In this week’s From The Mouth Of The Mouse, I chat with Valerie, who worked at the Walt Disney World resort hotels.
I find that a lot of the folks from the resorts have much different experiences than those on the front lines in the Parks. Let’s hear what Valerie has to say!
JEFF: So tell me where you worked!
VALERIE: I started off at All Star and was also at Yacht and Beach Club and the Grand Floridian.
JEFF: What made you decide to work at Walt Disney World?
VALERIE: I remember my first time seeing Cinderella Castle when I was about 9, and thinking “If I can’t live here, I want to work here… so that is exactly what I did! I went into my interview saying “I don’t care what I do, I just want to work here.” I was originally given front desk at Polynesian Resort…but then the next day I had to come back to do a “medical exam” and was told Polynesian was for internal cast only and I would be at All Star Music “doing the same exact thing.” It was not until years later that I realized that was a lie and they were just trying to fill spots at All Star first. I was also never warned that I would have to do heavy luggage lifting, and I spent the first 3 months of my “front desk” time without ever seeing the front desk at all!
JEFF: Can you think of any times where you went out of your way to make a guest’s stay more magical?
VALERIE: We always did things to make guests stay better. For special celebrations, we always tried to do a complementary upgrade, and leave little surprises in the room. One of the best ones I can remember, though, was on New Year’s Eve 1999. It was one of the longest days ever, and lots of guests had booked their stay well in advance. It really was crazy how many people were there!
I was asked to pick up a guest staying at our hotel at Celebration hospital. A drive that would usually take less than 10 min took TWO HOURS (and I took all the back ways I could). By the time I got there, I dreaded driving back to the hotel, stuck in a van with a family I had never met and a guy who had just gotten out of the hospital. But, we all had a great time together, being cooped up in that van, and I made some lifelong friends out of that little trip. I wound up ringing in the New Year with them later that evening.
JEFF: You mentioned to me earlier that you had a crazy story about a guest over a refund.
VALERIE: Yes, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience at all! I was used to some guests complaining about things we really had no control over. It happened all the time. But this one time, a guest came up to the desk to complain he was double charged for something in the Parks. He said he paid cash but that it was also charged to his room. I told him if he showed me the receipt, I would have gladly give him the refund. Instead, he proceeded to freak out! He wound up trying to climb over the desk to try to take the money, and security had to detain him. It was crazy!
JEFF: There was also something you mentioned about an animal attack?
VALERIE: Less of an attack, more of a surprise. You know, it’s amazing how many folks think that, just because they are at Disney, the animals aren’t real. One night, a couple left their door open to let in some air, and a critter got in. He woke them up by making noise, and they just assumed it was “Disney Magic” with an animal animatronic. Eventually, they realized their mistake, and hurried out of the room, straight to us at the front desk, to get the animal out!
JEFF: Working at a hotel, you’re onstage 24/7, as opposed to the Parks, when it’s only during hours of operation. Do you feel like you worked harder at the resorts?
VALERIE: Well, yes and no. We had to know everything about all the parks and everything on Disney property, but I’m sure most Cast Members know that. But at the desk, we had to give directions, check people in, know Park hours, make dining reservation, sell tickets, and so on. We did more than many others because we were the guest’s home base.
I think it was more demanding because once everything else was closed, we still had the guests who were too drunk, or too loud, coming back to us. A few years back, when Disney closed the parks because of hurricanes, all of those guests still had to come back to the resorts. It was a handful trying to keep people safe, too. It’s SCARY how many people we had to tell to get out of the pool while 100 mile an hour winds were coming.
Thanks so much for talking to us, Valerie!
A brand new book from a Disney Legend, as told to MiceChat’s own Jeff Heimbuch!
The Imagineers, those men and women who helped Walt Disney bring his creations to life, have achieved legendary status among theme park enthusiasts. It’s Kind Of A Cute Story is the life story of one of the most beloved Imagineers, Rolly Crump. Covering his long and varied career, including designing some of Disney’s most famous attractions and working directly with Walt himself, Rolly’s stories weave into a lighthearted yet riveting narrative of his life and accomplishments. Packed with over 200 photos, many of which have never been seen before, It’s Kind Of A Cute Story is a tribute to the life and work of a true original.
Paperbacks are on sale at the Bamboo Forest Publishing webstore.
Also available as a limited edition, signed hardcover from Bamboo Forest Publishing.
And save the date of February 2nd, 2013 to meet Rolly Crump for yourself and have him sign your copy of the book during the MiceAge 10th anniversary celebration. MiceAge 10th Anniversary information HERE.
If you are, or know, a Cast Member who would like to share some of their stories and possibly be featured right here on MiceChat, please email me at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you!
You can read older columns of From The Mouth Of The Mouse here!
Jeff can help you plan your perfect Disney vacation with Fairy Godmother Travel! Call him at 732-278-7404 or email him at [email protected] for a free, no-obligation quote for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani or Adventures By Disney.
Jeff also writes a MiceChat column titled The 626. We invite you to check it out!
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