by David Koenig, contributing writer

When Disneyland shut down a large swath of the park four months ago to accommodate the construction of Star Wars Land, management knew the park's downsized footprint would lead to one of two scenarios: either (A) horrible congestion that would force them to furiously build in temporary capacity, or (B) plummeting attendance, with guests, turned off by the crowding and fewer offerings, having to be somehow lured back.

Disneyland, miraculously, found itself with problem (A): record crowds—but responded with solution (C): make the problem worse. First, fearing a light spring, Disney reinstituted its Southern California flex ticket promotion. But then, instead of adding capacity, it did the opposite, mandated by Corporate in Burbank. Because Shanghai Disneyland went so far over budget (the resort's price tag: $8 billion and climbing), Disney's U.S. parks have been told they need to squeeze hundreds of millions of dollars of cost-savings to make up the difference.

Disneyland has responded by cutting back park attraction and restaurant operating hours, eliminating entertainment, and reducing staffing park-wide (thereby reducing capacity). As could be expected, the moves have worsened congestion.

Another cut is the annual 24-hour party on the Memorial Day weekend that had kicked off the past three summer seasons and Leap Day 2012. Just 16 months ago, Team Disney Anaheim was scouring the calendar looking for new dates to add 24-hour parties; now, thanks to Shanghai, all round-the-clock parties have been called off indefinitely.

Another concern is what if, after Shanghai Disneyland opens to the public next month, the new mega-park is a flop, a la the budget-minded Hong Kong Disneyland? Will we see even more cutbacks at Disneyland and Disney's other domestic parks?

In the meantime, "Shanghai" has become a curse word around Disneyland. I even overheard cast members deriding the new park's castle: "They claim it's the biggest and tallest of the Disney park castles. What they don't say is that it's also the ugliest!"

2 for 1 Fastpass

Construction walls outside the entrance of the Matterhorn and near Pirates of the Caribbean should be coming down by May 16 to bring Fastpass to the venerable E-ticket attractions.

Not long after, Autopia will be losing its Fastpass because it is used infrequently, and its removal frees up more space for the Jedi show registration outside the Expo Center. (In fact, Autopia's Fastpass has been down since the Expo Center opened—two months before the ride went down for rehab and right through the busy Christmas season.) The removal will be a quick job: just pulling out a sign and three kiosks.

At the Matterhorn, the new kiosks will replace some planters in front of the attraction's entrance. Pirates' station, in a little area below the attraction building's entrance, was one of the first Disneyland rides to get Fastpass in late 2000, but was one of several attractions to lose the service in 2004, amid fears that the park offered too many Fastpass opportunities, worsening overall park congestion.



  1. By bumblebeeonarose

    I find it interesting that they're going to remove the autopia FP if they're moving towards some kind of FP+. You would think they'd want as many FP opportunities as possible. I mean it's not like Buzz is super popular. It probably only has a decent number of FP being pulled because it doesn't count. I wasn't around when Pirates had FP. Why did they remove it before? Does it make the lines awful? I would think it could cause more overspill into the walkways since one side of the ramps would be used for FP. Matterhorn could use FP. I hope this just means letting people in the queue at the front where you choose which side as they do with rider swap. What other rides might they offer FP for as they supposedly move towards FP+? I'd say the rest of Fantasyland is off limits, but what about Gadget's coaster or M&G like Tink and Mickey. They could get carried away with this. I hope it all works out to plus the visitors' days, not make it more difficult.

  2. By DisneyGator

    Adding FP to POTC is just dumb. No surprise, though, coming from Disney these days. As it is without FP, the Pirates lines pours into the walkways and bridges during the busy weekends. Just imagine what it'll be like when one line is turned into a FP line. That 30-40 minute wait that now congests part of the park will be even longer and mess up the park even more. Brilliant.

  3. By olegc

    I agree about the POTC FP. It seems that its the one ride that maybe doesn't need it - though its difficult to measure against any other ride that has FP with that kind of throughput. HMH has omnimover vehicles so its close but may not be the same.

    To me - after reading other stories on line, getting to see a lot of tweets from the Shanghai park, etc. I think we will see exactly what we have now. Shanghai will be popular - but since cuts have helped the company with the bottom line overall they will remain (Disney just announced earnings, and they are lower due to TV, but that's Iger's favorite so cut other stuff). Since the crowds keep coming even with the cuts there is no reason to stop doing them. The ticket pricing has actually expanded the attendance it seems instead of shifting it so you know that the TDA folks (and Burbank) are wringing their hands together while exclaiming "Excellent!" a la Mr Burns.

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