Having returned from Southern California after a midweek, dead-of-winter visit featuring several closed attractions, I can now confirm what I had long believed.
There is no such thing as a slow season at Disneyland.
Months ago my girlfriend and I scheduled a trip solely to see a less-crowded Disneyland and California Adventure. Our three days in the parks began on Super Bowl Sunday, and we arrived hoping (OK, expecting) open space and shorter lines.
Nope and nope.
It didn’t matter that kids were still in school, and several attractions were closed for refurbishment (including Splash Mountain and California Screamin’), and that construction walls ran right down the middle of Main Street and around the hub, ruining the best view in the park.
By late morning, lines to the signature attractions were an hour or longer. Even the side attractions were busy. Twenty minutes for Pinocchio’s Great Adventure?
With the new Star Wars land on the horizon (Galaxy’s Edge opens next year), Disney needs to find a way to control crowds that’s more effective than simply increasing prices (as it just did).
Fortunately, I’ve figured it out.
Here are 6 ways to better manage crowds:
(That have nothing to do with raising admission)
- Sell dated multi-day tickets. Those 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-day passes will come with specific dates, allowing Disney to cut off sales when a certain threshold is reached (and one that maintains reasonable lines). Just like theaters and bowling alleys, theme parks are finite spaces that should not be oversold. Would you watch “Hamilton” with someone perched on your armrest?
- Turn Toontown into something enjoyable that will sponge up lots of people. Toontown attracts two types of visitors: toddlers, and parents distracting their toddlers before they see Toontown. “Look, a churro cart, let’s go there and eat sugar!” This would eliminate affordable housing for toons, but finding cheap places to live should be easy for the two-dimensional.
- Establish stroller-free days. Imagine a visit filled with unobstructed paths where no one has to dodge, sidestep or otherwise evade these child-carrying luggage racks. If a handful of infants and toddlers will be deprived of experiences they will have forgotten by bedtime, so be it.
- Keep the park open 22 hours a day. The two-hour closure will allow cast members to clear the park and clean the bathrooms, the two most important jobs. If they need to close a ride every now and then to make sure it’s safe or whatever, fine.
- Issue the FasterPass. Available in extremely limited quantities, the FasterPass may be booked up to six months in advance and allow access to exclusive lines overseen by maître d’s who guide you to your car. You thought getting tickets to “Hamilton” was difficult? These things will be more valuable than bitcoin.
- Sell alcohol. This is the secret, Club-33-like tip that makes you feel like an insider. How will beer, wine and cocktails alleviate crowds? No idea. Just seems its time has come.