Walt Disney World

Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2007 at 7:32pm CDT by 2732892d

Company: Walt Disney World

Category: Other

On our recent trip to Walt Disney World, my family was almost ran over by a

parking lot tram while we (and many other guests) were crossing in a marked

crosswalk to the Handicapped parking lot at Epcot. My 78 year old father, in

an electric scooter due to his Parkinson's disease, and my 10 year old

daughter were nearly hit by the tram. It came within a foot of dad's scooter.

I have sent a letter to Disney, but after two weeks, I have heard nothing

and don't expect to since Disney World is well known in numerous publications

for ignoring complaints and problems. I am not asking for monetary

compensation but a simple, formal, official apology and to know what their resolution

of the persons involved in the situation were. (I live in Ohio, park

admission tickets alone would be a waste anyhow.)

Here is the letter I sent to Disney with all the details:

August 13, 2007

Guest Claims

Walt Disney Company

P.O. Box 10000

Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830-1000

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to you to tell you about our recent trip to Walt Disney World

and one event near the end of the trip that totally devastated my 9 year old

daughter and put a damper on the whole trip.

My family, along with some friends from Washington state, visited Disney

World from July 30-August 5 of this year. This was my daughters first visit

to Disney World and my first since 1989. Our family group consisted of

myself and my wife and our 9 year old daughter, my mother in law, my parents (both

78), my sister in law and her husband and 2 year old daughter and our

friends a family of four (with 2 teenage daughters) who traveled from Washington

State. We had been planning this trip for over a year. My father was diagnosed

with Parkinsons disease earlier this summer and as a result had to use a

motorized scooter while at Disney World.

We stayed for six nights at the Port Orleans French Quarter, had 7 day park

hopper tickets with Disney Dining Plan. First, let me say that the French

Quarter was a fantastic hotel, we all enjoyed our stay there and the staff is

excellent. The Disney Dining plan is also a very good option as well.in

fact we were trying to use up all of our entitlements the last few days! (I

think we may have still had one childs sit down meal left!)

As far as the weather and crowds: it was hot and the parks were crowded and

we lost most of our day at Animal Kingdom to the rain. But I am not

complaining about those items. We selected that time period to come and were well

aware (and prepared) for those issues.

The one issue that is minor that I will bring up before my major issue was

Valet Parking at the Contemporary Hotel. We went to the Contemporary on

Thursday, August 2 for dinner and I was planning to drop my parents (and the

scooter) off at the door. When I pulled up and told the Valets this, they said

that since we had a Handicapped License on our vehicle (it was our personal

vehicle that we had driven down), the valet parking was free. They told the

second vehicle (which also had a handicapped placard) the same thing. When we

got our final bill for the week, there were $10 Valet Parking charges on both

bills from the Contemporary Hotel! The front desk staff of the Port Orleans

was very helpful and removed the charges. It seem very Un professional of

those Valets to tell people one thing but then go ahead and make the charge

from the hotel registration in the window! I didnt think Disney would prey on

handicapped people like that! How many other Handicapped patrons have been

taken advantage of this way??

Now for the major issue and the real purpose of this letter.

On Friday, August 3, 2007, our party was leaving Epcot at about 9:05 p.m.

(This time is accurate because Illuminations had just begun and since we had

seen it earlier in the week, we decided to leave.) We were parked in the

Handicapped lot to the left as you are looking toward Spaceship Earth. There

were two trams parked in the driveway between the handicapped lot and the main

entrance. Our party, along with several other patrons, began to cross (in

the crosswalk) the tramway between the lot and the gates. About 6 people,

including my sister and brother in law (carrying his 2 year old), myself and

some other guests were in the lead. All of a sudden one of the trams (#28)

began to reve its engine, it jumped a couple of times and came roaring toward

the crosswalk. We moved quickly and my brother in law and I (in the rear of

this group) just got out of the way before the tram came roaring through.

The tram went about four cars and stopped. I then looked through the tram

cars to see my dad and daughter looking shocked on the other side. (the rest of

our group was behind them.

