This past Saturday night I attended the Villains Unleashed event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. I approached the event with caution after last year’s fiasco of a similarly themed event. I kept an open mind due to the fact this year it was a hard-ticketed event priced right at $72 per person.
I arrived at the park around 7:30 pm to get a slight head start on the evenings festivities. It was starting to get crowded, but so close to the event start time of 8:00pm, I expected it. The entrances for the event were clearly marked with themed signs, and I was through the turnstiles and in the park within 2 minutes.
As soon as I entered, I was given a lanyard with a badge noting that I was a member of the event. The back of the badge had a photopass number and QR code. I was told to be sure to wear it throughout the event.
My first stop was at the newly dubbed “Club Evil” which was housed inside the Hollywood Brown Derby. The event still had about 8 minutes before it started, so everyone was lined up at the door with the queue wrapping back along the outdoor patio.
When it was my turn, I was greeted at the door by one of the Villain’s henchmen. They were wearing a hat resembling Doris from “Meet the Robinsons”, and was asked for the password to enter. I took a guess that it would be “Unleashed”. I was right.
I was then greeted by a standup of the Evil Queen and a large cauldron boiling over with smoke. For the night, the restaurant was open seating lending a casual, speakeasy flair to the setting. The restaurant was decorated in many different “Villains” themes such as, Cruella and the 101 Dalmations, Dr. Facillier and his team of friends from the other side, The Queen of Hearts, Pain and Panic, Ursula, and Jack Skeleton.
Each area also had a caricature of each Villain hanging on the walls.
Upon finding a place to sit, I proceeded to check out the event menu. It had the usual run of beers and wines but the speciality drinks and food choices were hand-picked for the event. They offered four different drink options such as “One Bad Apple” which contained a glowing poison apple, “Deep Sleep” which is Irish Whiskey with Peach Schnapps, “Villainous Ville” which was similar to a Chocolate Martini.
Food options included “Witches Brew” also known as Butternut Squash soup, “Cruella’s Devious Eyes” which consisted of Mozzarella with tomatoes, and Maleficient’s Loaded Staffs” which contained flank steak,a pea and sweet corn spring roll,a crispy FILO filled with Affine Blue, Dates and Prosciutto. All of these were appetizer sized portions, and ranged from $12-$15. The dessert was themed to Maleficent, and was a trio of tiramisu, raspberry sorbet in a chocolate-dipped cone, and what taste like a banana pudding ball with candy in the center on a bed of pop rocks.
To start the night’s festivities, we had a glamorous Hollywood starlet sing some of her favorite tunes (Many from the former Adventurers Club) followed by visits from Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, Cruella Deville, Big Bad Wolf, and the Queen of Hearts. They all freely roamed the restaurant posing for pictures with whomever asked. I discovered later in the night this would be the best opportunity to meet, photograph, and get an autograph from some rare Disney characters.
Guardians of the Galaxy Dance Party
I left the restaurant around 9:45, and rounded the corner to check out the Guardians of the Galaxy Dance Party. As I approached the Animation Courtyard, I could see dazzling lighting effects on the ground, and hear the music coming from inside the usual location of “Playhouse Disney Live on Stage”. Within the queue, they had various Guardians of the Galaxy backdrops for photo opportunities. Upon entering, I found a very energetic DJ, space to dance, and Star Lord participating in meet and greets. It was not busy at all, as I counted no more than 25-30 people in the room, with the majority of them huddled to the right side of the stage trying to get a picture of or with Star Lord.
Character Meet and Greet Opportunities
This event offered some wonderful opportunities to meet many scarce characters such as Cruella Deville (Streets of America), Dr. Facilier (Streets of America), Bowler Hat Guy (Streets of America), Stromboli (Streets of America), Dr. Hamsterville (Backlands Area), Captain Gantu (Backlands Area), Honest John (Near Lights Motor Action), Shan-Yu (Near Premier Theater), Constantine (By Muppet Vision 3D), the 3 Hyenas from the Lion King (Near the Indiana Jones Theater), and the “Old Hag” from Snow White (Sunset Blvd), as well as more frequently seen characters such as Darth Vader (Star Tours), Storm Troopers (Star Tours), Darth Maul (Near ABC Soundstage), and the Emperor with Royal Guards (Sci-Fi Dine In).
