Disney promised me fireworks! Where are the fireworks?

It may sound insignificant, but to Mona Ogden, the fireworks at Disneyland are a big deal. She even spent $900 to upgrade into a “club-level” room at the Disneyland Hotel on a recent visit because they promised “a view of the Disneyland Park fireworks show from above with in-house soundtrack.”

“Night after night we planned around the supposed show time and hauled back to the hotel, up to this special room,” she says. “And nothing happened.”

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What, no pyrotechnics?

That’s right. For five nights, the Ogdens waited for the show but saw nothing but darkness outside their hotel window.

When they returned, she wrote a brief note to Disney.

This was our first visit and we were extremely disappointed with our stay. We planned months in advance and specifically upgraded to a concierge access deal in order to view the nightly fireworks there.

We were even given a sheet at check in reminding us to go there to view them. Not only were there no fireworks at all during our stay, but this information was never communicated properly.

We therefore spent needless time and effort making evening plans around this show – hurrying back and assembling to watch it finding out only minutes before that it was “canceled.”

Here’s the response from Disney:

Thank you for your e-mail to the DISNEYLAND® Resort. We appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with us.

Although we have no control over the weather, we do try to make the best of all conditions. The decision to close any of the attractions, or cancel any form of entertainment, is certainly not taken lightly and is made only after taking into consideration many factors of our operation, especially safety for our Guests and Cast. We do apologize for the
disappointment and inconvenience that you experienced.

In addition, we are sorry for the disappointments you mentioned in your e-mail. It is our goal to create magical memories and exceed the expectations of our Guests during each and every visit. Please be assured that we have shared your comments with our leadership team, along with the appropriate Hotel management, as feedback such as yours is taken very seriously.

That only made Ogden angrier. Here’s her response:

That is completely bogus. According to the Orange County Register, (front page 12/31), the fireworks went down a full 5 days prior to our arrival due to an “employee injury.”

There is no excuse for not communicating this info at check in and giving us the opportunity to cancel our concierge room upgrade to see them. Not only did we unnecessarily pay for this room, we needlessly ran back each time to watch when you knew full well it was down — it was NOT last minute “weather” or “technical difficulties.”

I demand a refund.

And here’s Disney’s final answer to her:

Thank you for your continued correspondence with the DISNEYLAND® Resort.

We regret that you were not satisfied with our original response to you. Your comments concerning your visit are appreciated. Please know that comments such as yours are taken into consideration and we can assure you they have been shared with the appropriate management for their review.

Again, thank you for contacting us. Comments such as yours are welcomed in that they assist us in evaluating our operation and our success in generating happiness for our Guests. We hope you will have the opportunity to visit the DISNEYLAND® Resort soon and that our attractions and entertainment will delight you in every way.

Can you say “form letter”?

OK, so should Disney consider refunding part — or all — of Ogden’s stay?

Let’s have a look at how Disney advertises its “club-level” rooms:

For added convenience and luxury, Club-Level rooms feature priority check-in, nightly turndown service and a staff available prior to your visit for assistance in reservations and vacation planning. Club-Level rooms are located on floors 9, 10 and 11 of the Adventure tower and services can be added to any suite for an additional charge.

Club-level includes access to an exclusive lounge featuring:

• A view of the Disneyland Park fireworks show from above with in-house soundtrack
• Continental breakfast bar
• Sodas, snacks and fresh fruit
• Evening wine and cheese reception
• Desserts after dinner
• DVDs available for check-out

If one of those amenities went missing, would a guest be able to ask for a full refund? Maybe not, but a partial refund wouldn’t be out of the question.

I think the customer-service representative dealing with her email probably thought, “Fireworks? Come on!” and to be honest, that was my first reaction, too. But it’s sometimes the little things that make it a magical vacation. At the very least, Disney should have send her more than two form letters.

You’re probably wondering: Why didn’t the Ogdens say something when the fireworks failed to launch. They did.

“We repeatedly asked staff members during our stay what was going on with this, and nobody claimed to know anything,” she told me. “Clearly that had been instructed to be evasive. Had we been given proper notice, we would have canceled the concierge room access and spent our time very differently each evening.”

I don’t know if I can advocate for a full refund, or even for a partial one. But something tells me Disney could have done better with this guest complaint.

(Photo: Jessica James/Flickr)

96 thoughts on “Disney promised me fireworks! Where are the fireworks?

  1. I say no to mediate because I don’t think a refund is appropriate. As Chris states in the article, they still had the rest of the concierge benefits. I think it would have been reasonable for the OP to ask for some other benefit to replace the fireworks, such as premium viewing for World of Color (an extra show was added on the nights there were no fireworks) or an extra fastpass for another attraction. However I don’t think Disney needs to grant a refund for missing fireworks after the fact.

    Also, I know from reading a Disney message board at the time that there were fireworks on 12/25, 12/30 and 12/31. (I don’t know the dates of the OP’s trip, but the accident happened on 12/22 and the fireworks were first canceled on 12/23. If the OP arrived 5 days later, there were fireworks during their trip.) Guests did mention that due to the fog and/or wind they were not very visible. Again, Disney really doesn’t control the weather, and in the past has canceled the fireworks on NYE due to weather. I believe that on some days weather was a factor and the first response from Disney addresses this. Also, when the fireworks were canceled on other days, this information is/was posted on a board on Main Street earlier in the day. After the first or second time the OP rushed back to the room, they could have checked with Disney before leaving the park and adjusted their evening plans based on the information.

    1. I read this before I went to bed last night and was thinking the same thing.

      Other than last minute weather issues, if fireworks are cancelled, this is something that would be posted near the entry of the park.

      If after the second day the fireworks were cancelled, I know I certainly would have been checking that board.  Because while Disney customer service – while at the parks at least – is excellent, I would have asked at the park about the fireworks schedule.  I’m wondering if the OP asked the concierge at the last minute instead of checking the park schedule. As wired-in as I’m sure the concierges may be, they aren’t necessarily going to be more knowledgeable than actual park staff.

