Do you ever have a day where you know you should have just stayed home? That was yesterday for me. Now before I get into all the details of events of what transpired at Universal’s Islands of Adventure yesterday, I am going to have to preface with a bunch of information. So here goes.
First and foremost, we LOVE Universal Studios. We tell who ever will listen that if you don’t visit Universal while in Orlando, you are truly missing out. And one very important note, that in three years, this is by far the worst experience, and honestly the only truly bad experience we have ever had there. Generally speaking, the team members are nice and knowledgeable. The one I speak of below is the first and only team member I have ever met at ANY of the theme parks, where I can honestly say, that I am surprised they would employee such an awful person.
As many of you know Carson is on the Autism Spectrum. What many of you don’t know is how he is doing, which is great. Most days you would never be able to tell that he is on the spectrum. We have made HUGE advancements, and for that we are extremely fortunate. Last month, April 8, 2015, he even started to feed himself with a fork! At almost 5 years old, he is able to feed himself with utensils. He started using the potty full time without a diaper at the end of February, at 4 and a half years old. He will talk to most strangers, and 90% of the time make eye contact for some period of time. We still have several stims we are working with, or ignoring, but all in all, our son is doing amazing! I think back to the child sitting with his dr and therapist in Omaha when he was first diagnosed, and praise God for all the advancements he has made. While I know he is still far behind in fine motor skills, language skills and emotionally than most his age, I see how far we have come and I couldn’t be happier.
What most of you don’t know, is that I have my own medical issues and while I am not going into details on my diagnosis’s, I will tell you that some days are better than others. The pain in my feet, ankles, legs and back that I have on a daily basis determines a lot of our schedule. If the vertigo or blurry vision is too bothersome that day, then we stay home. I can deal with tingles and pain in my hands better, as Patrick is great at opening things for me and helping. I have a routine of meds that I follow in order to handle the parks, 1000mg of Naproxen, 800mg of Ibuprofen and depending on the severity of the pain, a prescription pain medicine. I down those 30 minutes before we leave and they will help ease some of the pain for about 4 hours. Yes, it makes me stomach hurt and I have an ulcer, but that pain is nothing compared to the nerve, muscle and joint pain.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, we constantly try to push Carson, and at the theme parks is one of those ways. We don’t use the different accommodations unless we absolutely have to, except the Stroller as a Wheelchair. One for Carson, as we have no idea when he will want to cocoon in, which still happens more than I expect. (For instance, the last time we went to HS, we did the Frozen Sing A Long, Carson HAD to be in the stroller, with me leaning over to hold him almost the entire time. He was terrified at first, then when he wasn’t scared, he just didn’t feel safe out of it with all the people singing.) Two, for me, as I use the stroller to help stabilize me, lean on and at times help me walk.
Of late, we barely use any other accommodation. We still haven’t updated our DAS at WDW and it’s been a month since the change. Of course we have been on a roadtrip from 5/10 to 5/22 and prior to that both kiddos had Hand Foot and Mouth, so we weren’t going to the parks. Now that we are back, we will be heading to WDW in the next few days to update, and we will let everyone know how that goes.
At Universal Studios, we very rarely use their GAP Card system for rides. The reason we don’t really use it, we are Premier Passholders, which gives us express passes after 4pm and the areas that the two kiddos like the most aren’t rides. They would spend the entire time at the Seussland play and splash area and Jurassic Park Play area. We very rarely head to Universal much before 4pm, thus making it very rare that we use their Guest Assistance Pass for ride entrance. But like I said earlier, we do use their Stroller as a Wheelchair, and we use that every time.
Now onto the events of yesterday…
As I always do when we enter Universal Studios with an expired GAP and Wheelchair card, I send Pat and the kids to go in the shops while I go stand in line and update everything. Yesterday was no different, except the line was longer than usual at Guest Services at Islands of Adventure. I stood there waiting my turn, expecting this to go like any other time. I hand them the expired one, fill out the little white paper they give me with our address, make sure they see the stroller as a wheelchair card needs replacing as well and wait for the new cards. The whole process usually takes about 10 – 15 minutes without a line. I would say 90% of the time we do this at Universal Studios park and not at Islands of Adventure, but yesterday we skipped US due to Shawn Mendes being there. Which means we had all ready walked quite a ways to get where we were.
Once it was my turn to be helped, I walked up and handed the Team Member our expired cards and let him know I needed updated ones. He handed me the white paper and then asked for my driver’s license. Well this is where things went downhill. I had left my wallet with my phone and license in the stroller with Pat and the kids, who were in the shops down the main entrance. I told the employee I don’t have it, then with attitude he said, What, you don’t have it? I informed him that it was in my stroller with the kids and my husband in the shops. At which point he shoves my expired stuff at me and says I can’t help you then.
Now, let me say this. He didn’t kindly say, I can’t assist without your license. He didn’t say, can you go get it and come right back here once you have it. He didn’t smile. He didn’t use body language that was at all kind or showing that he was trying to be helpful. No. He literally SHOVED his hand with my sons expired pass straight out in my face and said, I can’t help you.
