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Trip Report You Can't Beat This Deal...Two Trip Reports for the Price of One!

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Long hiatus is over and I’m finally back to finish up this report. Again, thank you to everyone who has made such kind comments about Marty. We truly appreciate the support this community has always provided.

Back to it…

As we broke for what was another great lunch, the group reconvened after about an hour to get all the details about our afternoon fieldwork trip. Right off the bat, we were told no pictures were allowed at all once we got to Magic Kingdom and we should leave our phones out of sight if possible.

The facilitators were excited for us to experience the utilidors but were also clearly protective of not pulling back the curtain too much. The group was pumped up to return to MK and check out more of the Disney secrets. Many of us had been to Disney on multiple occasions and know of or at least heard of the tunnel system but for a few in the cohort, this was all new information.

We split into three teams before we loaded onto the bus to head back to the Magic Kingdom. My group was led by Jim Babcock and we had about 18 others that would be following his lead. We were provided with a radio and earphones (as we were the day before at MK) so that Jim could talk and we could all hear him throughout the tour.

We loaded onto the buses and off we went. There was a pretty cool buzz in the air as we made the short drive from the Grand. We were dropped off at the same entrance as the previous day and entered the park. Before we made our way into the Utilidors, we gathered as a group in the overflow entrance and listened to a little background.

It was scorching hot so everyone was trying to huddle around any shade we could find while Jen and the two Jim’s provided a little rundown. I was aware of this fact as I’m sure others were, but they informed the group that although the Utilidors are below ground, MK was actually built up with the dirt removed from Seven Seas lagoon as they couldn’t dig into the ground as it would disturb the water table of the swampland WDW is built on.

After a few stories and a reminder that nobody should take any photos, the facilitators lead us to a door behind some of the Main Street shops and down into the tunnels we went. As you move down the stairs into the tunnel system, pictures of Magic Kingdom are all over the walls. Cool to see some of the images but at the same time, the stark contrast of what the stairwells and then the tunnel system look like compared to what it looks like through any other guest area in the resort was something that was extremely noticeable.

This, too, was completely planned. Any backstage area is designed to be very bland in comparison to when the Cast is “on stage”. Disney makes it clear there are two separate areas and Cast Members are not obligated to show the same “courtesy” backstage as you would find “on stage”. Something we were also warned about, though any CM we did walk by or interact within the tunnels was beyond courteous.

The tunnels were very bland, almost warehouse-like, but amazingly clean and tidy. Our groups split up and went in separate directions for our tour of the system. Right away our group stopped at a full map of the tunnel system which is clearly labeled with numbers to ensure CMs are able to find their exit to the park as efficiently as possible. The signage throughout the tunnels is very Disney-like, full of colour and vibrant images and all serve some type of purpose. Mostly safety related to ensure the number one key is always front and centre but also a lot of stuff that is placed to inform CMs of a number of different things that are either taking place within the park itself, or to give CMs an idea of upcoming staff gatherings, discounted area event tickets, or important union information. I was thoroughly impressed with the effort put in to keep staff well up to date and not only was it in print but also all over the TVs uses as communication boards and handouts that are available for staff to pick up and browse. Apparently, this is done to be able to effectively communicate with the massive variety of generations that work as CMs. Not everyone digests information in the exact same ways.

As we toured through we were shown one of many lounges were CMs can gather to relax and eat and the rows, upon rows of lockers that CMs can use to store their belongings. We were told that near the main CM entrance which would be behind the park, there are a number of services available for CMs including a working bank, a massive cafeteria and a dry cleaner to help make things even easier for CMs when they have clocked in.

One of the coolest things I saw while on the tour was giant posters that are hanging throughout the tours that feature the Four Keys. Each poster had a picture of a specific CM that was recognized for displaying one of the keys. So for example, there was a poster of a CM assisting a guest at the park entrance with a description that included the CMs name and why they are being recognized for showing “courtesy” to that guest. Apparently, each poster stays up for a week and then the CM is given the poster to take home with them. Very cool way to build moral but also keep those Keys to service at the front of everyone’s mind before the head up to the park areas.
We continued around and were showing this great historical collage of how the Magic Kingdom was created. Many photos of Walt and Roy were displayed along with the construction of the original park. Numerous other photos of park areas, renovations, expansions, etc. are also hanging in the collage and displays of retired AA’s, park paraphernalia, signs, etc. are in cases that people can look at. I thought it was a great overview of why those CMs are there. All because it started with one man’s vision that he was able to get people to buy into to make it a reality which is still being honoured and carried on by so many even decades after his passing.