At this point, myself and another gentleman from the group who had got

across headed to the front of the train as did my father and a couple of other

people who were still on the other side. (the tram was now blocking the

crosswalk.) As we approached the cab, several Epcot Parking people (in yellow

suits/vests) had converged on the cab from the other way. As we approached I saw

what appeared to be the person in charge showing some flashlight symbols to

the driver (still in his cab.) and shaking his head. (Could that mean the

driver wasnt properly trained?) As we approached the cab, some of the parking

lot workers saw us and said: we are handling this, it is under control.

At that point my father was very upset and said: that guy almost killed us!

(He explained that the tram had missed the front of his scooter by mere

inches and my daughter was right beside him!) The gentleman I was with

identified himself as a season pass holder and asked to speak to a Manager. I

also expressed my opinion about the driver. The lead parking lot worker and

an African American woman then began to become very irate with us and told us

things like: it was a mistake, he didnt mean to do it we are

handling this and then the clincher: this is an internal matter, its none

of your business. (none of our business.we almost got killed!!). The

leader then instructed the driver to move the tram. We were incensed; he was

going to let this plainly incompetent driver continue to drive! Both the

season pass holder and I stated that if the guy was allowed to continue driving,

we would make a large scene and call everyone we could. The person who

appeared to be in charge then replaced the driver and drove the tram away himself.

The season pass holder then told the parking people that he was going to

wait to speak to a Manager. My father, mother and daughter were still shaken

by these events, so I chose to leave the scene at this point to get them

back to the hotel.

Once back at the hotel, my father had to go to Concierge for another matter

and while there, he reported the incident. The concierge at Port Orleans

was fantastic! They made several calls right then and there about the

incident and said that someone from Epcot Management would be calling us the next

day on my cell phone. They also gave us the card for the manager of Epcot.

The call never came until Tuesday, August 7 as we were driving home from

Florida. They were supposed to call the next day, but of course waited until we

had been checked out for two days.. The person on the phone first

spoke to my father and then me and we told her the whole story. It sounded as if

she had never heard about it, so my guess is that no incident report was

filed the night of the incident in spite of the fact that people were almost ran

over!! She thanked me for my report and said she would look into it. I

asked her for a follow up call to make sure the situation was handled. She

said that Disney does not do that. I told her that I expected a follow up call

or I would pursue this through a legal course. She did call me back on

Saturday, August 11 and informed me that Epcot had handled the situation but she

could not provide me with any details. I then informed her of the latest

development and she was the one who gave me the Guest Claims address to

write to.

I most likely would have dropped this whole issue after her follow up call,

except for something that happened after we got home. On Thursday, someone

asked my daughter what she remembered most about her trip to Walt Disney World.

Her reply was: Grandpa and I almost got ran over by a tram. Im

sorry, but a 9 year olds memory of her first visit to Disney World should not be

that. She has also been very quiet about the trip to Disney ever since that

night. When school resumes in 10 days, I plan on asking the School

Psychologist to talk to her and I am hopeful that this incident has not scared her.

As a result, I have decided to write these letters to you and others at

Disney. Since I cant read the report of that night and know that the driver has

been properly punished, I am also considering telling my story in a letter

to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel (which someone the Unofficial Guide gave

me the address to) so that the driver will see what he has done to a little

girl and get a real punishment. (since he probably is still on the job with

no loss of time or pay) I may also write the story to the editor of the

Columbus Dispatch, my hometown paper. You should also know that I am waiting on

a response from the State of Florida as to who I need to contact there to

file an unsafe operation complaint about the tram operation at Epcot. I have

also began to tell this story on Travel Websites and may write to travel

magazines and my father is preparing a letter for the AARP.

I have read many books in preparation for my trip to Disney and the one

thing that sticks out from the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is a

comment that Disney Worlds biggest flaw is that it does not really respond to or

act on complaints, so I dont expect a response. Im sure this will all be

shoved under the rug.

Epcot should be ashamed of this whole incident and especially the attitudes

and actions of the cast members around that tram that night. They were

certainly the worst examples of Disney I have ever encountered. The whole bunch

should have been punished.

