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Dollywood Discussion Thread

P. 791: Big Bear Mountain family coaster announced for 2023!

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I accept peoples opinions, even if I don't really understand them.

 

Yes - Lightning Rod's opening was plagued with problems. I think the park could have dealt better with their communication, but I have absolutely no idea what was going on and what information their Public Relations department was given to work with.

 

But I cannot and will not put down Dollywood Customer Service because of this one issue. They have always had, bar none, some of the BEST Customer Service in the industry. Lightning Rod, from what I've heard, is mind blowing when it is working and I have full faith that they will get the kinks worked out during their off season. I don't say this out of some blind fan-boy loyalty to the park. I say this because my experiences with Dollywood have always been overwhelmingly positive.

Actually, I personally feel Dollywood is understaffed and lacking in customer service (from my last experience with their CS). if you send them an email it takes 10+ days to respond and while they try to help in person, most of the time their hands are tied until a manager comes. I have received far better customer service from Disney and even six flags! Dale (park president of SFOG) responded to one of my emails personally on a Holiday due to a T-Shirt with a hole in it. Overnighting a new shirt!

 

My last complaint to Dollywood was due to a cinnamon bread associate not taking my Gold Pass because it had a date from several years ago.. I renew it online so yeah the pass had an old purchase date on it, but she never scanned to see it was good (I posted the complaint on this forum).. I finally talked her into taking it but I then went to the season pass center to print a new one so I didn't have the issue again with other new associates.. They wanted to charge for the "replacement" because mine wasn't broken.. They finally said they would have to call up a manager who approved it but it took 30 minutes for the approval.. I sent Dollywood and email with my complaint.. 12 days later they responded saying they love receiving comments both positive and negative and use those comments as a coaching tool.. That's it no apology or anything.. Just a canned response after waiting 12 days..

 

That's not really the best customer service..

 

Now I don't use Dollywoods customer service often, this was the first time in a few years, but it only takes one time to make people think the customer service sucks.

 

As for the raincheck tickets, I have never needed one but I do like that Dollywood does offer them.. BUT Disney gave me a full refund on tickets in October due to the hurricane.. No raincheck ticket offer or anything, just a refund.. Raincheck tickets are good but not helpful for people who traveled long distances. Disney even refunded the hotel and deposit.

 

I would have actually taken raincheck tickets for Disney because I am going there next week but I received a much better deal to Disney next week anyway

 

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I agree that's really bad customer service on the Dollywood employees part to not accept your pass even when you told them you had renewed it, and there is no reason for the season pass center person to have to call a manager for something so silly when it was their fault in the first place. No business should have issues like that, Dollywood or not.

I also agree that Dollywood has become more corporate over the years however nowadays I consider Dollywood a corporate mega-park and go there knowing that. While yes the company that owns & operates it is privately owned, and yes it is themed to represent Dolly Parton's old school smoky mountain upbringing yada yada yada, the truth is nowadays it really is a corporate park and I think they overall have done a good job blending the new with the old. On all my visits (5 in all) the park has always been clean, well maintained, and friendly.

 

I will agree with the rest of the forum on the Disney topic though. If there is a natural disaster coming Disney will issue refunds to everyone just to keep all those people from calling/writing letters and tying up their customer service people for an extended period of time. Disney World has over 20 massive resorts in addition to all the day visitors of the parks, when everyone is going to need something, its worth it to them to just lose millions of dollars and wait for people to come back later rather than spend weeks and weeks in correspondence with a hundred thousand people who all want something suited to their particular situation.

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But anyway, I feel like this argument is a waste of several pages of discussion,

 

Which you are only adding to.

 

 

But either way, he wasn't comparing Lightning Rod to the Disneys policy. He was comparing Disneys hurricane policy to Dollywoods rain policy.

 

 

Let me set you straight. Dollywood applied their raincheck policy for visitors that weren't able to get on Lightning Rod. The park could have been open the entire day with no rain and if Lightning Rod was down for less than two hours, you could claim a free ticket for any day this year. Yes, a policy that was only meant for a day that a guest bought a ticket and a rain event kept them from enjoying the majority of their day was applied to one ride.

