First thing this morning I received a call from Heather at Walt Disney World. In addition to being a WDW cast member (how the park refers to all employees), she is also a mother. She immediately apologized and said that the New Year's Eve bullying episode in the Commissary was not handled appropriately by the manager. "What should have happened," she told me, "is the bullies should have been asked to stop. If they didn't, she would then call Disney Security and they would be removed from the park." Because not only should bullies not have been tolerated within the restaurant, she assured me, but they shouldn't have been allowed to stay inside the park where any child should always feel safe, whether they have a special need or not.

The "safe havens," she explained, are provided in case a guest finds an experience like the parade too overwhelming, and he or she needs a quiet place to escape the noise for a little while. Clearly, they can't stop the parade, but they want there to be a noise-free environment where a guest can get away from it.

She also said that part of her team's job is to report back on our experiences, and let everyone know when there is a failure of communication. It appears that this restaurant manager failed to get the message about what her duties and responsibilities are in the face of bullies, but I've been assured that policy is going to be reiterated to all Disney cast members.

Then she said, "It sounds like your family didn't have a very relaxing experience here, and I'd like to invite you back to make that right." I assured her that wasn't necessary, that a simple understanding of Disney's bullying policy was all we ever needed. However, she insisted on sending tickets for our entire group -- 10 adults and 4 kids -- to come back to Walt Disney World and feel completely safe.

After thanking her for this response, I assured Heather that I would let all of you know that you can feel safe taking your kids to Walt Disney World as well. If your child -- whether they have a special need or not -- is the target of a bully, you can expect a cast member to intervene and ask them to stop. And if they do not comply, that manager should call Disney Security.

I'm not sure when we'll be heading back to the "happiest place on Earth," but I'll feel much more comfortable returning to WDW with my autistic child because Disney has a strong policy against bullying.

Reader Comments

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Snippets 'N Stuff

Oh...that is so good to hear! As I began reading your post, I was hoping you'd say they invited you back!

Well done! I hope you enjoy your return trip to the park!

That's awesome! I'm glad they're stepping up! So does this mean you'll be joining up with Lynn and BD?? A new and hilarious version of The Three Musketeers? =)

I'd want more :)

I'm glad she validated your concerns, and I'm not surprised Disney has such a policy. The fact that it wasn't enforced was the real problem and I hope they really do reiterate the policy to their employees. I get so angry at this kind of thing that I'd want a signed letter of apology from the employee, or video of him being berated by Micky Mouse. Or something.

But, barring that, I think you did the best anyone could, and it's great that you didn't let it go.

You Did It! Hooray!

Congratulations, Amanda...glad you kept up the pressure! I'm sure the fact that your readers were doing our best to make sure the story went "viral" helped too! I'm glad WDW coughed up some more tickets for you, but I'm not sure I would want to go back if it were me...

You taking a stand has made things better for anyone who might have problems at WDW in the future!


1 (small) brownie point for Disney

Girl, that is good to hear!! God help me if my kids grow up to be that insensitive!
Unfortunately, Disney attracts all kinds. Last time I was there, I felt like I was in a Jerry Springer episode. I hope Billy enjoyed himself the rest of the trip! :)

I'm new here! :-) Sounds like you handled the situation well and staying on top of corporations is the way to go. I'm really glad to hear they are compensating the entire group with another visit. It's the least they can do!

I'll be back!


SO HAPPY, that WDW did the right thing!! What a relief to know that WDW isn't afraid to admit to their mistakes and try and make it right! I absolutely think you should take them up on the offter to return, if for no one else then for Billy... he deserves it! I'm so happy for you guys!

Total 16 comments


I realize that yelling at Disney is a bit like this.


Dear Ms. Broadfoot,

Thank you for speaking with me regarding your recent visit to the Walt Disney World Resort.

I am very sorry for the disappointment you experienced during your family's New Year's Eve celebration at Disney's Hollywood Studios Park.

I wanted to personally assure you that your feedback has been considered taken seriously. The safety and well-being of our guests are of the utmost importance to us in all aspects of our operation. Our Cast Members are instructed to assist Guests requiring assistance and their families to our First Aid stations located in each of our four theme parks. These locations are established areas where your family can seek comfort during experiences like the one you encountered from the actions of other Guests. I am sorry if you felt assistance was not promptly provided to you, and truly apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you and your family. Please be assured that your comments have been shared with the appropriate Disney management.

