Should Disney bring hard-ticket holiday parties to Disneyland Park?
By Robert NilesHalloweenTime at Disneyland's become a huge success, making parking at and entering the resort area on weekend evenings a nightmare for many Southern California theme park fans. Al Lutz at MiceAge today details the mess that I also tweeted last weekend: Annual Passholders are flooding into the parking areas on Friday evenings and Saturdays, forcing Disneyland to close the parks to all visitors. It used to be that main gate shut-downs only happened during the ultra-busy week between Christmas and New Year's. Now, it's a weekly occurrence in October (and December, too, but I'll get to that in a few minutes.)
Published: October 13, 2009 at 10:55 AM
HalloweenTime at Disneyland
Disneyland's cut off sign-in privileges for cast members on Fridays in October, and will probably use this as an excuse for yet another price increase on annual passes. But I believe that there is a much more elegant, effective... and, frankly, lucrative, solution that Disneyland's missing:
Disneyland needs to go "hard-ticket" on Friday and Saturday evenings in October.
Close the park at 5 pm on those days, then reopen at 7 pm for "Mickey's HalloweenTime Party." Bring the trick-or-treating over from Disney's California Adventure, sell great Halloween-themed street food throughout the park, run Fantasmic! at 8 and 10, blast the special Halloween fireworks at 9 and - here's the highlight - stage an all-new "Disney's Villains Parade" at 10 or 11.
Sell 25,000 tickets per night, priced at $55 for adults and $45 for kids, and this would become yet another cash cow for the Disneyland Resort. (If the parties don't sell out immediately, Disney could give APs a $10 discount. Trust me, at $45/$35 this event definitely would sell out.)
Disney sells thousands of tickets for its trick-or-treating event at DCA, but nowhere near as many as it could sell for this event at Disneyland. In addition, AP are far more likely to drive out to visit Disneyland than DCA, if given a choice. Having the hard ticket event at DCA simply overloads Disneyland on weekend evenings, as we are seeing now. Switching the hard ticket event to the original park not only makes the company more money, it helps eliminate the traffic flow problems that now plague the resort.
Right now, APs are drifting into the resort throughout the afternoon and early evening, making it hard for Disneyland parking staff to efficiently pack the resort's parking areas, as Lutz described. With a hard ticket event at Disneyland, there is a much smaller "after work" crowd showing up to the resort between 3 and 6. The evening crowd comes in a wave before the party begins at 7. And most of the day-time crowd will have left the resort early, clearing space for those evening party-goers.
A hard-ticket event allows Disney to limit the number of attendees without turning away APs or employees sign-ins, whose passes would not get them into the event anyway. It also maximizes the ticket revenue in a crowded Disneyland, replacing APs with ticket-buying visitors (who very well might be APs, but they had to buy an extra ticket to get in).
So what's it this for theme park fans? A more orderly crowd, easier entry into the park, free candy for the kids, a cool new parade and a "special event" feel that Disneyland deserves during a holiday season. To me, that would be worth the extra charge, Heck, hundreds of thousands of visitors pay that at Walt Disney World in October and December.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World
To that end, I'd bring "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party" to Anaheim, as well. We're going to see the same parking and crowd-control problems in Anaheim on weekend evenings in December as we are seeing now. A hard-ticket event will be the best way to handle that then, as well.
The holiday overlay attractions - Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain and It's a Small World, would continue to be open to day-time guests, who also would enjoy the park's holiday decor. So the addition of these hard-ticket parties would in no way diminish the enjoyment of the season for Disneyland guests who visit during the day. But they would provide wonderful new creative challenges for Disney's entertainment, foods and Imagineering teams, funded by a lucrative new source of revenue for the resort.
It's rare when theme park fans suggest that parks to charge them more money. But in this case, I think that hard-ticket Halloween and Christmas events at Disneyland Park would benefit fans as well as the park.
What do you think?
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