No way to make ‘La Nouba’ — how about a do-over?

Question: I need some help. My friend and her husband have been extremely good to me this past year. It has been a difficult year for me personally and they have opened their home to me and their friendship has been unmerited.

As a token of my appreciation, I recently purchased two tickets to Cirque du Soleil “La Nouba” in Orlando for them. They booked a hotel and planned on making it a fun-filled weekend. The tickets state on them to arrive at least 30 minutes early. They actually arrived one hour early and were instantly presented with an overwhelming obstacle: There was absolutely no parking.

They rode around the parking areas from 5 until 7:45 p.m. At that time, they knew that they had missed over half of the show, conceded defeat and went back to their hotel room.

I didn’t find out about it until the following Monday when I asked how the show was. My friend then told me the tale of the “worst traffic she had ever seen.” She also stated that all of the parking areas were full and closed off and that once in the stream of traffic, looking for a parking space, that it was impossible to get out of the flow. My friend didn’t want to tell me because she was disappointed and knew that I would also be disappointed.

I called Cirque du Soleil and was told that my friend should have called the box office and explained her parking dilemma, and that their tickets could have been re-issued for a later showing. But there is no phone in the box office.

Now I’m being told that I need to personally come to the box office to try to re-negotiate a refund or re-issue of the tickets. But I live two hours from Orlando, so that’s not an option. Can you help? — Jenni Turbeville, Okeechobee, Fla.

Answer: Cirque’s purchase agreement for its tickets doesn’t address your friend’s particular problem. But they seem to suggest that while Cirque can cancel any performance and reschedule, you don’t have the same flexibility.

That may seem a little one-sided, but it’s in line with other live events. Imagine if the ticket terms were fairer, allowing you to cancel any time up to the moment the curtain rises, and get a full refund. Cirque would probably go out of business.

At the same time, I think special allowances should be made for circumstances that are within the theater’s control, like traffic. Cirque has a responsibility, at least in my view, to provide adequate parking for its guests. If no one can get to the show, what’s the point of having one?

Your friends were attending a performance on a busy holiday weekend, so they probably should have given themselves a little extra time. But even if they had, they reported circling in the parking lot nearly two hours, so I doubt if that would have done much good.

There must have been others who couldn’t make the show, too. Cirque should have either printed a warning on its tickets during these peak times, or allowed the no-shows to come back at a later time without having to visit the box office in person. But at the end of the day, your friends were responsible for making it to the show on time — at least according to the terms of their ticket. So strictly speaking, Cirque didn’t owe them anything.

Still, knowing Cirque and having attended its shows in the past, I don’t think it would want you or your friends to be disappointed. I decided to share your story with them, and a representative contacted you by email, offering to re-issue the tickets.

(Photo: mookiefl/Flickr)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Elmo Clarity

    Beyond their control?  No, they shouldn’t.  Is a theater or business responsible for providing parking?  If you say yes, then what about businesses in downtown areas that have no dedicated parking area?   Like the businesses in Time Square in New York.  I doubt the theaters on Broadway have their own parking.  Is this a building dedicated to just this show?

    This is a tricky situation.  For Cirque du Soleil to tell them they should have called the box office, but the OP saying there was not phone to the box office (I’m sure there was, just not easily available to someone in a car), seems a little insincere. Personally I have some doubts to the validity of some of the details to this story but glad that they were able to work it out.

  • finance_tony

    “But even if they had, they reported circling in the parking lot nearly two hours”

    It sounds like they drove around for two hours and forty-five minutes. 

  • TonyA_says

    Why didn’t they take the bus or a taxi? I live in the so-called NYC Metro Area and agree with what Elmo Clarity has said. If we had to provide parking to all our customers and allow them to wiggle out of a “contract” because they can’t find parking then we won’t be in business.

    It was* (or still is) a common experience for the NY Westchester County airport (HPN) to run out of long-term parking during the holidays. You think I should be able to miss my flight and get a refund from an airline since there was no parking? Are you kidding? Even the parking lots in train stations you take to COMMUTE to the city (Grand Central) are jam packed. Do you guys in Florida have some god-given right to parking?
    (* note a nearby school went into the business of offering their parking lot to flyers for a fee. They simply provided a regular shuttle to the airport.)

    ADDED: I went to google maps and displayed a map of La Nouba. Wow, that place looks like one of the largest parking lot in the USA. Check it out.,-81.519907&spn=0.009402,0.021136&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&fb=1&gl=us&hq=cirque+du+soleil+orlando+parking&cid=0,0,15542561704568223469&t=h&z=16&iwloc=A

    Compare that on the same scale with JFK’s long term parking lot.,-73.820293&spn=0.008106,0.021136&sll=28.400987,-81.414173&sspn=0.150396,0.338173&gl=us&hnear=Parking,+JFK,+Queens,+New+York+11430&t=h&z=16

    It’s hard to believe that with that much parking at this Orlando site, Chris’ friends can’t find parking.

