Staying On-Site at Walt Disney World
Speak to most people of their Disney vacation, and you will get an overwhelming number of responses that include Disney’s attention to detail, level of customer appreciation, and special touches that make a trip to the Kingdom much more than a vacation – it makes the journey a memory. Being the type of person to always aim for the best in a vacation, even when that means stretching my dollars at home beforehand, I usually stay at a Disney Deluxe Resort when I travel to the land of Mickey and Minnie. On a recent trip however, a last-minute decision was made to stay an extra night. But we would not be continuing our stay at Disney’s Boardwalk; instead we chose to have a new experience by spending an evening at the Disney Swan.
Feeling like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I should have realized we weren’t in Kansas (or Disney, in this case) anymore as we checked into the Swan. Gone were the friendly greetings of the staff as they speedily arranged for your room. Instead we were hastily given our room keys and pointed in the direction of the elevators to allow the next person in line a chance to be checked in. The concierge desk proved to be much the same; when inquiring about our dinner reservations later that night, we were simply given the number of the restaurant. Again, there was a rushed feeling, as only one attendant was helping a growing queue behind us.
I will say that our room had an incredible view of the waterway, Hollywood Studios, and Boardwalk Villas. Little did I know upon arrival that soon enough, I would be looking out this same window, longing to once again be a guest at the Boardwalk. Before this nostalgia could occur though, we made a hasty once-over of the room, which was very modern, with a large bed and nice flat panel television. We then headed to the pool.
Once we had our towels and put our stuff in an available chair by the Dolphin pool’s beautiful waterfall (the Swan pool is very basic, so we opted to hike a few meters down the path), we grabbed some poolside dining menus to satisfy our stomachs’ cries for sustenance. The offerings sounded delicious and had a Mediterranean twist to them – perfect for a lighter meal by the water. However, we were shocked by the lunch menu’s price tag. Small items such as veggie wraps were $15, and any beverage containing alcohol was well around the $10 mark (compared to the Boardwalk’s $6-7 cocktails). Instead of giving in to the inflated prices, we headed over to Beaches and Cream at the Yacht and Beach Club and had an entire meal, including drinks and dessert, for under $30. It was well worth the small stroll down the boardwalk to get back to the magic that Disney provides.
Breakfast the following day proved much the same. After telling the waitress at the Garden Grove of my special diet, she called over a manager, who in turn went to speak to a chef. Unfortunately, he came back to say that the restaurant would only be able to provide fruit for me that morning. All other items contained ingredients that I would not be able to eat. Throughout the week, each and every Disney chef that I spoke with had accommodated me in some way. Usually they were aware of my arrival ahead of time, but even last-minute requests were handled with fantastic variety and friendly smiles from everyone involved. At the Swan’s Garden Grove restaurant, I felt like more of an inconvenience that a guest of the hotel.
Not to be discouraged on a Disney vacation, we quickly changed plans and went down the boardwalk once more, to the Boardwalk Inn’s own Kouzzina. There, even as a last-minute request, I was treated to a feast of blueberry granola pancakes and sweet potato hash. It was more of a meal than anything I could have gotten on the Swan’s buffet, and cost half the price.
Disney has mastered the art of customer service. Even with the tempting offers that other Disney “affiliated” resorts can provide, there is no comparison to the experience of staying on property at Disney. Whether Value, Moderate or Deluxe, the Disney company goes far out of their way to provide their guests with amenities and service to make the journey to the Magic Kingdom everything that the name implies. Never again will my eyes be tempted to wander in any other direction, even if the name of the hotel includes the trademark Disney symbol.
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