Should Disney bring hard-ticket holiday parties to Disneyland Park?
HalloweenTime 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.)
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?
Implementing a hard-ticket event certainly makes sense. It ensures that crowds are under control and at the same time brings in more money and hopefully more guests.
It's funny, I was just down at Disneyland this morning on a my day off and I was thinking about how recently my wife and I have been taking afternoon/slash evening trips down to try and catch the new "Fantasmic". During these late day trips we have found parking to be horrendous. Mainly because there is no one to guide the way. There are not even signs to tell you how many parking spaces are available on each level of the Mickey and Friends structure.
As a stockholder, I agree, yes, they should.
As a premium annual pass holder I wouldn't want to pay extra for any event at Disneyland Park. And for non annual pass holders I would think that the cost of admission would have to drop significantly since the event is only for a few hours in the night and not for the entire day and night.
Yeah, I'm a west coast guy, but I submit that Disneyland has had a better record of execution in recent years than WDW. So I would expect that standard of quality to extend to hard ticket events as well.
We go to WDW around Christmas time and we always plan our trip around Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party. We love it. You can ride all the major rides with little or no wait. The special fireworks and shows are a plus. You get hot cocoa and cookies at different places free. You used to get a picture but not this past year when we visited. You get to see more characters dressed up with little wait. I recommend doing this party to all my friends.
Disney needs to significantly jack up the prices of APs, it's gotten out of control. An across the board 50% increase on all APs would thin out the crowds a bit. If they can't do that, then make it a hard ticket for APers only, and let the people who bought a ticket for a day at the park stay the entire day at the park. That would be much fairer.
My family and I all went this last Sunday and didn't have a problem finding parking and got good seats for the Fireworks (we entered at 8:30p.m.) and Fantasmic. Additionally they added a 3rd show at 11:30, for which we got even better seats. One of the reasons we have the Annaul Pass is for the special events which we usually go to more than once. So I would have to say NO to a hard ticket since we enjoy going on the off evenings because of our whacked work schedules.
Disagree. One hard ticket event at DCA is enough. It's ridiculous to inconvenience the Disneyland patrons just because of bad parking. Also, the message is wrong. It sounds like you're working for Disney and not an advocate for guests and fans. There are already so many inconveniences for fans that I wonder why anyone should bother!!!
My family has Premium/Deluxe Annual Passes for a reason. We go to Disneyland on Friday nights as a treat for my daughter when she's had a good week in school. As it is we miss DCA during the fall and winter due to the early closing time. Were they to institute a hard-ticket policy we would have to seriously re-think our AP level. If I'm going to have to give up Fridays, I may as well pay less and purchase So Cal Select.
For the record, I would see a massive decline in the number of APs at Disneyland as a plus for the park, not a negative. I think that the user experience would improve if the number of guests in the park matched natural school and holiday schedules, instead of being dictated by AP blockout days.
As a frequent visitor to WDW FLA,I HATE the idea -- and I look at it as corporate greed at its ugliest. To spend the enormous amount of money to travel to WDW, purchase the resort/park pass combo, only to be evicted from the park early b/c of the "special event," is beyond frustrating. WDW has more than just the Halloween event and the Christmas event, it also has Pirates and Princesses events and goodness knows whatever else. It is another way to squeeze money out of its visitors, in my opinion. I hate the practice.
Let's look at this one more way: from an economics perspective.
No, absolutely not. However, implementing a complete (and I mean COMPLETE) AP blackout around the holidays and lowering the price of a one-park, one-day ticket to $55 for everyone is something I wish Disney would experiment with. Instead of free-entry AP visitors, every single person would have to pay an entry fee, increasing attendance revenue, decreasing overall crowds and increasing per-capita spending. APs would scream and holler and cry out, but they'd be crocodile tears, as the true Disney fan would still go.
"So the best solution isn't to block out those entire days"
Here's the comedy: DL set the standard for hard ticket events back in the 60s/70s with Gospel Night and a few private parties extending into the early 80s. With the advent of the "Passport" and "Annual Pass" the hard ticket concept slowly went away on the West Coast only to be slowly (and successfully) implemented on the East Coast.
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