Planning For Big Crowds

Happy New Year!

The centerpiece of the Christmas holidays is the winter lights on Cinderella Castle. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
The centerpiece of the Christmas holidays is the winter lights on Cinderella Castle. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

One of the best ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve at the Magic Kingdom is to go on the 30th, not the 31st. That’s where I was last night. Most all of the entertainment offerings were in place, complete with two different fireworkS shows. So I thought it a good time to check things out. New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest days/nights of the year. I marveled as I walked through the park at so many things that have been put in place to make it as easy as possible for guests to navigate the different lands, and to enjoy the evening. In particular, there have been some very important improvements over the last year or two:

1. The plaza has been widened, with increased rings around the perimeter. It’s fortunately not the football size zone that is Tokyo Disneyland. And I do wish there were more trees in the center. But it was really easy to move around from the central hub. And with fountains and grassy areas, it’s still somewhat appealing.

These areas, created with an artificial turf, allow people in the bottleneck to have more space. In fact, their dedicated to guests who want a FastPass+ reservation to see the fireworks. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
These areas, created with an artificial turf, allow people in the bottleneck to have more space. In fact, they’re dedicated to guests who want a FastPass+ reservation to see the fireworks. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

2. Key congestion points around the park have been widened. The biggest of these was the Small World corridor, that now offers two paths leading to and from Liberty Square.

3. The addition of a beautiful park path corridor backstage behind Main Street U.S.A. where you can bypass the craziness of Main Street.

These are huge elements that support the movement of traffic. But even with all of those improvements, the park made huge investments to better facilitating guest flow.

1. Countless Cast Members were lined up in the center of practically ever major corridor through the park, all of them waving their flashlights and leading guests in moving toward the right. Every entrance to every land, the backstage path corridor, and practically the entire outer perimeter corridor of the park had Cast Members. That was a big labor investment.

Holding flashlights while joining in the Macarena played nearby at the castle, these Cast Members become quite the sight. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Holding flashlights while joining in the Macarena played nearby at the castle, these Cast Members become quite the sight. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

2. Many key places had illuminated signs directing traffic. This was especially true at the entrance to the Monorails.

Illuminated balloons like this were found everywhere in an effort to help guests figure out where to go. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Illuminated balloons like this were found everywhere in an effort to help guests figure out where to go. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

3. Additional paths were carved out to carry guests between Main Street and the back of Tomorrowland.

4. Support staff were on hand to step in when needed. I witnessed this personally when a maintenance engineer showed up from nowhere to quickly handle a ceiling panel that was falling down.

5. Additional entertainment options for guests.

A dance party in Frontierland with no band or DJ--just music pumped in from the DJ at the castle. Still, everyone's dancing. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
A dance party in Frontierland with no band or DJ–just music pumped in from the DJ at the castle. Still, everyone’s dancing. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The only thing I thought was strange was that the Liberty Belle Riverboat was not in operation after 9:00 pm. That could have helped soaked up guests looking for something to do. During nighttime parties (which have a smaller attendance), such attractions will close early. But this seemed to be the one night when, literally, everyone was needed on deck.

Even the Diamond Horseshoe is opened. So shouldn't the Liberty Belle Riverboat? Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Even the Diamond Horseshoe is opened. So shouldn’t the Liberty Belle Riverboat be open as well? Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I tell people who ask–visit the parks on less crowded days than New Year’s. Still, it’s impressive that so many actions have been taken on that night–and well in advance–to accommodate the crowds coming to enjoy themselves. When Disney puts their mind to it, they do it well.

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