Disney’s Villains Unleashed hard-ticket event came and went on Saturday night. The reviews of the event were not good. There were long character lines. There was only one place to get event-specific merchandise and it was sold out around 10 pm. There were long lines, up to 45 minutes, for event specific food and beverage. Those also sold out. All of this left some people disappointed. They weren’t able to see and do everything that they paid for with their hard ticket. They felt for $70 that Disney should not run out of merchandise and food or be forced to choose which characters they want to meet. I agree with them to an extent. I think this event can work for Disney, in the future, they just need to improve upon some things. Some of things are easy while others are more difficult and will involve some tough choices on Disney’s behalf.
1) Have more event specific food and merchandise available
Disney knows through ticket sales how many people will be attending the event. Therefore, it should not be difficult to order enough merchandise and food for everyone. It is one of my rules of thumbs for running an event, “Do not run out of food. Do not run out of merchandise.” If you do not do these things, people will walk away from your event unhappy. The event specific drinks didn’t interest me.
My wife and I were interested in the event specific food at Hollywood Brown Derby. In fact, our plan was to eat at the Brown Derby Lounge before the event. Thunderstorms changed those plans and we had to audible to Big River Grill and Brewhouse. When we arrived at 6 pm, the Lounge was in the process of being converted into Club Evil and its special menu.
The merchandise was the biggest problem. There was only one place to purchase event-specific merchandise and there was a line which reached as long as two hours. I would have liked some merchandise but waiting two hours in line meant two hours that I couldn’t wait in line for a character. Guests were already being forced to choose: get merchandise or wait to meet a character.
This is not a difficult thing to change. It’s easy to purchase more merchandise and more food to accommodate everyone. This could mean that Disney ends up with an overflow of merchandise at the end of event. Disney always has plenty of Halloween and Christmas party merchandise available. I can’t fail to see how this event would be any different.
2) Fewer character meet and greets and more roaming characters
Lines for the character meet and greets were long and were long well before the party started. My wife got in the line to meet Maleficent at 6:30 pm. I joined her in line at 8:30 pm – I was over by Star Tours for those meets which started at 8:00 pm. We met Maleficent at 9:30 pm and she was toward the front of the line.
After this, we headed over to Streets of America where there was a large congregation of character meet and greets. The lines for these characters were long as well. Part of the problem, here, was the meet and greets weren’t continuous. The human characters meet for 45 minutes and then took 15 minutes off while costume characters met for 30 minutes and then took 30 minutes off. This made the lines long. I made the decision to take some pictures of the characters in between meeting people instead of meeting them myself.
The only area which seemed immune to these problems was Star Wars character area. There were three meet and greets: Stormtroopers, Darth Vader, and Boba Fett. However, there were plenty of characters roaming the area for guests to have their picture taken with. Cast members did an excellent job of moving the roaming characters along and, as a result, the lines were never very long for these roaming characters. Darth Vader and Boba Fett’s line reached wait times of 60 minutes but they were some of the shortest lines at the event.
There were more roaming characters than meet and greet characters in the Star Wars area.
This philosophy should have been put in place throughout the park. Guests would have the opportunity to meet via a roaming picture or two (maybe a selfie) a lot of characters. The only downside is these characters didn’t have Photopass photographers with them. Any pictures you got of them were your own. In my opinion, there should have only been three to five characters available for meet and greets not the 17 characters that were available during the party.
3) Move the event to Magic Kingdom or Restrict Ticket Sales
This is the hardest decision for Disney to make. From many reports, the front of Hollywood Studios was very crowded with not a lot of room to maneuver. I spent most of my time at the back of the park which was less crowded. Hollywood Studios is the smallest Walt Disney World resort property and is not laid out as efficiently as other parks. This makes the park feel crowded even if it is. The event was also never listed as a sell out even with tickets in high demand. Tickets were still available on the night of the event.
If Disney wants to continue this event, in future years, they have to do one of two things: more the event to Magic Kingdom or limit ticket sales and continue to hold the event at Hollywood Studios. Limiting the ticket sales does not do enough to enhance Disney’s profits because fewer tickets sold equals lower profits. Moving the event to Magic Kingdom would allow more space for the guests to roam through the park. Each land could host one main character as a meet and greet with other characters roaming throughout the park.
What I Would Like to See
I think the ideal solution is to move the event to Magic Kingdom from Hollywood Studios. But, you do not make it a stand alone event. You incorporate it into Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. On select nights, you could add “Villains Takeover” to the end of the Halloween Party. The Halloween Party ends at midnight. At 12:01 am, the Villains could take over for another party until 5 or 6 am. Disney would have the ability to charge extra for this “Villains Takeover.” Guests would have the ability to see and meet the Disney villains and the event could take place on multiple nights reducing demand from a one-night only event.
This is event is fundamentally a good event and a good idea. However, there are some things which need to improve in order for this event to be on par with Disney’s high standards.
Thanks for reading!