Thousands of guests crowded the Studios for Saturday's event, and the Halloween dessert party likely will sell out, too. But some Disney fans are finding the upcharges for these events to be a bit, well, villainous.
Still, Disney wouldn't be able to upcharge for these events if no one found value in them. Reader Mitchell Botwin offered this report from the Villains Unleashed event:
The event was a lot of fun and was very crowded. The Villainous Greetings were all over the park with 17 different villains. The Wandering Evil were at Hades Hangout, Streets of America, Star Tours and Epic Stunt Theater.
Food and Beverage included The Brown Derby was Club Evil serving Voodoo Wings and one bad apple drinks. Quick service locations had Villainous Hot Dogs with Hades face in the buns and Maleficent Cupcakes.
The big entertainment included:
- Hades Hangout on the main stage. It kicked off the event introducing the villains and doing a dance party through the night
- Villainy in the Sky Fireworks show
- Oogie Boogie's Freaky Funhouse show which included a dance group, sword swallower, archer, and fire eater
- Fantasmic!, which was the standard show - the pre-show was the henchmen working the crowd
- Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Tape Dance Party which had Star Lord and Nebula meeting everyone at the party.
Some attractions were open and there were multiple face painting locations. The picture is of the goody bag given as you left the park, with autographs of all the villains, buttons and a card for a movie.
During the event, Twitter blew up with people sending and retweeting complains about crowds at the event, overwhelming queues and causing food and merchandise to run out. That, in turn, fueled a long line at guest services as cast members handed out refunds to unhappy guests, no questions asked.
A few observers suggested that some guests were taking advantage of the easy refund policy to enjoy the event, and then get their money back at the end. But, hey, this is an event celebrating villains. Is that sort of two-faced opportunism exactly what a villain would do? Very meta.
Clearly, there's a huge market demand for Disney villains, and plenty of people, such as Mitchell, left the most recent event having had a good time. Disney's trying to take advantage of that enthusiasm, adding a "Villains’ Sinister Soiree" to the Magic Kingdom Halloween party, where Cinderella's wicked stepmother gets her time in the castle. From Disney's press release:
Set within the majestic halls of Cinderella’s Royal Table, this special ticketed event allows guests to meet a menagerie of malevolent special guests while they indulge in decadent desserts and specialty non-alcoholic beverages. Guests also will receive preferred viewing for the 8:15 p.m. performance of Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade, as well as preferred viewing for the Happy HalloWishes Fireworks Spectacular.
The dessert party is $99 per person, in addition to the hard-ticket Halloween party admission, and reservations are available only by phone: +1-407-939-5262.
A double hard ticket? Yep. What do you think: Does this sound like a good value to get a better experience at Disney, or does this sound like a plan that only a villain could love?Tweet
However in saying that I still did buy the tickets. We visit from out of State once a year or less. This is not something that we will likely do again, but we are looking forward to the adventure.
I do wish that they would blend in the cost where you buy one or the other type of evening as opposed to the add-ins.
But in the end they are in the business of making money and if you don't want the service you don't have to buy it.
I don't begrudge Disney trying to make the most out of the opportunity. We will be going to the MNSSHP this fall, but don't feel the need to attend this "party within the party" just for a few snacks, character meeting opportunities, and preferred fireworks viewing. $100 per person does seem a bit excessive, but if people are willing to pay for it, I can't blame them. The standard hard ticket for the event is actually very affordable at $62-67, which compared to the $99 single day admission to Magic Kingdom is quite a bargain. Also, what some people don't know is that MNSSHP ticket holders can enter the Magic Kingdom starting at 4 PM, so with the park open until midnight, it's like having a full 8-hour day in the park with the bonus of a parade, characters, and fireworks that only happen on party nights.
It sounds more like a party than an after-hours park event. If they wanted to satisfy their customers, they should have kept most rides open. They couldn't accommodate the thousands of attendees with mostly food, merchandising, and shows. With most people on the main drag, no wonder the complaints come fast and furious.
I will say Disney does know how to throw an excellent party. It is a shame that for every special event done right, they have an occasional miss.
It is increasingly a bad omen to charge so exorbitantly for these special events and the horribly overpriced desert buffets. While it might seem reasonably priced like the Halloween events when it offered full access to the park attractions with smaller crowds, the dessert party events and Frozen premium package are outrageous. Oh well. If you pay it, own it.
If they did highly themed scare zone and mazes with special effects like Universals Halloween Horror nights themed to the villains, it would be more legit and look less like a money grab.
You've built and operate the gold mine, now reap the rewards.
If you read news headlines at all you know that while the airline industry has become well known for add-on fees, now the hotel industry is following suit with add-on fees becoming commonplace. This really isn't any different. I don't see why the theme park industry shouldn't get in on it if people are willing to spend the dollars.
On the other hand, Disney should promote the after-hours food parties in their dining plan. I would not hestitate in signing up for at least one event if I believe I get a good value. Some very popular restaurants run-out of reservations early or only available at 8pm. What if they have additional slots after 9:00pm and billed as an after-dinner evening snack and show? Open seating with an available outdoor patio and a full-appetizer and dessert buffet with complementary signature drinks. I'll make my reservations today.
The upcharge I find interesting is the post-show parties that Disney will be holding after Illuminations during the Food and Wine Festival. It seems kinda odd that people would be willing to sit in a restaurant AFTER the park closes for a "last call" style scenario. The events are supposed to have actual food, but to me there's little appeal since by the time Illuminations is over, I just want to get back to the room to sleep, and even if I didn't have a sleepy kid to drag with me, I don't think noshing after a park is closed is terribly interesting.
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