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Disneyland Guest Relations

Disneyland Guest Relations

Disneyland Guest Relations is a department of The Disneyland Resort created to address concerns or problems and to provide park information to visiting guests or guests planning a trip. In addition they also conduct tours of the park to the general public as well as a variety of VIP's, including visiting celebrities and dignitaries. Also included in the department is the Resort's Lost and Found. The department on average employ's approximately 80 to 100 Cast Members, Team Leads (supervisors), and management. Cast Members are easily identifiable throughout the Resort by their infamous Plaid costumes and are often referred to as 'The Plaids'. There is a Guest Relations Department in every Disney Park worldwide. Until 1978 only females were allowed to be in the department and give tours.

History

Disneyland has always had some form of Guest Service. Walt Disney created the Park with the intent to give visitors the opportunity to relive the past, and to explore fantasy and the future in a perfectly controlled environment. But he realized that some of his Guests would need special help to enjoy their visit.

Some parents would become separated from their children; some people would lose their belongings; some would feel that certain things impeded their enjoyment of the Park; some would want information about Disneyland; and some would simply need to feel that Walt Disney had a personal interest in them.

In 1955, two departments provided service to Disneyland’s visitors. Security operated facilities for lost children and lost belongings, as well as the gate for Guests who had complimentary admission to the Park. The other department was actually three departments grouped into one: Customer Relations (the department title), Entertainment, and Publicity.

In addition to coordinating entertainment, press releases, and other Guest business activities, it also expanded the concept of Guest Service. Upon requests from top management, they offered complimentary VIP tours of the Park, hosted by one of their three hostesses. These tours were designed to furnish foreign and domestic Guests of The Walt Disney Company with an informative and entertaining visit to the Park. The department operated City Hall, an office designed to receive comments from the Park's visitors, and to resolve any problems the visitors might encounter during their day. The office secretaries answered telephone calls and letters requesting information about Disneyland.

As interest in the Park grew, so did the demand for Guest Service. In 1957, telephone calls to the department had increased to such an extent that the hostesses, when not on tour, were assigned to answer them. In 1958, the VIP tour service was expanded to include Guided Tours of Disneyland, available to the general public. In 1961, VIP hostess tours were augmented to include the guests of various companies desiring to provide them a special visit to the park.

By 1964, Guest demand had become so great that it became apparent that the services provided to the Guests would be more effective if they were consolidated into one department. The Guest Relations Department was formed. Since that time, as well as during its formation, the members of this department had provided the important personal touch to millions of Guests. For in a variety of ways, the Guest Relations hosts and hostesses have made the visitors to Disneyland feel that they are not customers, but rather Guests.

City Hall/Lobby

General Services

City Hall and the Guest Relations Lobby are offices home to the Guest Relations Department of The Disneyland Resort.

City Hall is located on Main Street, U.S.A by the entrance of Disneyland. The Lobby's functions are almost completely identical to that of City Hall's but is located in her sister park, Disney's California Adventure. There are similar buildings often called 'City Halls' at every Disney Park worldwide. Inside, Guests are invited to ask questions or get park information.

These two offices are also the primary locations at the Resort for currency exchange. Guests are also able to exchange currency into Disney Dollars which are a form of cash to be used in Disney Theme Parks and cruise ships. Disney Dollars are a form of revenue for the Company because it is determined that some will never be redeemed or exchanged because people tend to either forget, loose or collect the 'funny-money'. Personal checks may also be cashed at these locations at no charge.

For people celebrating a special occasion at the Resort, City Hall or the Lobby is often their stop. Inside Guests may receive a complimentary button indicating what special day it is. On birthdays, in addition to a button, people may receive a special telephone message from Goofy sending best wishes. For anniversaries and honeymooners, the phone call is from Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

City Hall and the Guest Relations Lobby are known as the Lost Parent's Center. Parents or guardians who cannot find their children (under age 12) are told to report to these locations. Cast Members will then do two things: first they will call the Lost Children's Center to see if they can be found there. If not, the Cast Member will then notify Park Security who will put out a call on all radio's worn throughout the Resort giving a brief description of the child so that all Cast Members can be on the look-out.

