When Bad Things Happen to Good Vacations

by Debra Martin Koma
AllEars® Editor

Feature Article

This article appeared in the November 22, 2016 Issue #896 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.

More than a few years ago, I wrote a feature for this newsletter called, "When Good Trips Go Bad," outlining what to do when various elements of your Disney vacation went awry.

So much has changed in that time, I thought it was a topic worth revisiting. Not that I wish anything bad for you or your vacation — quite the opposite! But sometimes even though you plan everything down to the minutest detail… bad things beyond your control happen. Here are a few suggestions on how to cope when things don't go exactly as planned.


Everybody forgets something when they go on vacation, right? A toothbrush, a bathing suit, maybe, like I did once, underwear. Those things are fairly easy to replace. Every Disney resort hotel has a gift shop stocked with the most basic sundries. And if you have a car, you can just make a jaunt to a local store and you're all set. A bit inconvenient, but not the end of the world.

But what if you forget Something Really Important that you can't pick up at just any old store — like your tickets, or your MagicBands?

Relax! Forgetting your MagicBands is not the potential disaster that forgetting your paper tickets was in the past. Just go to Guest Relations at any of the theme parks or Lobby Concierge at your Disney resort and show your ID, and they should be able to provide you with a replacement band or bands. They may charge you a replacement fee, but that's a lot better than shelling out for park admission again. (If you forgot your ID at home, well, we can't help with that!)

Did you forget your tickets or your plastic RFID card? Again, it shouldn't be a big deal, especially if you remember one important tip: Before you leave home, take any park passes you've purchased and look at the side with the magnetic strip. Either photocopy that side of the passes, or take a digital photo, or write down all the numbers you see, and keep that copy in a safe place, separate from where you keep your park passes. This way, if you misplace or forget the passes, it will make it easier for Guest Relations to help you.

If you purchased your park admission online, you may have already linked your tickets to a My Disney Experience account. If you did, then a quick visit to Guest Relations or Lobby Concierge should sort you out. Even if you didn't link your tickets to an MDE account, your online purchase should still be in the Disney system, and they should be able to track your purchase down for you. If you purchased your tickets from a non-Disney vendor, that may be a little more problematic. This is where that copy of your ticket info and the receipt especially will come in handy. If you don't have that info with you, you'll need to contact the vendor and hope that you can obtain your ticket information from them.


So? What to do when you LOSE your MagicBand or, if you don't have a MagicBand, your RFID card?

Not surprisingly, it has happened to others before you.

If your band has slipped off your wrist unnoticed, simply log in to your My Disney Experience account and deactivate it in the MagicBand section of My Profile. If, like me, you have multiple bands, and you happen to have another one handy, activate it and use that. If, however, you don't have another band, you'll have to pay a visit to Guest Relations at a theme park, or Lobby Concierge at a Disney resort hotel. A cast member there should be able to provide you with a replacement (although you may be charged a fee).

If you have chosen to go the plastic RFID card route instead of using MagicBands, the process is similar. A visit to Guest Relations or Lobby Concierge should make everything all better.

If you've lost anything else, how you proceed depends on where you lost it.

Each of the parks has a Lost and Found location at Guest Relations, but found items are only kept there for one day. If you realize later that you've lost something, you'll need to contact Central Lost and Found at 407-824-4245. Central Lost and Found is physically located at the Transportation & Ticket Center and is open seven days a week, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. They can also be reached by mail if you need to contact them once you get home at PO Box 10000, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000. Lost and Found keeps valuable items (wallets, purses, credit cards, prescription glasses and cameras) for 90 days.Items of lesser value (sunglasses, hats, toys and clothes) are only held for 30 days.

If you lost an item at a Disney Resort Hotel, it will be turned in to the hotel's Lobby Concierge.

If you've lost something on a Walt Disney World Bus, it will be turned in to the nearest Guest Relations location at a theme park and then delivered to the Lost and Found at the Transportation & Ticket Center within 24 hours.

