A family is breathing a sigh of relief after strangers online helped them fix a terrible mistake their elderly grandparents made in planning a big Christmas trip to Disney World. Obviously, an easy-to-make mistake happens all the time.
Grandparents accidentally bought $10,000 worth of Disney Plus gift cards instead of Disney World gift cards.
A Christmas trip to Disney World is a dream for many people. The Magic Kingdom's usual 57,000 daily visitors rise during the week between Christmas and New Year's, as do all other parks within the Disney World Resort. So much so that the parks are filled to capacity and people who don't already have their tickets in hand are out of luck.
The holiday season is also the most expensive time of year to visit Disney World.
So when a TikToker named Andy Her large, extended family decided to take a family trip to Disney this Christmas, and they had the perfect idea to beat the rush and high prices.
The grandparents were planning to take the family to Disney for Christmas 2020, but that was delayed due to the pandemic.
In a video, Andi shared that her elderly parents were in the midst of planning a 2020 Disney Christmas trip for themselves, their children and 14 grandchildren when the pandemic hit.
Given all the uncertainty, they decided to put $10,000 for the trip on Disney gift cards. Gift cards are routinely sold by retailers for less than face value, so they thought it would save them money on the trip. Plus, all the money will be ready and distributed as soon as they're ready to rebook everything, allowing them to jump on the holiday park and rush into dining reservations.
But when Andy returns home for a final visit for the weekend, her elderly parents ask her for help with a strange problem. No matter what they did, Disney's system wouldn't let them use the 100 individual $100 gift cards they had purchased.
The grandparents accidentally bought $10,000 worth of Disney+ gift cards, so Andy immediately took to TikTok to ask for advice.
“We need help,” Andy wrote in the on-screen text, explaining that they didn't need actual money, just help with how to convert their gift cards after not finding a way to actually do so on any of Disney's websites.
In follow-up videos, Andy explained what happened. Like many baby boomers and other seniors, her parents weren't familiar with streaming services, and for starters, the gift cards looked like regular Disney cards. Since they have already scanned the redemption codes, they cannot be returned or exchanged. They bought the lot online so there was no one to stop them from losing $10,000 on the wrong set of cards.
And they were not alone. Andy received dozens of comments from people who said they or their parents made the exact same mistake.
Andy said she and her husband are social workers, so they're not in a position to foot the bill for the Disney trip themselves. That's why their parents set off on everyone's journey in the first place.
As their efforts to rectify the situation continued, some parks began to fill up. Andy said the Magic Kingdom was already fully booked for the main two days of their trip, so they were running out of time.
The TikToker got major backlash after her videos went viral, but ended up saving her Christmas trip to Disney in the end.
Andy was shocked by the response her videos received. Her initial post of the video of her parents purchasing $10,000 worth of Disney+ gift cards received more than 2 million views and was taken to Twitter, where it later went viral as well.
The responses that poured in started out kind and helpful, but as often happens online, quickly turned into angry backlash.
People accused Andy of making the whole thing up to ask strangers for money. Others blamed her for not buying cards for her elderly parents and criticized her for what they saw as being too privileged a person asking for help at their incompetent mistake.
But as often happens online, the tidal wave of hate made her videos go viral. Before long, people who actually wanted to help had Andi's email address for a senior Disney employee who runs their gift card program.
It worked. With just days to go before they left for their big Christmas trip to Disney, a Disney employee called Andy's parents and converted $10,000 worth of Disney+ gift cards into Parks gift cards.
In her latest update, Andy expressed her gratitude for people's help and also her hope that her experience will prompt Disney to come up with a better gift card system that will prevent anyone else from having a similar incident in the future.
She acknowledged the number of people living paycheck to paycheck, and said that although this was “financially, it wasn’t.” [a problem] For my father, there are dozens of people for whom this kind of mishap could have been catastrophic.
Fortunately, in the meantime, there are kind strangers willing to help save what will now remain a very happy Christmas at Disney World.
John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer covering popular culture, social justice, and human interest topics.
“Lifelong beer expert. General travel enthusiast. Social media buff. Zombie maven. Communicator.”