“Villains Unleashed” needs leashing up – Disney’s overcrowded hard ticket event leaves guests in long lines most of the night
After last year’s Limited Time Magic “Unleash The Villains” mess of an event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney decided to hold it again this year, rename it, and charge guests $70 a person to attend. One would hope that with these changes – especially the new price tag, the new Villains Unleashed hard ticket party would be an enjoyable experience with Disney learning from the mistakes that were made a year earlier.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and Disney grossly oversold the event making crowds unmanageable, merchandise and food selling out early in the night, and over three hour waits for character meet-and-greets during a five hour event. The situation was so bad that Disney was reportedly offering guests full refunds for the event at Guest Relations or offering guests tickets to this year’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
I’ll fully admit that there were some great parts to Villains Unleashed; the problem is that they were greatly overshadowed by the negatives. However, let’s cover some of the positive aspects of the night first.
- Club Evil at Hollywood Brown Derby – The Villains Unleashed Club Evil was hands-down the highlight of the night. It essentially transformed The Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant into a casual lounge, where guests could order small plates and specialty cocktails, all while a handful of Villains walked around for meet-and-greet photo opportunities. There was a short wait to get into the restaurant throughout the night but once inside, guests could seat themselves at any open tables, or stand at the bar or around high-top tables set up in the center of the room.The atmosphere in Club Evil was fantastic, with a live singer singing cabaret-style arrangements of a lot of the well-known Disney Villains’ songs. The food and drinks offered were also great – with drinks including “One Bad Apple” and the “Evil Twin,” and specialty foods like “Voodoo Wings” and “Ursula’s Fire and Ice” seafood appetizer plate. Club Evil was a great place to escape the heat and crowds and I truly hope that it’s something they’ll keep up for other hard ticket events, even at Magic Kingdom.
- Unique Character Meet & Greets – With crowd levels the way they were, guests were extremely lucky to get photos with more than two villains the entire night. Lines for Maleficent got as high as three-and-a-half hours long and the majority of the queues for the meet and greets were shut down due to capacity early on in the night.That said, Disney did a great job on bringing in some unique characters for the event. Even though it’s obviously not my thing, the live action Maleficent was one of the most popular attractions of the night, as was Constantine from Muppets Most Wanted. Dr. Hämsterviel and Captain Gantu from Lilo & Stitch are also rare characters that a lot of the kids seemed to enjoy meeting. Even though they aren’t typical villains, Star-Lord and Gamora from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy were also available to meet at the Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Tape Dance Party.
- “Villainy in the Sky” Fireworks – Even though these were the same fireworks used for last year’s Limited Time Magic “Unleash The Villains” event, they really are a great show and use musical scores from different Disney franchises to make a great villains-themed fireworks display. This year they added a live-action Maleficent introduction that was a bit lackluster, but the show spoke for itself. It’s definitely worth checking out our video of the Villainy in the Sky fireworks below.
Now that we covered the few positives of Villains Unleashed, let’s go over some of the really disappointing aspects of the night. Hopefully Disney learned from the guest outcry and the refunds they had to offer so an unorganized event like this won’t happen again.
- Crowd Levels – Like I’ve mentioned a few times already, the biggest mistake made for the event was the complete overselling of tickets. All hard-ticket events Disney hosts are capped at a limit that makes it worth paying the premium to spend time in the park comfortably. It’s safe to say that they failed at this for Villains Unleashed. With tickets still being sold at will call an hour before the event, Disney just overestimated the capacity that the event would hold.There were longs lines for everything: character meet and greets, food locations, drink locations, entertainment and shows, and of course merchandise. It genuinely felt like there were just too many people in the park and not enough things to do. Even the attractions that were open seemed to have a higher wait time than usual, with Toy Story Midway Mania keeping pretty much a consistent forty-five minute wait time all night.
- Running Out of Everything – With the unbelievable crowds and long lines came with the fact that everything ran out long before the night was over. Merchandise sold out early on, which is fairly typical of a Disney event. More shocking though is the fact that maps for the event which showed the schedule and locations of activities were all gone by 7pm, before the event even began at 8pm.As if that wasn’t enough, the specialty food and drinks sold out as well, including the advertised “Villainous Hot Dogs.” Not sure why it would be so difficult to stamp a few more hot dog buns with Hades’ face, but evidently it was. It was like Disney planned on overselling the event to make all the money they could, but in turn didn’t boost their inventory of the special offerings to accommodate that.
- Oogie Boogie’s Freaky Funhouse Show – In what was probably one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen at Disney, four performances of “Oogie Boogie’s Freaky Funhouse Show” took place at the Theater of the Stars where the “Beauty and the Beast Stage Show” typically takes place. It consisted of three acts that felt like they came straight from America’s Got Talent auditions or a cheap Las Vegas show. A sword-swallowing act, a crossbow act, and a fire breathing, baton twirling act made up the dreadful show which should have had a lot of potential.Some people thought the show was edgy and entertaining, but judging from the countless number of people that walked out of the two showings I attended, most people just thought it was boring. Although I didn’t get a chance to see it, from what I’m hearing the Fantasmic! Pre-Show was just as awful. If you have about twenty-five minutes to spare, check out the video of Oogie Boogie’s Freaky Funhouse Show below.
While there were some high points to the night, Villains Unleashed was an overwhelming disappointment. Luckily, there were plenty of Disney fans that spoke up and voiced their concerns. Hopefully Disney will take that feedback and the fact that they had to offer so many refunds and learn from the mistakes.
What do you think?
Did you attend the event? Let us know if you felt the same way. I understand there are some guests that did enjoy Villains Unleashed so we’d love to hear if you had a different opinion!