Disney's 'Villains' event highlights need for infrastructure improvements at Hollywood Studios
Written by Robert Niles
Fans are still buzzing about Friday night's "Unleash the Villains" "Limited Time Magic" event at Disney's Hollywood Studios (and Disneyland). Huge crowds pummeled both parks, but we heard the most response from fans who'd attended the Florida version of the event. Here are selected comments from Theme Park Insider readers:Tweet
"We attempted to go last night in Orlando (around 8pm), but after sitting in traffic for two hours with no end in sight, we called it off. We were within 1 mile of the entrance to Hollywood Studios for the entire two hours, but barely moved. There was no Disney traffic control or other signs directing traffic to alternate routes."
Some of the Disney villains at the Hades stage show during the Friday the 13th event at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo courtesy Disney
"It was a complete train wreck at DHS. They sold out of all the merch hours before the event even began, it was unbelievably poorly staffed and organized, and the combination of the heat, the size of the crowd, and the stupid alcoholic drinks made it downright dangerous. Not sure how they could have screwed it up any worse. We were incredibly disappointed."
"We were stuck in traffic forever, until we decided to park at a resort and walk the rest of the way. Once we were there the line to see the villains was incredibly long, however we did get some good pictures of them (just not with them) in the viewing areas. The Hades show was fun, but the best part of the night was the Villainy in the Sky fireworks. The coolest fireworks show I've seen on Disney property. The lack of merchandise was a little disappointing, apparently most of it had sold out during the day before the event even began."
"I parked at fantasia mini golf and walked, heard one guest say he was on a WDW bus for 3 hours before he got there. The lines to meet the villains was horrific and if you stayed in it you only got a pic with the villain that was available not the one you waited in line for. Cast members were outstanding! But a better plan needs to be in place for next time. BEST FIREWORKS SHOW DISNEY HAS EVER DONE!"
"Both the Florida State Troopers and Orange County Sheriffs were redirecting traffic and turning cars away once park capacity was quickly reached by 8:30p or so. The costumed characters looked fantastic as did the many guests who appeared in costume - plenty of pictures taken by all. Safe to say even Disney was surprised by the massive crowds for this first ever Disney Villains party."
Here's the "Villainy in the Sky" fireworks show, courtesy one Theme Park Insider reader:
The villains fireworks show impressed not just because of the massive volume of pyro that Disney shot up. Villains often have great music, and Disney cut together an impressive soundtrack for this show. No thin pop tunes or whimsical melodies here. Disney started with great classical music, then worked in some of its classic villains themes, too. It was a master class in musical accompaniment for themed entertainment, and an example of how powerfully Disney can impress an audience when it's on top of its game.
But the complaints about access into the park, limited park capacity and staffing for the event raised some tough questions for Disney. And not just as it looks ahead to other special events in the future, either. Remember, Hollywood Studios is where Disney's planning to build Star Wars land. And Friday night demonstrated that DHS is in no condition to handle an onslaught of new fans. Star Wars could make Friday night's crowd the everyday crowd at DHS. And that should worry Disney fans and managers alike.
If Disney's going to do Star Wars land right, we won't simply see a fresh overlay of existing park facilities. We will need to see some major infrastructure work around Disney's Hollywood Studios, including new access and exit lanes from the park, expanded Disney transportation, and a larger parking lot. Sited properly, new park entrance lanes could free space for an expansion of the park around the existing Star Tours ride (it bumps up against the current entrance lanes from World Drive). The park's going to need that extra space to accommodate a larger capacity.
Were you there Friday night? Let's continue the conversation, in the comments.
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