I am not a passive woman, never have been. I am an emotional woman who feels strongly and doesn’t hold much back. With that, I think I did rather well yesterday in the fact that I only got my stern/harsh voice out with a little raise to it. Now I know that my stern/harsh voice is very intimidating and cannot be fun to receive. Again something I am working on. But when he was so rude to me, it came out… Immediately… I informed him I had been a passholder for three years and other than the first time getting the pass, I haven’t had to show my license to renew it and I asked to speak with a manager. (*NOTE – For heavens sake it’s in my sons name, which isn’t even the same as mine…. my license has NOTHING to do with it… this makes NO SENSE – AND Disney doesn’t require your DL when renewing your DAS)
Now, I don’t think requesting to speak with a manager was an unfair request at this point. But the team member did apparently, because he told me no, that without my Driver’s License he would NOT get a manager. Ummmm EXCUSE ME?!?!?!? At this point, I am furious. Now my harsh voice is fully on and it is raised, as I am again requesting, ok more like demanding a manager. To which he says no again, I continue on, as I am not leaving this building without speaking to someone in charge. On my FOURTH time asking for a manager, he informs me that once I fill out the white slip he will go get a manager. I finish filling it out and he disappears into the back room. *Additional Note, it obvious that the team member is flustered with me and my voice/tone. But it is taking everything in me not to cry. Yes my tear ducts are directly connected to EVER emotion I have (but I didn’t cry, well until after the whole situation was over and I was out of that building) When he returns, he doesn’t have a manager with him, and he informs me that without my license no one will see me. I AM FUMING!!!
At this I leave, and walk to Patrick, grab my wallet and head back. I walk straight up to him, and say ok I have my license, I want to speak to a manager. He then asks for my license, I tell him no, I am not giving you my license to walk behind closed doors with. I show him I have it, and again request he go get a manager. Yes, I am still using my stern/harsh voice. Yes it is raised. No I am NOT Yelling. I want to be, but instead I am doing that thing where I am controlling my voice, as I really want to yell at this terrible team member. But in NO WAY am I yelling or even close to screaming.
He leaves to go get the manager.
After a few minutes, he returns, WITHOUT a manager and informs me I have TWO options. Either HE helps me and gets me our pass, or he calls security, but no manager will be coming out. I tell him to call security because there is NO way he is going to help me and I want a manager. While we are waiting he starts to berate me by waving around our expired GAP and wheelchair pass informing me how they don’t have to even give this out, it is purely out of courtesy and making eye contact with those in the line behind me and others in the room. I would like to point out. I did not say a word to him for him to even start this lecture. I was standing there sending an email. And under federal ADA law, giving a stroller as a wheelchair pass is NOT a courtesy, but law (http://www.ada.gov/opdmd.htm). Without that pass, our mobility aid would not be allowed into the attractions. I didn’t respond to him, because obviously his ignorance at this point, was not worth my time in educating him, as he was trying to make a scene of his own.
So I stand there and wait. During which I call Pat letting him know what is going on.
Finally security shows up and I let them know I am asking to speak to a manager and inform them of what took place. During this, the team member interjects that I screamed at him. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t scream. I don’t have to. I have a loud voice that naturally carries even when I am not angry, and screaming has NEVER been my style. So when he says that, I look at him and say, I did not scream at you. I used and am using a harsh voice, that is raised, but I didn’t scream. To which he replied that I was screaming right now. I looked at the security guys and they gave me a look like huh…. So Mr Team Member Drama Queen is intimidated by my harsh voice and is exaggerating. Security asked him who is the manager, and one of them went to go get her. While I am standing there with him and the security guard, I ask him for his name, he gives me his first name. I ask for his last name, he informs me that he isn’t required to tell me that. I ask can I take a picture of you, he says no. Then he starts rattling off his employee number. Obviously I have nothing to write it down on, so he grabs a card and writes it there for me. During this whole interaction, he was belligerent and rude.
When the manager came out, we went over the situation, and she let me know that over the last few weeks they are enforcing that id must be shown with EVERY situation at Guest Services and that she hadn’t refused to come out. That she was in the middle on another situation and it was going to be a bit before she could come out to meet with me. Funny that her team member didn’t say that, instead he just kept telling me no I couldn’t see a manager. I spoke with her about her employees lack of communication skills, and exaggerations. I got our passes and left.
Now the only reason we even headed to Islands of Adventure yesterday was purely because Carson saw the video for the new velociraptors. On the way to the Jurassic Park area we went through Seussland and did our first stop at Cat and the Hat. The employee there didn’t know how to handle wheelchairs at the ride entrance…. we had to tell her what the procedure was for this attraction, after we stood there for 5 minutes waiting for her to try to get a hold of someone to tell her. No one responded, so we finally said, we have done this ride dozens of times, we go through and at the entrance they take it and put it at the exit for us….. Next we did Splash and Play area for a few then the Carousel and finally the flying train over Seussland.
We walked through Hogsmeade and got to Jurassic Park to learn a few things about the new Velociraptor attraction….What a wasted day, we really should have stayed home… Learn More Here
All in all, I wish we would have not gone to Universal Studios at all yesterday. The physical pain and emotional anguish wasn’t worth it. Yes, I could have handled the situation better myself. I could have never used my stern/harsh voice. I could have quietly and calmly continued to insist to speak with a manager. My responses were my own fault. The team members attitude, rudeness, meanness and berating shouldn’t have determined my responses. That was my mistake and I know better than to let someone else affect me that way. No amount of pain, or frustration is an excuse.
I am still completely shaken by this event, and have yet to stop thinking about it. I woke up several times last night replaying this event. From my responses and regret for reacting so quickly to this rude and unprofessional team member to the absolute ridiculousness of the entire situation. Seriously, this was over a stinking drivers license and a card with my son’s name on it.