Unlike some couples who have cake and punch with friends, my husband and I headed to a couple theme parks for our wedding anniversary. Normally, I’m not even a fan of theme parks, but since the man offered…who am I to turn away a free trip to Anaheim?
Thursday, we went to Downtown Disney. It was early afternoon and there was basically no line through the check-point. You know, where they search your bags and then direct you through a metal detector? That’s the kind of country we live in *shakes head sadly*
The wonderful world of Harry Potter beckoned on Friday. At Universal Studios, they wrap the entrance line through those chains and ropes (like all the rides do), and you never actually stop moving. So even though it was a huge crowd, we didn’t wait too long to get into the park.
Disneyland on Saturday? It was a nightmare.
The line(s) stretched back to the main street and buses kept dropping people off. There was no clear direction for people, although Disney employees did come out and try to direct people into “people with bags” and “people without bags.”
If my husband, who had no bag, had left me, he probably could have ridden two rides before I ever got through the metal detectors. But he didn’t leave me to survive the disorganization alone.
The mayhem flabbergasted me. It’s not like Disney is new to crowds. Or long lines. How can they have such confusion in a process that Universal streamlined with a few ropes and chains?
Here’s my advice to Disneyland:
- Visit Universal Studios when the park first opens. Notice how they have 25 metal detectors spread across the plaza in front of their admissions gate.
- Invest in more metal detectors. It’s not like they don’t make enough cash to ease the lineup in this way ($200 for admission, $35 for a t-shirt, $20 for lunch).
- Paint some lanes on the ground. Okay, this might look tacky in the Google Earth shots, but when hoards of people circumvented the obvious line, I was thankful we were at the “happiest place on Earth.” Some patrons weren’t impressed with the line-cutters.
- Send more employees to direct the flow and organize lines.
We waited close to an hour just to get our bags searched. About the time we got to the front, they were waving people around the metal detector. Get your bags searched, but skip that next step.
If they’re seriously concerned about safety, this felt like a bad move. Someone planning to make the news by terrorizing the Happiest Place on Earth could easily work this system into their nefarious plans.
Once we were waved along without going through the red light/green light gate, we waited another fifteen or twenty minutes for entrance through the turnstiles. At least there were obvious lines here.
Now that Disney is taking photos of every ticket holder and printing out tickets that correspond with that image on their ticket readers, it takes a little longer to get through the gate. I hope that’s helping them catch people who are trying to avoid paying the exorbitant admission price.
Because it certainly isn’t smoothing the admission process.
Disney knows how to line people up so they can fit the most people in the least amount of space and trick them into believing the line is moving right along (regardless of signs warning the wait is 45 or 60 minutes). It’s time they applied that experiential know-how at the front gate.
What other tips might speed things along? Have you had a similar experience at Disney?