Visitors to the park with problems or concerns also report here to voice their concerns and seek a resolution. The Guest Relations Cast Members are specially trained to be able to deal with disgruntled patrons. Because of the variety of concerns and questions received by these Cast Members, they arguably have higher authority over regular Cast Members in other departments. Included in this authority is Guest Relations' right to provide admission refunds, rain-checks, front-of-the-line passes and other forms of compensation. Other forms of compensation include free food and merchandise. On the contrary, City Hall or the Lobby is where Guests are directed who desires to leave a compliment for exceptional Cast Members throughout the Resort.

Other services available at these locations are the Guest Relations Cast Member's ability to make reservations for Guests for tours, dining and hotel accommodations, upgrade/downgrade tickets, provide city transportation/directional information and fun-facts or trivia about the park.

Guests With Disabilities

Disneyland is a popular destination for Guest with disabilities and special needs due to its wonderful services. Upon arrival to the park these particular Guests are encouraged to visit either City Hall or the Lobby to inquire about possible special accommodations. Cast Members at these locations are able to provide a 'Guest Assistance Card' to those who require special services throughout their visit. Through a combination of this Guest Assistance system and a variety of other tools, Guest Relations is able to accommodate to people with visual, hearing, mobility or mental disabilities.

Braille guidebooks are available for each theme park for Guests with visual disabilities and include attraction, restaurant and store descriptions. A limited number of braille guidebooks are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis. The Disneyland Park Braille Guidebook is available in City Hall and the California Adventure Guidebook is available at the Lobby for a $20 deposit.

An audio tape tour is available for each theme park. The tapes provide Guests with a sense of direction and a brief description of selected attractions. A limited number of tapes and tape players are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis from either office.

Reflective captioning is available for several theater-type attractions. This innovative technology utilizes a light-emitting diode (LED display) to project desired captions onto an acrylic panel in front of the user. A $20.00 refundable deposit is required and is available from Guest Relations at either office.

Assistive Listening Systems utilize a lightweight wireless device that receives an infrared signal (an invisible beam of light) from overhead transmitters at certain locations in order to amplify sound. These are recommended for Guests with mild to moderate hearing loss. A limited number of Assistive Listening Systems are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis. A $20.00 refundable deposit is required and is available from Guest Relations at either office.

Handheld Captioning is a new portable captioning system which uses a wireless handheld receiver to display text in locations where fixed captioning systems are impractical, such as moving attractions. Receivers are available at City Hall in Disneyland Park and requires a $100 refundable deposit (must return item on the same day for refund). A limited number of Handheld Captioning systems are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis.

Guest Assistance Packets containing attraction dialogue and narration, flashlight, pencil and paper are available for several attractions and shows. Please inquire about availability prior to experiencing an attraction or show. To obtain a complete listing of available written aids Guests must speak to a Guest Relations Cast Member at either City Hall or the Lobby.

Many Disneyland Resort attractions offer access for Guests with wheelchairs or mobility disabilities. Depending on the attraction, a different type of access may be available. Attractions are either have an ambulatory requirement which requires the Guests to walk by themselves or be assisted by members of their party to board an attraction, are wheelchair accessible so that Guests may remain in their wheelchair during the experience or require the Guest to transfer from their personal wheelchair to a ride vehicle.

Information Locations

Guest Relations operates several information 'booths' throughout the Resort. These satellite locations provide general information and directions to park guests. The Information Board in Disneyland is unique in that it has a large display of current wait-times for each attraction, informing guests how long they will have to wait in line.

Their locations is as follows:

  • Disneyland Park Information Board: At the end of Main Street, U.S.A. to the left.
  • Disney's California Adventure Information Station: Sunshine Plaza, just past Golden Gate Bridge.
  • The East and West Information Booths are located in the entry plaza in between the gates of the two parks. They ceased daily operation of these locations in 2007.

