Disney’s Hollywood Studios recently held its second annual Villains Unleashed event and results were…unfortunately mixed. Though this year’s event was a hard-ticketed affair (last year's event was included with admission), many attendees didn’t feel like they got their money’s worth due to long lines and limited food and merchandise locations.
As a result, Disney ended up offering disgruntled guests their choice of a refund or complimentary tickets to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. But it didn’t have to be this way. Here are 5 ways that Disney can tweak this annual event and make it something that guests will actually enjoy.
1. Make it more than one night
One of the biggest complaints about this year’s event was that it was way too crowded. It’s clear that there is plenty of interest in this type of event, so perhaps extending it more than one day (maybe have a Villain’s weekend, running Friday-Sunday?) would provide more opportunities for guests to attend this event, and help spread the crowds out to reasonable levels over multiple days.
2. Limit attendance
Guests who attended this year’s Villains Unleashed event reported three hour wait lines for many of the meet and greets, which is a clear indication that this event was oversold. Adding insult to injury, tickets were still being sold at the front gate of Disney’s Hollywood Studios right up to the beginning of the event.
Overselling this event is especially egregious, as one of the big justifications of making this a hard-ticketed “premium” event was so that it didn’t get too crowded and guests could actually enjoy Villains Unleashed. However, when you have three and four hour waits for meet and greets for an event that only last for five hours, it’s clear that there was a failure to adequately limit attendance to reasonable levels. Actually capping attendance would go a long way towards making a future Villains Unleashed a more enjoyable affair.
3. Add more structured Villains meet and greets
Adding more than 50 villains to an event is certainly an ambitious goal to set, but when you realize that there are only 17 character meet and greets, and the rest are simply “wandering villains”, the result is a bottleneck effect as guests rush to their favorite villain meet and greets, bypassing the “wandering villains” altogether.
Clearly, the solution here is to make more structured meet and greets and downsize the wandering villains. Though it might seem like a good idea to have the villains moving around and interacting with guests one-on-one, its clear that the demand is for structured meet-and-greets with photos. Future Villains Unleashed events need to take this preference into account and change the ratio of formal to informal character interactions to satisfy guests.