Anybody who knows me knows I am a Disney fan, enough to start my own web site about it. I couldn’t tell you why – perhaps watching old black-and-white reruns of The Mickey Mouse Club with my dad or something. I never went to Disneyland or Walt Disney World until I was an adult though, and I’m thoroughly hooked now. I just bought into the Disney Vacation Club, paying for trips for the next 50 years for my family. Imagine my delight when Disney re-opened a dormant project that I wanted to participate in. Imagine my disappointment when they abruptly canceled the program after taking my money, and won’t tell me what happened or when I’ll get my money back. Read the full article for more details and updates.
It all started with a brick…
Well, thousands of bricks.
If you’ve been to Walt Disney World since about 1994 and been to the Magic Kingdom, you would have seen them – the “Walk Around the World” – bricks with names and dates, all around the walkway that circles the Seven Seas Lagoon. When we first went in 1997, I thought how neat it would have been to have one, but we didn’t get one then, back when it was $100. Neat way for Disney to get guests to pay for a nice walkway.
And we didn’t in 1999 either. We were perhaps waiting until we had a family and included everyone.
Well, Disney closed the program in 2000. There are references to being sold out, but I’ve seen plenty of blank bricks.
Fast forward to last week, when I found this forum thread, which gets into how they started selling bricks again! $295 now, but I thought it would be worth it as a 10th anniversary and family gift all in one! It was to totally be a surprise to the kids. I called the number – and the message said the program was closed, but left my number and email address.
The next morning, I get an e-mail from a Cast Member with the forms. I filled them out and faxed them, and confirmed that they were received OK. The $295 was taken from my credit card by the weekend.
Then it all went downhill from there.
First, word starts spreading that they’ve closed the program again, but some people started receiving certificates in the mail, even stating where their brick will be found. They’ve already charged me – I must have beat the deadline, right?
Then word starts spreading that the program closed on May 25th(!) and that anyone who has been charged will receive a refund in 2-4 weeks! Ummm…why did I get charged if it was closed?
Even better, Disney is tight-lipped about it. The Cast Members unfortunate enough to be answering the phone now can only say that the “program is closed” (ironically, the program was never “re-opened”, they were just filling in blank bricks) and that all paperwork was with “Disney Correspondence” and they would get back to me in 2-3 weeks. They couldn’t even provide a contact beyond the general Disney communications email address.
People have speculated that it was a scam (couldn’t really be), there were legal issues, they had less bricks than they thought – but the people who know are inside Disney and aren’t permitted to talk. I know the Cast Members involved are frustrated, and so are a lot of people who thought they’d be able to finally get a wish fulfilled during Disney’s “Year of a Million Dreams”.
Dreams are getting crushed under a brick sidewalk.
Hopefully Disney will do the right thing – the Disney thing – and honor those who’s applications were accepted.
Stay tuned as more information can be found.
Update [6/6 10:12am]: forgot to mention above – no one is actively notifying anyone about problems. You have to call the phone number and ask. If you aren’t reading the thread above, you’d never know there was a problem.
Update [6/6 11:40am]: In an ironic twist, after being told yesterday I would eventually get a refund, I got e-mail from one of the Cast Members at 10:40am this morning, saying I WILL be getting the brick, and what the location number is (map and certificate will come later). In a reply, he still couldn’t say who will or won’t be getting a brick, only that I am getting one. So maybe things ARE working out.
Update [6/27 2:10pm] People are starting to get their certificates. I’m still waiting…
Update [7/25 2:36pm] I still haven’t gotten my certificate. E-mails have gone unanswered. I called and left a message yesterday, no response yet. Others still have not gotten their info. I was down there a couple of weeks ago, but did not get a chance to hunt down the appropriate group.
Update [8/1]: Called again, and actually talked to a cast member. We actually had a good conversation. He didn’t know why the certificate never arrived, but he had all my order info and the brick had not yet arrived but should be on the next shipment from Wisconsin, and they are a bit behind on placement of the bricks due to unusual weather, raining at night (when they place them). He’d send another certificate.
Update [8/14]: Still no certificate, but actually received a call from one of the other cast members following up on the first one, and said he would send out the certificate.
Update [8/21]: Finally received the certificate…now for them to place the brick…
Update [12/15]: The brick actually exists and was placed – just not exactly where they told me. After one failed attempt to locate it, I checked with Guest Relations at the Magic Kingdom. It was in a different location – in fact, my “location code”, which is supposed to define the rough area it is located in, doesn’t actually exist as a location. Once armed with a better location to look, we did indeed find it. Now I may have the only brick in all of Walt Disney World that is actually upside-down in relation to all the other bricks! They seem to have turned it around since it was up against a wall, so it was easier to read.