      I realize the fireworks are important to many people, but the concierge level at any hotel – including Disney – is generally more about that specific lounge with food and drink and the specific concierge services available to only those room holders.

    2. they still had the rest of the concierge benefits

      Are you suggesting that they obviously must have consumed $900 in value worth of continental breakfast, wine, cheese, and deserts in 5 days?


       After the first or second time the OP rushed back to the room, they could have checked with Disney before leaving the park

      They did! —

      “We repeatedly asked staff members during our stay what was going on with this, and nobody claimed to know anything…” 

      Even the Disney employee who wrote back to them was (at best) outrageously misinformed because they blamed it on weather conditions despite newspaper accounts which contradict that claim.

      The customer paid for certain amenities, and did not receive all of them.  They were not given an explanation or offered any alternatives when they inquired during their stay.  

      If we don’t think Chris should mediate here, then when would we ever expect him to?   Only when a customer receives 0% of the amenities they are promised?

      Mediation doesn’t mean that they deserve or would get all $900 back.

      1. “Are you suggesting that they obviously must have gotten $900 in value
        worth of continental breakfast, wine, cheese, and deserts in 5 days?”

        If you think this is all you get for concierge service, then you really ought to look up what the term means some time.

      2. I personally think the concierge upgrade is overpriced, but I know plenty of people who pay for it, and they do it for access to the lounge.

        First of all, the difference in price between a concierge room with a view of the park (fireworks) and one without is $19 per night. This tells me that the $130 – $150 upgrade is not because the primary benefit is a view of the fireworks.

        Second, the article the OP quoted states the fireworks were canceled on 5 out of 6 nights, not 5 consecutive nights. Also, there are articles where Disney is quoted as saying they were canceled due to weather and technical difficulties. Apparently in the 2 paragraph world of internet articles you can find something that states the facts how you want them.

        Third, I have read reports from people in the park that there were announcements as early as noon saying the fireworks were canceled and that City Hall had accurate information. The OP doesn’t appear to be claiming she asked if there would be fireworks before leaving the park, just that no one told her why they were canceled. (And, again, it appears they were not canceled for 5 straight days.)

        I’m not saying Chris should never mediate, but I don’t think he should attempt to obtain a refund in this case.

        1. If the fireworks view costs an extra $19/night then that sounds like an excellent way to calculate the value of what the family lost out on and deserve to be compensated for in some way.

          FYI: the Orange County Register reported that the fireworks were canceled for 7 out of 8 nights:

          EDIT: Or 8 times in 9 nights according to this article:

      3. I personally think the concierge upgrade is overpriced, but I know plenty of people who pay for it, and they do it for access to the lounge.

        First of all, the difference in price between a concierge room with a view of the park (fireworks) and one without is $19 per night. This tells me that the $130 – $150 upgrade is not because the primary benefit is a view of the fireworks.

        Second, the article the OP quoted states the fireworks were canceled on 5 out of 6 nights, not 5 consecutive nights. Also, there are articles where Disney is quoted as saying they were canceled due to weather and technical difficulties. Apparently in the 2 paragraph world of internet articles you can find something that states the facts how you want them.

        Third, I have read reports from people in the park that there were announcements as early as noon saying the fireworks were canceled and that City Hall had accurate information. The OP doesn’t appear to be claiming she asked if there would be fireworks before leaving the park, just that no one told her why they were canceled. (And, again, it appears they were not canceled for 5 straight days.)

        I’m not saying Chris should never mediate, but I don’t think he should attempt to obtain a refund in this case.

      4. Actually, there is NOWHERE in the description where it GUARANTEES a clear view of the fireworks display, only a special area where they can view the fireworks.  They could have checked daily at the park, and they could have asked for additional amenities to make up for it while there is they wished, but to ask for a refund after the fact is ridiculous.

  2. I say yes to mediate because they didn’t complete their promise which they made at the time of booking. And fireworks were the main reason to book that room. So it is like a services which they didn’t get during their stay so they have right of refund according to also.

  3. I’m semi-interested in mediation because I’d like to know for me personally, what I’d be able to ask for in a situation like this. It’s almost as if you booked a hotel because it had a great pool, but then the pool was closed for maintenance during your stay. How far could it be taken? What if s/o said they bought day tickets mainly to see the fireworks? Would they be entitled to something? Most ppl would agree, no. While I don’t think she should get any money back, or even credit, I’m surprised Disney wouldn’t give the OP a token something (free meal?). Altho, if the OP is to be taken at face value, and fireworks were a dealbreaker, she should’ve downgraded immediately and if/when the fireworks were available, I’m sure she could’ve asked to go view them from the lounge. But 5 days in a row of rushing back to see fireworks? C’mon, now. If I were Disney, I’d probably just say: Let us know the next time you’re in the area, and we’ll arrange for you to spend the evening in the lounge. Have all the wine and cheese you want!


  4. I say mediate, absolutely.  Having a premium view of the fireworks show is a major benefit.  Its considered such a benefit that even Disney’s Club 33 promotes that its members can view the fireworks from its terrace bypassing the thundering hordes.

    The fireworks show is a highlight of the Disneyland experience.  So much so that Southern Californians with annual passes will enter the park at nighttime just for the show.

    Therefore, premium access to the show has real value and if the show is cancelled a small refund, credit, or is appropriate.

    I once booked a room at the NY Marriott Marquis over Thanksgiving. Part of the appeal was that it supposedly  had a seated roped off section for viewing the parade.  Turns out the clerk was mistaken.  For whatever reason the hotel was unable to secure permission to have its exclusive area.  I went to the front desk and explained that I had booked that hotel at a $200 premium over the W next door because of the promise of the special seating area. (My father had knee surgery and couldn’t stand long).  The hotel reduced the room rate by $100 per night as an accomodation.  I thought that was fair.

