A Former Guest Relations Hostess’ Guide to Complaining at Walt Disney World

Hello there! My name is Molly and I had the pleasure of being a Guest Relations Hostess, Tour Guide, and Trainer for several years at Walt Disney World — primarily at Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Molly in the Magic Kingdom

Guest Relations is the place to go for Information, Guests with Disabilities Services, International Guest Services, Reservations, Advice about the Parks, Planning Tips, and of course… Complaining.

Who could possibly complain in Disney World?! Well, unfortunately — lots of people. I heard all kinds of concerns during my tenure “in the plaid vest.” Some weren’t very valid , such as, “Can you make it stop raining!?” or “Why are there no women in the Hall of Presidents?” (True story.)

However, some issues absolutely warranted compensation or documentation, such as IT issues with MagicBands when they first rolled out, an extremely rude cast member, or a lengthy attraction breakdown.

Guest Relations Hostess at Hollywood Studios

Disney World isn’t exempt from mistakes, and as hard as they try, sometimes an experience can be less than magical. So what’s the best way to voice your concerns?

Here are five tips from a former Guest Relations Hostess on how to complain at Walt Disney World.

Mingling with the Princesses

1. You Catch More Flies with Honey than Vinegar

If you don’t read any further on this post, just remember these two words: “BE NICE.”

Every Guest Relations Cast Member wants to ensure that you have a wonderful vacation, and if Disney messes up they will absolutely attempt to fix the situation. But your tone, wording, and demeanor can affect whether or not that Cast Member goes above and beyond.

Whether the issue is something completely out of your control (such as the weather or an attraction closing) or something that was completely in your control (for example, you didn’t realize there were block-out dates on your ticket), remember the Cast Member in front of you had nothing to do with your concern.

But they CAN fix it. Guest Relations Cast Members have the ability to make an awful lot of magic and fix a lot of situations — no matter who’s at fault. But just because they can, doesn’t mean they have to.

Think about it this way: Guest Relations Cast Members were hired to help you — why would you yell at the person trying to help you? And let me be clear, you have every right to be upset and frustrated if something goes wrong on the vacation you spent a lot of money on! What I am talking about is yelling, screaming, and cursing — which unfortunately happens more than you’d expect in a family theme park. This is coming from someone who has been called every name and curse word in the book — in several languages.

So the moral of this story is to simply be nice. Remember, the Cast Member in front of you is there to listen, to help, and to restore the magic.

Having a word with Walt

2. Accept Responsibility When Necessary 

We all have GOOFY moments when we forget things. A trip to Walt Disney World requires a lot of research, planning, and knowledge and it’s very possible something will slip your mind. But don’t worry — Guest Relations Cast Members are literally paid to be WDW experts.

If you’re headed to Guest Relations for a concern that you could’ve prevented, don’t sweat it! But do admit you made a boo-boo. A simple, “I didn’t realize this when booking our tickets…” or “I forgot to link my son’s ticket…” can go a long way!

Guest Relations Cast Members want to assist no matter what — and for me personally, having a Guest kindly admit they needed help to correct a blunder was a sure-fire way to get me to go above and beyond.

Molly and the Beast

3. Be Realistic

Before you head to Guest Relations, think about your concern and if the Cast Member you’re going to speak with can REALLY fix it. I’m talking about things like demanding The Black Cauldron characters get their own meet-and-greet or insisting The ExtraTerrorestrial Alien Encounter returns or that you liked the old Pirates of the Caribbean better and you want Jack Sparrow removed. (These are all real-life examples.)

If the Cast Member in front of you won’t be able to fix it right then and there, do you really want to waste your precious vacation time going to complain?

Disney does want your feedback, though! For concerns of this nature, I would always recommend emailing or writing Disney Communications. Believe it or not, they really do read every single message they receive, and make some decisions about the parks based on Guest feedback.

Working with characters

4. Don’t Make a Mountain Out of a Molehill

This one piggybacks off of #3. Even if Guest Relations could possibly fix the issue — do you really want to waste your precious vacation time complaining if you don’t have to?

This one is tricky, because everyone’s threshold for an issue is different. For some people, rain is an absolute disaster, while for others they grab some ponchos and go! (This is just an example. Guest Relations cannot, I repeat, cannot fix the weather.)

Before you complain, think to yourself whether the issue is really worth losing precious vacation time with your family. If you’re all the way in New Fantasyland, is it really worth battling the crowds to get back to Main Street?

If the answer is yes, by all means go for it! Fixing concerns is literally Guest Relations’ job. But if it’s just a little blip, then keep having fun and save your feedback (good and bad) for a letter later.

Also keep in mind that in some cases Guest Relations may not even be necessary. You won’t believe the amount of times people came to me with issues about a dining experience (for example). Instead of talking to a Cast Member at the restaurant, they waited until the end of the day to talk to me. As much as I would have loved to help, the manager at that restaurant could likely have fixed the situation on the spot. Don’t forget that all Disney Cast Members are trained to be superstars in Guest Service, so ask in the area you’re in! If they direct you to Guest Relations or you’re still upset, then head that way. But ideally the issue will be fixed quickly and you can enjoy the rest of your magical day.

