One thing I've learned recently is that Disney can't do much about people who insist on drinking to excess. But I want you to know that I don't think those experiences are the norm.

Perhaps a short trip at a low crowd time of year with just you and your husband? Sort of just easing back into it without putting much pressure on the trip. Maybe you could make the trip to Disneyland instead, or a short Disney Cruise? That way you would get to go back, but maybe not to the exact spot you had troubles. There is still absolutely magic left.

I hope that you jump in on the board here and enjoy your time. This is a friendly place with helpful people who just love to share a little pixie dust.

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Thanks Kristen.
It has been so hard and, while I miss my former happy place ( I have gone as many times as 6 in one year) I am not sure it will be so happy anymore... I am considering a trip in December with some other Walt Disney (the man) fan - friends but am just not sure....but thank you for your support! I am just beginning to check things out again so trying to ease into it... (-:

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Heart broken fan of ole.... Walt would not things the way they are now....