  5. Chris quoted the room amenities as listed on the Disneyland Hotel webpage, but there is also a line at the bottom of that same page indicating that “Entertainment schedule is subject to change at any time.”

    She wants a refund, so even a straight answer from Disney would not suffice. I don’t thin there is anything there worth going after.

  6. I vote no because I’m sure she took advantage of the other perks of the club level room. Perhaps Di$ney could offer a “good will” gesture and knock $50 bucks off or something, but I really think the OP is being unreasonable in asking for a refund.

    I went to WDW the day after the monorail accident in 2009. I was staying at a monorail resort, but there wasn’t any service for a few days. I did not expect compensation for this, and Di$ney didn’t offer any. 

    Sometimes, you have really not sweat the small stuff.

  7. Disney is not the most swift when it comes to dealing with complaints after the fact. I live near Disney in Florida, and have visited Disneyland on a few occasions and had the fireworks cancelled twice. It happens. Did she also ask for compensation because of the construction at California Adventure, or a ride was being refurbished? I don’t feel a full refund is warranted, because they slept in the room, visited the club lounge etc, but some sort of consideration perhaps an upgrade on a future stay wouldn’t be out of line.

    1. I disagree about the timeliness of a Disney Guest Services response. We had what I felt was a minor complaint about our room at the WDW resort Port Orleans Riverside last year. I sent a brief, POLITE, email to Guest Services immediately upon our return to let them know of the issue. I received a personalized apology and an offer for one night’s refund within two days.  

      I agree with other posters that Disney is good about posting show cancellations when you’re in the park. I wonder if the OP spent their days in the theme park, or if they hurried back from other activities expecting fireworks.

      Someone else wondered about getting a refund if a pool or other resort amenity is closed for refurbishment. The Disney website lists ongoing attraction and amenity closures, and I know if even a pool slide is closed at one resort, you are able to use facilities at a different resort to compensate.  

      It does seem strange that the Concierge staff wasn’t able to give the OP accurate information about the fireworks. I’m on the East coast and I knew what was going on … 

      (and yeah, my avatar is WDW fireworks over Space Mountain. 🙂 )

  8. I have to agree with most of the commenters here (but interestingly not the majority in the poll). I don’t think that a refund is appropriate. The concierge floor offers a lot more amenities than just the view of the fireworks. Amenities I’m sure they took advantage of. This is like someone showing up at the front gate after spending the day in the park demanding a refund for their entire ticket because the fireworks were cancelled. I don’t think anyone would see that as reasonable.  
              She also assumes, after the fact, that Disney knew that the fireworks were not going to occur as scheduled during her entire stay. Interestingly, I found another reports from different sources (http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/orange_county&id=8483560 or http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2011/12/disneyland_continues_to_cancel.php or http://lagunaniguel.patch.com/articles/disneyland-fireworks-still-in-limbo-after-injury ) that suggests that Disney didn’t know how long the show was going to be cancelled. The local fire department and Disney were attempting to troubleshoot an issue that Disney didn’t know how long it would take to fix. So there’s no way they could have informed her at check in that the show was closed for the duration of her stay.
    Sorry, I think as a gesture of goodwill Disney might consider giving her a small gift certificate to the Disney Store or something like that but based on her letters, I don’t think she’ll be happy with anything but a full refund. I don’t think that is justified here.

    1. And since she insisted on a full refund, and gave them no other recourse to make her happy, they will find the request as unreasonable and simply decline.  As they should. 

  9. I vote yes with a but….

    Disney built their brand on those fireworks–remember the Wonderful World Of Disney on Sunday nights? We used to go ballistic when we saw the animated fireworks.

    But, she did use the other amenities and received her room. I am not sure we can be too fast to blame cast member cover up. It is a large park and thousands of employees. And being in a hotel, I am not sure that the park operations is a true concern. But yes, a sign about canceled shows would have been appropriate.

    Another accomodation should have been offered–maybe a dinner, or other in park amenity.

    Did the OP try to address this at the time? I am curious if there was a crowd of other guests in the lounge equally disappointed? Seems at that time of year they would be full.

    Finally, are you getting the whole story?  The Disney response says “In addition, we are sorry for the disappointments you mentioned in your e-mail.”  This seems like she may have included a laundry list of complaints.

    But yes, give it a shot, but let the OP know that a full refund is not warranted. If she was only going for the fireworks, stay at the Red Roof and buy a day pass–a lot cheaper than a $900 upgrade!

  10. I’m a fan of Disney and all, but if you’re paying that much JUST for the fireworks, you should rethink your priorities.

    1. I dunno, CJR. We took our entire family to WDW as part of a reunion. My kids had never been there before, and I wanted to give them the most wonderful first-time WDW experience possible.

      Because of the size of the group we were traveling with, staying at one of the Disney properties was simply unfeasible (well, unless I wanted to give up one of my vital organs). That being said, could we have afforded one of those concierge-level rooms, I’d have likely opted for it. The fireworks shows – or as my youngest puts it, “dancing sky lights” – were absolutely magical for my kiddos. With a large family, we won’t be able to go to WDW often, so making this an extra-special family event was very important to me.

      Oh, and if the Mayans were right, I can at least say that I got my kids to WDW before the end of the world. 😉

      1. See, here’s where I have a real problem with all of this:

        If they were told that there were to be no fireworks, they downgraded their room, and then there happened to be fireworks after all, they still would’ve had a hissy fit.

        I’ve had concierge rooms at the Grand Californian. I’ve watched fireworks from my hotel rooms. I’ve paid extra for things like the Halloween Party (and this is another area where no fireworks leads to demands for refunds).

        Fireworks can NEVER be guaranteed.

        As somewhat pointed out by another poster above with the dates, has Disneyland EVER cancelled the fireworks five days in a row?

