If you’ve ever read anything that I’ve written here or elsewhere, you know that I love Walt Disney World. I’m kind of obsessed. When my family and I wanted a new start, our minds (and our possessions) immediately went to Orlando. When we decided to buy a house, it had to be close to Walt Disney World so that we’d have easy access. We spend a lot of time on Disney property. I do believe that Walt Disney World is the most magical place on earth…most of the time.
Today my daughter and I had an experience that was less than magical. It started off as exciting, I was able to get last minute FastPass+ for Slinky Dog Dash. Since we’re local we often will head to a park for an hour or less. Today was a busy day for us, but we couldn’t turn down a chance to ride the new coaster! We moved a couple of things around, and then headed to the park when it was close to the FastPass+ time. We didn’t have any extra time to spare, but we knew that we could do it.
We were on the ride just a few minutes after we got in line. Slinky Dog started to move forward. We pulled out of the gate and into the sun; and then stopped. Today was one of the hottest days that we’ve had here in Central Florida in over a year, so even a couple of minutes in the sun were not welcome. There was soon an announcement that the ride could start again at any time, and to keep seated in the vehicle. And then another similar announcement. I lost track of the number of times that we were told that it could start again. After about 20 minutes or so, we could hear an announcement to those in line. It said that they didn’t know when the ride would be running again. Those in line were encouraged to leave and come back later. Those of us on the ride still had no idea what was going on.
A minute or so later a Cast Member came and told us that someone would be there soon to let us off the ride. He said that we would all get a new FastPass+ added into our accounts. I asked if those could be used tomorrow, and he said no. I was nice, I promise, I even let him know that I was not upset with him, but I did say that the system wasn’t fair to those of us who weren’t sticking around. There was nothing that he could do. I wanted to make sure that he knew that I realized that it wasn’t his fault, so I cracked a couple of bad jokes. (When the heat starts to get to me my jokes get really, really bad.) The same Cast Member also promised us that there was going to be water for everyone when we got off.
It was still several more minutes until we were able to get off the ride. Someone told us that there were four different vehicles that needed to be evacuated. When we finally got off, they were out of water. Someone had gone to get more, but after we waited for a few more minutes we just wanted to get out of there. The heat was starting to get to both of us, and I was getting shaky. As we were walking away we saw another Cast Member returning with a case of water. Simon from Chicago, a total rock star Cast Member, saw that the heat was bothering me, and he chased down two bottles of water for us.
I understand that rides break down. I’ve been on them when it’s happened many times before. One of my favorite Disney memories is when we broke down on The Great Movie Ride, and all the cowboys and cowgirls came out and entertained those of us who were on the train. It was fun. Today…not so much. Things could have been handled better. The first thought should have been getting people off of the ride, instead of clearing out the queue. We should have been better informed as to what was going on. We shouldn’t have had to wait that long. Since we were close enough that the Cast Members could walk over to us, they should have brought us water while we were waiting for someone who could release the restraints. They should have asked us if we were feeling okay when we got off, because the heat index was well over 100 degrees, and we sat in the direct sun for over half an hour. They should have offered us FastPass+ that could be used another day. Someone could have made us feel as if they were actually sorry that this had happened.
I still love Walt Disney World. This slight hiccup will soon be forgotten, and tomorrow I’ll be offering you more advice on how to make the most of your Disney vacation. The reason why I’m telling you this is partly out of frustration, but that’s not all. I want you to expect your own hiccups on your vacation, but know that you will still have the time of your life. The magic will fail from time to time, but that’s the thing about Disney. There’s more magic around the next corner.