This only took 20 years to happen since my first visit to Tokyo Disneyland back in 1989, and because of that, it's more significant and disappointing for me.
Recently, when I attended the park to ride the new "Monsters Inc Ride & Go seek" ride, I had a most frustrating experience.. involving Fastpass (gee what a surprise!) and non-english speaking CMs who are for the most part the norm at TDR. Still, even with language limitations, I have never had a bad experience with a TDR CM before as they always went out of their way to make sure my needs were met and my visits were enjoyable.
You see.. Monsters Inc ride is still under preview mode, but the ride is pretty much opened unofficially to all guests. Official opening day is April 15th, 2009, on TDL's 26th anniversary.
Since the ride was opened unofficially, when I did the line, Fastpass service was NOT available. I did the stand by line in a sea of people (see pictures in my review of the ride thread), yet I only waited 45 minutes and rode. I was so delighted with the ride that when I came out, I wanted to go on it again. The time was 10:20am. I had won a seat in the show lotto for the 11:30am castle show which I wanted to see, so I figured that I could do the stand by line again and have plenty of time to be in queue, ride and make the 11:30am show.
When I first came out of the ride at 10:20am, the first thing I noticed outside was the Fastpass distribution was still closed, and everyone was being directed by CMs to go into the stand by line which actually appeared shorter than before, so with no Fastpass available and eager to ride Monsters again, I merrily went around and entered the Stand by line once more, convinced that I would have time to do the 11:30am castle show, for which I had this great center section, up front seat reserved.
I entered the stand by line for the 2nd time.. which was posted on the wait time sign at "45 mins wait" and we were moving along quite expeditiously. Then around 10:45am, when I am about to go into the indoor portion of the ride, the queue suddenly stopped moving, and started crawling.. then time started ticking away... At 11am, I was just reaching the front entrance into the indoor queue. Then, I look over to the Fastpass distribution area and noticed dozens on guests getting fastpass for the ride and some of them already entering the ride thru the FP queue and getting in front of us who had been in line longer since Fastpass was not being offered at the time we entered the standby line.
I was like WTF???? I was extremely dissolutioned, since then I realized I would not make it to see the 11:30am show. Worst, I had to be back in Maihama station by 12:34pm to make my train back to Narita and go to work. So I resigned myself to miss the show. No biggie as I had seen it before. But then, our queue was crawling very very slowly... as others who were lucky to obtain FP were passed up ahead of us. If FP had been available before I entered the queue, well darn, I would have used it and avoid a very slow moving stand by queue.
To make the story shorter... It was about 11:45am and we had not reached the merging point of FP and SB queues.. I was very frustrated by now. Then both the FP queue and SB came to a total hault. No one was moving. I figured the ride had technical difficulties but no english announcement were made. I was sadly running out of time and had to decide if I could rid or get out of the line. Very frustrating choice to make as I had already missed the show at the castle for the chance to ride again.
I flagged a young female CM nearby, and she merrily came over. I asked if she spoke English.. she said "a little". I explained the situation, that I was upset because FP was not being distributed at the time I entered the queue and now that it was being offered after I stood in line for so long, other people had the chance to enter the ride ahead of us after we had been waiting for so long. I told her it was unfair to us who did not have the chance to get FP before stepping in the stand by line.. I also asked if the ride was having technical problems and had stopped. She clearly said NO.
Then all of a sudden, she started acting as if she didn't understand anything I said. That ticked me off royally. Then she got on her earpiece phone and called someone.. then very correctly stated, "someone will be here in 10 minutes!". I told her "That is unacceptable." Because they offered Fastpass after the stand by queue was opened, I had wasted my time waiting and would have to get out of the line because I only had 25 mins to make my train in Maihama.. so I could not wait for 10 minutes. As this went on, I noticed how quickly the Fastpass queue was growing as well besides our line standing there.. and I figured all these people would be passed in the front. It was a hopeless situation.
I was forced to exit the queue, and since I was visibly fuming and walking fast to Guest Relation since I was short on time, the CM gal basically ran besides me saying... "sorry! sorry! sorry!!!" I paid no attention to her as I walked down World Bazaar and into Guest Relations to file my complaint. The gal followed me in Monsters costume down World Bazaar. That is a big no no with OLC and their show standards, but I guess her concern for my complaint was more pressing or at least, I would love to think that was the case.
