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Grand Floridian DVC Construction forcing Weddings to Move

They said it wouldn’t happen. That weddings at the Fairy Tale Wedding Pavilion would not be affected by the neighboring construction for the, as yet, unofficial DVC tower being added to to the Grand Floridian, Disney’s most expensive hotel. Prospective wedding parties were told that construction would be handled so as not to interfere with actual wedding ceremonies, by scheduling only quiet construction during that time of day. When I heard this a little voice in the back of my head said, “sounds like they’re promising something they won’t be able to deliver.”

Indeed, the other glass slipper dropped this week when couples with weddings booked at Disney’s Fairy Tale Wedding Pavilion during the final two weeks of September have been told their weddings will have to be moved or rescheduled due to unavoidable construction noise (and likely some dredge boats in the water outside the pavilion’s window). That’s less than 30 days notice for some parties. Barring bankruptcy, force majeure, or unpredictable unsafe conditions at the pavilion, that’s totally unacceptable.

The news first came to light in a post on Disboard’s popular wedding discussion forum and then later when the same bride posted on Google+, Twitter, and other locations I may not have found. Her planner called only the groom to deliver the bad news and then offered a move to a roof top wedding on Bay Lake Tower. The bride was justifiably upset at not being told directly and not being offered even a comparable location. Hopefully she’ll get this resolved quickly and with the type of service Disney should be providing when dropping this additional stress on a wedding party just days before the big event.

Disney should be compensating these couples with everything that’s within Disney’s power to do with in-kind (ie, non-cash) upgrades. This list would include, but is not limited to: an upgraded in-park venue near Cinderella Castle, offering to provide vendors if the couple’s already approved vendors can’t change times (if a time change is required), upgraded reception package, an inclement weather location that retains a view of the castle, in-park photo shoot times (pre-opening, so the couple can be in their formal attire), upgraded rooms for their on property honeymoon, etc.

The conversation should have gone like this:

Hello Miss Bride, this is Mr Planner. I have Mr. Groom on the other line, hold on a second while we conference him in. I want you both to hear about this opportunity together.

Your wedding has been selected for an upgrade to a Magic Kingdom location near Cinderella Castle. There are a couple locations available at your current time depending on your preferences. If you’re able to get your guests and vendors to move times, we have a special early morning location for a pre-park opening event (NOTE: this would be offered to the wedding parties with the earliest signed contracts first).

We know this is a big moment for you with a lot of stress and that a last minute change, even an upgrade, can add additional unwanted stress. We do appreciate your understanding. As we mentioned in a previous conversation/email, construction at a location that neighbors the Wedding Pavilion, where your location is currently scheduled, may require certain accommodations. Unfortunately, we just learned that the week surrounding your happy event will include construction that means we’re unable to accommodate you inside the Wedding Pavilion. We understand if you have your heart set on the Wedding Pavilion and are willing to offer you a rescheduled date and/or an anniversary vow renewal ceremony in the Wedding Pavilion for you and a small party in the next 5 years.

I’m sending you an email right now with details on the Cinderella Castle adjacent locations and our new inclement weather location (inside BLT roof pavilion, which still provides a view of Cinderella Castle similar to the Wedding Pavilion). I’ve also included a few images and concept drawings from our decoration team on what each venue will look like when set up for your ceremony.

Please let me know if you have any questions, here’s my direct line and a mobile phone if you need to reach me out of office hours. Also, here is my supervisor’s direct line if I am not available. We want to make this transition as smooth as possible for you.

Once again, we apologize for asking you to change at such a late date, but we’re sure you and your guests will enjoy this new location with the classic Cinderella Castle prominently in the background.

I know Disney has a rule of no wedding dresses inside the park during park hours. But if they’re willing to inconvenience a wedding couple with less than 30 days notice, they should be willing to bend that rule for a week or so, even if it requires a guest relations host to stand guard. A rose garden setting for small parties and a swan boat dock location for larger parties will be an experience those parties could not have afforded otherwise.

By offering a new venue that is not an upgrade to the wedding pavilion Disney may have believed they were saving money, but the reality is once the word gets out that your wedding at the Fairy Tale Wedding Pavilion could be moved to a comparative hovel a Disney’s discretion, they’ll lose money when couples decide to go elsewhere. Add in a justifiably upset bride posting across all the forums and social media channels about how poorly she’s been treated, and the opportunity cost is huge.

Frankly, none of that should be a motivating factor. Disney should have just done the right thing from the start. I hope they decide to do it now.

Photo credit: Flickr CC-Licensed by Maedi.