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I think this is a great and very relevant topic about what has happened in the amusement park business. Not that long ago parks would build these really unreliable coasters (X, DejaVu, Xcelerator, TTD, Kingda Ka, etc) and they would be closed for long periods of time and would chronically break down on days that they were open. The attitude of the parks was basically "so sad, too bad" and since most of the other rides were running you were not owed anything.

 

While i'm sure they got a ton of complaints about it back then the internet wasn't as big of a trip planning tool and social media didn't exist. Consumer attitudes have changed bigtime since then. Now consumers can get literally anything they want, when they want it, and if they don't get their way they can do a social media rant which companies do not want going viral. I think this is a major reason companies like CF and SF aren't building big Intamin rides anymore. They have had it with the complaints. Herschend took probably a bigger risk than they anticipated with this ride and got caught with their pants down, I have no doubt they wouldn't have built if it they knew how unreliable it was going to be, they would have built it without the launched lift.

 

Dollywood also had an old business model here and should learn a lesson: in today's new consumer marketplace the operations people need to be able to tell the marketing people to NOT market the ride when its not going to be open, the marketing people shouldn't have say over the operations people. The same thing happened a few years ago at BGT, all the billboards, commercials, taco bell ads, etc all over Florida said Falcons Fury opening May 1st. Well anyone with any experience operating theme parks couldve told them never, ever promote an opening date for an Intamin prototype before it's even finished being built. You're pretty much guaranteed to have issues. It opened in October and BGT deserved what they got.

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I recall reading that Dreammore refunded w/o hesitation during the fires.

DW was closed most of that period anyway, but I'm certain they refunded a few that changed plans due to the fires.

 

That would be a comparable event to Disney Orlando and a hurricane.

 

Thankfully DW doesn't deal with such event often, unlike Disney Orlando.

 

 

On the CS side, my only experience there was getting a 4 pass after getting 3 in the off season. Turned out my son was able to come on the spring trip. They added the 4th pass and included the discounts as if I had bought all 4 at once.

 

That was with out asking. I just explained what happened (short version as above) and asked how much for the 4th pass.

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The attitude of the parks was basically "so sad, too bad" and since most of the other rides were running you were not owed anything.

 

I feel like this should still be the parks attitude. If I go to a park and ride all of their coasters and rides except for one that was closed I don't think that I should deserve a refund. I still rode rides. If parks gave refunds or rain checks for one or two closed rides, CP would be giving out so many rain checks due to how often a few of their rides close because of wind. If you go to a park, you should expect there to be closed rides, like someone said earlier, it is stupid to go to a park for one ride. Especially if it is a prototype ride that has had operating issues. (And I know your post wasn't directed towards Dollywood, but the industry as a whole, I'm just using LR as an example)

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Here is a good example of the new Customer Service at Dollywood! Really, they would admit at flagging the review because someone posted they didn't like the rides and felt unsafe? Of course the review is still up so Dollywood lost. I have never felt unsafe on a Dollywood ride, actually I feel very safe, but this isn't how you handle a complaint about it.. instead, be polite, explain your safety record, and just apologize. Never say you are flagging a legitimate complaint just because you disagree.

 

A customer service class I took one time said to always be sympathetic even if you the customer was wrong and you couldn't help them. Sympathy always goes a long way. Sympathy shows you understand their complaint, even if you don't agree. Instead, in this review, Dollywood just disagrees and "flags" it.

 

"We never like feeling unsafe on rides either and we apologize this happened. Dollywood has an a+ safety record and we are sorry you didn't feel this way and hope you give us another opportunity in the future."

 

That would be a good response and just leave it at that or ask for more details to why they didn't feel safe. It could be a legitimate concern that the park needed to dig deeper into.

 

 

 

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Edited by dstephe9
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Trying to flag negative reviews shows me as a customer you would rather hide it than apologize or dig deeper into the situation about why they felt unsafe.. maybe they dealt with a bad ride op that wasn't checking restraints like they should. Maybe this is a legitimate complaint they should dig deeper into for safety of other guest.