  • TonyA_says

    Funny what (presumably) local readers of the Orlando Sentinel commented about the same article Chris wrote there…,0,204946.column

    Why would anyone circle the lots for more than 2 hours if the show was only 90 minutes?

  • Raven_Altosk

    There was a similar problem here in Houston during the holiday performance of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The Toyota Center did a lousy job of directing traffic and caused a good number of people to miss the show. Considering the Toyota Center hosts the Rockets at home and should be used to a mess of traffic, they blamed it on “an unusual number of sick employees.”

    So, they were understaffed. It made the news when they refused to issue refunds after “locking out” anyone who arrived 30 minutes or more into the show. Shortly thereafter, anyone who had purchased a ticket and hadn’t been able to use it were given their money back.

    Some cities do not have the wonderful public transit that NYC does. Houston is one of them, and the Toyota Center has ample parking, but when there are no parking attendants to direct traffic, it becomes a nightmare.

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    The friends didn’t seem to want to go to the show *that* much. Why wouldn’t they have called or emailed themselves to re-schedule? Obviously, they would’ve been happy to just leave it. I find that strange… As another poster said, why not drop off the wife to hold the seats while the husband finds parking?

  • Kathleen Proud Keyte

    C’mon seriously? Yesterday we were asked if we felt a refund was in order for the very personal reasons someone coul;dn’t fly and today we are bing asked if a refund should be provided because people didn’t plan wehre they were going to park ahead of time. There is no excuse for this there are many websites devoted to how to park at venues and frankly an hour is not really enough leeway in my estimation to park and get to a venue when some parking facilities can be a considerable distance away.

  • NoJets

    I worked for an airline. I recall a busy holiday weekend where I was working the ticket counter and berated by a mother of a family of 4 who was later joined by her husband.

    They showed up late for their flight which was the last of the day to their destination. They blamed it on “your traffic”, “your highways”, “your parking lot”, “your parking shuttle bus”…etc. Bottom line, they were late for a flight because they did not give themselves enough time to arrive at the airport and all of a sudden, the airline owned everything from the other cars on the road to the shuttle bus? 

    While I endured several minutes of listening to this, I looked at a flight the next morning and offered to put them on that. Of course that wasn’t good enough. I finally said, “Well, what would you like? You are the only party that missed that flight, everyone else seemed to make it here on time.” (I couldn’t help myself, I had to get that dig in!) All of a sudden she played the “my child is autistic” card. I left them on the next morning’s flight and told them that was the best I could do. They again said that wasn’t good enough and left the counter. (I followed up the next afternoon and saw they had taken the AM flight.)

  • TonyA_says

    So they did try to shop around the counter for a more lenient agent (sarcasm). If they followed the “advise” of what our resident lawyer friend, Carver, says about Flyertalk enthusiasts, that family would simply go back in line and avoid you. Maybe they will try the handicapped line. LOL.

    I am glad you stood your ground! Enough is enough.

  • Alan Gore

    I don’t see this as a travel problem, but a local problem that should have been addressed immediately. From the description, it sounds as though construction or a special event limited Cirque de Soleil’s parking that night, which would have affected a lot of attendees in the same way. Had this couple gone to the box office right away, they could probably have gotten a refund or credit.

  • MikeInCtown

    I couldn’t vote since I don’t know the parking situation or the area where the theatre is. if it is in a very busy district where people would be coming for many other events, then I think the theatre only would be responsible for warning people. If the theatre is in a less high traffic and busy area where most cars are all there for their performances only, then yes, they should make sure that the people coming for the show can either park, or change tickets to another showing that has better available parking.

  • stevepy

    Lame excuse – almost as though they didn’t want to go to the show.  Living in Central Florida, I’ve had the misfortune of going to Downtown Disney with friends/family visiting during Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July, Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and I’ve always found parking.  I’ve never spent more than 10 minutes looking for parking, that includes time driving extremely slow in anticipation of children running across the road and/or other insanity that happens when people are on vacation.

    In fact, the parking behind La Nouba/West End is always a sure bet (the last parking light/entry).  There are many opportunities for parking at Downtown Disney – were they in one lot and kept circling? If they really needed to be there, they could have parked at a nearby resort (Saratoga Springs/Old Key West/etc) and took a bus if there were absolutely no spots.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I HATE the “my autistic kid” card. How was that supposed to help? Were you supposed to hire a charter just for the family because of this?

    I would’ve made sure to put them in bad seats…or broken them up and made them beg other PAX to trade.

    But then, I’m the heartless one of the group.

  • BillCCC

    I had to vote no. Once again poor planning is saved by an appeal to to the TT. I suspect that they did not want to pay for parking rather than unavailable parking.

    The mention of Cirque being able to cancel without warning while a guest cannot was a little unfair. They can cancel at the last moment but you will get a refund. If a guest could cancel at the last moment and obtain a refund the show would lose money.  It had nothing to do with the problem at hand.

  • Jackie Smith

    I don’t know if they should refund or re-issue tickets however there are other things that could be done to avoid this situation. As Chris mentioned in the story when issuing the tickets there could be a disclaimer added in there. The OP’s friends could’ve taken mass transportation in. They could’ve given themselves more of a lead time to ensure this didn’t happen and so on.

