Disney promised me fireworks! Where are the fireworks?

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By Christopher Elliott

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.”

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.”

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Here’s the response from Disneyland

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 Disneyland’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”? (Related: Is this enough compensation? Disney totaled my minivan.)

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. (Related: More than $1k for an annual Disney pass? Quaaaaaack!)

You’re probably wondering: Why didn’t the Ogdens say something when the fireworks failed to launch. They did. (Here’s what you need to know about travel loyalty programs.)

“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.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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