As big as the place is, you wouldn’t expect to run into the same cast member very often. However, every time I’ve stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, I’ve encountered the same employee, Steve*. I wish I could say I remember him because of his engaging personality or helpful customer service. Instead, he’s memorable for all the wrong reasons.
In February of 2005, I stayed at the resort for the first time. I was on vacation with my friend, now a successful WWE superstar, Karl Anderson, and his mother. (Yes, I have famous friends).
I checked us into our room. Steve, the central character in this story, wasn’t exactly friendly. When I asked about possible complimentary upgrades (you should always do this nicely — at every hotel you stay in), he was non-plussed.
“Not for free,” he said with a hint of snark that I didn’t appreciate. I was in Room 5101, right off the lobby, and I was delighted with the proximity to the bus stop and other amenities. We had a fantastic trip, hitting all four theme parks, and I loved showing the two of them around Walt Disney World.
My interaction with Steve was a tiny blip on an otherwise outstanding stay in this gorgeous resort.
I went back in December of 2015 with my Mom. This time we were in a pool view room on Giraffe Trail (Room #3012.) It was an extended haul from the bus stop, but I didn’t mind.
Once we were checked in and settled, we went back to the lobby and stopped at the Concierge Desk.
This was before the My Disney Experience app and I wanted a printed list of our dining reservations. To my horror, Steve was working at the desk.
From the trip report I wrote on a message board:
OH THE HORROR! See, last time at stayed at AKL, Steve checked me into my room with less personality and lifelikeness than the bathing elephants in the Jungle Cruise. He couldn’t have been less friendly or competent. When I asked then about any chance of a free upgrade, he was personally offended and rude. He could have been any worse at his job, I thought. He proved otherwise. I told him we needed a 4 day park hopper pass and he stoically began processing that. I got nervous when he didn’t ask for her room key and I said, “Can you put it on the key?” and he said, “Oh, I already did it this way. Uh, sorry?” I rolled my eyes at him and decided not to let STEVE ruin my day. I said, “OK, one more thing and we’ll quit bugging you,” you know, trying to be casual and aloof and friendly and he said something like, “Oh, OK.” What a moron. Anyway, I wanted my dining reservations printed and I wanted to change a couple of them around. He seemed to have difficulty understanding what I wanted to do and I nearly walked away to do it over the phone or later on with a non-animatronic CM, but I stuck it out and got done. My mom was puzzled by the whole thing, because she didn’t know STEVE and our tumultuous history and now began to think that most CMs don’t care about their jobs and have no semblance of a personality. Fortunately, we would discover differently throughout the rest of our stay.
I returned to the Animal Kingdom Lodge in June of 2016, this time with my friend Connie. She had never stayed on Disney World property, usually renting a condo nearby with her brother and his family. I was insistent that she have a magical time from start to finish.
So when we walked up to the check-in desk, I looked at her and said, “Nope.” There was no way I was going to let Steve check us in. There he was, waiting for the next customer. I told the couple behind us to go ahead and we waited for the next available cast member. There was no way I was going to let Steve ruin this part of our trip.
But I mean, really, what are the odds?
*Steve’s name wasn’t actually Steve