The sad part about all of this is that IF that tram had been just a foot

either way from its path, this would have been handled completely differently.

what would the public reaction have been if a 78 year old man in a scooter and

a 9 year old girl had actually been hit OR if my brother in law had been hit

carrying his 2 year old??? We give thanks to God that he was watching out

for us that night. (My friends from Washington State were also in an auto

accident on Sunday afternoon as we were driving from Disney to Cocoa Beach.

They were in their rental mini van when they were rammed at a toll booth,

totaling the car and destroying much of their luggage..God watched over them as

well then as there was no injuries!)

Year of a Million Dreams??? Hopefully my daughter wont think of this as a

year of a million nightmares!

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dfed4fb8, 2008-02-14, 12:50AM CST

<Ahem> Drama Queen...

cfb7f3c7, 2008-05-15, 09:33PM CDT

I have to agree with the "drama queen" comment!

First, do you think maybe the whole valet charge thing could have been simply an oversight or lack of communication between the actual valet and the billing department? I suspect the billing department wouldn't have any way of knowing the cars had a handicapped placard unless the valet notified them... "Prey" on handicapped people? Just a bit dramatic...

Now the tram thing. Sounds to me like there may have been a mechanical problem with the tram (I doubt the driver would advertise the fact that he was about to attempt to run some people over by revving the engine), but nonetheless, there still could have been tragic results (usually known as "accidents"). I wish the author had elaborated a little more on exactly what "I also expressed my opinion about the driver" meant... Could that have been part of the reason the cast members became "irate"? The author and his family then left and went home, making me think it wasn't that big a deal and they probably all would have gotten over it, if the concierge at Port Orleans hadn't unwittingly fanned the flames by calling the Epcot manager. If I've got the timeline correct, it was late Friday night by then, and I'm thinking that maybe that manager doesn't work on the weekend, and that might be the reason the author didn't get a call until Tuesday, not because the manager was "waiting until they had been checked out for two days". Finally, I don't mean to be harsh, but if the 9 year old was that traumatized by this incident that it ruined the whole trip for her, I'm afraid she's going to have some serious issues in the future because life surely has worse to dish out than this! Ten bucks says if the family hadn't dragged it on and made such a big deal about it, it would become an adventurous antidote to tell about the trip, instead of necessitating a trip to the school psychiatrist. I don't envy the counselor who has to listen with a straight face when they are told this kid needs help because she ALMOST got hit by a tram at Disney World! Bottom line, I'm not sure exactly what the author wants to happen here. I'm certain the Epcot manager apologized about a million times, and even Disney can't actually turn back time, so what's the point of all this? I'm sure the driver was either sent for additional training, or fired, or the tram was examined for mechanical problems, or whatever. The truth is that Disney runs such a tight ship that the minute something less than perfect happens, everyone wants to jump all over them. People are human, and accidents happen, probably even at Disney World. For the quality they provide, I am still willing to give them my money and risk being run over by a tram. At least I would die at the happiest place on Earth!

c458eec9, 2008-06-11, 01:53PM CDT

That last part actually your entire comment, was probably the dumbest thing I have ever read..You are either male, a teenager or under the age of 30 because God help your Family if you're over 30..The Happiest place on Earth is my home not some silly theme park..and I wouldn't want to die in either place!! I wonder how lax Disney would be if they got hit with a major multi million dollar lawsuit because of their stupidity and negligence?!!

7e67b6f1, 2009-02-08, 08:40PM CST

Is this a joke? Your daughter needs to speak to a school psychologist because she is traumatized from almost being hit by a tram at disney? Give me a break! you are her mom, go talk to her yourself you silly goldigger.

b02f84ab, 2011-07-28, 08:22AM CDT

First and foremost - the tram beeped its horn two times to let everyone in front of it it was moving towards you - get the hell out of the way!!! Do you walk in front of moving cars where you live? I doubt it. Why does everyone think it is safe to walk in front of the trams? If Disney waited for everyone to stop acting stupid and stop walking in front of the trams they would never move.

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