    On a personal experience note; about 8 years ago we had tickets to Black Crowes and Tom Petty at the Tweeter Center (or whatever name incarnation they’ve decided to go with.) It was a Friday night in June and while traffic is normally backed up it was well into ludicrous proportions. We gave ourselves almost a 3 hour headstart for what typically is under an hour drive. Every route was blocked through Philly. When we finally made it into Camden every street was backed up with traffic. Cops were trying to direct traffic. Parking lots were at capacity and closed. When we finally did manage to get into a lot we still had to walk 10 blocks or so. At this point we were about 2 hours late for the show but my other half was determined to see SOMETHING at that point. We were surprised when we got in and the Black Crowes had just come on. Since the traffic was so bad the Venue had held back the start of the show to allow more time for people to get in.

    Now for my vote? I vote no. They should not reissue/refund the tickets. I wouldn’t have expected it in my situation even though the circumstances were completely out of my control. They simply needed to plan better and from reading other comments it sounds as if there’s plenty of other avenues available if time had been spent planning a bit more.

  • Edward

    I am sorry…there is simply no way these people circled for over 2 hours at Downtown Disney looking for parking.  The lot behind CDS is enormous and always has parking even on the busiest of days.  In addition, there is FREE bus transportation to the area from any of the near by resorts.  There is more to this story that is not being told, because as is it does not hold water.  CDS owes them nothing.

  • Amy Bradley-Hole

    I’ve been to that parking lot in person hundreds of times. It’s not that large, considering everything that is going on in the Downtown Disney area. It can fill up quickly even when there is no show and no holiday. And there is no other large parking area available nearby.

  • TonyA_says

    Is there bus, taxi, or hotel shuttle service in that area?
    Are there NO ALTERNATIVES in Orlando?
    Also your post contradicts what other people here say about the same place. What gives?

  • lorcha

    They were probably stuck and couldn’t get out. That’s the only rational explanation that I can think of.

  • lorcha

    I think it’s a matter of expectations. Nobody expects a theater in Times Square to provide parking for its patrons. There are plenty of other good options to get to Times Square. I’m not sure where this Cirque show was, but it could be that arriving by car was the only reasonable way to get there.

  • frostysnowman

    Amy is correct.  I have also been to that parking lot and Downtown Disney many, many times.  There is definitely not enough parking and one can absolutely get caught up in looking for s sport for a long, long time.  there really nare no altrernatives for parking there unless you happen to be a resort guest and take the shuttle.  But it doesn’t sound like the OP’s friends stayed at a Disney hotel that would have allowed for it.

  • TonyA_says

    How unfortunate.  But if I got in stuck in traffic in Manhattan or any bridge getting into NYC, I don’t think a Broadway show will refund my tickets. And, I won’t go to Chris to complain about it.

  • TonyA_says

    This still does NOT explain how other people made it to the show on time AND why CDS is responsible for those that didn’t.

    As I said in my other post, HPN airport does not have enough long term parking so I have to make ALTERNATIVE plans if I use that airport for a long holiday. Why doesn’t this same logic apply to people watching La Nouba?

  • lorcha

    On the one hand, having an autistic kid can make arriving someplace on schedule difficult. It’s just unpredictable how he’s going to be at any given moment. On the other hand, presumably the family knows this, and will allow extra time to manage the transition. 

    On the other other hand, if the kid really made them late, the customer should have apologized and explained the situation honestly, rather than trying to blame the airline for the holiday traffic. And yes, the airline could have helped. It could have tried to book them on another airline. That would be unusual for a situation where the customer was at fault, but you never know. Maybe the ticket agent had a kid/niece/nephew/whatever who was autistic and would take pity on them. Anyway, berating the ticket agent was never going to help.

  • lorcha

    I think it’s all a matter of expectations. If you were going to a show in Times Square from somewhere outside of Manhattan, there is no way on earth you’d cut it close on timing. You’d come in early, have dinner in NYC, etc. 

    From what other have said, there is tons of parking on-site, even during peak times, so maybe their story isn’t as honest as it should have been. On the other hand, even venues with ample parking can be a disaster without staff to direct traffic.

  • TonyA_says

    I used to drive in to New York City almost daily (including watching Yankees and Mets games). I never had to circle any block or area for more than 2 hours to find parking. It’s hard to believe that a Di$ney (thank Raven) resort is worse than NYC. This sounds to me like extreme parking entitlement!

  • Raven_Altosk

    You are assuming there were other flights on other airlines. Yes, but this special snowflake acted as if the airline should bring a plane out of a hanger just for her.
    I have no tolerance for that kind of behavior. 

    My nephew is autistic and his parents (and the rest of the family) would never DARE use him as an excuse.

    Sorry for the edits…this browser keeps cutting me off.

  • S E Tammela

    I also found it bizarre that an event is supposed to provide parking. And that’s assuming everyone will, or should, drive their own cars to get there. 