If you lost something on the Monorails or Magic Kingdom Watercraft, it will be kept on board until the end of the day and then turned in to Lost and Found at the Transportation & Ticket Center.

If you lost something at Disney Springs, it will be turned in to Guest Relations at the Welcome Center in Town Center. After three days, it will be delivered to Lost and Found at the Transportation & Ticket Center.

If you lost something at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex it will be turned in to, and will be kept at, Guest Services there.

And if you lost something on Disney's Magical Express, and it's been lost for less than 30 minutes, contact 866-599-0951. If the item has been lost for more than 30 minutes, you'll have to contact Mears Transportation Group at 407-423-5566.

Since you're at Walt Disney World, the odds that a Good Samaritan will return your lost item are better than average. Well, you can hope, anyway. I've had good luck on several occasions, as have many of our readers, like Joyce Rodrigues, who writes, "We were on the Dinosaur ride, where near the end the dinosaur blows hot air as you escape his bite. My father had this old cap on that I've been dying to get rid of. The dinosaur blew it off his head. He looked so down because it was his favorite. I filled out a lost form not thinking we would ever get it back. Two months later I got a package from Disney. It was his cap and it had been WASHED. It looked like new! It's just the little things Disney does."


What if you lose something even more precious, like your child? Walt Disney World is a big place, and it's easy for someone to get lost in the crowds, especially if they're under 3 feet tall.

It's probably best to establish a meeting point at the start of every day, so that each member of your group knows where to go and wait if you should become separated. But for small children, this approach may not work. One thing Disney suggests is to introduce your children to a Disney Cast Member and specifically point out the Cast Member's unique name tag. Tell the children that if they get lost they should go to any Cast Member for help. Another thing to consider is taking a digital photo of your children each morning, so you can remember what they were wearing if they get lost and you need to describe them.

If you do lose track of your child, the best thing to do is to stay calm. Try to stay about where you were when you think you were separated from the child, and contact a Cast Member. They are specially trained to deal with this situation, and have a remarkable way of finding a lost child before he or she even realizes they were being looked for.


Of all the disappointments you can experience during a Disney trip, one of the worst has to be when someone ends up ill or in the hospital. But this is one thing you really can't plan for. A stomach bug, a broken leg, or even a serious sunburn — these things can and do happen, even when you're under the influence of Pixie Dust at Walt Disney World.

If you should become ill in a theme park, remember that each park (including the water parks) has its own First Aid station, which is staffed with a nurse and can provide treatment of minor ailments and cuts and bruises. First Aid also has a medicine cabinet of over-the-counter items, some for sale, such as Pepto-Bismol and Imodium for upset tummies. Also, EpiPens are available at First Aid stations if you think you're having an allergic reaction to something. But if it's an emergency, don't hesitate — call 911 and notify the nearest cast member.

If you become ill while staying at a Disney resort hotel, the Front Desk is the first place to contact (unless it's an emergency, in which case you should call 911 immediately). A cast member will advise you on your options. In-room medical services are even available.

This actually happened to me some time ago — I came down with a 24-hour stomach bug right in the middle of a family trip. Since we didn't have a car and couldn't get to a doctor on our own, my husband called the Front Desk to get a cab and find out where we should go. Instead, the cast member offered to send a doctor to US — yes, a house call! Obviously, it wasn't cheap, but the doctor came and took care of me, then phoned a prescription in to a local pharmacy, which also delivered the medication to our resort. It was an expensive experience, to be sure, but it was comforting to know that WDW would help take care of us when we needed it.

Also, Florida Hospital Centra Care has several walk-in Urgent Care Centers in the area that are open 8 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Complimentary transportation is available and many insurance plans are accepted. They can also refer you to someone should you have a dental emergency. Call 407-934-2273 for more info.

If you need a prescription, call the Front Desk to find which pharmacies will make deliveries to the WDW resorts.

There's also nearby Celebration Hospital — but let's hope you never have to go to the hospital when you're on vacation!


