Disneyland closed to new entrants around 1:50pm yesterday, due to the large number of people in the park — many waiting already on the parade route for that evening's public debut performance of the new Paint the Night electrical parade. About three hours later, Disneyland closed to re-entries, meaning that no one could enter the park.
When Disneyland has closed due to capacity in the past, visitors have been directed to Disney California Adventure instead. Yesterday, however, as crowds filled the esplanade between the parks, Disney slowed, then stopped, the flow of guests through the checkpoints on either side of the plaza, effectively closing access to California Adventure by people who wren't already inside the checkpoints.
That, in turn, created a massive backup of guests waiting to pass through the checkpoint — lines that extended well into Downtown Disney on one side and down Harbor Boulevard on the other.
Disneyland began to clear out after the parade and the debut performance of the Disneyland Forever fireworks, at 9:30pm. But even as fans online watched live feeds showing the park's crowd diminish to moderate levels, the gates remained closed. No one could enter the esplanade, or Disneyland Park, until after 2am, when Disneyland began admitting guests from California Adventure. Several minutes later, Disney opened Disneyland to new entrants once again, for the first time in about 13 hours.
Fans online vented anger at Disneyland for keeping fans waiting in massive lines outside the park while entire lands within it appeared vacant, as shown in photos posted by fans inside the park to social media. Rumors flew that Disney management had ordered the park gates closed for the remainder of the event, no matter what the crowd situation. Ultimately, after the second and final showing of Paint the Night, at 1am, Disneyland relented and reopened its gates.
Obviously, the kickoff of the 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration during a 24-hour party was going to be a popular event. But no one, inside Disney or its fan community, wants anyone to experience the frustration that thousands of fans did yesterday.
Could Disney have done anything better? Here are three ideas:
1) Run more showings of Paint the Night
People began claiming space on the parade route by 9am. With just two showings of this well-reviewed new parade scheduled, fans rushed to the park early to ensure that they could see it. Perhaps if Disney had scheduled more than the usual number of showings for the parade, people would have had the opportunity to plan to see later shows, reducing the crush for the first one. Yes, Disneyland was going to hit capacity at some point yesterday afternoon. But with two or three additional shows after the initial run, Disneyland might have been able to reopen the park earlier, getting people out of the lines and into the park, while not overwhelming the parade route.
2) Make it official that California Adventure was closed
Some fans wondered why Disney seemed so reticent to make it official that the resort's second gate was closed to new entrants when it was essentially impossible to get there to get in. If Disney was concerned about disappointing fans with two closed parks, well, plenty of fans ended up disappointed anyway. One wonders if a public acknowledgement that both parks were closed to new guests would have dissuaded more people from trying to come to the resort in the afternoon and early evening, reducing the crush of people in Downtown Disney and on Harbor Boulevard.
3) Don't do so many things at once
A 24-hour party, the start of the Diamond Celebration, and the debuts of Paint the Night, Disneyland Forever and World of Color - Celebrate. That's five promotions in one event. That's a lot, especially for Disneyland, which is always a popular draw in Southern California. Disney probably could have gotten away with kicking off the 60th during a 24-hour party, and might have been able to throw in the World of Color debut, as that happened over at California Adventure. But debuting two new shows at Disneyland at the same time sealed yesterday's fate. Disney probably could not have gotten away with debuting the new parade and fireworks at a later date without complaint, given how they are so closely associated with the 60th. But a soft opening a week or so ago, at least for Paint the Night, could have taken some of the pressure off yesterday's event. Disney likely would have had to run more than two showings of the parade yesterday, anyway, but anything that would have reduced yesterday's crowd would have helped reduce the frustration.
Were you are the Disneyland Resort yesterday? Please tell us about your experience and share your suggestions.
Sooooo ready for the next 24 hours!!!! Disney, you got my vote!!!'
What I find most puzzling is that people were already complaining about the crowds at the esplanade, but Disney was still tweeting that DCA was open.
I wonder if they had an evacuation plan for all of DLR, DCA, and all the other locations filled with Disney Fiends?
Oh the conversations could go on forever... heck this event may have been the LAST 24 hour event Disney ever does.
Started at rope drop at DCA and hopped DL mid-morning. Left at 6pm and were warned we might not be let back into DL due to capacity. Were we supposed to abandon our WOC dining package resos?!?Conflicting/lack of info from CM didn't help the chaos around 1-2am. I was at the front of the line when they opened the DCA gates for DL and was so worried I would be crushed. It was dicey at best.
Suggestions for future events:
1- shut down BOTH parks when you reach this level. Why keep selling tix for DCA at 1am when they realistically still have to line up for security and then entrance for several hours more? Does Disney really need $155 that badly?
2- limit AP entrances eg. wristbands for the Halloween/Christmas parties, or have a reso system. How can you plan for 100,000 guests when several thousand will head over on a whim because they can?
3- no lining up for parades 12hrs in advance. Seriously?? It made walking down Main Street a chore at 11am bc you couldn't cross from one side of the street to the other without having to circle around a shanty town of blankets and umbrellas and strollers. Crowd flow was bottle-necked and I believe that ultimately led to the shutdown decision.
Legally, I understand the need to hold the crowd via the Fire Marshall. but Disney did nothing to alleviate the tension surrounding the decision. In fact, I'd wager they really stoked the fires of frustration by promoting people to buy tix/enter DCA either in person or on Twitter. What is the guy in the back of the line at DTD (which reached ESPN Sports Zone btw) supposed to do when he's told that even though DL is closed, it may open at any minute so maybe you should wait in this interminable line-up bc there's always DCA? (Fictional: I never waited in that crazy line.) As well, the dire warnings to not leave the park created a feeling of being trapped. Ultimately, I did some of the things eg rides and food that I had set out to do but the whole experience was disappointing.
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