  • IGoEverywhere

    Have you ever tried to park near a theatre in NYC? People don’t miss shows due to parking. You should know that there is alternate parking with a long walk, or take the bus, but 2 hours looking for a parking spot? Ridiculous!

  • EvilEmpryss

    I’m going to assume that these people:
    -didn’t have a map of the area
    -didn’t have internet phones
    -didn’t have a computer with them and/or didn’t have wi-fi in their hotel room
    -didn’t know the area at all before going

    Even with all of that, I still say that they should not get a refund because it was poor planning on their part.  They booked at a hotel with plans for a fun-filled vacation.  Meaning they had time in advance to figure out where they were going and how they were going to handle parking. 

    No map? Every hotel lobby in the area has a stand packed with pamphlets giving directions to the different attractions and they include parking directions.  I’d be willing to bet good money there was even a stack with the Cirque’s performance on it.

    No way to get maps off the internet and no familiarity with the area?  Good lord that’s what the hotel staff is there to help with!  A quick question to the people at the desk would have given them a wealth of information on where to park, how to get there, and how long they could expect to take finding parking.  Not to mention the staff usually know the cheap and/or free places to park or maybe even (wait for it) provided a shuttle from their hotel to the event for free!

    Lack of planning on their part should not constitute a reason for refund on Cirque’s part.  That Cirque did it anyway was very nice of them.

  • FirstClassRogue


  • FirstClassRogue

    Parking????  Really?  Wow, the idiot parade never ends…

  • TonyA_says

    Exactly. I drive in to JFK at least 4-5 hours before a flight! It’s better for my heart.

  • Rosered7033

    Voted no – I cannot imagine spending almost 3 hrs. trying to find a parking spot.  At some point, you cut your losses, go back to the hotel (or spot you can park) and catch a cab/bus.  Maybe there WAS no parking within a reasonable distance.  That is why, if you are unfamiliar with a venue/area, you do some research, leave yourself plenty of time, and have the flexibility to come up with a Plan B. I also think it was generous of Cirque to refund, but that they did it doesn’t surprise me much.

  • NoJets

    She did not blame the autism for being late. The autism discussion came out after the person blamed her lateness on traffic and parking… which, according to her, were caused by the airline…and also after I had offered to put them on the next flight which happened to be the first flight the next morning. 

    I believe the autistic child card was played to try and get a better flight re-accommodation, which was not possible. It was the last flight of the night from the AIRPORT (any airline) to their destination. 

    Autistic child or not, being berated by her or nice to me…in either case it would not have changed the available options in this case.

  • NoJets

    Believe it or not, it would have been hard for them to do that. She caused a scene and all my colleagues saw it and saw how I handled it. Even got a compliment on how calm I was the whole time from the next customer I assisted.

    BTW…we put comments in the record for everyone to read. So if she had come back to another agent, that agent would have probably had me come over to continue the discussion.

  • TonyA_says

    we put comments in the record for everyone to read. So if she had come
    back to another agent, that agent would have probably had me come over
    to continue the discussion.

    Thank you. That is what I was trying to tell Carver yesterday when he suggested shopping around Service Reps. I am glad you do that [enter comments]. I hate it when customers use service agents as punchbags.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    It must have been at the permanent Cirque theater located at Downtown Disney (at least that’s what the photo is of). That is a well-known and gigantic conglomeration of restaurants and shops. There is a lot of parking there, but it also attracts huge crowds. 
    Interestingly enough, I checked out the Cirque website and while they offer directions to the theater, they say absolutely nothing about parking. If it’s anywhere close to commonplace for people to not be able to find any parking even when arriving an hour prior to the show, you’d think they might make some mention that. Many Orlando hotels, at least those close to Disney, offer free shuttles to Downtown Disney and all the Disney hotels have free transportation there.

  • TonyA_says

    If parking was really that bad for that specific night, then why didn’t CDS offer a system wide, no questions asked refund voucher? Seems like the only reason they did it to for the couple was because they were friends of Chris. I hope this doesn’t become a new entitlement.

  • EvilEmpryss

    First, the Parking Lot Vultures aren’t friends of Chris, they’re friends of Jenni Turbeville.  No “new entitlements” by claiming to be a Friend of Chris (a FOCer?  :p)

    A no-questions-asked voucher?  No way.  That kind of thing brings out the scam artists.  Suddenly everybody and their brother who missed the show for any reason or no reason at all (plus the scammers who will try to say they had tickets but for whatever reason can’t prove they had tickets) wil come crawling out of the woodwork.

    People with legitimate claims will call and be addressed accordingly.  No need to chum the waters.

  • TonyA_says

    My mistake, then. Sorry. Sometimes I can’t easily figure out if Chris is ‘talking’ or when he is quoting the OP. Depending on which browser I use and whether I’m on a laptop or tablet, the quotes look different.

    Nevertheless, is it correct to assume, they only got their reissue because Chris intervened? And, otherwise such request would have been laughable?

  • y_p_w

    There was a U2 concert in Oakland last year that turned into a disaster for parking.

