Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Being Strong When Things Go Wrong at Walt Disney World...

Most of the time I try not to let Fibromyalgia get in my way.  Even when at Walt Disney World if I'm having a day that my pain is so bad I can't really walk, I'll rent an ECV or a Wheelchair and just keep going.  As some of you who may follow me on Twitter know, I had a very disturbing event happen to me at the Magic Kingdom last week.  I was having a very high pain night that left me in a wheelchair.  Some of you that follow me on Twitter may have read that I had a very disturbing instance last week at the Haunted Mansion. 

The next day, when I was feeling better but still carrying around the baggage of the previous night, I decided to take the issue to Guest Relations.  Before we left the Park, we stopped in to retell the story of what has happened to me at the Haunted Mansion (which I don't care to rehash here).  When I began speaking to the beautiful young lady at Guest Relations (Victoria was her name and she should have been a Princess) I knew that things would get better when she stopped me for a moment so that she could take notes. Notes, because she was really listening to me and what I had to say.  As I told Victoria the story I began crying again, the utter humiliation the HM cast members put me through was still raw and new.  I could tell that it was difficult for her to listen to what had happened.  She was invested in my story and she wanted to make things right.  Victoria explained my issues to her boss, and her boss's boss, they wanted to make things right too. 

However they were already doing what I needed them to do.  They were listening to me.  They were validation that how I was treated should never have happened.  I told them that the only thing that I wanted was to be sure that no one else was subjected to that humiliation.  I told them that someone should have thought about the queue during design, that ADA compliance can't just be an afterthought.  But that I didn't expect them to rip up the ground and re-pour the cement in the queue.  To my great surprise I was informed that if enough people had a problem, that they very well may.  I was told that I'm not the only guest that has had an issue with the cobblestones in a wheelchair.  That the new ADA compliant queue was being seen as a little less than successful for guests in chair.  In addition to that bit of knowledge, Victoria assured me that the 3 cast members at the Haunted Mansion I encountered would be spoken to an dealt with.  The best part is that she meant it.  She meant it and her supervisors meant it, and they were going to make sure that it didn't happen to anyone else.

The choice to be in a wheelchair for me is difficult.  People, especially strangers, are judgemental, and no matter how far we think that we have come as a society in acceptance, it's not always the case.  As someone who can walk most of the time, making the descision to be in a chair opens a new wound every single day that I have to do it.  It puts my body's failures at the front of my thoughts, and though I know that it's the right thign sometimes, it is never easy.

The cast members at Magic Kingdom Guest Relations are there to help.  When you tell your story, they're there to gauge whether you're just having a bad day, or something has really gone horribly wrong.  They listen to the guests, they are our voice back to the company, and they make sure that things get done to keep the magic alive.  They even give Princess stickers to grown ups standing at the counter crying.  I know that sounds stupid, but the levity of it was amazing.

I know that I've left out many details in this post, details of the incident, and details of the resolution. That was on purpose.  But, I want you to know that Disney has done everything possible and gone what I think was above and beyond to make things right with me.   If you get anything from this post I want you to walk away with from thing... Disney does care.  They care how their guests are treated while on property, and if something goes wrong along the way they do want to make it right.  You just have to be brave enough to get your story to the right people.

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