Lessons from My Disney Vacation: Part 1

via Technology Tidbits by Twyla Felty

Lesson 1: Technology can fail for anyone….even Disney!

Ever since we returned from the holidays, it seems that our school technology keeps breaking, leaving me in a world of FOG, screw drivers and Gorilla Tape!  In trying to keep it all in perspective, it has really helped me to remember that technology can fail for everyone….even Disney. And I know this from recent personal experience!

This past Christmas, I planned a special 10 day trip for my family to Disney World in Florida. Our family is growing up and away, and I really felt that this vacation might be the last time that we could all easily break away from adult lives to be “just us” again. So, this was an emotionally important trip! I plan everything and planning is part of the fun…usually. In the end, however, this technology person was nearly undone by the technology!

The planning started in summer, and so did the technology issues.
First there was the app.
Since we are all adults, a party of six, we each downloaded the My Disney Experience app, created an account and could then make and share our plans right on the app! Sounds great!

Well……there were numerous “glitches”. I finally had to call when I realized that my husband and I showed completely different reservations on our accounts. We were told that was just a glitch and the app was being updated, but the call did verify that we were missing a critical reservation: our Candlelight Processional Dinner package on Christmas Eve!! Now if you have never gone to Disney World, I’m sure this all sounds silly, but this was very, very serious. I was screaming scream—after which we were given some new reservations (and probably a warning on my reservations number!)

After the issue with the app, I needed a new kind of “trip insurance”. So, I took screen shots of all my reservations, and with those carefully printed, backed up, and emailed to all parties, we waited for that blessed vacation break!


The big day finally arrived, and we headed to Florida.
Each person made it from their separate city and through airport security without incident.
Disney’s Magical Express took us to our hotel
We got our Magic Bands and headed to our room.

As it turned out, Magic Bands are not always so “magical”. The first trick was getting into the room. Like a contortionist, the wearer of the band must fold the hand back or twist the arm and body in such a way that the face of the Mickey comes into direct contact with the lock mechanism of the door. Needless to say, I took some great photos of people maneuvering to unlock their doors! My solution was to slip the band to my knuckles as I approached the door, slam  it against the lock area, and shout “Shazam!” Worked every time!

Once I figured out the magic of the door lock, I wanted to associate our “Memory Maker” with the Magic Band as well. This was a totally new program, and I had purchased it the week before.
No one at our hotel knew about it.
No one at the parks knew about it
No one could find anyone that knew why we could buy it if no one even knew about it!

After spending several hours with the concierge late at night and customer service at Magic Kingdom the next morning, I was once again screaming screams and just asked for my money back! I got some free Fast Passes….and probably another warning comment on my reservation number. However, someone finally called the “Avengers” team from technology, and the problem was indeed “magically” solved! A day later than planned, we could walk up to any photographer and “Shazam” –our photos were automatically uploaded to our account. It even worked for photos on rides and the Hoop de Doo Review!

The next tech issue was wi-fi. Each night we returned to our hotel, tired in the “theme park” way, ready to crash. My son, however, was job hunting and had to check email constantly, and the wi-fi in the room didn’t work. They did send someone, but we were told it was fine…even though it didn’t work for us! To make matters worse, we were staying in the Art of Animation, Building 1, and apparently there was no cell phone signal either. People stood outside to call, and everyone was complaining about it. One lady even marched off in a huff in her pajamas to “see about this….”  Not sure if she got free Fast Passes or not.

And speaking of Fast Passes, we ended up in a test for the Magic Bands at Animal Kingdom. Talk about deja vu ! It was like watching myself at work trying to get the internet to “spin up”! They had newly trained personal hanging out with tablet devices that were supposed to read the Magic Band and allow you to sign up for three Fast Passes for anyone associated in your group. Uh….fail! But, it was a test, and more free Fast Passes were doled out for those standing around waiting to see if it would work.

So, what is the moral to this story?
Technology fails! This is one of the biggest complaints from teachers as we work toward seamlessly integrating technology our every day school experience. If it can  fail for Disney….it can fail for anyone!

So, what makes the difference?
Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust!!!
I know that Disney is dedicated to providing a positive, seamless, “magical” experience. Even though I was the one trying the new app, the new Magic Bands and the new Fast Past process, Disney understood my frustration, provided compensation to keep me invested in trying, and ultimately solved my issues (except for cell signal and WiFi at Art of Animation, Building 1!)

The Lesson:
If we want teachers to keep up the hard work, keep coming back, to stick with us and not give up, then, as the technology team, we need to offer that same level of trust! I plan to do my part!!

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