    I’ve been there for baseball games that drew more than 50,000, and we were shuttled to an overflow lot, as well as dual events at the stadium and arena.  I think a lot of people thought that it might run late and there wouldn’t be enough public transportation.  However, there was ample public transportation.

  • Cybrsk8r

    I’ve been to that show, and I can tell you that parking is always a challenge.  The CDS show is located within a promenade area which is almost an amusement park in itself.  I believe it’s called “Downtown Disney”.  I went on a weeknight with my Aunt and it still took a while to find parking.

  • EvilEmpryss

    Yeah, usually Chris starts out with “So-and-so said”.  *shrug*  Mistakes happen.  No big.  :)

    And almost everyone who comes to Chris only does so because they’ve already been denied by the company they’re trying to get a refund from.   No surprise that his intervention worked.  It’s what he does and he does it well.

  • Harry Baxter

    You can’t run a business that allows customers to come when they’re able to, or want to. Orlando is a difficult town to navigate. When I’m staying with friends in Coastal FL, and flying out of Orlando, I make it a point to leave their home a least 3 hours before flight time. Check off the loss as a “lesson learned” and leave earlier the next time.

  • SoBeSparky

    A thunderstorm is beyond your control.  A babysitter showing up late is beyond your control.  A traffic  accident is beyond your control.  Blah blah blah.  Why wasn’t the hotel closer to the performance?  That was not beyond their control.

  • bc

    It’s not the idiocy or complete lack of common sense that gets me with some of these articles, it’s the entitlement mentality. Someone else is always responsible, someone should bear the cost of whatever happened and the consumer should always be reimbursed by the big bad corporation because it’s somehow their “moral’ duty to reimburse them or they should have contingencies for every possible scenario. 

    That’s what gets me. 

  • Michael__K

    This still does NOT explain how other people made it to the show on time 


    We have no idea how many people did or didn’t make it to the show on time.

    And I bet a disproportionate number of those who made it either:
    (a) were Disney resort guests 
    (b) arrived hours earlier and shopped/dined in Downtown Disney 
    (c) were locals who knew a few tricks. 

  • $16635417

    It’s a matter of perspective. I’ve never been late to a concert…but I HAVE had to wait at the venue for a late start due to late arriving people! ;) 

  • Michael__K

    In addition to the matter of expectations that lorcha mentions (the tickets say to arrive 30 minutes earlier, which by the OP’s account they did with plenty of time to spare), keep in mind that Disney is essentially a large private city that is almost twice as big as Manhattan.  

    The parking and transportation situation is completely in their control (very unlike the case for a Broadway production).

  • Michelle B.

    I’ve been to that parking lot many times too. And if I can’t find parking in the 1st 15 minutes, I pull up to the Valet, since there is Valet parking right around the middle of Downtown Disney (Pleasure Island area).

  • TonyA_says

    You are suppose to be in the theatre 30 minutes before the show so they have time to sit you. Driving and parking NOT INCLUDED.

  • Michael__K

    [Duplicate comment removed – sorry]

  • Michael__K

    [Duplicate comment removed — reply threading was temporarily not working for me]

  • Michael__K

    What gets me is the caveat emptor attitude of comments like this one.

    In this case the corporation is also the property owner of a resort larger than most major cities and has full control over the parking and transportation situation.

    It also has control and subject matter expertise over the information it disseminates to its customers (in this case “arrive at least 30 minutes early” — which the OP allegedly satisfied).  

    But it sounds like you’re arguing that every customer ought to know better than to rely on the corporation’s  own documentation.

  • LFH0

    No place has a “responsibility . . . to provide adequate parking.” Driving a car is a privilege that is not available to everyone. How can there be an obligation to provide a service to some people but not others? I live in New York City, I don’t have either an automobile nor a license to operate an automobile. The bald assertion that there is such a responsibility, if accepted, would place on my shoulders the financial burden of doing so, even though the benefit–of having parking–would not be available to me (this is in contrast to providing public transportation, which by definition, is in fact available to everyone).

  • SallyannJ

    Just wondering, why didn’t one of them get out of the car and go into Cirque to explain the situation and inquire about alternative parking? (or they could have parked at a nearby hotel) Seems like one of them could have been a little more proactive in solving their timing issues rather than both of them just sitting there

  • Rosered7033

    I agree – it sounds like they were adverse to walking or had mobility issues.

  • y_p_w

    Try doing that and seeing how anyone finds their way back to a vehicle after it’s moved.

  • y_p_w

    Isn’t parking in Manhattan something like $20 for the first hour?  I remember visiting and seeing signs saying $20 for the first hour, $10 for the second hour, with a maximum rate of maybe $60.

    i thought that’s why most people take a taxi, although I had an adventure trying to hail a cab a half hour before all the shows started.  I frankly couldn’t get a cab on the way back to where I was staying, and just took my chances with the subway.

  • Lindabator

    They CANNOT control how many people show up to such a large venue – since it is also open to the public, and is NOT in a park, but a seperate area, their level of “control” is a bit more limited.

