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Baltosam
08-04-2006, 05:19 AM
First off let me say that for those of you who love the AKL don't get mad at me because I didn't love it.

My wife and I love all things Disney and we had planned our trip we took in April for a long time. Since we had not been to WDW for years (this was to be only our 2nd time going as a family) we wanted to make this a very special trip. So as a family we went online and looked at pictures watched the DVD Disney sends you over and over and finally decided on a resort for our trip, Animal Kingdom Lodge!

My daughter who is 14 loves animals my son who is 11 does too, and my wife and I though it would be really cool to look out the window at African wildlife. So I made our reservations. Due to the fact that my wife is a teacher and the way I have to take my vacation time we had to go over spring break this meant that I didn't get any savings on our room, needless to say I spent a ton of money on a deluxe savanna room (it will be worth it for the view I thought).

After all our planning and dreaming about our big family trip to WDW we finally arrived! Right out of the box we hit a snag, I had requested a room as close as possible to the entrance because we were travelling with my brother-in-law who is handicapped. I was assured at the time I made my reservations that this request would be met so I didn't even mention it when I checked in, I thought that was done when I booked the trip. Well, I got my little resort floorplan map with the section circled where our room was and off we went to see our room and our view!

Let me tell you AKL is HUGE! I had no idea how far from the lobby our room was till I made the walk! When I tell you it took my brother-in-law 15 mins to get to the room many of you will think I am exaggerating, well I'm not.

The room itself was very nice we had the queen bed with bunk beds and a folding sofa bed, and I already knew the rooms were a little smaller then the other deluxe resort rooms so it was what I expected. We all rushed to the windows to see the animals. Well there they were, it was like we were worlds away looking out at an African savanna. I was quite impressed and I don't think there is another resort anywhere that would compare.

So after a small rest and spending a little while looking at the animals with the family I went down to the lobby to see if I could do something about our room location. Keep in mind it was not that we were too far from the elevators because they have a set of those about mid way down each arm of the huge horseshoe shaped building. Its the fact that there is just one bus stop at AKL and it is just off the main entrance so we would be looking at this 15 min journey every time we went anywhere.

I go to the front desk find a CM and explain the problem. She types on her computer for a while and tells me "sorry there is nothing available closer to the lobby today", however we can do a room switch the following day. Not what I had hoped for but, ok (after all it is spring break and I know the hotel is booked solid). So off we go and enjoy our first evening at WDW.

Next day I call the front desk to find out what the procedure will be for the room switch and the CM on the phone has no idea that we are supposed to move our room today. Huh! this is Disney right? I trudge back down to the front desk. I am still not upset because I know Disney will get this fixed. I have never had any reason to complain about Disney customer service. The CM at the front desk goes into a door behind the desk and comes back out with a supervisor and together they come up with another deluxe savanna room. It's only about half the distance as the first room though still a bit of a hike.

The supervisor explains to me that when I made my reservation there was no notation in it about having a handicapped person with us. So I guess what she was saying was the booking CM was where the real mistake was made. She offered no excuse as to why no one was aware that I had made an arrangement the day before for a room swap though and seemed to doubt me. I felt like this CM was questioning my word on these events like I was trying to pull something. I'm a police officer and I'm not in the habit of lying about anything, I guess I am a little sensitive when I feel like some one is questioning my integrity. By now I'm a little less happy but still my sprit is very high I am on vacation in WDW after all!

So far we have only been a little inconvenienced in that we had not gotten to unpack since we were going to move etc. and I've had to make two trips to the front desk that each lasted about 40 mins or so. Then I find out that they want us to check out of our room before 11 am just like we were going home except they will store our bags and re-check in at 4 pm . I'm a little bummed at this news because we're now going to be like homeless people on vacation, with no room to go back to to change etc. for the better part of our first full day at WDW. So I go back to the room to tell my wife what is going on. She was not happy.

My brother-in-law had decided that he didn't feel like going to the parks and wanted to just stay in the room to watch TV. (He is a little like the character in Rainman when it comes to some of his TV shows). Sure we would be able to coax him out with us, but my wife is of the mindset that the least Disney could do is let us keep the room we are in until our new room is ready. In fact she says I should have insisted on that. So I get on the phone and ask to talk with the supervisor I was just speaking with and explain how David (my brother-in-law) is a little stressed with all the travelling and wants to chill out watching TV. She agrees with this request, so we are all set.

The move actually goes pretty smoothly but doesn't take place till about 5 pm because they had to shampoo the carpet in our new room. Thank goodness we were allowed to keep our old room.

