Did you know that Walt Disney World was named in 2019 as the Brits’ Ultimate Family Bucket List Experience? However, that was before the resort closure and the recent announcement of the reopening plans. Judging reactions on forums Walt Disney World might be causing permanent damage to their UK market.
We love Walt Disney World here at Modern Life is Good, and we can’t wait to get back. Statistics suggest we are not alone in loving Walt Disney World as over 1 million guests visited Orlando from the UK in 2017. One million guests make the UK Orlando’s number 1 international market. While it remains only a small fraction of the total 72 million visitors, it isn’t insignificant. One of the significant advantages of these guests is that they usually stay on more extended vacations of 2 to 3 weeks in comparison to the domestic market. Communication from Walt Disney World has been abysmal since announcing their reopening plans to these valuable guests.
In a previous post we commented that Walt Disney World sent the following communication to guests with upcoming reservations:
Following the recent announcements about the reopening of the Walt Disney World Resort we are sure that you may have questions about how this affects your booking. We are writing to assure you that we are working diligently to be able to provide answers to all of your questions as quickly as possible. As soon as we have more information about how these changes affect your booking we will be in contact to advise you of the options that are available.
We kindly request that you wait for us to email with more information and to not call us, as we will unlikely be able to answer your questions at this time. Your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated while we work to welcome you back to the Walt Disney World Resort.
Walt Disney Travel Company International
This communication was sent on May 29. You might suspect with it now being June 7 there would have been some additional communication. Unfortunately, you may be disappointed to hear there has been no further communication. However, we understand some additional offers and discounts have been offered to other markets.
Last night, there was an update on the Disney website over Walt Disney World Resort opening plans. On June 22, select Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will reopen. These select Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts are:
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
No additional information has been provided yet about the opening of other resorts. Presumably, this will likely mean for at least the first few weeks reservations in other resorts are canceled.
An additional quote was available at the bottom of the UK site:
To provide additional flexibility, we are waiving Disney-imposed change and cancellation fees up to the date of check-in for reservations with arrivals through October 3, 2020.
We understand this quote is also on the US site. The rules seem relatively simple; if you have a reservation before October 3, 2020, you can cancel. Despite this, there are reports on UK forums of guests being informed today that cancelation fees are still in place for any reservation after August 31.
Walt Disney World has a lot of loyal repeat guests in the UK, but also a lot of guests who have it on their bucket list for a family holiday of a lifetime. Through no fault of Disney, these bucket list vacation plans have been shattered. Families will need to rebook vacations for future years, and this lack of communication and inconsistent messaging will damage the brand. Will these customers return?
Disney is known for creating memorable, magical, and high-quality experiences, but this experience extends into vacation planning and booking. Disney prides itself on its Four Keys to Service Standards. One of these keys is courtesy, which Disney interprets as meaning “Go beyond the level of expectation by treating every guest like a VIP.” Cast members are encouraged to be proactive and offer solutions. This courtesy extends to the vacation booking experience. It is almost inconceivable that Disney is currently advising guests not to contact them as they don’t have any answers.
Unfortunately at the moment, Disney appears to remain unable to offer solutions to its UK market. If Walt Disney World does not sort out their communication soon it is possible they will cause permanent damage to their UK market