I’ve been to Disney a lot recently. I’ve been there more since my daughter was born than I went in my entire life, so you could say that we know our way around fairly well.
When we booked the Ultimate Disney Christmas Experience package for this Christmas, I was excited. It came with a ton of perks- like a special after hours Animal Kingdom event, Christmas party tickets, special fireworks viewing at Epcot, etc.
We arrived in Florida a few days early and piddled around, before hitting the ground running on December 21st- the first day of our package. The plan was to go to Magic Kingdom for a while, then bounced to Animal Kingdom in preparation for our special event that night. I did online check-in, because we knew we wouldn’t be at the resort until late that evening, and who wants to stand in line for check-in while you’re exhausted?
My crazy brain being what it was, we arrived at the resort (Coronado Springs) around 8:30am to park our car, and I headed inside anyway just to make sure we were all squared away. The line wasn’t out the door, but it was a little longer than I had expected. My husband found a Cast Member and asked if we were all set because we were there for the Christmas package and had done online check-in. We got the ok, so we hopped a bus to Magic Kingdom.
Then I noticed something was wrong. I texted Erin, my travel agent to find out why my Memory Maker wasn’t working. After all, I’d checked in, it was the first day of our trip- it should have been working. She asked if I’d checked in and I confirmed I had before mentioning I did the mobile check-in. That’s when I learned we had a disaster brewing.
Apparently, we were required to do an in-person check-in because Christmas package participants were required to pick up a packet of materials- including credentials for the Animal Kingdom event that night. None of this was communicated to me from Disney- and remember, we had asked at the resort if we were ok to go on about our business.
So what to do? We had fastpasses to get to, a lunch reservation, plus my daughter was getting her very first hair cut. I didn’t have the time, nor the desire, to leave my family and get back on a bus, head to the resort to wait in line to get a packet I wasn’t told about, for credentials I didn’t know I needed. I was raging.
This is when Erin swooped in to save the day. I spent a total of 15 minutes texting and talking to her on the phone, giving her details and explaining what was going on. She stressed about three billions times that I should enjoy my day and not worry, she’d get this figured out.
And she did. If I had been on my own, I would have absolutely had to spend my vacation time either bouncing back and forth to get what I needed, or dealing with Guest Services myself. As it was, it took about an hour and a half of Erin’s time to get it worked out for me. She arranged it so that my packet was hand delivered to Animal Kingdom’s Guest Services, where I was able to pick it up in under a minute, when we arrived. (This is also why it’s always important to carry your ID with you!)
To say I was stressed out was an understatement, but I am thankful I was able to hand off this mess to Erin and instead of dealing with it, we got to ride Barnstormer, and we took a spin on the Carousel- joined by Anastasia & Drizella, of evil step-sister fame. We finally made it onto Astro Orbiter, a ride that I somehow had never been on despite our many trips. We made memories, instead of my anger and frustration ramping up and taking me away from my family on what was supposed to be a special Christmas family trip.
This is what a travel agent can do for you- even if you’re an experienced Disney-goer. I found out later that Disney had actually set up special staff meetings to remind package resorts that things were different for Ultimate Disney Package guests- and still, several of us fell through the cracks. Yes, I wasn’t the only one to have this problem- and unfortunately, not everyone I talked with had a travel agent willing to go to bat for them like I did.