The Most Magical Place on Earth
Disney World has often been referred to as “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” On paper, this is completely true. There are fun and exciting rides for every age demographic, characters that will have you feeling nostalgic no matter your age, and activities to keep every member of your group entertained. If you are taking a vacation, it’s hard not to at least consider a Disney trip.
Something people often don’t consider when they think of Disney is there are employees whose responsibility is to create the magic for guests. Disney cast members are essentially the Chick-Fil-A employees of theme parks. When it comes to customer service at theme parks, it’s hard to top the experience you are going to have with Disney. Unfortunately, the guests at Disney parks don’t always reciprocate the “my pleasure!” attitude of the employees.
Our friend, “John,” is one of the employees responsible for creating the magic guests experience at Disney parks. John created magic by working at one of the popcorn and ice cream carts in Magic Kingdom, or as he affectionately refers to it, “Karen Kingdom.” John had experience working in the other parks but for some reason, it seemed like Magic Kingdom had the highest concentration of Karens out of all the parks. Then again, Florida seems like it might just have a high concentration of Karens compared to the rest of the country.
Not to spoil the magic but like all theme parks, Magic Kingdom has its fair share of issues. Rides break down, products in the gift shop run out of stock, restaurants run out of food, etc. Unfortunately for John, one day there was a blackout with all of the cash registers in the park.
Every single register at Magic Kingdom had shut down. None of the vendors were able to accept card payments nor were guests able to use the meal plans they had purchased ahead of time. The vendors were instructed by their superiors to only accept cash until the issue with the registers had been resolved.
I’m sure the guests of Karen Kingdom will handle this news really well. The Karen community is often very understanding when there are issues that occur beyond the control of employees. There definitely haven’t been thousands of videos on the internet of Karens screaming at employees for doing absolutely nothing wrong. This is going to be a normal, stress-free day of work for John.
John was working at his popcorn and ice cream stand in front of the Jungle Cruise ride. Thankfully for John, there were always at least two employees working in a stand. John and his fellow cast member, “Brad,” quickly established a system where he would grab the food for the guests while Brad would collect the cash and count the change to return to the customer.
Between every order, John would announce, “Excuse me, ladies and gentleman. Due to a parkwide blackout, we cannot take any card payments or magic bands, including the meal plans. We are only accepting cash payments at the moment but the system should be back up and running soon. Thank you.”
For the sake of understanding what I’m talking about, I had to look up what a magic band at a Disney park is. Apparently, they serve as keys for entering your hotel room, tickets to the parks, as well as a payment system for snacks and merchandise. Every person in your party can get their own magic band for the affordable price of thirty bucks a pop. Oh, Disney you sly dogs. I can picture the kids going crazy with their magic bands and their parents fainting when they see the bill at the end of their trip right now.
Everyone seemed to understand John’s repeated announcements until a man approached the counter, ordered a ton of food, and said, “I’m going to put this on my meal plan.”
John hadn’t gone to grab the man’s food yet and being more tenured in dealing with hardheaded guests, he decided to assist Brad with explaining what had happened to the man.
John said, “I’m sorry, sir, but we are not accepting the meal plan right now due to a parkwide blackout with our system. It should be fixed within the hour but for now, we are only accepting cash payments.”
As soon as John had finished speaking, he saw the man’s neck turn bright red and begin to twitch.
I think it’s safe to say that any time you see someone’s neck turn bright red and start twitching you should probably run away. No one has ever had facial convulsions when they’ve heard bad news and said, “It’s fine, I totally understand.”
Immediately causing a scene, the man yelled, “What do you mean you aren’t taking meal plans?! I paid over a thousand bucks for the meal plan and I demand to use it!”
Okay, I normally never side with the Karens at any point, but a thousand bucks for a meal plan is nuts. A thousand bucks is getting you a low-level meal plan for a whole semester at most universities, and this guy spent that for maybe a week-long vacation at Disney. Of course, he completely played himself by paying a thousand dollars for what would surely be awful theme park food for the week rather than just getting food from outside the parks, but I can still understand why he’s neck-twitchingly furious.