Guest Relations Hotline

The Department also hosts a 7 Day a Week general information telephone hotline. Guests may call between 7am to 6pm and speak directly to a Guest Relations Cast Member. These Cast Members have current park information and driving directions in addition to other abilities.

Oftentimes guests are told to contact this number to voice a complaint about a past visit to The Disneyland Resort. Typically the Cast Members from this hotline will handle it to the best of their abilities. However, in the event that a guest becomes so irate that it cannot be handled by Guest Relations, the Guest will be referred to a department called Guest Communications.

Lost and Found

Disneyland Lost & Found is also a part of the Guest Relations Department. Typically staffed by an average of 6 to 10 "Plaids" at any given time, it is one of the department's busiest areas. With the exception of the three Disneyland Resort Hotels, all other items lost resort wide are sent to the Guest Relations department.

In an average weekend Lost & Found will receive approx.:

  • 150 Mobile phones, bluetooth devices, pagers, etc.
  • 200 Hats, hoods, visors, tiaras, etc.
  • 100 Pairs of glasses - sunglasses & prescription
  • 75 Digital and disposable cameras

Additionally, countless Disney toys, clothes, car keys, wallets, stollers, wheelchairs, umbrellas and other Disney merchandise. Loose cash is often turned in by Disney's honest patrons. A Guest or Cast Member that finds an item and turns it in may place a claim on the item and if it goes unclaimed for 30 to 60 days, they may keep it.

Disney prides itself on the fact that nearly 80% of all lost items are returned to their owners. Disney will mail claimed items back to their owners anywhere in the world, free of charge. Most items that do not get returned are never reported lost. All items that go unclaimed for three weeks are either destroyed (drivers licenses, credit cards, medications, etc) or auctioned off to Cast Members bi-yearly, with the proceeds going to a local charity.

Throughout it's history, Lost & Found has received some very unusual items. Some of the notables are a prostetic leg, a glass eyeball, a television and a 4 karot diamond ring.

Guided Tours

Disneyland has always had some kind of tour guide service. In 1955, three hostesses staffed City Hall; at a moment's notice, they were called upon to give tours requested by top management. These special tours were complimentary and showcased Walt's Magic Kindgom to VIP's.

Surverys conducted of Park Guests revealed their desire to experience a tour by a knowledgeable Guide. The Guided Tour program officially debuted in September 1958 with nearly a dozen Guides. On that first day, 90% of Guests bought Guided Tour Tickets. The line stretched from City Hall all the way to the ticket booths outside the gates. The first three days of operation saw 2,355 Guests take the tour. By the 1960s, the program had been refined and the Tour Guide role was exclusively female until 1978. The program grew in popularity because the Guides were hand selected by Walt Disney and acted as his personal representatives and thus put their best foot forward. Not only were the Tours informative and entertaining, but proved to be a good value because it included admission to several attractions.

The Guided Tour was touted in early advertising as "a two-hour journey through Disneyland under the guidance of an interesting and attractive hostess." The image of the Tour Guide became synonymous with the wholesome image of Disneyland. This laid the foundations for the Disneyland Ambassador program which began in 1965. The selection of Tour Guides as the first Ambassadors showed the standards of excellence that were exemplified by those in the Guest Relations department. Both the Tour Guides and the Ambassador program were supervised by Cicely Rigdon; the success of these programs under her leadership led to her recognition with a window on Main Street U.S.A. in Disneyland.

The Guided Tour continues to be a classic Disneyland Guest Service. A variety of tours are offered daily and others depending on the time of year or if there is a special celebration. Most tours require park admission and are booked either in person at City Hall or by calling Guest Relations ahead of time.

Types of Tours

30 Minute Tour

A free private guided tour for Guests who wish to get a brief understanding of the layout and operation of the two theme parks. This tour does not include boarding any attractions and is available on a walk-up basis.

The Welcome To Disneyaland Tour

This tour is intended for first time guests and guests who have not recently visited The Disneyland Resort. It is the only tour that includes a visit to both theme parks, therefore requires all guests to have admission to both Disneyland and California Adventure.