We spent nearly 90 minutes in the tunnels looking around, seeing how much effort is put into making sure CMs are all on the same page to ensure the best possible experience is delivered to the guests at the park each day. Clearly, something that takes resources that most organizations within the group are not capable of providing, but an illustration of how spreading the same strong messaging internally can lead to excellent results externally.

I wish we had the chance to take photos but as a true Disney nut, this was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had at Disney. I was so impressed with the Utilidors and the oversight that was put into designing all of this stuff in the early plans of the resort. Very, very cool.

All three groups finally got back together and we made our way back to the buses to head back to the Grand. There was a lot of talk on the way back, which carried over into the meeting room when we arrived back at the hotel. For all the Disney fans and for those who may have been visiting for the first time or weren’t aware of the tunnel system, it was another eye-opening experience as to why Disney is Disney. They have gone to amazing lengths to try and think of everything and are constantly trying to improve as time moves on.

Our third day had quickly come to an end and we all knew that only one remaining in-class day remained. I was shocked that we were almost finished already as everything that we had done in the first three days was so amazing to be a part of. Before we were dismissed, we were told to meet early as we would be busing to one of the parks first thing in the morning for breakfast and some field work. We were told we would find out which park in the morning but were warned to come hungry!

With that, day three ended and I made my way back to the room still on a high from the Utilidor tour. I was looking forward to relaxing for a bit and then heading off to do some shopping a little later in the evening.

Again, sorry for the lack of photos but I hope you don’t mind the broad overview of the DI experience to this point. More photos will most certainly be part of my evening recap and the final day of the DI program!
 

PacNWTigger

Well-Known Member
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I've been working on my manager to send me to DI class. Would you mind my sharing the link to your TR with him? He would be interested in seeing how you guys do Disney with your girls because we primarily work with people with various disabilities, and it's always wonderful to see success stories and independence in our field.
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I've been working on my manager to send me to DI class. Would you mind my sharing the link to your TR with him? He would be interested in seeing how you guys do Disney with your girls because we primarily work with people with various disabilities, and it's always wonderful to see success stories and independence in our field.
I would have no issue at all if you want to share the link. Having worked with a couple of organizations that support individuals with disabilities in the past, I will state that when it comes to disabilities, we've been pretty fortunate that Ella's hurdle is T1D but it's still something that we take extremely seriously and we are very thankful that Ella has such strong resolve and a positive outlook.

If I can answer any follow-up questions or provide a reference for the program I'm more than willing to do that as well.
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
After a little relaxation once class ended, I was ready to head out and enjoy a beautiful evening. Originally, when I was planning this trip, some folks on here offered some great advice on new things to try. One of those suggestions was to watch YeeHaw Bob over at Riverside. I was actually quite gung-ho about this idea and had pre-planned how to get over to the resort and what I might order in the lounge when I arrived.

Just before I left the Grand, I ended up changing my mind and decided I would find my way over to the Boardwalk for dinner and to take in some of the best nighttime sights in all of WDW, at least in my opinion. Before making my way to the Boardwalk, I really wanted to head over to the golf course to check out the proshop and potentially find something cool for either myself or my dad to bring back home.

I made the walk from the Grand to the Poly, then across the street towards to entrance to the golf course. The sun was slowly setting and as I passed some of the holes I was very tempted to try and swing out and play nine holes while I was there. Didn’t seem like the course was very busy and I’m sure I could have snuck right out.