John responded, “Again, sir, I’m sorry but we cannot accept the meal plan at this time. I have made the announcement to the line that we are not accepting electronic payments, including the meal plan. I’m very sorry for the inconvenience but-“
The man cut John off.
“I Don’t Want To Waste My Money!”
The man shouted, “I demand a refund if I cannot use my meal plan right now! I don’t want to waste my money!”
John repeated, “Again, I’m very sorry but if you have any complaints you can go to the city hall at the front of the park and see what they can do for you. We do not control the meal plans and do not give out refunds here for the actual meal plan.”
At this point, John could see a vein protruding from the man’s neck. He couldn’t know for sure, as the man was wearing sunglasses, but John assumed the man’s eyes were about to bulge out of his head.
Like most cases with Karens, this situation is probably about more than the meal plan. I understand paying an absurd price for a meal plan then not being able to use it immediately is infuriating, but acting like John had anything to do with it doesn’t make sense. The guy was probably exhausted from dragging his kids around Magic Kingdom all day, and they were probably nagging him for ice cream after they waited in line for at least an hour to ride the Jungle Cruise. Regardless, that is no reason to freak out on an employee and make a giant scene, but Karens are going to do their thing.
The guy demanded, “What am I going to do then?! How long do I have to wait to use my meal plan?!”
“Have A Very Magical Day”
John used his best Disney voice and said, “You can use cash for this payment and get a refund at city hall for the ice cream and drinks. They will charge it to your meal plan for you.”
Although they probably had to set up a system on the fly, this seems like such a weird solution. Guests pay cash for their food, then go somewhere else in the park to get reimbursed for the cash they paid for their food. I feel like it’s easier for people to just wait for the system issues to be resolved. Then again, I’m sure telling the guests of Karen Kingdom they had to wait an hour for their thirty-dollar chicken tender meal would go over really well.
The man shouted, “But I want to use it right freaking now!”
Still using his Disney voice, John responded, “Again, you cannot use it right now because we have no way of taking it off your meal plan.”
The man screamed, “Forget this! I’m going to Universal Studios and using my money there! This park is a scam!”
Then the man took his stroller and stormed off from the line.
If the man thinks he’s going to get better customer service at Universal Studios, I have bad news for him. When he was shouted at, John used his Disney voice, which is the equivalent of the Chick-Fil-A voice. If the man tries to pull the same stunt at Universal Studios, he might get the Burger King voice in return. Also, I think we can all agree that the Disney parks are scams but I don’t think it’s because they had legitimate system issues. If anything, Magic Kingdom scammed itself by not being able to accept electronic payments for ice cream worth twenty bucks.
John felt horrible for everyone waiting in line who had to witness the man’s behavior. In his entire time at Disney, John would never see another guest lose their marbles at the same level.
He told the remainder of the people in line that their snacks were on Mickey and to have a very magical day.
Thoughts From The Author
The restraint that employees show when a customer acts psychotic always amazes me. It seems like it has become more acceptable for employees to roast unruly customers but that will likely never be the case with Disney. I’m actually interested to see whether it’s a Chick-Fil-A or Disney employee that cracks first. All I know is that someone is destined to snap.
Regardless, John should be commended for how well he handled the situation. I’m not sure what the salary of a Disney employee is, but I’m sure it’s not enough to deal with customers screaming at you when their overpriced meal plans don’t work. John already having a nickname for Magic Kingdom leads me to believe he has had a lot of experience with irrational customers, although not quite on the level of the man in line. At least he didn’t have to be berated while wearing a Mickey Mouse costume that likely feels like a sauna in the Florida heat.
On the topic of the man in line, we all know someone that has anger issues to the point that their face gets all contorted from anger. This person is almost always a loose cannon and this story supports that sentiment. The guy was nearly having full-body convulsions over having to pay cash or wait a little longer for his Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bar. John probably should have ducked under the counter as soon as he saw the neck twitching.
Also, I feel like waiting maybe an extra hour for ice cream shouldn’t be so infuriating. The guy and his family probably could have gone on another ride in the time it would take to get the system back up and running. Maybe he should have taken his kids on Space Mountain instead of screaming at an employee who had nothing to do with the issue.