Welcome to the Studios

5. Did I mention Being Nice?

I know it sounds like I am being more repetitive than “it’s a small world,” but really, just BE NICE!

Take it from someone who spent several years on the other side of the counter — Guest Relations Cast Members simply want to help. Feel free to express your concerns, especially if the fault lies on Disney. A trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth is expensive, and if something goes wrong, you deserve to have it fixed. But there’s no need to be rude to the person who can help you.

One of my dear Plaid friends used to always remind me of a quote from Cinderella that sums this post up perfectly:

“Where there is kindness, there is goodness, and where there is goodness, there is magic.” – Cinderella

Walt Disney, hero

What has your experience been with Guest Relations at Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments!

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Molly is a lifelong Disney enthusiast, and former Walt Disney World Guest Relations Cast Member and tour guide. Her Walt Disney World favorites include Festival of the Lion King, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasmic!, Mickey-shaped pretzels and rice krispie treats, and anything with Buzz Lightyear! She lives in Orlando with her husband (who she met in Guest Relations) and their two rescue dogs, Kronk and Cruella de Vil (Ella for short!)

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14 Replies to “A Former Guest Relations Hostess’ Guide to Complaining at Walt Disney World”

  1. Interesting article! Couldn’t agree more about being nice, I’ve worked in hospitality and various customer service roles and know how horrid people can be so I always try to be nice to everyone. I’ve been visiting WDW for 22 years, there’s been the odd hiccup but generally it has always been magical. However, on my last trip in September there were numerous negatives so much so that I don’t foresee me returning. The worst however was insects in the bedroom, I called reception on numerous occasions who sent pest control but they kept returning it was disgusting to say the least and not helped by the fact the beds weren’t changed for the two weeks we were there. The response I’ve received was just “they’re gnats they’re attracted to the animals and they don’t bite”, I believe this isn’t a suitable response and downplays the severity of the issue and I am interested to know what you would have done in your previous post? Thanks

  2. We just got back from a trip full of hiccups and I am very disappointed in Disney and Fort Wilderness. Luggage that was at the front desk waiting for our cabin to be cleaned and promised in our room at 1:30 was still not there at 4. I called to locate it and was hung up on. I had to take a bus to the front desk and ask for it, and then it took another 30 minutes to arrive. Our golf cart lights weren’t working after dark (we paid a lot of money to rent one) and I called to ask how to fix them since it was the first time using them, and was hung up on. We had a bus pull up to the stop as we were running up, stop just long enough for 2 people to jump on, and then shut the doors as my husband, 4 little kids and I got to the door. And then the next bus didn’t show up, so waited even longer and missed park opening where the kids were looking forward to seeing the opening ceremony their friends talked about. A lady at the front desk claimed they didn’t have plain balloons for the strollers, and when she was corrected by the man next to her, said she couldn’t tie them so she couldn’t give me one. I contacted the manager because I was worried about our Magical Express reservation (first trip to Disney for our family, so we weren’t sure how ME worked) since everyone said it just happened like magic and that was all the details we had. With all the other issues we had, I was concerned about an error with airport transportation.
    He sounded annoyed and said “so this is an FYI you are contacting us with about your experience? you don’t need anything fixed?” before I asked him to check on the Magical Express. He promised me, at 9:45am that he would. At 3 I called Magical Express and he had not contacted them and somehow our flight number was not in the system and we were not assigned a shuttle the next day for our 12pm flight. ME said we would have been left without airport transportation because they opened as we needed to be leaving for the airport. Even more worrisome, we didn’t get any information for Magical Express on our door at all. We did, however, get the shuttle info for the cabin next door, on our golf cart, not on our door. Theirs was missing the flight number, too. I emailed Disney Customer Service about all of these issues so they don’t happen to anyone else and it’s been over a week with nothing but the initial “we are looking into your email” email. My 12 year old was so disgusted by all the disorganization she said she’s never going back to Disney and does not understand what all the hype is about. She even told her preschool and elementary cousins it wasn’t worth it. They could have just looked into my ME reservation like promised and found the issue and we never would have been the wiser and would have been fine. Instead, I spent an hour that I should have been enjoying Epcot with my kids on the phone with Magical Express sorting everything out. I had heard such great things about Disney, but feel like I was robbed to have such an expensive vacation be such a stressful one and to have those bad memories competing with the good ones of seeing my 3 year old so excited to meet Minnie Mouse and the princesses. I spent a bunch of time on the phone or waiting in line at the front desk to fix issues instead of being able to focus on enjoying my family time.

  3. I have been coming disney world every year since 1971. I am returning in november 2019 for my 49th year. I have never had a bad experience with guest relations. They have always helped our family over the past 49 years with the utmosy patience and ubderstanding. It is true just be nice , it’s that simple.