Alas, I didn’t end up playing but I did enjoy looking around the clubhouse and taking some pictures of one of my favourite stops on any Disney trip. I will admit as a golfer that typically plays as a single when I go to Disney, I’m not a big fan of the new booking rules but I can understand why Disney has implemented them. I’ll miss being able to book my tee time 90 days in advance simply because I love making sure our plans are as concrete as possible long before we leave.
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

There were some really cool Mickey branded items that I was looking at, including another hat, but I knew Kelly would be mad if I added yet another piece of headwear to my already oversized collection so I ended up leaving empty handed.

I ended up heading back to the Poly, hopping on the monorail to MK and grabbing a bus to head to the Boardwalk hotel. I was looking forward to returning to the Big River Grille, a restaurant I quite enjoy but haven’t been too in many years. I figured it shouldn’t be an issue to find a seat there without a reservation and a few craft brews seemed like a solid idea for the evening.

I didn’t have to wait long for a bus over to the Boardwalk and after a relatively smooth 15-minute drive, I had arrived at the hotel. As I walked up towards the hotel entrance I ended up seeing one of our DI facilitators, Jim Babcock, coming up the stairs from the boardwalk area but instead of acting like a creepy stalker and saying hello or something I decided not to interrupt the conversation he was having and took the stairs down to boardwalk to head to the restaurant.
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

I arrived at Big River and ended up finding a seat at the bar so I could watch some TV while I ate. The restaurant may have been half full so there was no issue at all with finding a place to sit. Right off the bat, I ordered one of their house-brewed craft beers (cannot recall which one anymore) and I dove into the menu.
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

The beer was really tasty and I was already applauding my decision to change my evening plans. I ended up ordering the BBQ Bacon Cheddar burger with house-made chips. I enjoyed my beer and watched whatever baseball game was on the TV until my burger arrived.
The burger was not quite as good as the beer was but it was good enough. The chips were quite good so I was happy with that. The other beer I ended up trying was just as good as the first so the meal as a whole wasn’t too shabby. I’m not sure I’ll be clamoring to head back to Big River on a future trip but I also wouldn’t complain if we ended up back here as a secondary option.
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

Once my meal was done I found a bench just outside the restaurant so I could FaceTime the family back home. We talked for 15 or 20 minutes before saying goodnight. It was always good touching base and even though I was having a blast with the course, I was still missing my girls like crazy.

With the phone call done I decided to tour through the Boardwalk DVC showroom. Boardwalk is one DVC resort we have yet to stay at and I know it’s near the top of the list of our next trip. I was very impressed with the rooms and would have no issue staying here at all. I really liked it.
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

Plus Lennon would be more than pumped to be able to sleep in this pulldown…
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

After my tour and some nice conversation with the DVC reps in the showroom, I slowly sauntered around the Boardwalk, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells. I love this area of Disney World. Some beautiful resorts, the relatively quick access to two different parks and the great views all around the water.
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

Since Kelly and I didn’t have the opportunity to return to Ample Hills during the family trip, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to grab a little dessert before I found my way back to the Grand.
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

Chocolate Espresso, a tasty treat indeed! I sat near the water to enjoy my ice cream. Not a bad way to kick back and indulge a little. Ice cream with a view!
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

When I was finished I ended up walking over to the Beach Club to find a bus back to MK. I got super lucky that I arrived just as the bus pulled up so I was on board and on my way in no time. I was hoping to grab a ferry boat back to the Grand when I arrived at MK as it was one of the transportation modes I have yet to take. Certainly a nice way to be ushered back home.
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

When I returned to the hotel I found myself in the gift shops to grab a few items. I wasn’t going to forget that Kelly was dropping some pretty big hints about a new Pandora charm so that was my first stop. The friendly CM showed me some of their park-exclusive items and after some internal debating I ended up selecting a Dumbo charm for her bracelet. I’ll be sure to get a photo of it later on today and post it when I can.

From there I was over to the main gift shop for a few items. This store had some cool DVC items so I grabbed a new coffee mug. And since Mouse Keeping was being pretty stingy with restocking my favourite toiletry, I figured I better pick up some foot rub to bring home. IMG_9612.jpeg

With my shopping finished, I slowly made my way back to the room to call it a night. All the action that I had been experiencing over the last few days was definitely starting to catch up with me and since we had to meet a little earlier to head to breakfast I figured I should get a solid nights’ sleep. One final day of class remained and I was both excited and a little sad at the same time.
 

