The Morning After One More Disney Day

Guests boarding the tram after parking in the Woody section of the parking lot.

Well, actually it’s a morning and a day after. I was too tired after the “One More Disney Day” event at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World to write. Mind you, I had just come in from a late flight from Houston, Texas, where I had handled a day’s worth of training programs.

So imagine my surprise when arriving around midnight I see car after car after car coming into the parking lot. In fact, we were being parked in the Woody section, which is usually dedicated only to Transportation and Ticket as well as Polynesian Resort Cast Members. It was stunning to see so many come out.

Then I noticed that most everyone was a young adult. I suppose that many of them were Disney Cast Members and their friends. Few, if any, had children. And I don’t think that most entering the park at this time were even tourists. I think it was mostly annual pass holders and other folks from the Central Florida area.

The park continued to be packed all night. A DJ in front of Cinderella Castle kept the party rolling there. But most were out and about riding the attractions and enjoying the time. It seemed as full as any average Saturday in a park. It was even fuller in the counter service restaurants, since only half of them were opened, making everyone cram into the ones that were.

I don’t think management saw all this huge attendance occurring in the park–especially at night. Certainly Disney transportation were clueless as to what was going on. While the trams kept cycling fairly well through the night, the express monorail had closed for the evening and so had the ferries. Only the resort line for the monorail was open, and the line for that wound down the ramp and along the waterfront all the way to the front of security. This has been going on for months with the express monorail closing early. But it had always kept the ferry moving. Now they had shut down both, while thousands of guests still needed to return to the parking lot.

Exhausted, I was in angst thinking that I would be waiting at least 45 minutes, if not longer, for one of three monorails. I decided to walk to the Contemporary with hopes of catching it over there. To my surprise, there were many walking over there as well trying to do the same thing. The Cast Member at that location seemed unphased by it all when I spoke to him. He radioed management who seemed less interested. It was if they wanted to get even with marketing for coming up with an all-nighter so they decided to stick it to the Guests. Anyone looking at this could see this was terrible planning, and an even worse reaction.

I applaud “One More Disney Day” as being a fairly creative way to build huge attendance (and per cap?) on an otherwise off season time of year. It had a feeling of being a Grad Nite, with so many young people, and with the freedom to enjoy the park through the night. But I lament that Disney Transportation seems so non-caring (or at least non-communicative) about their policies for exiting the park. People have paid a premium to park at the Magic Kingdom, and with parking should come reasonable means of getting you to and from the park. That shouldn’t be a 90 minute investment of time at 3:00 in the morning. Remember, the guests didn’t come up with the idea of taking a boat or monorail. Disney did. Now it needs to live up to the commitment–both entering and exiting the park.

Why build a great park and a great experience–then ruin it all on the way out the door?

J. Jeff Kober