 

Or maybe they are a troll just trolling and writing bad reviews. Eitherway don't try and hide it which is all flagging ends up doing. That shows other people reading, you really don't care especially if you fail and TripAdvisor doesn't remove the review.

 

So so's family reads that complaint and wonders why the reviewer felt unsafe and sees Dollywood didn't dig deeper into it. What should they think? This is the cyber society we live in even if we don't want to admit it.

 

As a side note, my TripAdvisor review of Dollywood is positive..

 

I for one do use Social Media now for tips.. I just purchased a new 65 inch 4k TV and what won me over to the brand I decided on was how that brand handled complaints on Facebook.. The brand I decided on had more complaints and negative reviews than other brands but they replied and offered free in home repairs to the complaints while other companies just ignored complaints.. this actually caused me to go with a lesser known brand over LG or Samsung. The society we live in is doing this more daily and how you deal with Facebook, Twitter ,and other Social Media is key to customer growth.

 

I will admit though, most theme parks don't have a very good social media presence anyways Most don't even respond to general questions, even Disney. Carowinds does some but that's it.

 

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Edited by dstephe9
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What's there to dig deeper into? they do ride checks daily and the rides have tons of sensors that will alert them to something wrong. so to me you're either dealing with a person that's just a pansy about rides or a troll that for some reason thinks it is funny to post things like this. You can't honestly expect a park to follow up on every single complaint of them being scared or not liking a ride.

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Tell that to six flags who had a death because a ride op didn't stop a ride when someone said their restraint didn't feel locked down.

 

The reviewer specifically said they felt unsafe, not just scared.

 

Safety is a legitimate concern and it shouldn't be responded to with a "flag" no matter how many complaints you get a day from it. It might be trolling or it might have been caused by a bad experience on a ride.. eitherway, half the reviews on TripAdvisor ask for more details by email but this one didn't. Dollywood simply disagreed and reported the comment. You can disagree and report the comment privately but don't do it in public

 

I had a bad experience on a six flags coaster when the ride op didn't check restraints.. they were texting on their phone.. I reported it and I hope it was followed up on.. I was told it was and that was enough for me. I knew the ride was safe and I was locked. But obviously that is against their safety guidelines and if I had wrote a review about it instead of just complaining to guest services I would want to know it was followed up on not a disagreement and telling me I was flagged. Maybe something similar happened on a ride at Dollywood and the reviewer just didn't do a good job explaining why they felt unsafe. A simple, please send more details to this email so we can follow-up shows the park is at least trying.

 

I don't expect them to inspect and close every ride when someone says, "that's not safe" not at all, but they should at least try and figure out if the ride just scared them or their is a possible issue with the ride or an employee.. Employees cause most theme park accidents, injuries, and deaths. Sensors can't help employee errors. As seen by other parks, it takes one employee error to ruin a perfect safety track record.

 

But admitting to flagging the review just tells the reviewer they aren't telling the truth and you don't believe them. That's never customer service.. apologize, try to follow-up, and flag privately if you wish. That's customer service

 

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I see nothing wrong with the way the handled it.

 

Same. Everyone who's afraid of coasters is convinced that their restraints aren't going to hold them in. These complaints are virtually always without merit. For every one time the person was right, there are tens of millions of guests who felt the same way and were totally wrong and if parks actually took this complaint seriously every time it came up it would take then 45 minutes to dispatch a train.

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I think the park should of requested more information but my main point of this review is that the park basically publicly said the reviewer wasn't telling the truth by saying we disagree and flagging the review. Of course, TripAdvisor disagreed because they didn't remove the review or place a warning beside it

 

On a side note, Trip Advisor only allows flags if you feel the review is fraudulent, has rudeness directed towards a person, contains identifiable information or foul language. The only one of those Dollywood could flag for is fraud or not bring a truthful review

 

 

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Edited by dstephe9
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I don't think the park is implying that the person is lying, I think they're implying that they're stupid (which they most likely are) but they did it in a very nice way.

 

Their complaint has no basis in reality, they think it does because they know nothing about how rides work and like I said, EVERYONE who's afraid of a certain ride freaks out about the restraints. EVERYONE. So Dollywood flagging a bullsh*t complaint is totally justified.