Longers

Well-Known Member
Really enjoying reading about your course and Chris will agree with you about the golf comment.
This past November we had to wait literally until 2 days before he wanted to play to be able to book him a tee time!
It does make planning harder as he has to pay to take clubs to the US now as the plane no longer allows them free so if he couldn’t pay we’d have wasted that money.
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Really enjoying reading about your course and Chris will agree with you about the golf comment.
This past November we had to wait literally until 2 days before he wanted to play to be able to book him a tee time!
It does make planning harder as he has to pay to take clubs to the US now as the plane no longer allows them free so if he couldn’t pay we’d have wasted that money.
It has definitely become a drag for us single golfers now which is too bad. Sucks to hear it's even more of an issue for Chris with the golf club rules. I have yet to book a tee time using the new policy but expect that it may be a hassle to figure out the next time we return to Disney and I want to get out and swing the sticks.
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Since I ran out of photo space in my last post, here are a couple of photos of some of the stuff I picked up will doing some shopping. Sadly this is the best picture of Kelly's charm that I could get.
IMG_9625.jpeg

I'm a big fan of my DVC mug too!
IMG_8522.jpeg IMG_8523.jpeg

And since my company was so generous to send me to this program, I figured the least I could do was bring back some sweets from the House of Mouse...
IMG_8535.jpeg
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
As I gear up for the Pats first playoff game this weekend, I was watching a clip on Twitter highlighting every Tom Brady playoff touchdown and was reminded of a story told during the DI program after hearing Al Michaels call more than a few of the TDs.

During one of the sessions, I can't recall which, Jim Babcock was talking about something Walt related and it ended up moving into a side story about how Disney was able to regain the rights to Walt's first creation, Oswald the Rabbit. I think many people know that Oswald became the property of now NBC Universal and was held there for quite some time.

When NBC won the rights to Sunday Night Football, they wanted Al Michaels to serve as their play-by-play man but he was under contract at ABC. As the two sides started discussions, the deal essentially became the rights to Oswald for the rights to Al.

Both sides agreed and now we see tons of Oswald merchandise around the parks, including the socks I'm wearing to work today! I thought that was a pretty cool story, one I wasn't aware of.

All that is to say, GO PATS!
 
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Rista1313

Well-Known Member
As I gear up for the Pats first playoff game this weekend, I was watching a clip on Twitter highlighting every Tom Brady playoff touchdown and was reminded of a story told during the DI program after hearing Al Michaels call more than a few of the TDs.

During one of the sessions, I can't recall which, Jim Babcock was talking about something Walt related and it ended up moving into a side story about how Disney was able to regain the rights to Walt's first creation, Oswalt the Rabbit. I think many people know that Oswalt became the property of now NBC Universal and was held there for quite some time.

When NBC won the rights to Sunday Night Football, they wanted Al Michaels to serve as their play-by-play man but he was under contract at ABC. As the two sides started discussions, the deal essentially became the rights to Oswalt for the rights to Al.

Both sides agreed and now we see tons of Oswalt merchandise around the parks, including the socks I'm wearing to work today! I thought that was a pretty cool story, one I wasn't aware of.

All that is to say, GO PATS!
Thanks for sharing, that is a cool story!
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Day Five – Final Day of Class

I was up early to get myself together for the final day of the program. It was crazy how quickly the last three days flew by and while we took in so much information already, I was looking forward to seeing what the final day had in store.

With the group heading directly to a park to start our day with breakfast, we all gathered in the convention centre bright and early and waited for the facilitators to let us know where we were heading. As we sat in the ballroom and waited, the conversation around the room was quite lively for 730 am and everyone seemed to be sad that things were ending already.

Soon the Jims and Jen addressed the group and informed us that we would be heading over to Hollywood Studios for breakfast at the Brown Derby followed by our field exercise right after. The plan was for our groups to tour through DHS on our own and take photos of examples of each of the three lessons we had learned over the last three days. The idea was to try to find real-life examples of all of these strategies being executed correctly.