So we get our new room and settle in. We had the dining plan for this trip and when we went to the parks on our move day we used a couple of counter service points and a snack or two. When we moved we have to get new room key cards right? You may have guessed what happens next. They get screwed up our DDP in that our totals for our DDP don't get transferred properly. Gah!

Now it's my wifes turn to go to the front desk (we discover the problem when we get our dinner receipt) and she is the family accountant. :)

She gets a whole new CM and the problem has to be resolved over the next 24 hours something to do with they can only add so many points per day or something. He tells my wife not to worry he will handle the transfer himself and won't forget any of our points.

Well this CM was the first one we delt with that actually did what he said he would do when he said he would do it! I was regaining my faith LOL.

So was this an AKL problem? probably not, I know we were just a little unlucky. But they really never fixed the problem with the room they only met us halfway. I booked this trip far enough out that I am sure we could have gotten a room just a step off the lobby had the first CM done what she was supposed to have.

With all this aside the ALK lodge was still a little bit of a disappointment to me though. It is beautiful and very unique as far as resorts go. Its just that it was almost as expensive as staying at the GF, and the WL would have cost us a little less during the same time frame (my wife wanted to stay at WL). The rooms at the moderate resorts are just as big and we could have stayed longer for the same money without missing any amenities. Did you know they don't have any drinking straws at AKL they are banned? Slushy drinks without straws just aren't the same. And I hate to say this, you really get used to seeing Zebras, Giraffes, Ostriches and those giant horned african cows pretty fast and the novelty wears off, at least it did for us.

I know the whole tone of my post was a little negative so I want to finish by saying we had a wonderful trip in April. I doubt I'll ever stay at AKL again unless I get a free trip or something. :)

banana hammock
08-04-2006, 06:43 AM
:) sorry you did not like it

We enjoyed a great stay there last year

TenThousandVolts
08-04-2006, 06:50 AM
I am sure if you had better customer service your opinion would be different overall. I bet the novelty of the savannah view would not have worn off so fast if you had that good feeling you get when you check-in to a place and you are treated like kings and queens everyday. I am sorry they dropped the ball so many times with your family.
I agree with your wife- that was ridiculous of them to ask you to check out and be 'homeless' until check-in time. Glad they let your BIL stay put.

Anyway- I am glad your trip was good overall. Better luck next time (I predict Wildeness Lodge ;) )

Bibbidi
08-04-2006, 07:06 AM
So sorry to hear about your mis-adventures at AKL. You should definitely try WL on your next visit. We have stayed there twice and LOVED it, if not for just the convenience to MK, but for everything else about it. You can use straws there :) and it's nice to have a beach, Seven Seas Lagoon to look at, water mice to rent, etc. I feel like you just have a lot more available to you for the same price.

BTW--It's funny that you mentioned the novelty of the animals wearing off--I felt the same way when we checked out AKL on our last trip to see if we'd ever want to stay there. I'm an animal lover for sure, but we also felt that way on a trip to the Rocky Mountains this spring when we kept seeing elk over and over. At first it was incredibly cool, but by the 2nd and 3rd days it was hard to feel that same surge of excitement as the first time we spotted them.

IWISHFORDISNEY
08-04-2006, 07:23 AM
I too am sorry you had a bad time. That same room mix up happened to us at BC and it put a bad taste in my mouth for that resort and believe me, we dropped a boat load to stay in a lake view room so we could see the fireworks at Epcot from our balcony.

As for AKL I wish you had a better taste of the pixie dust that we recieved last week. Heck I would have given you some of mine. I am guessing because my son is very young the novalty of the animals never wore off. So that is why we are returning back there in the fall. A great hotel with teens is the Boardwalk Inn or Villas. We prefer having more room in a villa. Alot to do and mom and dad can have some free time also. My SIL loves this place and she has 6 teen-adult boys.

I hope next time you have a much better experience. :sunny:

rhiannonwales
08-04-2006, 07:59 AM
I'm sorry that you didn't get what you expected. But i want to tell you for future reference, that a request is never guarantee, just a request. If it is for a medical reason, you need to explain that and then they usually will guarantee it for you. Unfortuntly, its one of those things that you have to be a Disney vet to know.

Honestly i think that the major part of all of the problems you suffered was because you just were'nt aware of the way things work. Not saying its your fault, its more of the way Disney prepares visitors. They just dont tell you these things when you are watching the video and calling reservations. You have to do the research yourself. Which isnt a big deal if you're obsessive about detail, like a lot of us here are. But not eveyone is like that, and its a HUGE set up for disaster.

