If people think that the crowds at theme parks during the summer are bad, they have never been to the parks during the holidays. In fact, hardly anyone realizes that the single most busiest day at Disney is New Year’s Eve. Surprisingly, New Year’s Day is not too bad. I’ve gone to the Magic Kingdom at least twice on New Year’s Day in the past and was able to enjoy everything without having to wait 10 years in line.
Christmas and New Year’s Eve, however, always have the parks filled to capacity—to the point where ticket sales are stopped and gates closed. I’m not sure why, but Orlando news outlets have been jabbering in awe at how all the local parks had to close their gates to anyone not already in possession of a ticket for the past few days. This will continue to be so until New Year’s Day. All of the roadways south of Orlando (where the parks are) are blocked due to traffic, and the poor locals who live around that area or work in that area are miserable. All other locals stay far, far away.
It’s always been this way, despite what the news thinks (I believe it’s just been slow news lately). The only time I was at Disney between Christmas and New Year’s was back in 2001/2002. My brother was the band director for a local high school, and 9/11 convinced them to cancel their big parade trip across country to instead have a “staycation” at Disney World. My parents and I were able to join in on their fun for the last few days of their vacation, so we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and had tickets for EPCOT on New Year’s Eve. Before we left the hotel that morning, we had word that the parks were already closing the gates to new ticket sales due to being at capacity. We were able to get in, but I don’t remember being able to do much since the lines were infinite. I then squeezed myself into the massive, massive crowd around the World Showcase Lagoon for the special presentation of Illuminations close to midnight.
It was definitely not an experience for someone who can’t handle crowds or tight spaces.
While it’s great fun in theory to be at the theme parks close to the holidays, everyone else has the same theory, too. Fortunately, the parks offer all their extra stuff and decorations at least a month ahead of time … so I get my holiday fix early, if I can. Otherwise? I wait for everyone to go home. I feel bad for the people who pay a butt-load of money and then can’t enjoy their vacation because they have to fight off the masses.
This is not necessarily in reaction to a musing about Disney, specifically, but it is relevant.
I have noticed that ever since The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, Orlando local TV news stations have made ride breakdowns headline news.
As recently as yesterday, two rides at Universal had to be E-vac’ed (evacuated). Revenge of the Mummy, due to a car being slightly derailed, and E.T. for some other unknown reason. Every news affiliate made sure to keep us all updated with this very important story and to assure us that no one was hurt, etc.
To assure us further, coverage continued today with reports that both rides are functioning normally again. And BTW, Jaws is (sadly) closing today. I took a photo journey of that ride 2 weeks ago in order to say goodbye. I got to sit right next to “Bruce” coincidentally, too. Here he is coming up for one last swan song:
Anyway, why are ride malfunctions and E-vacs suddenly headline news? Is it because one idiot last summer decided to somehow grab his cellphone while stuck on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and spin a tale about being “upside down for an hour” to 911, prompting the fire department to come? We then had days of coverage and people giving their opinion of what happened, explanations of how the ride does not go upside down, etc etc. Ever since, suddenly, every E-vac at Universal is met with panic and sensationalism!
E-vac’ing a ride is suddenly a tense, drama-inducing, Titanic-sized event!
Ride malfunctions and E-vacs are a pretty common occurrence. They happen, and very rarely endanger anyone. It happens all the time at Disney. I’ve never been E-vac’ed from a ride, myself, but I’ve witnessed it many times. Sometimes rides are up and running in minutes, sometimes it takes hours. I’m sure Disney is a lot more hush-hush about their ride malfunctions. Only when a guest is injured does it make it to the news. So why is Universal so news-worthy?
“Huh, there are only 2 murders and only a minor robbery tonight. What happened at Universal? A kid vomited on Men In Black and they shut down the ride? GET A REPORTER THERE LIVE ASAP!”
It’s supposed to be “the happiest place on earth” and yet while spending a day at the parks, the number of crying/screaming children and red-faced yelling parents seem to outnumber the laughter and smiles of everyone else.
Between the cost of their vacation, their own expectations, and the break-neck schedule they put themselves on, tourists underestimate how stressful a theme park vacation can be. Children become overstimulated very quickly and everyone is exhausted by day 3. I always laugh at how more children cry at Disney than anything else. I’m sure that most “omg tourists” moments can be attributed to the combination of factors people subject themselves to in the name of vacation and fun. The rest is due to just people being stupid in and of themselves, whether by a sense of overinflated expectations or something else. Here is just one example I observed while at an ice cream cart at Animal Kingdom last weekend:
Tourist: *interrupts my transaction* Do you sell soft-serve ice cream?
CM: No, sorry, just ice cream bars and pops.
Tourist: Where is the closest soft-serve ice cream?
CM: Over by Expedition Everest.
Tourist: ARE YOU SURE?
CM: Yes, ma’am.
Tourist: YOU MEAN TO TELL ME, THE CLOSEST SOFT-SERVE IS ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE PARK?
CM: Yes, ma’am.
Tourist: THERE’S NOTHING CLOSER THAT SELLS SOFT-SERVE? I HAVE TO WALK ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE PARK FOR SOFT-SERVE?
CM: Yes, ma’am.
Tourist: OMG, THIS IS RIDICULOUS! ::stomps away in opposite direction::
Mind you, this cart was located just outside of Dinoland U.S.A., which is about two attractions over from Expedition Everest. It was not the first omg!Tourists moment I observed that day involving food, either.
If you want to know what it’s like to be a CM, check out RageCastMember here on Tumblr. But chances are, if you’ve been to the parks, you know what I mean.
Now, on my Disney cruise, I observed next to no omg!Tourists moments. Children were, for the most part, surprisingly well-behaved and parents actually, for the most part, disciplined them if they weren’t. It was so refreshing! And it put a smile on your face to see so many kids and families genuinely having a good time without all that stress.
So, my advice to anyone traveling in to have a theme park vacation: Give yourself plenty of time, take frequent breaks (and naps), and know that just because it’s the most Magical Place on Earth does not mean that they can literally produce magic out of thin air for your convenience.
I decided to give my “A Disney Muse” articles their own blog! You can now subscribe exclusively to adisneymuse.tumblr.com for exclusive Disney/theme park observations, comments, and opinions by a lifelong fan.
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Went to the Mall of America today and while at Nickelodeon Universe I saw these things that made me think of a few people on Tumblr :3
GYAAH! I was there when it was Snoopy themed. I NEED TO GO BACK. (Fortunately, thanks to the internets, I have an Appa plushie).
A Sea World promo poster from the 1970’s. Amazing to see how small the park was when it first opened.
This makes me immensely sad. They had always been my favorite part of all the shows they’ve put on in the Whale and Dolphin Stadium. I never knew that the population they had was dying out, and now the last—18 year old Jozu—passed away yesterday afternoon.
Apparently, SW Orlando had the only North American display of false killer whales. It makes me wonder if they’ll bring in a new species (such as pilot whales, which they have at their other parks) to co-star with the dolphins, or just leave it with dolphins. If they do bring in a new species, I hope it’ll be from one of the other parks and not from the wild. I want to say SW doesn’t do wild capture anymore, but I could be wrong (I hope I’m not). Personally, I hope they do transfer some of their other animals, because having the 2 species really added fascination and dimension to all of their shows.