        1. You’ve got a good point there; it’s a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation. I was just trying to point out that they might have reasons for really, really wanting a good vantage point for the fireworks. 🙂

      2. A great private fireworks viewing option at WDW is to hire a pontoon boat that holds a maximum of 10 guests. You can view Magic Kingdom fireworks from the Seven Seas Lagoon, or you can view Epcot’s Illuminations show from their lagoon. The current cost is about $350 including tax. You can even hire private dining to cater if you want to impress your significant other with a romantic evening. 🙂 

        We did the Illuminations one with family a couple years ago. We had a full boat, and felt it was a great experience. It was a nice splurge. 

  11. Yes, mediate.  A partial refund (not a future discount) is warranted here and it’s hard to understand why anyone thinks differently.  There’s only two reasons to really book a room at the club-level – the snacks and the fireworks.  Half of that benefit was not available to them.  If you have kids (and I’m assuming that the OP does), it would be even more disappointing.

    Furthermore, it’s obvious that Disney is not telling the truth about why the fireworks were cancelled given the articles.  http://www.swrnn.com/2011/12/29/disneyland-safety-first-fireworks-canceled/
    It’s entirely possible that there were never any fireworks available and Disney did lie about the cancellations to the public: http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2011/12/disneyland_continues_to_cancel.php

    So yeah, Disney owes the OP at least $450 if not the whole $900.  Frankly, if I were the OP, I’d be pursuing a charge back at this point given that Disney has failed to respond with anything more than a form letter.  Simply put, they didn’t get what they paid for.

    1. Interesting Walt. I read both articles you link to (including one I already did) and nowhere does it mention anything about fireworks not being available or Disney lying to guests. It DOES mention that Disney added two additional shows nightly (an added Fantasmic and an added World of Color) to make up for the fireworks not occurring. Seems to me that Disney attempted to make up for the loss of the show to their guests.

      1. I assume he’s referring to Disney’s written response to the OP which distracts from the real issue by raising a red herring:

        we have no control over the weather…

      2. You must have missed the part where it says that Disney tried to blame the fireworks cancellation on the weather, but then admitted it was due to injury.

        That’s the exact same thing the OP was told, which lends credence to the OP’s version of events.  

  12. The room was nothing special. They received access to a special lounge which provided all except one amenity. I do not really think there is anything to mediate here. The fireworks at Disneyland are a pretty big thing, I find it hard to believe that they were advertised to go off each night and there was no mention anywhere in the park that they had been cancelled.

  13. Having just visited WDW in Florida, the fireworks were a big deal to my children.  They loved them, and I paid extra to go see them at Mickey’s Christmas party.  If for some reason they had to cancel the fireworks, I would have wanted a partial refund.  I paid an extra $300 to be in the park that night to see Mickey’s Christmas parade, the extra-special fireworks, and partake of free sugar cookies and cocoa.  I can understand how the OP might want a small refund.  All that “magic” that Disney provides usually involves the parents to pony up some cash!

  14. If the fireworks were so important and was the only reason for the upgrade, why didn’t the OP speak with a manager about a resolution during her stay?  It is hard to get a resolution after the factleaving the hoteletc.

      1. That is a silly answer.  If you are unhappy, then the time to deal with it is when you are there when something could be resolved and make the stay more to what they felt they wanted.  That doesn’t take savviness, it takes responsibility.

  15. A bit off topic, but since we’re talking about Di$ney…

    Chris, I’m wondering if you have received any information on how WDW in Florida is currently handling the “turismos.” I have vowed never to go back in July after experiencing the most rude, obnoxious, unsupervised “guests” from Brazil.

    These are hoards of kids “chaperoned” by other kids who made more than one attraction miserable for myself and my party, which included my 11 year old autistic nephew.

    Some of the things they did:
    1. Loud chanting and banging on the backs of our bleachers during “Indiana Jones.” A request to stop was answered with a giggle and “No English!” A report to a cast member was met with a shrug and “sorry, they are really annoying, aren’t they?”

    2. On “Spaceship Earth” they wouldn’t shut up or stop taking flash photography. The flashes in the dark and the annoying chants as if they were at a soccer game nearly caused my nephew to have a meltdown. A cast member spoke with them in their language and allowed us to ride again immediately. However, more of them boarded behind us and it was the same thing.

    3. The WORST was at Thunder Mountain. We were standing in line, my nephew was playing with his Nintendo DS. The chanting started…and kept getting closer. These thug kids were RUNNING through the line screaming “My group! My group!” to catch up with one of their handlers who had been holding their place. Many guests said no, you’re not cutting and blocked them, so they CLIMBED over the railings. It was about 30 kids just rushing through the lines and climbing. They knocked my nephew to the ground and broke his DS which caused him to meltdown. (Honestly, I was about ready to slug them myself)

    We left the line and told the cast member at the entrance. As my sister took her son to a bench to calm down, I asked where I could find security to arrest these thugs for assaulting the kid. Security showed up about 15 minutes later and said they couldn’t do anything if I couldn’t point out the exact kid who knocked down my nephew. Well, it was a HOARD of them, not just one.


    And, from reading the DIS boards, it doesn’t look like these thugs are leaving any time soon. Di$ney just lets them assault people, rush through lines, chant like fools, and their handlers are the aholes who empty the fast pass machines by running all of their room keys at once.

    So…I ask…has Di$ney done anything about these groups? Have they had greeters explain that in the US you do not run through lines? Have they made the chaperone to child ratio lower? Have they required the chaperones to not be kids themselves?

    1. It doesn’t seem like anything is going to change about this.

      And in his recent announcement from WDW, Obama singled out China and Brazil as countries he wants to allow easier tourist visa access.

      So, I expect the problem may only get worse.

      1. I don’t have a problem with general tourists, but these groups are just awful. Di$ney may make a fortune off them, but it’s only a matter of time before someone gets injured by these throngs of ill mannered teens.