Our Guests? feedback allows for our continual growth and the preservation of the magic Walt Disney dreamed about, and I thank you again for your feedback. I am available Wednesday through Sunday between 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. EST should you have any questions.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with us.

Best Regards,

Benjamin Bradley
Guest Communication Services
Walt Disney World Resort



If only it were this easy.


Dear Mr. Bradley,
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me a week ago about my concerns and for your email below. However, I'm afraid I haven't made myself clear about the problem we encountered at the Commissary in Hollywood Studios.

When I first contacted you, I wasn't complaining about noise in the restaurant in which we dined. My son, who is 4 years old and autistic, was bullied. He was targeted by a group of aggressive, rude and possibly drunk teenagers who found it amusing to blow their noisemakers directly at him non-stop so that they could watch him hit himself in the head -- his reaction when he gets upset.

The teenagers were asked politely by my father to stop. They refused. In fact, they redoubled their efforts and blew the noisemakers almost constantly. When my brother-in-law told them, "You are tormenting an autistic child," their response was, AND I QUOTE, "That's not my problem."

At that point, my family asked for help from the manager. She also asked them nicely to stop. When they wouldn't, she said there was nothing she could do.

Surely Disney takes a stand against bullying. Surely it is not too much to ask to eject bullies from restaurants when they are targeting children, particularly those with special needs who are the least able to defend themselves. I am certain that restaurants like The Brown Derby or Cinderella's Castle wouldn't accept that kind of behavior. Is there a dollar value at which a family can expect a restaurant to provide a safe environment?

There were ten adults in our group and four children. We had paid quite a bit of money for our dinner, despite the fact that the Commissary is one of the lower-cost options, and should be entitled to eat it in peace. The idea that we should have to take our dinner to the first aid station, one of the "safe havens," in order to ensure our children weren't bullied, is nothing short of ridiculous.

I'm glad that Disney has designated certain areas as "safe havens" within the park. But every area of Disney should be a safe haven for any child.

I am going to suggest to my readers, who have been following my communications with WDW on my blog, that before they take their special needs child into any of your parks, they input the number for Disney Security into their cell phones. Then, should their child be bullied, they can call security for assistance, as it seems the cast members are not empowered to protect children.

If you have a better suggestion, I would welcome your input.

I will be posting this letter, as well as your email to me, on my blog at

Best regards,

Amanda Broadfoot

Reader Comments

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My hat is off to you for your polite, yet firm response. Well done.

I am SO sorry!

That is so, so galling!!! I read Beth Zimmerman's post and had to follow through here to see it for myself ... because, of course, who could believe that such barbaric behavior is still possible??? And that the manager couldn't be bothered doing his job, or getting security??? I've always hated Disney World, and this just cements my case. I am so, so sorry your family had to go through this ....

I am new to the "Spectrum" via my son's diagnosis but am quickly learning what it means to advocate for my child. You'd think a Disney themepark would be one place you wouldn't have to advocate for a child. Disney's response truly is unacceptable. It makes me sad to know that people can be so obnoxious and hurtful towards a young child, and a huge "family friendly" company like Disney thinks telling you to go to a First Aid station is an acceptable response. I've tweeted about this too (@thankfulmomma) via Beth (Work in Progress)

I am deeply disappointed by the reaction you have had thus far from Disney. How is it fair, or providing a wonderful family experience, when the victim and his family are the ones that have to seek a "safe haven". Isn't the park as a whole supposed to be such?

My family also has an autistic son, and we have made two trips to Disney World... after reading this, i am inclined to not repeat a trip there.

I have just found your blog via the "share" tool from a friend on Facebook... i have done the same.

wow. I'm not sure how i found your blog but my heart just hurts when i think about what your family and little guy had to go thru and how WEAK the response from Disney has been. I hope that with all our support they can step up their policies in order to protect their guests in the future. Those teens should have definitely been kicked out (at the least! i would like to meet them in a dark alley and teach them a lesson or 3!) and I can only hope that KARMA comes around for them someday.

Total 25 comments

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