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Well-Meaning Grandparents Bought $10,000 In Gift Cards To Take Their Whole Family To Disney & Realized They Were For The Streaming Service Disney+

Photo: Donna R. Theimer AIFD / Shutterstock
Disney World at Christmas

A family is heaving sighs of relief after strangers on the internet helped them fix a huge mistake their elderly grandparents made in planning their big Christmas trip to Disney World. A mistake that is so easy to make it apparently happens all the time.

The grandparents accidentally bought $10K in Disney Plus gift cards instead of ones for Disney World.

A Christmas trip to Disney World is many people's dream. The Magic Kingdom's usual 57,000 daily visitors skyrocket the week between Christmas and New Year's, as do all the other parks within the Disney World resort. So much so that the parks fill 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 Andi and her large, extended family decided to take a family trip to Disney this Christmas, they had a perfect idea for beating both the rush and the high prices. 

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The grandparents had been planning to take the family to Disney for Christmas in 2020, but it was delayed due to the pandemic. 

In a video, Andi shared that her elderly parents had been in the midst of planning their Christmas 2020 Disney trip for them and their 14 children and grandchildren when the pandemic struck. 



Given all the uncertainty, they decided to put the $10,000 for the trip on Disney gift cards. Gift cards are routinely on sale by retailers for less than the face value, so they thought it would save them money on the trip. Plus, the money would be all ready and squared away once they were ready to rebook everything, allowing them to get a jump on the holiday park and dining reservations rush.

But when Andi went home for a recent visit for the weekend, her elderly parents asked 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'd purchased.

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The grandparents had mistakenly bought $10K in Disney+ gift cards, so Andi immediately went to TikTok to ask for advice.

"We need help," Andi wrote in the onscreen text, clarifying that they didn't need actual money, just assistance in how to convert their gift cards after finding no way to actually do so on any of Disney's websites.

In follow-up videos, Andi explained what happened. Like many boomers and other senior citizens, her parents weren't familiar with streaming services, and to the uninitiated, the gift cards just looked like regular Disney cards. Since they'd already scratched off the redemption codes, they couldn't be returned or exchanged. They purchased the lot online so there was no one to stop them from plunking down 10 grand on the wrong stack of cards.

And they were not alone. Andi received scores of comments from people who said either they or their parents made the exact same mistake. 



Andi shared that both she and her husband are social workers, so not in a position to foot the bill for their Disney trip themselves. That's why their parents had sprung for everyone's trip in the first place.

As their efforts to rectify the situation dragged on, some of the parks began to fill up. Andi said the Magic Kingdom had already booked up entirely for the two main days of their trip, so time was running out. 

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The TikToker got major backlash after her videos went viral, but it ended up saving their Christmas Disney trip in the end. 

Andi was shocked by the response her videos received. Her initial video sharing that her parents bought $10000 in Disney+ gift cards got more than two million views and made it over to Twitter, where it subsequently went viral too. 

The responses that flooded in started out being kind and helpful, but as so often happens online, they quickly curdled into an angry backlash.

People accused Andi of making the whole thing up to solicit money from strangers. Others blamed her for not purchasing the cards for her elderly parents and lambasted her for what they saw as an overly privileged person asking for help with their own incompetent mistake. 



But as also so often happens online, the tidal wave of hate only made her videos go more and more viral. Before long, people who actually wanted to help had gotten Andi an email address for a senior Disney staff member who handles their gift card program. 

It worked. With just days to go before they departed for their big Christmas Disney trip, Andi's parents were contacted by a Disney staffer who converted their $10,000 in Disney+ gift cards to Parks gift cards. 



In her final update, Andi expressed her gratitude for people's help and also her hope that her experience would push Disney to come up with a better gift card system that would prevent anyone else from having a similar mishap in the future.

Acknowledging how many people live paycheck to paycheck, she said that while "financially, this was not [a problem] for my parents," there are scores of people for whom this sort of mishap "would have been disastrous." 

Thankfully, in the meantime, there are kind strangers out there willing to help salvage what will now still be a very Merry Christmas at Disney World. 

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.