I hope that your next trip goes better!
Sherrie

IMGONNABE40!
08-04-2006, 08:05 AM
My SIL loves this place and she has 6 teen-adult boys.
:sunny:

:crazy2: :faint:

jgreby
08-04-2006, 09:02 AM
:lmao:

klmall
08-04-2006, 08:14 PM
"Been there, done that" as they used to say. We too, stayed at the AKL in 2002 over spring break and had an unpleasant visit and felt we'd made the wrong decision for the price we paid. I agree when you say that the novelty of the animals does wear off some after a while especially when combined with a 15 minute walk to your room and noisy balconies and on and on...........

Sorry to hear you had such a disappointing trip but don't let the AKL ruin Disney for you! Try the Wilderness Lodge!

CarolA
08-04-2006, 08:33 PM
Well, personally I figure if folks don't like it then that's just more rooms for me. The "novelty" of seeing a giraffe outside my room has never worn off....

However, the part about "it's almost as much as the GF" threw me for a loop. GF is always much more costly when I look (And look at it this way, AKL didn't double charge you and then tell you that "we NEVER make an error" LOL YES!!! The GF CM told me that and got downright HUFFY when I asked to see a Manager..... That was just one of many issues with my stay there. My feeling was the CMs thought they were doing you a huge favor by ALLOWING the riff raff to stay in thier hotel. Not a feeling I have gotten at any other Disney hotel)

CoolDisneyCat
08-05-2006, 01:36 AM
I can understand why you were unhappy with the customer service. I hope your next trip is better! I've learned to always ask about room location before they even print out my keys... and I'm afraid I learned the hard way!

Just so you know, they don't allow straws there or the AK for the safety of the animals. They can easily be dropped close enough where they are blown into the savannah. There is the same concern about balloons.

Baltosam
08-05-2006, 01:41 AM
Hey all thanks for your replies I was glad to see I was not alone in not loving it at AKL.

I suppose I was not clear in my post but my family and I had a great time in WDW we just didn't love AKL and I didn't think it was "as worth" the price of many of the other deluxe resorts.

Thanks for your comments Rhiannonwhales, I should have stated that I did know that room locations are not assured. However since I was travelling with a person with special needs I was told that I would get a room close to the lobby. In fact I was offered a room with special shower access but I turned that down as it was not needed by us and I'd hate to think someone else who did need it had to do without.

The true silver lining in all this was due to our frequent trips to the front desk my wife got to talking to the DVC CM there and we took the SSR tour and bought a contract.

I was truly stunned at the accomodations at the DVC resorts I honestly wanted to check out of the AKL and spend our last two nights at SSR :)

rhiannonwales
08-05-2006, 07:33 AM
Balto,
I have friends who own at SSR and you will truly love it! I'm a hige fan of AKL, but i recognise why its just not for some people. WE dont all like the same things, and what one person thinks is a negative another thinks is a positive!
Congrats on your DVC purchase! You should check out the DVC owners board!
Sherrie

Viki
08-05-2006, 08:13 AM
You know we're all different - thank goodness. We adore everything about AKL and can't wait to get back there in 3 weeks today.

And on the other hand, I'm always glad when I hear someone likes SSR!

purpliequeen
08-05-2006, 08:44 AM
We own at SSR and love it. I'm sure you will too. To each his or her own, right? It's great that everyone has their own preferences. If everyone liked the same resort it would be horrible trying to book reservations.

We're leaving for AKL next week. I just read an AKL trip report on the board from a poster who really enjoyed the resort. It was good to read your post on the other side just so we won't be expecting too much.

I'm sorry you didn't have enjoy the lodge during your past trip. Better luck next time and definitely do join in on the DVC boards! :sunny: By the way... were you able to try Boma or Jiko's while you were there?

Raina

ADisneygirl
08-05-2006, 10:03 AM
That's too bad about your customer service problems. I know what it is like to not be in love with a place you had high hopes for. Happened to us at CBR. We love AKL, but I agree that some of those rooms are w-a-y out there. I remember having one of them and how we would discuss "is it worth it to make another trek to the Mara for a refill in our mug or should we just buy a coke out of the machine?" :rotfl: After a long day at the parks, then swimming and showering back in the room, we were tired.

I knew that AKL and WL regular rooms were a bit smaller than other deluxe rooms. We saw the difference right away between them and the BWI. But their rates are lower. I thought that the deluxe savannah rooms at AKL with the daybeds in them would have been a comparable size though. Also, I know they don't have very many of the deluxe rooms, so maybe that was why you couldn't be closer to the lobby.