Lucky for me, I was able to talk to someone in Guest Relations.. again, had to wait for someone who spoke english. I only had about 15 mins to make my train by this time. This young 20-something twink comes out to talk to me in very broken english. I again explained the whole situation.. that Fastpass distribution was closed when I entered the Stand by line, That FP was then offered to guests afterwards and people were being passed to the front ahead of those who didn't get a chance at getting Fastpass. I told him I felt I was cheated of being able to take Fastpass etc etc.. that I missed seeing the castle show for which I had won a great seat because of that.... that I had to leave the park because of work, and most importantly... I felt the whole situation with Fastpass was not properly handled.. that we should have been given priority before any FP guests were allowed since we didn't have a chance at getting a FP.. etc etc etc.. I bluntly told him that I felt I should be compensated with an undated "front of the line" courtesy pass to use on my next visit to make up for the troubles I was caused and inconvenience..' I also asked why offer FP service when the attraction is under previews... etc etc. I suggested that it would have been fair for a CM to stand in the standby line to allow those who entered the standby line *before* the FP distribution machines opened to access the ride first, then open the FP queue for those who had FP tickets. That would have been the fairest way to deal with that particular situation.
To all this, the only answer I got from the CM was..in broken english "I have to write the concern on my form here..." I interrupted him abruptly and said (FACC members would be so proud of me) "BUT! how are you going to compensate me for my troubles??" His answer.." I have to write the complaint..." Well I pretty much know that the write up would end up in the trash can.. or at least is what would happen at the american parks.. (right Dustysage?)
With only 8 minutes to go before missing my train in Maihama, I threw my hands up in the air declaring defeat and told him, "You are lucky I do not have time to wait, as I will miss my train, but If I had the time, I would ask to speak to an American manager, and I know they do work here because WDC keeps an eye on you all!!! Needless to say I am very disappointed by the way this was handle and the lack of trying to compensate for my troubles and the time wasted in line for nothing!" Then I walked away ...
In typical TDR CM way.. he said to me..."Please! come back to TDL soon!" as I stated to walk away. I rolled my eyes.
I basically ran to Maihama and made my train back to Narita with about 1 minute to spare. I was furious as you can imagine.
You know, I am not one to complain much about TDR but this particular situation was improperly handled, and I left with a bad impression of the operation and it's shortcomings for being too "local-centric." Let this situation be an example of how difficult it can be for non-japanese speaking guests to get their point across when encountering poor service or unfair practices at the TDR parks. I think that for the first time, I experienced the same feelings that some diehard local fans may feel like when encountering poor service recovery at TDR. It also serves as an example of what I have discussed here for many years now.. It's not worth it to try and change the TDR CMs' ways in regards to how OLC expect them to perform. Remove the daily status quo from their duties and they fall to pieces. As a 31-year veteran of customer service work, I have come to learn that you have to go out of your way to make sure your customer is left satisfied in some way or another to compensate for bad service or product. It's a challenging thing to accomplish but it IS possible. On this day at TDL, I felt NO one was willing to do that for me, and I also feel that I had a very legitimate complaint about the way the Monsters Inc queue was managed.
I am not usually a "princess" going around asking for things from Disney. I however have always valued good consistent service because I strive to deliver that in my profession, and that is one of the reasons why I place TDR highly above the rest. This is also another reason why I detest Fastpass with a passion and why I feel it is such an unfair and discriminatory service that has obviously smeared the good reputation of TDR (and Disney parks all over) in my eyes.. Just look at the Stand by wait times photos in the other thread I posted!! Shame on Disney and OLC for expecting thousands of guests to wait in line for 2-3 hours for rides that last only a couple of minutes once all fastpasses are distributed by 12 noon on extremely crowded days. They may as well put shackles on these poor guests and call it "Torture queue".
Anyways... I sure hope this is the only time I have to rant about the service I recieved at TDL... but only time will tell if the standards here are going downhill. Hopefully that is not the case.