The more scarce characters had anywhere from a 1.5 – 2 Hour wait. Surprisingly, Stromboli had the shortest wait of any character with roughly five people in line.
Oggie Boogie’s Freaky Funhouse
This is the one portion of the event I did not attend. The reports I was receiving from friends, colleagues and other event attendees was the event was very risqué and perhaps inappropriate for a Disney Park or an event which allowed children.
There were three booths set up in the same locations as the tents for the visiting celebrities for Star Wars Weekends along Echo Lake. Each housed a location for complimentary face painting. There were fourteen options to choose from including Pain, Panic, Hades, Big Bad Wolf or the a Evil Queen among others. This was a nice perk of the party.
Throughout the night they had a street dance party right at the Sorcerers Hat featuring DJ Iggnite, with appearances from various Villains throughout the evening, as well as Oggie Boogie to host. The music choice was very good, as it varied in genre and decades.
Aside from the speciality entrees at Club Evil, the Park offered gourmet hotdogs with various toppings at a location near the entrance to Fantasmic. They were themed to various villians including Maleficent (BBQ Pork $8.99 + Tax), Hades (Chili Dog 9.49 + Tax) and Jafar (Macaroni and Cheese with Truffle Oil $8.99 + Tax). The themed buns ran out around 11:15 PM.
The event merchandise was sold out by the time I arrived at Soundstage 1 located near the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground, but from what I was told, it sold out within the first 45 minutes of the event. The selections included event-specific T- Shirts, Pins, a water bottle, and a few other items.
The dance party and DJ continued until 12:45 when all went quiet, and Maleficent took to the stage to summon the Villains in a spectacular and dazzling fireworks display over the Sorcerer Hat. The show featured many favorite Disney tunes all of which corresponded to their respective Villains. There were many explosions including some perimeter fireworks.
When it was time to say goodbye, everyone received a small goodie bag as they exited the park. It featured a fan shaped flyer with the event logo and date on the front, and the signatures of the majority of characters on the back. It also featured two smaller cards with the signatures of the Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy Characters, a Ghirardelli Chocolate Square, a Maleficent Button, a Sleeping Beauty Pin, as well as a free download code for the Incredibles from Disney Movies Anywhere.
I feel the event was wonderful and generally a success. It didn’t completely sell out, and was not as well organized as the Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom, granted it was only their second year of the event, with this being the first where it was hard ticketed. All in all I believe it’s an event to be repeated year after year should they continue it. Will I visit again? Yes. Was worth $72, maybe, depending on what your looking for in a hard ticketed event. Is it better than the Halloween Parties? Perhaps, If you love the Villains, but with the recently announced addition of more Villains to the Halloween Parties, who knows. We shall wait and see.
Tip: Figure which Villains you want to meet ahead of time and get in their lines as soon as possible. Some of the more popular characters were posting a 1.5 – 2 hour wait, so with a 5 hour event you won’t get to see much unless you visit them early on.
Tip: Arrive at the park roughly 30 minutes before the event starts and either get in line for the merchandise (if that is important to you) or get in line for Club Evil (which will give you a nice indoor area to sit and eat, as well as see many of the more popular characters with easier access to pictures and autographs).
Tip: View the fireworks from the ticket touch points. You get a better panoramic view, and you’ll be one of the first out of the park when the event ends, without fighting the massive crowds!
Were you there? We’d love to hear your thoughts. If you weren’t in attendance, does this sound like an event you’d be interested in?
Answer to last weeks question:
What year did Disney’s MGM Studios become Hollywood Studios?
A: January 7th, 2008