LeesyUD
08-05-2006, 10:34 AM
I am sorry to hear you had a bad experience there. Mine was the opposite but things can happen sometimes. Being a person that works in the travel industry I always tell people to double check their requests. Also that they cannot always be guaranteed. It is always a good idea to check back on a reservation or directly with the hotel when you have special requests like that. Of course the first CM you spoke with when you booked it should have noted it, but sometimes things happen. She may have forgot to add the request by mistake or it could have been a computer glitch that the request did not get transfered to the resort. If the request is very important like yours was, double check it bc unfortunately they do make mistakes which is their fault but at least checking on it can fix it ahead of time if something was missed. I myself somehow missed adding a request for a king bed on a booking I made at my company one time and the only reason I knew is bc the same person called back to verify their record and I remembered them. I of course apologized profusely bc I knew it was my mistake, but luckily they called back and they were very nice about it and still thanked me for my help at the end of the call. I guess I can see it from both sides bc I have been in both shoes.

Cass
08-05-2006, 10:50 AM
Aww, first impressions are really lasting and it was terrible that you were put so far away from the lobby area the first time.

Sorry for all the issues you had and that it put a damper on your trip, quite often the rooms a big walk, GF they are miles away through the lobby to the outside lodges and they can be pretty far away at WL too.

I hope you enjoyed the parks and your meals an that your brother in law had a nice vacation once the issues got settled.

erinch
08-05-2006, 06:03 PM
Just for your peace of mind, have you considered documenting all of this in a letter to the General manager of the hotel?

eeyorefan80
08-05-2006, 06:24 PM
Aww that's too bad. I loved every second at AKL and I would def stay there again! The novelty never wore off for me for my entire 8 days there. I hope you have a better experience wherever you choose to stay next time!

FantasmicDreams
08-05-2006, 07:13 PM
I am sure if you had better customer service your opinion would be different overall. I bet the novelty of the savannah view would not have worn off so fast if you had that good feeling you get when you check-in to a place and you are treated like kings and queens everyday. I am sorry they dropped the ball so many times with your family.
I agree with your wife- that was ridiculous of them to ask you to check out and be 'homeless' until check-in time. Glad they let your BIL stay put.

Anyway- I am glad your trip was good overall. Better luck next time (I predict Wildeness Lodge ;) )

I don't really think they had bad customer service. Room requests are never guaranteed for any reason. For anyone. Ever. Disney is very clear about that. I think AKL did everything they could during a crowded busy time when probably every room was booked. Actually I think they went above and beyond because by letting them stay in their room while another was being prepped for them, they probably were keeping another family from checking in on time.

Of course AKL doesn't have straws. Neither does AK or any zoo worth it's salt. That is for the protection of the animals. I found the best way to deal with that was to buy bottled drinks or buy a plastic "fun straw" which doubles as a souvenier.

I also don't think the novelty of seeing the animals doesn't wear off for most people. But to each their own.

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy your stay and I hope you have a better time next time. SSR looks fantastic! :goodvibes

MartDM
08-05-2006, 08:35 PM
Sorry to hear you had such a difficult time. We too suffered from incompetent service on several occasions during our stay at AKL - so much so that we'll not be back. The views of the animals are great but, as you astutely pointed out, there is so much else to do at WDW it becomes secondary and certainly isn't worth being subjected to abysmal service issues throughout a very expensive concierge stay.

I disagree completely with the poster who said your problems were due to the fact you didn't understand how things work. Clearly you knew it was a request only but, given that you were assured special accomodation due to traveling with a handicapped individual, of course you would expect proper follow through by WDW on that.

And to the poster who doesn't think you had bad customer service, reread the original post. Even if you believe the improper accomodations on the first day were not a botch by WDW, certainly not arranging for the room change discussed on Day 1 and asking the OP to vacate their accomodations for 5 or 6 hours mid-trip is just stupidity and bad service. They should have been far more on the ball with rectifying the issues since it was a total no brainer.

I can really sympathize since what we dealt with was a lot of similar caliber issues which, although they were worked out eventually, required far too much time and effort on our part to keep resteering cast members back in the correct & logical direction. We found their complete lack or organization and internal communication beyond frustrating as it basically required us to coordinate all their staff in order to resolve the problems.

For me, it's not worth risking the time, $$, and aggravation to try AKL again. We'll stick to Wilderness Lodge, Boardwalk, and other proven hotels.

LeesyUD
08-05-2006, 09:39 PM
Sorry to hear you had such a difficult time. We too suffered from incompetent service on several occasions during our stay at AKL - so much so that we'll not be back. The views of the animals are great but, as you astutely pointed out, there is so much else to do at WDW it becomes secondary and certainly isn't worth being subjected to abysmal service issues throughout a very expensive concierge stay.