  • flutiefan

    i also notate the records of those who have caused a problem or whom i think may be potential “shoppers,” as you describe it. the best agents do!

    and i used to get the people NoJets describes ALL THE TIME at 1 of my previous airports. they’d whine, “But i WAS here an hour before departure!”  i’d say, “‘HERE’ refers to the ticket counter, not the airport parking lot. You clearly weren’t here on time.” Or they’d come to the gate claiming they’d waited an hour in security… that’s funny, your boarding pass was issued 14 minutes ago. I’d usually get either a sheepish, “Oh, you can see that?” or “No that’s not true, your system is wrong.”

  • Lindabator

    Having worked for the airlines, and now as a travel agent – I have to admit, some clients just don’t get that – I remember a client calling EVERYONE in our small incentives department when the Denver airport was closed due to weather, and her insisting we put her on American.  When she got me next (we all sat in the same area, knew the story), I told her if she saw American flying, they were circling the airport because they couldn’t land – the airport was closed.  Finally, she said “OH.  The AIRPORT’s closed. okay”  Go figure!

  • Lindabator

    Yes, a venue is NOT responsible for how many people show up to a public space.  There were options – they stayed at a hotel, they had time to go back, and take a taxi.  And have one of them pick up the tickets and wait for them.  THINK, people!

  • Lindabator

    Arrive to the SHOW 30 minutes early – and what do you expect a PUBLIC parking lot to do – hold the number of seats for ONE venue amongst many to guarantee them a space?  Retarded!  It is your responsibility to plan ahead – NO ONE ELSE’S!  You are responsible, so why should everyone else have to pay for your mistakes?  SHEESH!

  • Lindabator

    Fabulous point!  Goes back to that sense of entitlement.  Tsk tsk.

  • Melinda Hartman

    This poll was a tough one for me. I had a very similar problem with Cirque in the past. The show was on the same day as a huge parade and I got very, very lost trying to follow detours and figure out where I was going. (This was before the days of GPS and smartphones!) Once we conceded that we were going to be at least an hour late we turned around and drove the 3 hours back home.
    After getting home I called the number on the back of the ticket and the woman almost immediately forwarded my call to a supervisor. I was offered 2 comp tickets and I was absolutely thrilled with that. It was more than they had to do, but it’s nice when a company goes above and beyond. 

  • wiseword

    If people had brains instead of cars, this problem wouldn’t arise. 
    Why not park somewhere else and take a taxi? Or, God forbid, walk?

  • Michael__K

    This is nothing like a classic urban public parking lot.  It’s all private Disney property for miles in every direction.

    Who suggested that they guarantee anyone a space?  

    Are you suggesting that they carry no responsibility for crowd control (e.g. an overflow traffic & parking plan) on their own property?

    Are you suggesting that it would be okay if they sell more tickets and accept more dining reservations etc. than they can physically handle?  And whoever inevitably loses the game of musical chairs (or parking spaces) is solely reponsible for their plight?

  • TonyA_says

    I just went to the WDW website. Looks like the OP did not need a consumer advocate to get tickets reissued.

    You must enter the theatre at least 10 minutes prior to show time, or
    risk having your seats resold to someone else. You can not get your
    money back, but you can exchange your tickets for another date. We
    recommend arriving 1 hour early as the Cirque du Soleil experience
    begins before the “official” show time. This will also allow time for
    the bathroom and picking up refreshments.

    It clearly states that NO REFUNDS BUT you can exchange your tickets for another date.

  • gritchie

    I wonder if the OP’s friends thought about valet parking? I just Googled ‘Cirque du Soleil Orlando valet parking’ and sure enough, there it was. Also, in the “Question” paragraph under the picture, the OP says that her friends’ “friendship has been unmerited”. I got a chuckle from that. I’m quite sure she meant to say “unrequited”. :-)

  • Michael__K

     there are many websites devoted to how to park at venues

    Can you please share the websites devoted to this venue for us?

    FYI, in this case it seems they all instruct patrons to park at Downtown Disney (ideally in the West-side lot) which is exactly what these folks tried to do.

  • Michael__K

    It couldn’t hurt to try to get the # for a taxi company, but I would be pretty surprised if they could get one that night without waiting for an awfully long time. 

    I like to walk myself and have parked far away and done so many times.  But preferably on sidewalks.  Not on roads not designed for pedestrians for miles on end as what you suggest would probably have required here.

  • bc

    Right, and it’s the unreasonable expectations of customers like you that make companies strictly enforce their policies.

    No, I think if the couple HAD looked at the company’s website they would have known about the parking situation. Second, if they even bothered to read the website (as I did, which took all of 30 seconds), parking is available on any side of the event with bus transportation to the venue and valet parking was available directly in front of the event also. 

    I don’t know about you but when I go to a new theater I go and check out the parking options before I go, or take public transport if I can.

  • bc

    “are you suggesting that it would be okay if they sell more tickets …than they can handle?”

    Why not, airlines do it all the time.