        1. I’m sure if you looked, you can find stories where people have been injured because of them.

          My wife regularly reads one Disney message board site, and she was telling me about one story that was recently posted there: some of the women (underage girls?) from these groups were doing topless and maybe even full nudity sunbathing at one of the hotel pools.

          And even though it’s against the rules, Disney refused to do anything about it.

        2. Di$ney does not give $$it. Brazilian money is just as green as ours.

          I wonder how many American kids really care anyway. With all the different stuff kids can do online or with their game consoles, does Di$ney World/Land really matter?
          My wife couldn’t convince our 12 year old boy to go to Orlando since he was much younger. He didn’t want to go. He’d rather play his video games. He prefers going to the beach.

          So, it’s ok. Give the whole thing to the Brazilians.

          1. Then the problem lies with the fact you have hordes of unruly teens taking over a park where some parents are bringing their smaller children.  Teens and little kids rarely mix very well, neither of them pays attention to anything. 

        3. I think Disney should have built their next park in Brazil instead of Shanghai. 

          We were on the Disney Dream cruise ship last September and spoke to a Brazilian couple one night. There were a fair number of Brazilians on board, but except for one instance we didn’t find them disruptive. 

          The couple told us it’s so much less expensive for them to come to the United States for vacation and even shopping than it is to travel domestically.

          Sounds like we might be stuck with the Brazilian groups for a while. 

    2. We were at Universal Orlando this weekend, and there were many Brazilian groups like you describe.  The theme parks aren’t going to do anything about it because the park would have been practically empty without them.  It did provide some good teaching moments for my kids:  “See how those people are behaving?  Don’t act like that!”

    3. While I cannot speak for Disney my guess is they won’t do anything about it.those groups simply bring in too much money.  They’ll say it’s a culture clash, a clash of social norms between countries and cultures.  Add in that it’s a group of teens, teens of ANY nationality aren’t known to be the most behavaed.  Like of all those residents of spring break hot spots, you think the people who live in Cancun love the rowdy American teens who descend on their country/ city and act insane?  Or not even Cancun because lots of American cities have struggled with the spring break crowds too. 

      I think your best bet is to go when the groups aren’t likely to be there, which means not going in Dec/Jan or June-Aug when south american schools are on break. 

        1. well then you have to make some choices.  Personally I’d pull my kids out of school for a few days rather than go to Disney during a high traffic period.  Maybe go over a long weekend (President’s Day for instance)  so they don’t have to miss as many days.  Go over Spring Break or Thanksgiving when the park will be jammed packed but with American kids. 

          All I know is a few years ago I was in Orlando for a conference the week BEFORE Thanksgiving.  I took a few extra days and went to the parks.  Rode nearly all the rides at every park, rode some popular ones multiple times and never waited more than 20 mintues (did not use FastPass as there was no need to).  My brother and his family went the week of Thanksgiving which is a peak time.  They spent hours in line for rides.  For me hours in line, crowds, annoying and unruly teenagers, higher prices, it’s just not worth it.

      1. Culture clash or not, when in Rome…

        For instance, I would not go to France and act surprised when a restaurant refused to seat me for supper if I were wearing blue jeans.

        If Di$ney is going to allow these brats in the parks with no supervision, they at least have the duty to:

        1. Educate them on the idea of queues and lines.

        2. Educate their handlers on the proper etiquette for rides/attractions–ie: no chanting, no banging on bleachers, no flash photos when told.

        3. Toss a few out of the park to make a statement when they’re caught breaking the rules.

        4. Do something about the mass-fast-pass stealing by the handlers. 

        5. Oh, and teach them that “SINGLE RIDER” means just that. We were on Test Track and watched a bunch of them run down the Single Rider line and ignore cast members telling them one at a time. They filled a few cars and laughed while the cast members just shook their heads.

        6. Tell their handlers that they are not allowed to just loiter. Try stepping over them when they’re sitting on the ground somewhere. I watched them ignore a woman in a wheelchair asking them to give her some room to get by. Ridiculous.

  16. Absolutely moderate. Years ago we went to NYC to watch the ball drop. I spent an inordinate of extra money to guarantee that we got a room overlooking the actual drop. I’d have been beyond myself had we not been able to see what we went to see. Not only are you trying to see the fireworks with a clear view you want out of the crowds so the experience can be all you want it to be. The least the hotel could have done is told them so that they didn’t hurry back every night because what a disappointment if the one night you don’t comeback they do have the fireworks. $900 is a lot of extra money when the Disney vacation is already an expensive trip and, for some, a once in a lifetime expense.

      1. To watch the NYC fireworks for free, you generally have to arrive a few hours in advance and stand in packed crowds.

        Plenty of people (not me) shell out anywhere from $75 to $200+ to watch from a water taxi or from the USS Intrepid or from various private roof decks & lounges.

    1. Except that if you weren’t able to view the ball drop from your room it would indicate that you weren’t given the room that you paid for. The OP got what she paid for, access to the club. One of the amenities of that club is that you can view the fireworks from the club…when the fireworks are going. Disney does not, and cannot, guarantee that the fireworks will occur, weather and safety can and do prevent the fireworks show.

      The sheet the OP was given at check in is likely the standard sheet given to everyone, including a reminder that you can watch the fireworks from the special lounge. It’s not a promise that the fireworks will be running during your stay. Nowhere in the above article does the OP indicate that she ever asked a cast member if the fireworks would be taking place before trekking back to the hotel to watch them, just that the family would haul over to the hotel only to find them missing. Even if unsure in the morning about whether the fireworks would be done or not that evening, by the time the OP left the park to go back to the hotel, it would be on the main board and cast members would know.

      I don’t think you can even argue that one of the amenities was missing from the club pass, as Chris suggested in the article. The fireworks are not the amenity, the seating in the club is. That seating was available and if the fireworks had been shown the customer could have used it.