Before we boarded the bus, we were split into groups and given an iPad to take along with us. I ended up in a group with four guys from the Premier Hotel group and another gent named Marcos who was from Argentina. I was looking forward to the visit to the DHS and the assignment as was the rest of group judging by the boisterous bus ride over to DHS that included one of the Premier guys belting out Disney tunes the entire way over. He was darn good too! Be Prepared was clearly his specialty.

When we arrived we parked backstage and entered the park right behind the Rockin’ Roller Coaster. I was definitely enjoying these discreet entrances that I never knew existed. The group was taking photos of the empty park as we made our way over to the Brown Derby. It was a perfect day and made for some great backdrop early in the morning.
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

We made our way to the restaurant and were led into the dining room to find a full buffet spread waiting for us. We were told we’d have about 30-40 minutes to eat, and then we could gather with our group and explore the park. The food was terrific and the conversations around the tables were just as good. It really seemed like the people in the group were genuinely interested in everyone else which made all the group work, the meal time and some of the random run-ins you’d have when not in class so much more fun.

Once breakfast was complete, the groups gathered together outside the restaurant and went their own way. Since the park was just opening, the crowds were pretty scarce so we decided to hit up a few rides before we got down to business! Of the 5 or 6 people in our group, I was the only person to have experienced both Rockin’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. The rest of the group, with the exception of Marcos, was all in on getting both rides done while it was essentially walk on wait times.

RRC was first up. My British mates were all a little nervous but they we determined to try it out. We walked right through the queue and were loaded immediately. Off we went!
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

The ride was great, a perfect way to get the blood flowing right off the bat. Even with a full stomach everyone survived and were ready for the next thrill.

ToT was also a walk-on, we were led right into the library and ready to drop in. The boys were more nervous about this one than the roller coaster and admittedly, there was a lot screaming but clearly, they enjoyed the ride! Even Marcos got in on this one!
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

With our ride fix satisfied, we decided to start on our assignment. We roamed the streets of DHS taking numerous photos of service in action, from signage to cast members, we captured all sorts of different examples. We were rolling along pretty well until we came up to the Star Wars meet and greet area. I learned one of my group members is a MASSIVE Star Wars fan and wanted nothing more than to meet Chewbacca so into the queue we went.
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

The posted wait time was 15 minutes, which would have been about perfect. We needed to meet up with the rest of the group in about 25 minutes and head back to the Grand for the rest of the in-class session. The meet and greet queue is pretty cool. I like Star Wars so it was neat to check out something I haven’t seen before. The other guys were like kids in a candy store, taking photos of everything as they geared up for Chewy!
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

Sadly the line didn’t move as quickly as we were hoping it would and we eventually ran out of time as we were about third from the front. A disappointment to the guys that couldn’t meet Chewy but we did get a great example of service while we waited. The CM at the end of the line was almost the perfect example of a well-trained, fully engaged Disney employee. He was beyond personable, amazingly courteous, extremely knowledgeable and more than willing to answer guests’ comments and questions.

One young boy had asked him about the Tower of Terror and he immediately flipped the switch into this creepy, ToT-like dialogue. The kid was eating it up and you could tell the CM was having a blast as well. It was really cool to watch having just gone through these last three days of course material. We had to exit the queue to meet up with the rest of the group but before we left we stopped by to commend the CM on a job very well done!

We found our way back towards the entrance to RRC and gathered with the rest of our colleagues. It was another scorching day and everyone was trying to stay in the shade while we waited to instruction from the Jims and Jen. Shortly after we weaved our way backstage and back on the buses to roll back to the Grand.

We were all looking forward to the last lesson of the program, recovering service when things go wrong. Plus, we were told that there was also a special surprise waiting for us towards the end of the day.
 
WOW!! I just caught up on your DI program! What an incredible course! MY husband's job prides itself on customer service, so I hope he can go to the DI someday!! I love reading all your inside scoop stories from DI and I love how DI is giving you "action time" in the parks to see "Service in Action!"

You are really making the most of your trip and taking in every moment! Glad you got some Ample Hills (I'd be eating the espresso, too) and some time in the Animal Kingdom! Between the Tonga Toast and Le Cellier, you had some incredible meals!