  • bc

    This is what I expect actually happened, there was no parking in what they thought was a reasonable distance so they decided to circle. 

    I agree on the research bit, heck, there’s valet parking available at the venue for pete’s sake. 

  • Meredith Putvin

     Not the event as much as the VEnue and since this seems to be a Cirque du Soliel Venue, then it does fall on them.

  • TonyA_says

    Most folks from Southwest Connecticut (like me) and New Jersey will drive in to Manhattan especially if there are more than 2 people in a car.

    I can take Metro North Train to Grand Central Station (~$10 each way) and walk to Times Square. But remember I still have to park my car at the train station in Connecticut.

    So my break-even is 2 people. (Note: I have only one toll bridge, Henry Hudson, in my driving route.) Also, I drive a Prius so gas costs are minimal. The biggest cost is Parking.

  • Michael__K

    If you read more carefully, you would note that bus transportation is for resort guests only (even if enforcement of that is lax and non-guests “in the know” might get away with using it).

    You’re also making a huge assumption that there was parking available on the East-side (there almost certainly wasn’t) and that valet parking was not maxed out as well.

    If you bothered to read the website, please show us where it provides other parking options.
    I take public transport frequently myself, but there are places where it’s not available.

  • $16635417

    Airlines sell non-refundable and refundable fares that allow for changes up until flight time. 

    I have yet to able to exchange a concert or sporting event ticket for a later or earlier performance.

    If airlines made their tickets a non changeable, use it or lose it type of fare, perhaps they could do away with overbooking.

  • bc

    I would suggest that if you’re purchasing a ticket in excess of $100 for an event in a venue on their property you are indeed a guest. 

    Also, I’m almost 100% sure there was additional parking SOMEWHERE in the park what do you base your assumption that there wasn’t? I know I’ve been hundreds of theme parks around the country/world and I can’t imagine a scenario where there wasn’t some parking somewhere on the venue. 

  • HeyItsK

    Check Google Earth for Downtown Disney if you need to; this is a separate entertainment venue from the parks.  There is not as much parking as there is at the theme parks.  And many people who are not staying on Disney property attend this show.

  • Bryan

    I used to train Reservations Center Cast Members (the people who answer the phones for questions/reservations) so I know a thing or two about operational issues.  One thing Disney excels at is crowd management.  If traffic really was as bad as claimed at Downtown Disney that night, there would have been parking attendants in the lots.  Additionally, when lots are full, they close them and direct guests to overflow space across Buena Vista Dr (the Team Disney building lot or Typhoon Lagoon).

    The chance that this incident occurred as reported is almost nil.

  • Steven Reed Sr.

    They could have taken a cab from their Hotel to the show, parking trouble and the possibility of stolen car or contents, solved!

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  • scapel

    They should have just taken a Taxi.

  • Lindabator

    The venue is the Downtown Disney complex – they are NOT the only venue there – by far!  You can NOT expect each separate venue to have a parking space for each seat – just ridiculous!

  • Lindabator

    It is NOT a part of a private park, but a very public downtown area – so NO – they can not guess how many will show up at any given time, you do not need a ticket to enter, so no control to limit visitors means you take your chances – they have parking available as a courtesy – but you have to realize that courtesy is NOT a guarantee of a spot, and it is RIDICULOUS for folks to even assume it should be!

  • Lindabator

    And WHERE does overbooking come in for a PUBLIC VENUE???  This is NOT a part of the park, where you need a ticket to enter.  So no control over the number of visitors.  They have a huge parking area, but it may not accommodate everyone coming to shop, eat, walk around, see a movie, etc.

  • Lindabator

    AMEN!  And I think that is where the confusion comes in – since Disny cannot take a ticket count of those there, they have no control over the number of visitors at any given time!

  • Michael__K

    That’s why they need an overflow plan.  It’s their property and they can (and do) block sections and re-direct crowds.

    What are they going to tell the fire marshal when they exceed max capacity in some area?  “Sorry, we have no control over the number of visitors?”

  • Michael__K

    Who has control of that?

    What are they going to tell the fire marshal when an area has more visitors than allowed by code?

    Bottom line, if they sell tickets to non-resort visitors, those visitors need a reasonable way to reach the venue (or else they should be eligible for a refund).

  • Jasper Nijdam

    Cirque du Soleil is not responsible for providing parking. Also, they are quite clear about their policy of closing doors when the show starts. And good for them. I hate late comers. In the theatre, at concerts, at any event.

    Cirques traveling shows are often located at places where parking is difficult. If I remember correctly, they were quite clear about that as well when they had one up here in the DC area.

    Finally, Cirque was more than happy to let me change tickets when my wife nearly broke her back. I just went to the box office, explained the story, and asked for tickets at a later show. Cirque was very reasonable, and happy to help.

    Sorry for your friends.

  • TravelHyper

    I was once stuck in Disney’s Sports Stadium area for over 2 hours because they couldn’t handle their parking lot. I was supposed to be taking Disney transportation and for over an hour none of their buses came for us because the parking lot was so full. The ones that did come were already half full so barely anyone got on board. 