  17. The Ogdens deserve at least a partial refund.  The other amenities for the Club Level may have been great, but if I booked the room for the fireworks, that’s all I really would have cared about and I would have appreciated the opportunity to downgrade to a normal room if I couldn’t have seem them.  They were misled or lied to by the staff. 

    On another note, every time a vote is cast for one of these cases to be mediated, we never hear about it again.  How about an update as to whether you decided to mediate the case, and what the final outcome was?

  18. I second Chris Johnson’s comment.  Mr. Elliott. when you ask for a vote about whether to mediate, you never give us an update on what you decided and what happened.  I learn as much from the follow up as I do from the original postings. 

  19. On the surface, this might seem like a “no big deal” kind of thing but it seems the fireworks ARE a big deal, especially to the park as they sell rooms with higher rates and tout “watch the fireworks from HERE!”  As another poster here said, that’s rather a loss of what is a recognized amenity sold through brochures and website to gain more money for rooms in the resorts.

    While I don’t believe a full refund is necessary, certainly the extra rates charged for the “Watch the fireworks!” room is.  I might be a little steamed if I wasn’t told an amenity was gone and I had paid extra to partake of it.

    1. But that is NOT what their literature states.  It states the access to the club amenities, and states it gives one a private viewing area for the fireworks – NOT that they actually GUARANTEE fireworks – in fact, there is a notation the nightly entertainment can be changed or cancelled.

  20. Form letters like that are annoying.  I have complained to Disney before and they are like talking to a brick wall (or United Airlines).

    They should have had their act together enough to have told them that the fireworks were off.

    On the other hand, I find that when I travel, I am better off if I don’t have my heart set on “one thing”. 

  21. Chris, I vote for you to mediate. Disney absolutely knows how important the fireworks are at their park. The staff was evasive because they were told to be. Did you notice that on THE TOP of the list of benefits for the upgraded room was: 
    A view of the Disneyland Park fireworks show from above with in-house soundtrack?  I am willing to bet she paid dearly for that upgrade. For many people, going to Disney is a once-n-a-lifetime vacation. The cost is beyond outrageous, but an experience you work hard to give your children. Those fireworks are a big draw for some people. Disney’s response was arrogant unacceptable. In a time when people are spending less on travel and revenues are down, they should have been much more responsive. I’ll bet if they had been understanding and offered her a partial refund from the start, you would not be hearing from her….

  22. Disneyland’s fireworks are huge.  I would think Chris would certain understand, being a Southern California native and a student at UC Irvine.  I remember leaving the part for something, and I came back just for the fireworks.  I’ve seen Angels games on TV where you can tell when the Disneyland fireworks have gone off because Anaheim Stadium literally fills up with the smoke.  I have relatives in OC and they tell me they can watch the daily fireworks from their house.

    However, I do understand there are always factors beyond any direct control.  They sounded as if they had worries about fire hazards?

    1. According to “insider” reports I’ve heard, the problem was that there were a couple of instances where shells armed and fired as soon as they were placed in the mortars. After the second time it happened, Disney pulled the show until they could resolve the problem.

      1. So, as it was noted, they knew there was a problem with fireworks being exhibited and were evasive to the guests. If the guests went back to their room every single night specifically to see the fireworks and they kept asking the hotel staff about it and they were evasive, then they were deceived into believing that, at some point, they would see those precious fireworks. Shame on Disney….

        1. But the park CLEARLY states cancellations, so I don’t know WHY they would have headed back to the hotel every night.  I don’t think we are getting a completely honest picture here – just the fact that they waited till they returned from the trip makes it that much harder for anyone to even address this – they should have spoken to the hotel manager and seen if he could find another amenity to make it up to them – but you do that WHILE you are there, not when you get home!

      2. That doesn’t sound very safe.

        I’ve seen professional fireworks tubes before.  There was a time when they had to be lit or fired by hand, and there used to be instance where workers would get injured or even killed when something went wrong.  Now they typically use remote firing mechanisms and even computer programmed firing sequences.

        If they started arming as soon as they were placed in the tubes, that sounds quite unsafe.  However, I thought that modern fireworks firing is done electrically, and the the connection to the firing system is always the last step as a safety procedure.

        1. y_p_w … I’ve talked with some of the Disney guys and one of the pyro technicians before. At Disneyland, they apparently use an air launch system to propel the shells skyward (think spitballs and straws) and an electrical / radio arming system on the shells to explode exactly to the music (instead of the timed system they use / used at WDW). So it is entirely possible that the radio arming system was malfunctioning.

          1. Just revisiting an old thread. I’d just like to say that I made a mistake assuming that Chris was a Southern California native because he attended UC Irvine. However, I’m pretty sure that he got quite familiar with how big the Disneyland fireworks show was in Orange County. People literally watch it from taller buildings as far away as Irvine.

            Also – last 4th of July we were out of town and saw a county fireworks display at a local fairgrounds. We got there late and the only place to park (good spots on the street were taken for hours) was in the paid lot at the fairgrounds. We got a really good look at the launch site. I thought they were going to use one of those electronically controlled/programmed or remote firing systems. However, they were still using hand-lit fireworks. I saw the pyrotechnic workers running around with flares lighting the fireworks individually. At the end of the show, they declared it was over by waving their flares over their heads. I thought it was rather unusual (I’ve seen professional fireworks tubes with wires leading to the remote firing sequencer) but I suppose some smaller time operations can afford the insurance but not the equipment.

            Of course there could be something like San Diego’s municipal fireworks show that lasted all of 15 seconds when the firing sequence was programmed incorrectly.


  23. The fireworks were obviously important to these guests. They weren’t told at check-in and later they asked staff members who gave them the run around. Then that bogus email. I voted yes because Disney lied. Behavior like that is inexcusable.