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I have definitely seen a drop in customer service the last few years, but I think people are starting to reach a little bit. Some misinformed staff, higher frequency of rude staff, dirtier park - sure, it's not ideal, but it's not ruining the experience. I chalk it up to growing pains, but what do I know. It's still head and shoulders above Six Flags or Cedar Fair parks.

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Flagging is fine but don't do it publicly. Dollywood should leave the flagging comment out all together. I'm glad none of you guys work customer service because you clearly don't understand CS.

 

I know when I worked for US Cellulars Call Center here in Knoxville, I would be written up that second if I said something like that to a customer. On a side note I advanced quickly at US Cellular to a CS coach but the pay was crap and at that time all I did was attend meetings and not help customers and hated that. So maybe this is why small things like this bug me. Maybe working in customer service created higher expectations.

 

We had Mottos at US Cellular like

 

"Give them the pickle" (This was a saying we used that came from restaurants when people used to ask for an extra pickle and restaurants would say no. All US Cellular CS agents had a daily budget of incentives they could give out without manager approval. Most common was a $5 credit)(They also received commission if they are able to make a customer happy without using all their incentives) (this also goes back to Dollywood requiring a manager to override my replacement season pass fee. Modern companies give basic control to the guys and gals on the frontline. This should be something the front line can do)

 

"The customers perception is their reality" (They feel unsafe, we need to prove to them they aren't.. Dollywood does a good job of this by physically pulling on restraints BUT they failed with the customers review I posted by not showing any sympathy towards the reviewer. This could lead to even more readers of the review not feeling safe. I'm not saying they need to inspect after a complaint but they need to make the customer feel valued and that their feedback was valued)

 

"Make a customer, not a sale"

 

When I was a coach at US Cellular my entire team had the old Ghandi Quote in their cubicle

 

"A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption of our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider of our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do so."

 

Our centers also had a social media department (this is actually located in the regional office on the same campus as the call center) in which we required all agents to be sympathetic even if they couldn't help. This department handled Facebook, Twitter, Cell Phone Forums, and other public places. We couldn't always help but we responded to all we could find and showed that we understood.. never mentioned reporting the reviews to the reviewer.. on the inside, we tried. We reported everything under the sun.. had success at a lot of it. we had people who specialized in reading TOS on sites and finding loophole's we could report.

 

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Edited by dstephe9
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I have definitely seen a drop in customer service the last few years, but I think people are starting to reach a little bit. Some misinformed staff, higher frequency of rude staff, dirtier park - sure, it's not ideal, but it's not ruining the experience. I chalk it up to growing pains, but what do I know. It's still head and shoulders above Six Flags or Cedar Fair parks.

That's the sad part that makes me want a cry.. SFOG has a BBB rating of B+ Dollywood has a B! Is this a true representation of the parks? No but it is a public representation that goes back to a better social media presence or CS presence overall. With the BBB it's more about a better complaint resolution process. Six Flags obviously does better in this department even with a lot more complaints.

 

We all know Dollywood is a better park but publicly, for people who check stuff like the BBB, six flags looks better. (And yes we can't ignore the fact that people check this stuff even if we don't want to believe it)

 

Of course six flags trip advisor reviews are in the tank haha

 

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Edited by dstephe9
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I don't know, of the 50 or so parks I've been to I think Dollywood has the best staff and best customer service I've ever experienced. Clearly your experience is different, I can't say anyone's right or wrong here since we've had unique experiences all I can go by is what I've experienced personally which is exceptional service across the board.

 

Personally I feel like review sites and social media platforms are cesspools of humanity so you can dig up examples of poor guest service for every park (either with canned responses or a park completely ignoring the responses) but USUALLY the people writing the reviews or complaining are insufferable, entitled idiots so I don't read too much into those things when it comes to theme parks.

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I have definitely seen a drop in customer service the last few years, but I think people are starting to reach a little bit. Some misinformed staff, higher frequency of rude staff, dirtier park - sure, it's not ideal, but it's not ruining the experience. I chalk it up to growing pains, but what do I know. It's still head and shoulders above Six Flags or Cedar Fair parks.