    Since La Nouba is also at Disney, I find that Disney needs to work on its transportation options. This is a much bigger problem with their transportation to anything that isn’t a resort or park and that’s why so many guests probably took their own transport to Downtown Disney, leaving this guest searching for a spot like the rest of them.

  • TravelHyper

    It’s not that big of a parking lot, especially if any school group is there to use Disney Quest. Add in the crowds heading to the movie theatre and you’re screwed if there’s a new movie out or people want to eat dinner.

  • TravelHyper

    Disney’s parking lots are set up to allow the most cars to enter a parking lot, assuming guests will find spots. It is very hard to exit lots that are completely full. We saw a Disney bus get stuck for an hour in a parking lot after a rainstorm because there just wasn’t anyplace for that many people to go. The pathways in the parking lot became a parking lot themselves.

  • TravelHyper

    This is not a traveling show, this is a permanent setup on Disney property. Disney owns the entire Downtown Disney area, from parking lots to shops though they lease out space. I’d say Disney needs to take a look at the parking situation as part of their refurbishing of this area.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Actually, being Downtown Disney is a major destination in its own right, predicting how many people will be there not only is possible, but almost certainly is happening given how Disney works at managing crowds. They don’t want tons of complaints about the parking situation.  

    I’ve been to Downtown Disney and find it hard to believe they drove around for 2 full hours, so I’m not really buying their whole story. However, if your tickets suggest getting their a half hour early and you double that, I can see being miffed if parking was non-existent. And the suggested arrival time is completely within Cirque’s control.  I also was rather surprised that their website offered directions to the theater but said nothing at all about parking, not even a disclaimer that it was limited or to allow extra time.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Lots of good advice in hindsight, but once they decided to drive to this show, it was too late. This isn’t a city setting where you can just park a few blocks further away. If the lots really were full, it’s a long ways from Downtown Disney to any other parking and it’s not easy to figure out how to get back there if you aren’t familiar with the area. 

    Ignoring their claim that they drove around or two hours looking for parking, even if they only wasted half an hour trying to park, given they only arrived an hour early, they were going to be late for the show. Even if they knew the nearest Disney resort hotels offered transportation, it’d have taken over half an hour to get parked, get on the boat or bus and gotten to Downtown Disney.

  • Steve_in_WI

    Exactly. I’m surprised how many people think that these people should have simply parked at one of the resorts and taken the shuttle when the stated policy is that the shuttle is for resort guests only (yes, I agree that they almost certainly could have done that – it’s not like the shuttle drivers ask you for a room key).

  • Steve_in_WI

    How much earlier would you have recommended they arrive for the show? Showing up twice as early as the tickets advised (one hour) wasn’t enough; should they have shown up two hours early? Three? Four? Camped out in the parking lot the night before?

    IMHO, “leave earlier the next time” only applies when someone either ignores the venue’s recommendations or cuts it close. There has to be a reasonable limit at which it’s not the customer’s fault anymore.

  • Steve_in_WI

    I think a lot of people are approaching this from a “big-city” mindset and not realizing that this is a completely different situation. As for walking, only a handful of hotels are within walking distance from Downtown Disney; it’s quite possible their hotel was several miles or more away. (And before you say “why didn’t they stay closer to the event”, if they were making a weekend trip of it they may have decided to stay closer to some other attraction they were visiting).

    As for the taxi, I don’t know how viable an option it is in that area but I would guess that between the combination of Disney transportation (which is technically only for resort guests, though as other people have pointed out that’s not enforced) and the fact that many travelers rent a car, it’s not nearly as reliable as it is in, say, downtown NYC or Chicago.

  • Steve_in_WI

    A few thoughts.

    One is that without knowledge of Downtown Disney and the surrounding area, it’s easy to rush to judgment and say that this sounds like a ridiculous complaint. But this isn’t like arriving at an entertainment venue in a big city and finding that the “official” lot is full, but that there’s available parking a few blocks away. If the Downtown Disney lot truly was full, including valet, I can understand why they would feel there were no other options. My recollection is that the only other parking options within walking distance are lots owned by the nearby hotels (which are not Disney-owned), and they’re gated. I don’t know if any of the hotels would allow you to pay for parking in their lots if you aren’t a guest. As others have mentioned, one could drive to one of the Disney resorts and park there, then take the Disney shuttle to Downtown Disney. However, that would technically be dishonest since the shuttle is for Disney resort guests only, even though that’s not really enforced.

    Two, as far as the veracity of the complaint that for over two hours there was literally no parking to be found anywhere, I find it hard to believe but I can’t say for sure. In general, it seems like Disney does a great job with crowd control, etc, and we had a good experience when we went, but I’ve heard complaints that lead me to believe it does break down from time to time.

    Three, one thing that no one seems to have mentioned is the box office response that they are willing to reissue the tickets, but only if the original purchaser comes in person. That seems unreasonable to me; if they’re willing to reissue the tickets, why throw up that roadblock to make it more difficult?