Your Disney wall is AMAZING!!

Also, as everyone has said, very sorry to hear about the loss of Marty. Pets are absolutely family and they are huge parts of our family and make us smile every day while they love absolutely unconditionally. A loss during the holiday is exceptionally tough. Sending hugs to all.
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
WOW!! I just caught up on your DI program! What an incredible course! MY husband's job prides itself on customer service, so I hope he can go to the DI someday!! I love reading all your inside scoop stories from DI and I love how DI is giving you "action time" in the parks to see "Service in Action!"

You are really making the most of your trip and taking in every moment! Glad you got some Ample Hills (I'd be eating the espresso, too) and some time in the Animal Kingdom! Between the Tonga Toast and Le Cellier, you had some incredible meals!

Your Disney wall is AMAZING!!

Also, as everyone has said, very sorry to hear about the loss of Marty. Pets are absolutely family and they are huge parts of our family and make us smile every day while they love absolutely unconditionally. A loss during the holiday is exceptionally tough. Sending hugs to all.
Thanks for continuing to follow along and I certainly appreciate the kind words about Marty.

I keep looking back on all the pics during the two trips while writing this report and realize how much I miss it already! I was definitely fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the DI course and would highly recommend it to anyone who is considering attending. Well worth it, whether you're a Disney fan or not.
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
When we arrived back at the convention centre we had a quick break to grab a snack, use the restroom and find our seats back in the ballroom before we started the final in-class session. With all the discussion surrounding how to not only architect but also deliver quality service, the one thing we had yet to discuss was how to recover when things eventually breakdown or go wrong.

No matter how prepared you may be, something inevitably will not go as planned and being just as prepared for something like this is almost as good as being able to deliver flawless service to begin with. Not surprisingly, Disney clearly puts in as much effort in fixing flaws as it does in developing their entire customer service strategy. The initial point made was that the way any organization recovers from a service failure drives differentiation, which is what all organizations are striving for. What makes you different than the rest?

Planning for inevitable failures should be part of the service design from the very beginning so that when you are faced with an issue, you are able to react in a timely manner that can help not only rectify the situation but help build the relationship with that guest/customer/donor/etc. Most people will expect to be treated well when things are going smoothly, but the relationship can actually get stronger when an issue is handled properly and timely.

The big takeaway on this point was that guests are more likely to become frustrated with the company’s inability to fix a problem that they would be with the problem itself.

This kicked into a story from Jim Babcock about a guest experience at Port Orleans French Quarter. A family who had recently adopted a daughter had planned a trip to WDW to celebrate. It was their first visit and of course, they were expecting a fantastic time as a new family. When they arrived at the resort their room was not clean (sounded familiar to me, which Jim was quick to point out since I shared our French Quarter check-in experience earlier in the course). Much like our case, they were quick to fix that issue for the family and things went forward.

The next morning the omelet that the father ordered was below satisfaction but he let it slide since it was not a huge issue. When they got to the park they hit up Fantasyland with their young daughter before walking past the Haunted Mansion. Before walking by they asked a CM if HM would be ok for their young daughter or if would be too scary. The CM, in full character, stated they would be in for a scream and that the ride would be just fine. The family went through the queue and jumped on the ride only to find out immediately that it was far too overwhelming for their child. It ended up sending her into a pretty bad mood and they had to leave the park.
Now that they had experienced three service failures within about 12 hours the father spoke with a manager back at the resort to explain his frustration. The manager, along with other CMs, immediately took action to salvage the situation. The manager refunded the breakfast money, provided a stuffed animal from the gift shop to the daughter so she had a ride buddy for the rest of the trip and called in a favour at MK to have the family provided with a VIP tour host when they returned to the park.

All these actions were made at the discretion of the manager and the other CMs on duty. They are empowered to make quick decisions to ensure they can repair the relationship and in this case, the rest of the family’s stay was flawless and they have returned to WDW each year after to celebrate the adoption anniversary.