So what if it's not a person who gets sick while you're at Walt Disney World? What if it's your vehicle?

If you have a rental car, it's not such a big deal — you can just contact the rental agency, and they should be able to come to your rescue with a replacement.

But what if it's your own car? What if your battery dies in a parking lot? Or you get a flat, or run out of gas?

Then you'll need the Car Care Center, located near the Magic Kingdom Toll Plaza, which provides auto repair services (407-824-0976) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. through 4 p.m. Saturday; and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. The Center also offers Car Care One, a mobile service unit that provides basic roadside services (e.g. fix a flat, battery jump start) for automobiles, SUVs and small trucks up to one hour after park closing. Car Care One will even provide complimentary towing if your car can't make it under its own power, while the Center offers a complimentary shuttle service to the Transportation and Ticket Center so that you can then get to your resort or a theme park. NOTE: If your car trouble occurs in a theme park parking lot more than an hour after that park has closed, Disney's security patrols the lot, so that you'll be able to flag them down for assistance.

And if your car is really sick, and will take some time to repair, there are Alamo Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental offices at the Center, which offer pick-up service (407-824-3470).


As well as you may know your own mother, there's no way to predict what Ma Nature is going to do when you're in WDW. We've endured unexpected cold snaps, rainstorms, hurricanes, smoke from fires… you just can't be sure that you're going to have 80-degree, blue sky days. So what to do? Hunker down in your room and hope the worst blows over?

Of course not! Unless it's a true hurricane like the recent Hurricane Matthew that closed the parks for a short time, don a poncho if it's raining — they're sold every few feet in the parks when the weather turns nasty. Bundle up if it's cold — buy a new sweatshirt if you have to. Then get on out there and have some fun.

If you were really planning on a warm weather vacation, but you encounter nothing but cold, as has happened to my family several times, visit some of the more tropically themed WDW spots. Walking amongst the palm trees in the lobby of the Polynesian Village Resort can almost make you forget that a brisk wind is blowing outside. Or visit the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge and sit in a rocker by the fire, which is almost always going on cooler days… you'll feel toasty in no time.

If it's raining, head over to Disney's Hollywood Studios — it's a smaller park to walk around, and many of the attractions there are longer, indoor or covered shows: Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Muppet Vision 3D; Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, the Great Movie Ride. By the time you come out from seeing a few of those attractions, perhaps the storm clouds will have passed over!

In other words, since you can only complain about the weather, not actually change it, try to make the most of it. A chilly day at Walt Disney World is far better than a warm day at home or at work, right?


Even though you're on vacation, the outside world spins on. I'm sure that many, like my husband, are convinced that their businesses or offices are going to fall to pieces without them — and sometimes work crises do arise. Fortunately, Walt Disney World offers a variety of services that allow even the busiest of business persons to "take care of business" without interrupting their time off too much. Several resorts have Business Centers that can help with a variety of business needs, from a cast member who can act as a Notary Public ($10 per seal), to computers (and fax machines) to allow for the printing, scanning, sending and receiving of important documents (for a small fee). Other business services, such as photocopying, overnight shipping and even binding are all available. The Business Centers are located in the convention centers of the following resorts:

  • BoardWalk Resort

  • Contemporary Resort

  • Coronado Springs

  • Grand Floridian Resort

  • Yacht Club Resort

  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

  • Walt Disney World Swan Hotel

So the next time you're on vacation at WDW and things start to go wrong, don't panic. Remember the words of the old Maelstrom attraction in Norway, and know that you are probably "not ze first to pass zis vay." Most likely, a WDW cast member will know exactly what to do to help you.

They don't call it the Most Magical Place on Earth for nothing.


Have you encountered some problems during a Walt Disney World trip? And how have you coped? Drop us a line or two and share your stories of how you "made lemonade" when life gave you lemons on your vacation!

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My Disney Experience

What to Pack

What to Tote around the Parks

Don't Let The Rain Dampen Your Spirits

What to do if You Get Sick at WDW


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.