I disagree completely with the poster who said your problems were due to the fact you didn't understand how things work. Clearly you knew it was a request only but, given that you were assured special accomodation due to traveling with a handicapped individual, of course you would expect proper follow through by WDW on that.

And to the poster who doesn't think you had bad customer service, reread the original post. Even if you believe the improper accomodations on the first day were not a botch by WDW, certainly not arranging for the room change discussed on Day 1 and asking the OP to vacate their accomodations for 5 or 6 hours mid-trip is just stupidity and bad service. They should have been far more on the ball with rectifying the issues since it was a total no brainer.

I can really sympathize since what we dealt with was a lot of similar caliber issues which, although they were worked out eventually, required far too much time and effort on our part to keep resteering cast members back in the correct & logical direction. We found their complete lack or organization and internal communication beyond frustrating as it basically required us to coordinate all their staff in order to resolve the problems.

For me, it's not worth risking the time, $$, and aggravation to try AKL again. We'll stick to Wilderness Lodge, Boardwalk, and other proven hotels.

The problem with Disney taking all the blame is that I have seen many occasions from working in reservations at my company,where people never even make the initial request thinking that they did and then blow up when they get to the hotel. And I am not saying this is what happened with the OP. So looking at Disney's side there are people who did put the requests in (which are not guaranteed ever and then there are the people who did not put them in but thought they did. Even medical cases are not usually guaranteed bc there could be more medical conditions that for example need a room close to the lobby than there are those rooms that would be considered "close". If there is nothing on the record than all they can do is try to rectify the situation the best they can and it is not always fair for them to take the blame in every case.

I had a call from a mother the other day that was calling for her daughter. She was furious bc the hotel I work for offers a honeymoon package which needs to be noted on the record and proof of marriage needs to be shown at check in. She called screaming at me bc it was not on the record and bc her daughter did not bring her marriage certificate bc we did not tell her she needed that to get the package when she got to the hotel. Well of course looking over the record, the booking was made online, where they had the opportunity to add the package on for free, and where it told them they needed proof of marriage. Even after this she still blamed us.

I am not saying this is what happened with the OP but bc there are people that do things like that ALL THE TIME, I think Disney worked accordingly as they should have bc it is not fair to always assume it is their mistake. Though I will say they did make an error with the DP not being on the cards, but that is very easy to rectify and it has happened to me before and they were very apologetic about it and it only took 2 minutes to take care of it at the front desk. And honestly, these problems that were mentioned by the OP, they can happen anywhere, not just at Disney. And I feel bad that it may keep the OP away from AKL bc it is such a great resort, and the problems that occured there would have been likely to happen at any other Disney resort they would have stayed at, it was ust an unfortunate situation.

luvdzny
08-05-2006, 09:47 PM
I don't really think they had bad customer service. Room requests are never guaranteed for any reason. For anyone. Ever. Disney is very clear about that. I think AKL did everything they could during a crowded busy time when probably every room was booked. Actually I think they went above and beyond because by letting them stay in their room while another was being prepped for them, they probably were keeping another family from checking in on time.

Well said, I agree with you. I was surprised that they were allowed to keep their room for the day, if the resort was full that could have caused another guest to have to wait for their room.
We all have different ideas of what we want in a resort, I guess that is why Disney has so many to chose from. A few years ago we had a bad experience at the Poly and we have chosen not to go back, at least for now, we have since stayed at CR, AKL & SSR and right now AKL is our favorite. Hopefully your next trip will go better and you kind find a resort that you enjoy! :sunny: :sunny:

Baltosam
08-06-2006, 12:38 AM
We did eat at Boma and we all really enjoyed the food and the staff there was top notch. We didn't eat at Jiko. My brother-in-law as well as the rest of my family had a great trip I was just pointing out a few of the low points with the CS that I didn't expect from Disney. MartDM from your post I know you probably got exactly the point I was trying to make.

To the poster that suggested that I call to make sure of my requests you are probably right that I should have, and in retrospect I now know that I should have. As I said in my post I didn't think I had to since it was Disney. They are the ones that sell legendary service. I just expected what I requested and paid for. And as far as someone suggesting that they don't honor requests because they have only so many rooms near the lobby isn't that why you make advanced reservations in the first place, so you can go when what you want is available? I am telling you that I would have switched resort choices or even postponed my vacation plans to a later date to have my request filled. Anyone that travels or lives with a person with special needs will understand that.

Again I want to say I had a great time the CS experience I had could not ruin WDW for me and my family, it was just a dull spot on an otherwise wonderful trip.