  4. Hi! This is a very positive comment about one of the best who wore a plaid vest, Miss Claire!! My daughter and I have gone on an annual birthday trip for over 20 years and Claire was one of the sweetest, happy, positive people we’ve ever met!
    Yearly on our first day our first thing to do was to stop in to say hello to Miss Claire and get a birthday button for my daughter. My daughter is an adult but she had the power to make her feel magical. This year when we arrived we went into Town Hall but didn’t see her familiar face so we asked when she might be there. We were so saddened by the news that she had been out for awhile and it would be quite awhile until her return!
    We would like to say thank you again and tell you we are thinking of you and praying daily in hopes we can maybe bring some magic to you !

  5. Molly, Maybe you’ll remember me, maybe not. We started Guest Relations at the same time. Never got along at work.

    But I seen this and wanted to thank you. It’s 100% true and is not only limited to Disney but all of the hospitality industry.

    I hope you got out of the mouse trap that is Disney.

  6. Don’t forget the other side of the coin. On almost every visit we’ve contacted guest relations to compliment a cast member who did something outstanding for us. We even got a phone call from “Cinderella’s boss” after we got home once, thanking us for letting her know how well the princess took care of our daughter when she lost the letter she wrote to Cinderella on the way to the restaurant. Feedback works both ways!

  7. The concept I always think about when things go wrong is: was the response reflective of the “Disney Way”? Three examples: One year my daughters’ friend joined us for her birthday. After the trip. a cast member called me for a survey.( they no longer do that). She asked about what was done for the birthday girl and I said nothing really, just a button. She sent the girl something in the mail. Another time, at the Beach Club, we arrived after checking in on line. The check in person said: You cancelled your reservation. We have no rooms. I said ” I flew here,took the Magical Express, and ordered groceries after I cancelled the reservation? I was very happy with the response (I am a DVC member). The last example: a friend became a DVC member at my urging. On her 1st trip as a DVC member, her mother was holding her infant on the balcony overlooking the Boardwalk. Cleaners were cleaning the room above and dumped a pail of soapy water which came down on the grandmother and baby. The manager only offered to clean their clothes. I called and said “I urged her to join and this happens. That is NOT the Disney Way”. No yelling or screaming. Just pointing out that making sure the Disney way is what Disney expects of itself. And Disney made things right. The important thing here is people have unlimited options for where to go on vacation and where to spend their money. If Disney tries to cut corners, customer service is one place I would suggest they not do that.

  8. Although I save up all year to visit and plan things out there are always hiccups. I always try to just grin and bear it however one year I was VERY upset about a special ticketed event that they did at Hollywood studios for a Villain’s party. I was expecting something similar to the Mickeys Not so Scary party but when looking at the lines for character meet and greets I knew we needed to pick our top 2 or 3 and see how the night went. Well Darth Vador was 40 min late from the start of the party so after a 2hr wait we attempted to go meet the next character on our list and all the lines we tried to get into were closed due to the volume. There were also some other smaller issues we encountered that night as well. After spending the money it cost for us to attend I really felt robbed of money and an experience. I emailed my concerns and received a lovely email back refunding our cost of the tickets. Since this was only the second time they had done this party they realized that they over sold the event and could have managed the crowds for meet and greets better. I wasn’t expecting the refund I was more writing to explain what could have been to make it a better experience.

    Also a very true statement about talking to the people in the area you are having issues. One day while doing laundry at the quiet pool at POR a housekeeper supervisor asked me how my stay was and if everything was up to my standard. I said it was lovely and we were enjoying our stay however I mentioned that there was toothpaste smeared on the shower curtain from a prior guest and I thought that perhaps they should launder them between guests. Not only did she thank me for the comment she added 4 “anytime” fast passes to our bands.

  9. I’ve had Guest Relations work some pretty serious magic for me when things went wrong. More than I ever imagined they would actually do. While I do feel that it is harder to get the outcome I am looking for today than it was 20 years ago, I also understand how much people try and game the system these days. I’ve always found that the more humble my words are and the less entitled I come across as the more seriously I am taken. A little please, thank you, and just bringing the problem to someone’s attention goes a long way.

  10. Very informative. I live close by and have never had to make a complaint, but if that day ever happens I now know how to present my case. Thank you.

  11. I agree with all you’ve said here. Castmembers are so kind if you just approach them with a good attitude and kindness to them. And always remember to say Thank You to each one. We’ve stopped to chat with even the janitors. They have always been friendly and kind and funny. I always thank them for the job they do keeping the park(s) clean. Not an easy job.

  12. I have not known one cast member to be rude ever in my years of travel to Disney!!! They have always helped me or at least done their very best to try!!! Love you guys!!❤️

  13. We had a disappointing experience with Disney memory maker we had queued for a while to have the Lantern shot our daughter had been to BBB so was so excited when we saw the photos later the photographer was in the photo all 3 that were taken. So disappointing as we couldn’t recreate these photos or moments. We went to customer relations they said sorry but they couldn’t do anything. So we went to our hotel reception they said to go to Disney Springs to the Photo pass section the lady there was able to to photoshop and make it a bit better! Our daughter was so upset it did spoil our experience. Anyone else had this experience?