That's the sad part that makes me want a cry.. SFOG has a BBB rating of B+ Dollywood has a B! Is this a true representation of the parks? No but it is a public representation that goes back to a better social media presence or CS presence overall. With the BBB it's more about a better complaint resolution process. Six Flags obviously does better in this department even with a lot more complaints.

 

We all know Dollywood is a better park but publicly, for people who check stuff like the BBB, six flags looks better.

 

Of course six flags trip advisor reviews are in the tank haha

 

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Please just stop. You are obsessed and are reaching at the dumbest details to convince this website that you are right. As a moderator of the site, I am asking we move on. Consider this you getting the last word in and you won or whatever it will take to get you to stop. I am just going to delete anything else you have to post unless it is something that actually has substance and is meaningful to this thread.

 

Personally I feel like review sites and social media platforms are cesspools of humanity so you can dig up examples of poor guest service for every park (either with canned responses or a park completely ignoring the responses) but USUALLY the people writing the reviews or complaining are insufferable, entitled idiots so I don't read too much into those things when it comes to theme parks.

 

Exactly. Which is why I am asking we not try to further a point by using social media as an example.

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The problem with some concepts of modern customer service is that it trains consumers to be bigger and bigger babies. Like dstephe9 points out, complaints are usually budgeted for and always get fed. We all know there's a certain kind of patron that expects *everything* to go exactly their way, and when it doesn't they go straight to customer service and blast them on every review site. Their numbers are growing, and businesses have to walk the line eventually of coddling them so they go away or sticking up for themselves.

 

I'm tired of complaint worries too. We need a better industry response to that because it's been a pain in operator's asses for awhile now. At one point I believe there was a manufacturer putting lights in front of the seats that turned green when the restraint was closed so the rider would *feel* safe. Just like tugging on the restraint became a safety theater standard, it's something fairly easy to implement that could shut a few of them up.

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The problem with some concepts of modern customer service is that it trains consumers to be bigger and bigger babies. Like dstephe9 points out, complaints are usually budgeted for and always get fed. We all know there's a certain kind of patron that expects *everything* to go exactly their way, and when it doesn't they go straight to customer service and blast them on every review site. Their numbers are growing, and businesses have to walk the line eventually of coddling them so they go away or sticking up for themselves.

 

I'm tired of complaint worries too. We need a better industry response to that because it's been a pain in operator's asses for awhile now. At one point I believe there was a manufacturer putting lights in front of the seats that turned green when the restraint was closed so the rider would *feel* safe. Just like tugging on the restraint became a safety theater standard, it's something fairly easy to implement that could shut a few of them up.

I like those lights! Mystery Mine has them. Two or three dots and you are a go! (Mystery mines are on the back and more for the ride op but hey they are there)

 

And exactly, I can tell you I feel safer at Dollywood with them pulling on the restraint than Disney saying "push up to make sure it's locked".. Same purpose but mentally better IMO.

 

I know, neither are going to fail and I do feel Dollywood is one of the safest parks around..

 

I hate drop towers but for some reason I already feel safer on theirs than Acrophobia at SF. Just seeing how well Dollywood maintains their rides over six flags helps that. The visual impressions really help some customers, even people like me who love Amusement Parks and no that nothing will fail.

 

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And i think those lights are great for both riders and ops.. if the rider knows what they are, it gives them a visual que that everything is OK.. plus, for ops, it works much better than Six Flags yelling out "row 3 seat 4", "row 8 seat 1", "row 2 seat 1" and so on, Everytime they dispatch a train. And I mean everytime my last visit!

 

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The reviewer specifically said they felt unsafe, not just scared.

 

I believe you said on the rides, as in more than one, not just a single ride.

That tells me that it's frivolous.

 

half the reviews on TripAdvisor ask for more details by email but this one didn't. Dollywood simply disagreed and reported the comment.

 

Which leads me to believe there's more going on than just the one TA review.

 

One response that is very out of character with other responses?

I suspect that reviewer was dealt with on multiple occasions (in person, on the phone, email, other sites, etc) and found to be a troll.

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