This was one example of how Disney trains their CMs to be able to really listen to the guests about the issues at hand and know what steps to take to make sure they can truly resolve the problems in a timely fashion without having to go through multiple channels for approval. Some issues, of course, will take a little more time to deal with but when it comes to things that CMs can find solutions to quickly, they are given a wide range of options to do so.

The point was made that everything has to come back to the overall purpose of the organization. In Disney’s case, each CM must keep in mind that they are there to create happiness and that shouldn’t change in a situation where they are dealing with repairing an issue.
The four steps they like to employ in this scenario are Intentional listening: truly stopping to listen to the guests' issue to fully understand the situation. Empathy: which is critical to maintain an emotional connection with the guest. Apologize: an absolute must in any failure situation. And finally, Taking Action: Once the first three steps have been followed, what is the best way to resolve the issue?

Sometimes it’s easier to find the proper path to fixing the problem but in cases where a solution cannot be reached for whatever reason, go beyond the somewhat standard response of “sorry, there is nothing I can do”. Explain why a solution cannot be reached, be it policy or whatever, and seek to find an alternative solution. Sometimes that might require compensation or something along those lines to help offset the customers’ disappointment.

The final takeaway from the discussion was to always analyze the root causes of some of the issues that crop up so that you can prevent the issues from happening again or at very least know exactly how to handle these issues quickly and with the least amount of hassle for both the company and the customer.

Of course, throughout this discussion, we shared numerous stories of service failures that we’ve experienced and we discussed ways to ensure our organizations can plan for failures that we will encounter. Certainly, the groups that are in the hospitality sector had tons of stories and were eating up much of the discussion the facilitators were leading. No matter what industry or sector each organization is in, there were definitely practices and principles we could all take away and look to employ or improve in our service delivery.

And with that, after hours of amazing content and experiences, the program came to a close! The facilitators delivered their closing statements and let us in on our final surprise, they unveiled a table full of graduation hats, with Mickey ears of course, and introduced the last special guest to bid us farewell. Mickey himself came through the doors and the final hour we had as a group was spent receiving our Mickey ears, a certificate of completion and a photo with Mickey! Now, Mickey is my guy, no doubt about that, but the excitement of some of the others in the group was insane! Made for such a fun closing hour and plenty of group photos to remember the experience by.
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr

I got my photo with Mickey and was happy to take a photo with some of the international contingent including my buddy Marcos and another huge Disney fan, Oriana!
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
WDW 2018
by Matt Mandrusiak, on Flickr
IMG_4591.jpg

With the celebration coming to a close, many of us shook hands, exchanged business cards and said our goodbyes. I made sure to thank the Jims and Jen before leaving the ballroom and heading back to my room. It was an amazing four days and I was sad it was over but I was also excited to take back the information we were just provided to continue to improve the work we do back home.
That said, I was also exhausted from everything and was really looking forward to a little relaxation!
 

Spash007

Well-Known Member
I have to say, I think Disney's ability to recover from failure might be one of the biggest reasons they keep pulling me back. Everything else is great, but they really go out of their way to make sure you are happy, even if the original problem was not through fault of their own.
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I have to say, I think Disney's ability to recover from failure might be one of the biggest reasons they keep pulling me back. Everything else is great, but they really go out of their way to make sure you are happy, even if the original problem was not through fault of their own.
I fully agree. Disney is great at just about everything but it's this attention to detail that really puts them above and beyond in my mind. Any time we have had an experience that is less than expected the way they really try to make guests happy tends to right the ship pretty quickly.

As mentioned in the course, the way you handle these types of situations can be that difference maker and often times it at Disney that is definitely the case.
 

amjt660

Well-Known Member
I fully agree. Disney is great at just about everything but it's this attention to detail that really puts them above and beyond in my mind. Any time we have had an experience that is less than expected the way they really try to make guests happy tends to right the ship pretty quickly.

As mentioned in the course, the way you handle these types of situations can be that difference maker and often times it at Disney that is definitely the case.
I have in the past agreed with you that the Disney recovery has always been a strong point
Something that I instill on all of my team at work - mistakes happen but how you recover from them is the important thing

My recent experience at Disney was not a good recovery
But I will leave that one for my TR....

Love the ears and the pics with Mickey!!

Max
 
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