  24. The issue pure and simple is what is the amenity not received worth?  How do you value not seeing the fireworks?  I really don’t remember what the weather was like, i.e., were there low clouds and fog around Christmas here in SoCal, but to the extent that people know if the fireowrks were down for five consecutive days?  If the amenity was available but the fireworks had limited viz due to fog – well – thats a sorry – but they can’t control the weather.

    So we are back to whats it worth?  She received the other amenities – such as the free food and drink – the private elevator to the concierge floor – the reservations assistance – and parcel delivery.  Personally – in terms of value – its probably valued at no MORE than $50 a night for the nights the fireworks did not occur and probably closer to $25 – so a range of anywhere from $150-300 depending then on how many nights the fireworks did not occur.

    I will point out that we stayed in the concierge floor in 2002 – and witnessed the fireworks from the concierge lounge since our room faced the other way direction – and it was unimpressive – you were simply too far away at an angle to the park – the best view of the fireworks at Disneyland IMHO is from just outside the security entrance on free seats from free 3 hour parking for downtown disney . . . . and that costs NOTHING. . . .  and its only 7-10 min from your room at the other end from the hotel . . .

    1. I disagree that the issue is not receiving the fireworks.  The issue is that she was lied to repeatedly about them, and rearranged her schedule nightly to be able to view them.  If she had just been told there wouldn’t be fireworks, she would be disappointed, but they wouldn’t have repeatedly wasted her time.

      1. The issue is NOT she was lied to . . . because that assumes that the employees she spoke to knew the true state of facts . . . and that is a BIG assumption with an outfit as big as Disney.  ‘Someone’ knew what was going on with the fireworks but I am not satisfied from the facts that the OP EVER spoke to that person.  Did they have a corporate policy to be as vague as possible and give out no affirmative facts to staff so staff would not lie to guests – you bet.  If they say there will be no fireworks then they need to deal with guests who want compensation – if they are vague about it they can then later hide behind the customer taking action based on vague information and simply being ‘disappointed’ and not likely to do any thing about it. 

        Your choice is to decide if you want to do business with a company like that.  But don’t tell me anyone ‘lied’ because we simply do not ‘know’ that . . .

        1. I agree with you that we do not have solid grounds to conclude that she was lied to.  

          This isn’t directed at you, but what irks me is that many commenters here are very quick to pounce on OPs’ for any detail that they MIGHT have omitted (e.g. were the 5 nights w/o fireworks in this case consecutive?)  

          And yet it’s usually condoned as par for the course if a businesses withholds crucial information or misdirects the customer (e.g. “we have no control over the weather”).

      2. But if you’ve ever been to the park, her explanation makes no SENSE!  The park board CLEARLY states if there is a cancellation in the fireworks, so there would have been no NEED to keep trekking back to the room to see the fireworks.  I think she may be elaborating on the fact, so we feel more likely that she should get money for this. 

  25. I voted no.  Anything that takes place outdoors, even if you are physically inside a building witnessing it, is subject to weather.  What is noticeable absent from the correspondence is whether the OP went to or called the front desk to ask about the status of the fireworks.  A simple stop on the way up to the room would have solved the riddle of the missing fireworks.  They also could have been given other options such as viewing of World of Color as other have mentioned.
    As it appears the the fireworks were put on hold because of a technical issue, the cancellation didn’t appear on the check-in sheet possibly because the decision to run the display was  dependent on fixing the problem.  If the problem was fixed 2hr before the expected start time, they possibly could have still run the show.  Did they expect a team member to knock on their door to personally relay the cancellation news?  Complaining after the fact, especially when there clearly was something that could have been done (such as World of Color or food vouchers) is just petty.

  26. Chris, what were the dates of the OPs stay? There were fireworks on 12/25, 12/29, 12/30, 12/31. Even if they checked in on 12/26 and missed the Christmas night show, there should have been fireworks by the 3rd night. The article the OP references actually says there were fireworks on Christmas, and they resumed “Friday night,” which was the 29th.
    It seems like the reason she wants is refund is more than she didn’t like the first response saying there were weather issues, and not that there was an employee safety issue. Disney’s statement was that they were canceled due to “weather and technical issues.” It really was very windy here that week, and they employee injury may have been due to attempting the show during bad weather.

    I’m not blindly defending Disney here. I’ve definitely encountered issues there and when I have emailed I have gotten a response that addressed my issue directly. However I think this is an instance where you might go charging in to mediate without all of the information.

    1. According to Disney themselves (as well as media sources) there were NO fireworks on 12/29 (which was a Thursday):


      Disneyland brought back its holiday fireworks Friday night after canceling the show eight times in nine days. Disneyland first halted its “Believe in Holiday Magic” fireworks show on Dec. 22… 

      What’s confusing is that there aren’t 9 days between Dec 22 and Dec 30.  Was Dec 21 cancelled for a different reason?  If so, there were two separate 4-night outages sandwiched around Dec 25.

  27. “Little things” mean a lot?  Fireworks are NOT little things-  especially if you’re counting on it to be your nightly entertainment during a costly vacation.  And in this economy, when someone has spent almost $200 a day EXTRA, Disney should be bending over backwards to make sure this first-time vistor is compensated for what was probably their mismanagment.  At the very least, they should refund $450 and then throw in a few freebies for their NEXT visit – like free upgrade when 5 nights are bought, free dinner, free breakfast,,,, etc.  When will companies realize that it’s soooo much cheaper for them in the long run to make a customer happy than to be petty and wind with people bad-mouthing you to everyone they can reach? 

    1. And they are NOT GUARANTEED!!!  The clients purchased a club level room for a host of emenities – if they did not get to utilize the ONE NOT GUARANTEED then they should have asked the manager for another to make up for it – not wait till they get home and expect a full refund for soemthing never guaranteed in the first place!

  28. I think they’re being knit picky because the “concierge” level rooms obviously offer a lot more than just a special view of the fireworks. 

    If the Ogden’s logic were to hold true, every park goer those days would deserve a partial refund because the show was canceled for them also.

