I've read a few times that DHS was kind of thrown-together by Eisner because he knew Universal Studios was coming. So he pushed to have a movie themed park for Disney. From what I understand, not much planning went into DHS.
However, I'm surprised that Disney didn't have an expansion plan for this park in the future. People keep saying it is "landlocked" by the different roads surrounding it. I have a hard time processing that, because I thought Disney learned from Disneyland to build parks with enough room around them to grow in the future. So, why wasn't DHS conceived this way?
I kind of have the impression that DHS was a "good enough" park that was built just to try to keep guests from going to Universal. Animal Kingdom has always felt like Disney's attempt to keep people from going to Busch Gardens. I think they are pretty successful with that, though, because I've never felt the need to to go Busch since I can see animals at DAK.
I wonder if Harry Potter changed things for a lot of people, since they are indeed going to Universal now to see Harry. I know that the only reason I ever went to Islands of Adventure was to see Harry Potter. I never felt any need to go see Universal before that. I will be going back to see the expansion of Harry Potter too.
My gut tells me that Star Wars might be done well enough that it could be an attempt from Disney to keep guests on property, if they want an immersive movie environment Disney is going to offer Star Wars and people can choose if they want to do that or go to Potter. If Disney was smart, they'd build a fantasy themed area too at DHS so people could be immersed in that instead of wanting to go to the wizarding world of Potter. I think an Emerald City of Oz could achieve that on some level. Though, let's face it, Potter is it's own unique thing and has staying power for many years.
I think the appeal of getting a wand and becoming a Wizard or Witch is what will drive people to want to go to Universal. But that same drive can be had in a Star Wars land, where people can get a light saber and become a Jedi. If they build this land, it will be massively popular.
I have a hard time believing that Disney doesn't see that the traffic patterns will change wildly as a result and that DHS will become super-popular in the future with Star Wars.
I hope the higher-ups take this as a sign that 1) a more adult Halloween event can be a big draw for the Studios and 2) the parking there needs to be fixed (going vertical is the only way I can see).
As for the Villans event it was really good and really bad. There was no middle ground. The event and fireworks were amazing. The parking, crowds and lack of planning were horrible.
All of the shows and Toy Story Mania were closed and that was part of the problem. If more attractions had been open it would have given people more to do. Its no wonder the park was packed like MK on New Years Eve. People had almost no where to go. The park was at capacity but the available area for people was effectively cut in half due to everything being up front. I think they should have had the villains characters back in the streets. It would have cut the crowds in the front of the park and given them a greater area to control the lines.
I have a feeling that there are going to be a lot of number crunchers at Disney looking at this and trying to figure out improvements for when Star Wars comes to town. The needs are many.
I Respond: Why can't they go to both?
We can complain about the planning and parking but the event was a huge success for Disney. Who would've thought the park could hit capacity in the middle of September?? Now Disney knows how popular this event is, and if they repeat it in the future, they will be better prepared.
I would love to see this become a yearly event for DHS and for DCA. Both parks could fully handle it once Park Operations had a grasp on the event. DHS could build a tent similar to Darth Mall to ease traffic flow. DCA still has plenty of space to make this work. I honestly wouldn't complain if this became a hard ticket event next year. In both parks you could even utilize only a portion of the park to make it work. Thoughts?
I Respond: I'm not so sure that accurate attendance stats would support that assessment.
It isn't all about the rides. Most people say they keep coming back to Disney for the friendliness of the Cast Members, the cleanliness of the parks, the immersive environments, the special events, etc. Universal has nothing on Disney in those aspects. Theyre improving, sure, but they have a long way to go. I personally love that in Animal Kingdom and Epcot (World Showcase and the Seas in particular), you have two parks that you can spend almost all day walking around in without having to get on a single ride or see a single show. You can't say that about USF or IOA.
I am thinking that it not that Universal has to raise it's cleaniness or customer service to Disney's level, but that they just have to wait as Disney's service and ride maintenance constantly drops.
Also Disney might sit on it's laurels so long, it might find it loses it audience. I don't know too many tweens or teenagers who are too interested in Disney properties. Star Wars and Marvel are the only ones. We take our children to Disney and put on the movies because of our memories of Disney. The kids are excited because we are excited.
I am not so sure that my children are going to feel the same way when they grow up and have children.
They don't? News to me. Islands of Adventure is wonderfully immersive and themed. The employees seemed just fine to me -- no better or worse than the cast members at Walt Disney World.
Attendance numbers are great -- that's what the park is going for; but to say that means one park is better than the other seems a little silly. We live in a world where Transformers grossed over a billion dollars. Is it the best movie you've ever seen? No, but it appeals to the lowest common denominator. Good for them.
It should also be noted that you can be very good and very popular.
I was at the event, arrived around 5 pm, had no problem driving in and getting a parking spot even though the lots were filling up. The lot attendants were letting people drive in and fill empty spots rather than force everyone to the outermost areas (maybe they were used already, couldn't tell).NOTE: the toll attendants have stopped their crazy AP Nazi interrogations at DHS and MK that weekend.
I met up with some internet groups people that I have been "eventing" with for a few years. They (we) staked out a great viewing area center stage less than 100 feet away. As some of us went to do rides etc. the others kept the area claimed. Always had a good place for the DJ, stage show and fireworks. Just had to get through the crowds to get back which was taxing.
I didn't care about photos with the Villains but those areas next to Echo Lake were packed by 7pm, terrible decision to place them there. The Disney provided pre-event info said the Villains would be scattered to the outskirts of DHS, they didn't do that. All the people were crammed into the center of the park all night. They had 13 villains, they should have had 13 meet & greets run simultaneously. I only saw 2 with villains switching out but the crowds were so bad I really have no idea how many there were.
Disney did not provide an event map, the only thing was a 2-in block on the daily Times Guide that didn't really detail anything.
I only wanted to see the stage show, listen to the music and watch the special fireworks show. I got to do all that, also do RnR, ToT and ST3D twice each so I had a very successful experience.
Would I have liked to "meet" more villains? Of course! That part of the event was very poorly planned. Streets of America would have been a much better staging area. I also think there should have been 1 line with multiple character greetings like is done at EPCOT. I hope they bring the villains out more now that the demand is clear.
This should've been a hard ticketed event or passholders should've been excluded and required to purchase a ticket. Clearly demand exceeded capacity.
Again, another indication that there is great demand for the villains and Disney is failing on this front.
Also, as I've been seeing emails and ads for the Harry Potter Spectacular at Universal (or whatever it's called) where you can buy a packaged deal specifically for the event, I think Disney would be wise to come up with a similar offering, incorporating the Yacht & Beach Club, and Boardwalk resorts, which allow guests to walk to DHS.
I can forgive Disney for not foreseeing this occurring. This time. It'd never happened before. They should have planned better, but I can forgive them.
Next year/next time, however? There is no excuse. Something must be done.
And Disney really needs to incorporate parking structures while also widening the entrances and adding at least one more toll both (two more lanes). As with EPCOT and MK, having the lanes isn't always necessary, but during peak times or special events, they are awfully useful.
More than any other park in the entire world, DHS is the one I keep my eye on. It has such potential, but there are a litany of problems, and I'm so very curious to see how they navigate the years ahead.
I honestly don't understand not giving people what they clearly want.