Guests will learn interesting facts and tips about how to make the most of their visit, how to make use of the fastpass system and the best ways to plan their day. The tour includes priority boarding for two attractions, typically California Adventure's "It's Tough To Be A Bug" and Disneyland's "Pirates of the Caribbean (theme park ride)". Also included are priority seating arrangements for any show or parade and also bonus Fastpass at the conclusion of the tour. The tour is approximately 2.5 hours and costs $25 dollars per person.

A Walk In Walt's Footsteps

Take a guided tour through Disneyland Park to fully understand the vision, challenges, hard work and excitement that went into creating everything associated with the name, and the man, Walt Disney. As the Tour Guide takes you around the park, Guests will also have the experience of hearing Walt Disney talk about Disneyland in his own words through an MP3 Player handed out at the beginning of the tour.

Guests will learn fun facts and trivia, take a ride on the Disneyland Railroad, visit the first attraction at Disneyland featuring Audio-Animatronics - Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, a peek at the lobby of the exclusive members only Club 33 and enjoy a private menue selection lunch. The tour is 3.5 hours in length and is $59 per person. The tour is not recommended for small children as it is mostly historical information and stories.

Cruzin' Through Disney's California Adventure

Guests embark on an extraordinary guided tour of Disney's California Adventure Park and discover fascinating behind-the-scenes information as they cruise on a Segway Personal Transporter. Guests will learn the basics of how to ride a Segway Personal Transporter — an innovative two-wheeled vehicle that is gyroscopically stabilized by the latest digital technology. To avoid the crowds during the day, the tour takes place early in the morning before the parks regular operating hours. Guests will receive an exclusive tour pin, a complimentary photograph and a continental breakfast.

The tour is approximately three hours and dispatches daily at 7:30am. The cost is $99 dollars. Guests must be at least 16 years old and accompanied by a parent or guardian if under 18. The tour requires Guests to be between 100 and 250 pounds in weight and able to maintain lateral balance. All participants must meet Segway operator requirements for the Segway Personal Transporter. This tour experience has been designed solely for Disney and does not replace Segway's Operator Training. Additional operator training is suggested before riding in other environments. Guests must comply with all of the tour guide's instructions — failure to do so will result in the cancellation of the Guest's tour experience. Any Guest whose tour is canceled due to failure to follow instructions will not be entitled to a refund. Theme Park admission is not required to take the tour. Guests without Park admission will be escorted to the Esplanade at the conclusion of the tour.

Discover The Magic

This tour is designed for children ages three to nine. Tour Guests will play games and meet Disney characters as they hunt for a hidden treasure and outwit dastardly villains. This uniquely Disney tour puts Guests at the heart of a high-energy, fun-filled adventure throughout Disneyland Park.

Guests will receive a free frozen treat and an exclusive souvenir collectible pin. The Tour is approximately 2.5 hours and offered on weekends only. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied on the tour. Cost is $59 per person.

VIP Tour Services

Originally designed for the park's visiting celebrities and dignitaries, a VIP Tour has now become available to the general public with a few slight changes.

As of 2008, all dignitaries, politicians and celebrities that visit The Disneyland Resort are treated to a VIP tour if they choose. High profile or 'A-List' visitors will receive priority boarding to every attraction in this private tour. 'B-List' visitors (often lower executives or executives from other companies), will not receive priority. Rather their tour guide is only authorized to provide unlimted Fastpasses to these Guests. Therefore, on attractions that do not offer Fastpass, these VIP Guests will wait in the standard queue.

For the general public who wishes to have a private tour, Guests will experience VIP treatment but have no special boarding privlages. Specially trained Guest Relations Cast Members customize the Guest's vacation. Guests are pampered from the moment they arrive with a VIP Host or Hostess waiting to create the ideal personalized itinerary and serve as the Guests' personal guide, host, cocierge and storyteller.

Although the tour is private for the Guest and up to 9 others, there is a six hour minimum. The cost is $125 per hour for advance booking or $150 if less the 48 hours notice is provided.

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