Disney World Scam

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Martin Hash
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Disney World Scam

Post by Martin Hash » Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:25 pm

We got a chance to take our whole family to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Neither of my two daughter-in-laws, Jessica nor Mirian, had been there or even Disney Land, and certainly my first grandchild, Felix, hadn't. Jessica was anticipating the event with great excitement, and she also prides herself as an organizer, so she volunteered to arrange the hotel. She spent over a week trying to get the best one, both cheap and with breakfast and a shuttle to the park. She was successful; at least it seemed that way...

We arrived in Orlando the day before Christmas so we used the time to go to one of my favorite roadside attractions; Gatorland. It's changed a lot in the three decades since Gwynne & I first visited there. Gone were the taxidermy animals in rusted fifties-era cages, and a whole new, Politically Correct facility had taken its place; as PC as an amusement park filled will alligators can be, especially one that served gator nuggets. I bought a new gator head because I'd lost my old ones over the years, and some other super cool gator-related memorabilia.

After that, as is our habit on Christmas Eve; we intended to do a junk food shopping spree, but the only place open was a combo gas station convenience store. Nevertheless, everyone picked whatever they wanted from the limited selection. However, there were 9 of us, and even with a dozen or so items apiece, we completely overwhelmed the cashier, and because other Christmas Eve shoppers were there too, we completely packed that little store; at least 20 people were waiting in line, and another big group was outside waiting to get in, but we were able to get away with our haul, and look for the hotel.

We had the address to the Royale Parc Hotel, so it should have been no problem to locate with Google Maps, but directions took us to another hotel, the Crown Plaza. After circling around in frustration, I finally asked the young security guard outside if he knew where the Royale Parc Hotel was. He went from super-friendly to evasive.
“Uh, I don't think that hotel exists,” he said, not looking me in the eye.
“What's the address of this hotel?” I asked.
“Uh, I don't know,” he answered, even though the address was right behind him in big numbers.
That's when I first started getting suspicious because I've been around, and scams always start out just like this. Jessica jumped out of the van to go inside and see what's up. I chose to wait in the car, my scam-sense tingling away.

Royale Parc Hotel Webpage 1 s.jpg

Jessica was in the lobby for a long time. My son, Haven, went inside to see find out what the hold up was. He came out somewhat confused.
“This is the place,” he affirmed, “But they say her credit card was declined and the rooms are full.”
“We have to go somewhere else?” I asked him.
“That's the confusing part,” Haven replied. “They say they don't have any rooms but they can give her two at twice the rate she paid.”
Yep, that's what I thought.
“They got the wrong person to run that scam on,” I told Haven. “Jessica really bulldogged this thing; she called and confirmed 2 weeks ago, and she has all the receipts and printouts of their online correspondence with her.”
I could see a lot of insistent haggling through the glass into the reception desk, then my son, Heath, also came out and said, “let's go to our rooms. We got the original price.”
Jessica was satisfied to win her battle but she was crestfallen the next morning when she found out that not only was the breakfast not free; it was expensive, and twice that if you didn't buy it when you registered, so we had no breakfast. Luckily we had most of the remaining Junk Food Eve chips, cakes & candy from last night, so no big deal; I like Zingers better than scrambled eggs anyway.
Unfortunately, our disappointment continued; the shuttle to Disney World supposedly only ran a few times, and there wasn't one to get there when it opened.
“That's odd?” Jessica said. “You'd think everyone would want to take the shuttle in the morning.”
My scam-alarm was still going off but I didn't say anything to ruin Jessica's special day; anyway, we had the van, and what's $50 for parking when you've got this much money flying around anyway.

Christmas at Disney World s.JPG

It was as great as everyone thought it would be; we were on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train by 6:15am, but as the day wore on, waiting time for the rides increased dramatically; everything was over an hour and most were 2. The Disney World app tells what the wait times for each ride is but that backfires because every time we went to the shortest line, so did everyone else, making it just as long as the rest. Twice I cried abort but on the third time Gwynne said we're staying put, and so I resigned myself to wait 90 minutes to ride the stupid little race cars on the Tomorrowland Speedway that go 5 miles and hour tops. My daughter, Heather, had had enough; it had been 12 hours and she was ready to go back to the hotel. She went out to catch the shuttle but a half-hour later she came back, saying she couldn't find the shuttle, and when she asked the parking attendants, they said there was no shuttle by that name.

As it turned out, waiting in that lame line was a great opportunity to talk to my son, Haven, who was just entering his late-afternoon animated phase, and we had a grand old time talking about everything. In passing, I mentioned that I thought the hotel was a scam, including the breakfast & shuttle, and that thought caught his interest. The thing everyone learns about Haven is that once he fixates onto something, there's no half measures. He wanted investigate if my suspicions were correct, and he's a terror when it comes to surfing the Internet. He started by trying to help Heather catch the supposed hotel shuttle. First he found the shuttle info and tried calling but no one answered and the voicemail was full. I knew what that meant.
“Scam,” I said.

Bus Schedule.jpg

That really got Haven going; he found another number, and noticed it was the same one as the hotel we were staying at, whatever its name was.
“Watch this,” he told me as he called the number.
Haven waited for a while until someone answered. “Is this the Royale Parc hotel?” he asked. He must have gotten an affirmative answer because then he asked what their address was.
“That's also the address of the Crown Plaza Hotel,” he said. “Are you also the Crown Plaza hotel?”
He got an abrupt look on his face, and took the phone from his ear. “We got disconnected,” he explained.
“They hung up,” I said. “It's a scam. There's no shuttle.”
Haven was not deterred; he called again. “Hi,” he said in a super-friendly voice. “With whom am I speaking? Oh, hi, Rebecca; I was just talking to you and we were somehow disconnected. I'm a guest at your hotel and I was calling about the shuttle. Oh, you need to speak to your manager? Aren't you the manager? Oh, you need to speak to someone who knows about the shuttle? Shouldn't I tell you what it is I want to know first?”
Then Haven pushed the speaker button on the phone. “She put me on hold,” he explained.
“Scam,” I said.
Haven didn't say anything while we waited in line for the little race cars while also waiting for the receptionist to return. After almost exactly 10 minutes of waiting, the line went dead.
“Scam,” I said.
That only made Haven more insistent. He called back. “Hi, Rebecca,” he said smoothly. “I was waiting on hold for you to get back to me, and we lost connection again. Did you find out about the shuttle? Oh, no, you didn't. Oh, you're authorized to tell us we can take a cab and get reimbursed by the hotel? Okay; thank you so much, Rebecca, we'll do that.”
Haven told Heather the deal. About then, Heath & Jessica texted us. They had gone to 4 theme parks during the day, were exhausted and wanted to go home too. Heather told them she would meet up at the cab line and left us.
Haven looked triumphant, and the entire wait had been taken up. He proudly drove with Felix in their little car.

When we finally got back to the hotel, whatever its name is, early in the morning, I noticed Heath had sent me a text. “We had a $40 credit and the cab only cost $20; I made twenty bucks on the deal.”
Scam for a scam, I thought, but Gwynne & I were the real champions; we were at Disney World for over 18 hours, and enjoyed every bit of it, including the scams.

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