I do this for a living, for Pete's sake! (apologies to my friend Pete for taking his name in vain!)

So here's the situation. In February, my family is doing an "en masse" vacation to the Land Where the Mouse is King. Traveling to the Sunshine State will be Husband, Me, Sweet Son #1 and the Manimal, my Parents, my Brother, Sis-In-Law and their three children. Disney-speak calls this a "Grand Gathering".

I call it a pain in my tookus.

This "Grand Gathering" was my brilliant idea, since Sweet Son #1 and his cousins are at a great age for Disney. I did the online research and talked to a few friends, who recommended a local travel agent to help us book the shindig. We're staying for 6 days and 5 nights, in a Disney property, using the Deluxe Dining and doing the park-hopper passes, which basically means that between the three families, we're spending roughly the equivalent of the entire annual budget for a small third-world country.

It is specifically the Disney Dining that is causing the aforementioned pain in my rear.

For those of you not familiar with it, Disney Dining is a plan that, for $60/day, you get three meal coupons and two snack coupons that can be used at any food establishment in any Disney park. Really, a good deal, since it's easy enough to drop $20 for a quick burger and such. The upswing is that since there are 11 of us, in order to be able to eat together for the sit-down meals, we have to make advance reservations. In order to eat dinner at a normal dinner hour (when you are traveling with five children), "advance reservations" means 5-6 months out. Like NOW.

So my conversations with said travel agent have gone like this:

Me: "We'd like to do dinner on Tuesday at 6 pm at the Celebration of Aloha."
STA: "OK, what else?"
Me: "We'd like to do breakfast at Donald's Safari Breakfast on Thursday at 7:30 am."
STA: "OK, what about dinner on Wednesday?"
Me: "How about the Sci-Fi Theatre at 6:30 pm?"
STA: "Good, anything else?"
Me: "Yes, let's do the Mickey's Buffet for dinner on Monday at 6 pm"
STA: "OK, I'll check on these and get back with you."

The "get back with you" usually takes a couple of hours, during which time STA calls Disney and tries to book my requests.

Conversation 2:

STA: "OK, well I was able to book the Mickey's Buffet for 6:05 on Monday."
Me: "Great!"
STA: "Unfortunately, there were a couple of other little problems. The Celebration of Aloha only runs on Sundays and Wednesdays and starts at 4:30.
Me: "Okaayy. Well, I guess we could do 4:30 on Wednesday."
STA: "I'll have to call them back and make sure they have openings. Also, the Sci-Fi Dinner Theatre only runs on Mondays and Thursdays and you leave on Thursday."
Me: "Right. OK, well then let's move Mickey's Buffet to Sunday and we'll do the Sci-Fi Dinner Theatre on Monday at 6:30."
STA: "OK, I'll check when I call them back. Now, they're not booking for the Donald's Safari Breakfast yet."
Me: "When will they be booking?"
STA: "They don't know, we'll just have to keep calling them."
Me: (sighing loudly) "OK then, give me a call back after you book the rest of these."

Now, understand that on Friday, we had no less than three conversations of this nature. All I kept thinking was "this should NOT be so difficult." I am a competent event coordinator and have planned banquets for a THOUSAND PEOPLE. If any travel agents are reading this, please don't think that I'm blaming her. I'm sure she's quite a fine travel agent, but HELLO! This is DISNEY--the gold standard for customer service and special event planning. One would think that I could work with them to plan meals for eleven people and not come away with a migraine.

Stay tuned...


1 comment:

Maria said...

Hey, came through Midge's blog!

Wow...I was about 8 years old in 1992 when I did the whole "Grand Gathering" in Disney (the Florida one) when there were just three parks and not as many cool restaurants as you say...right down to the 4-day passes! I went with my parents, grandmother, aunt, uncle and my sister (my cousins weren't born yet at the time).

Despite all the pains it sounds like a lot of fun. I wish I could do the whole Disney 4-day thing again soon - not so likely, however.

Not really a bad thing - my uncle works for Disney and everytime I go down there I get a 1-day park hopper pass, but I always keep rushing through everything with my sister (albeit, we have gone so many times we know the Magic Kingdom inside out).

But that 4-day trip was something I never forgot, and although I don't remember much, there is a nice videotape of almost the entire trip. Your children/ nephews/nieces will have an amazing time!