  29. I don’t like the way the OP was treated by Disney, but after the first form letter I would have sent a letter to a higher power.  I can say that because I have done that with Disney and gotten a better response.  They did have access to other concierge services so they don’t deserve a full refund, but at least an actual response.

  30. If they were upgraded to this room at the time of their checking in telling them specifically about the fireworks viewing knowing full well it has been suspended for possibly the next week due to injury or malfunction then this constitutes F-R-A-U-D.

    1. AGAIN – Disney does NOT guarantee the fireworks show will take place – in fact, they do state nightly entertainment can be cancelled or changed without notice.  They DO NOT SELL this amenity as a fireworks extravaganza, but as a concierge upgrade – one of the amenities the client may CHOOSE to use is the viewing area for fireworks shows, when they are presented.  No fraud, as she still received what she paid for – if she was really so disappointed in the loss of the fireworks show, and didn’t wish to watch the alternative shows presented, she should have asked the manager to make it up in the form of a different amenity – perhaps a character meal.

      1. It is fraud if they give the customer the pitch of they could upgrade to this deluxe room to see the fireworks KNOWING  FULL WELL THEY WERE NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
         As with all fireworks shows there is a chance they may not happen.  This is very different from them suspending them until further notice because they needed to investigate what happened.
        From my impression they seemed to be people who booked one room, walked up to the counter and the sales associate gave them a sales pitch on them upgrading their rooms by mentioning to them they could see the fireworks display. 
        I dont know what they said to the hotel manager during their stay on this, but if they kept telling them it was cancelled for no reason is lying because they knew prior to their arrivial this was cancelled because of the accident.  The manager could have given them a reduced rate or free tickets/passes to other activities or free meals.
        The core issue in this is being lied to.  After a few days that they didnt catch up to knowing this is a direct deriliction of duty on the management of the hotel.

      2. Lindabator, do you work for DL? You’ve commented no less than 9 times saying that the fireworks are not guaranteed. SO WHAT? The OP was lied to. At least their honesty should be guaranteed.

  31. I was going to say no to mediation, but then I read Disney’s second response to the OP’s letter.  The OP provided specific reasons why she was unhappy and stated a request of what she want done to remedy it.  Disney flat out ignored what she said in their response and just gave a generic bit about passing her comments along to appropriate personnel (or in reality: trashing it).  Disney owed her the courtesy of a personalized response, even if what they had to say was not what the OP wanted to hear.  Business in the hospitality industry should treat customers with respect and not blow them off in hopes they will go away.

  32. I voted yes, NOT because I expect WDW to be able to control the weather, but because I expect them to tell their customers the truth.  It appears that the OP checked with them every day and was told each time that there had been a cancellation–and not a single time did anyone explain honestly that this was due not to the weather, but to an already known safety problem with an unknown resolution-date.  If they had fessed up to the OP at the beginning, she could have discussed the possibility of changing their reservation (cancelling this club-perk, which she would then have known would probably not be useful to them for the rest of their stay), AND she and her gang could have planned to do/see other things in the evenings instead!  As it is, the WDW staff appear to have been shamelessly stringing them along, which is outrageous.

    On top of all that, to get a form letter that indicates falsely that weather was the issue makes it ten times worse!  What would Walt think? 

    The letter SHOULD have indicated the correct reason for the fireworks-cancellation, and apologized for the incorrect information that the OP received from the staff–and there should have been some sort of assurance, however vague, that there would be follow-up with those lying staffers.  Once the letter had given the OP these protestations that the higher-ups do indeed care about both telling the truth AND their customers’ experiences at WDW, it could have discussed some sort of compensation–and personally, I would probably have been satisfied with relatively little monetarily, IF they had been honest and apologetic first.

    But under these sleazy circumstances, I say go get ’em!

    I have learned so much about Disney from your articles, Chris, that I don’t think I would ever go there now.  Thank you for the info that you give us!

  33. If they wanted to see the fireworks so bad, why not stay at the resort itself to watch them?   Why did they have to do it from their room?  Also, doesn’t WDW publish a mini paper each day, that you pick up near the entrance on Main street, where they list out the activities?  If the fireworks were listed there, and they had experienced a couple of nights of missing them already, I would have asked someone there.  Onsite personnel are very very knowledgeable and could have probably addressed this issue.

    I agree with others that they deserved more than a form letter in response, but I would have taken it up with the hotel manager before leaving.

  34. Arrogance, thy name is Disney. Good luck Chris, but don’t expect much. Disney doesn’t care… they don’t have to. 🙁

  35. Yes – because while they had a great time at the park, they did plan, rush back to the room, pay for and expect the fireworks, and they let the staff know this as well.
    They could have had the option to downgrade and spend a lot

    longer time at the park if they had known.

  36. No to mediation, yes to small claims court.  If I were them and not entirely sure about what to do, those insulting form letters would have definitely made me want to sue Disney.

  37. DISQUS still does not like me so I had to use Facebook.  BLEAK!!!!  Anyway what a hoot.  Disney actually gets extra money for viewing the fireworks show?  My aunt and uncle lived in La Habra.  Want to watch the fireworks from the level of the top of Magic Mountain?  Just go out on their front deck.  Might not have sound but very impressive at no cost.

  38. Disney collected additional moneys based on a promise. They failed to abide by their promise. Disney did not earn the additional moneys.

  39. Disney is really getting a reputation as sucking in customer service.  Many times people only complain after they have been given the runaround by the company.  Had disney simply said some thing to the effect of “Due to technical problems we are unsure as to when the fireworks will return” guest could have at least had information to make knowledgable decisions.  I’d be pissed off to if every night I returned to the my room to view fireworks in the comfort of my room, only to see zippo.  Maybe she does not deserve a full refund but I would comp here maybe a 1 day pass to finally see the fireworks.
    Customer service is one way you seperate the truly deluxe from the motel 6’s.  Disney is slip sliding into motel 6 land.

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