I rarely post on these threads anymore (though I'm often a fly on the wall), but I felt my experience last night was so... let's say "interesting"... that it warranted sharing. Overall, my review of last night is that it was a lot of hype for a pretty disorganized event attended mostly by what I will - at the risk of sounding old - refer to as "hoodlums". Teens and young adults with very little regard for others and the dignity of the park itself were a majority of the people in the park. I don't know how these young people afford the high cost of entry, but am even more perplexed as to how or why they even want to be there given their apparent lack of respect, appreciation, or even minimum interest they have in Disneyland. I'm QUITE sure MichChatters were not contributory factors to this crowd, but it seemed to me that they outnumbered those of us who actually value our Disney experience.
"But come on LiTtLeMeRmAiD," you say, "that sounds a little harsh/exaggerated." No, no, my friends. Fiance and I literally watched in disgust as "adults" in the buggy behind us on Haunted Mansion hurled paper airplanes at the floating head of Madame Leota in the seance room. PAPER AIRPLANES! The security check point greeted us with a veritable PILE of discarded beverages that were not allowed through. Gatorates, juces, fast food sodas, just dropped on the cement in a pile, some losing their lids and leaking everywhere. Not disposed of properly in a trash can. How grown up is that?
This was in addition to the immature "look at me" screaming and chanting and singing and instrument playing (yes, there was a terribly annoying group of kids playing tambourines, flutes, and drums in every line and restaurant they visited, without care that maybe - JUST MAYBE - those around them were annoyed beyond measure by their unwelcome and unmusical cacaphony of a "band". (Apologies if you were one of these musicians, but it was INDEED a bit much.) All that, and many times Fiance told me he smelled pot at various locations in and outside the park.
I COULD POSSIBLY FORGIVE the annoyance of these guests, but there was also a noticeable lack of training and/or preparation on the part of the Cast Members working this event. I can only assume the "best" Cast Members were high enough on the totem pole to avoid working such an obviously undesireable time shift. But very few seemed to have much clue or information as to what was going on and when. This information would have been useful, as the park had very little signage or announcements indicating where people could park (when the lots became full), when the gates would reopen (since they were closed upon our arrival at midnight), etc, etc. I'm sure they didn't know what to expect from this event, so before anyone jumps to defend these Cast Members, TRUST ME when I say I was full of empathy for them. It is not their fault that things went off the way they did, but it seems like for a first-of-its-kind event, Park Operations/Management would have some degree of readiness for a more organized version of the "worst case scenario" some are calling worse than NYE status.
With my first food purchase of the night, I had the "good fortune" of selecting the line with the slowest cash register employee. Though the lines all snaked out the door of Coke Corner, this young gentleman repeatedly took an order, took the guest's money, and then stood around looking confused, sometimes even dancing a bit while his coworkers were clearly speeding around furiously to fill orders. The girl working the register next to his had her line moving easily twice as fast as ours, but by the time I realized this it was far too late to jump ship.
I thought that was just a fluke of a Cast Member, but later when we readied ourselves for a sit down breakfast at Cafe Orleans, we were told at 3:55am by the not-very-helpful hostess that they were closing in five minutes and would no longer be seating anyone. I was kind of surprised and asked what time it was, thinking perhaps hours had gotten away from me without my realization. And when she told me, I nicely asked for clarification, since the Disneyland Parks Official Blog had listed Cafe Orleans along with other eateries open for the evening to be serving breakfast until 5am. She pointed out that she didn't know why I'd gotten that "incorrect" information, but they were preparing to close.
Frustrated, I walked off and thought out loud to Fiance about how lame that was, that official company information was given out online that was not accurate. I had wished I asked for a manager, and decided to go back to her podium and do just that. I have never done this before at Disneyland. I'm not "that person" usually. And it wasn't the "not getting what I want" that bothered me so much as her less-than-Disneyesque responses that had me heated. On our short return walk, we noticed a sign placed not 6 feet from the podium that clearly said "Cafe Orleans - Serving Breakfast 11pm-5am". Now a little more than frustrated, I returned to the hostess and asked if she was a manager, she said no but she would get one for me...
The young girl that came to the podium moments later hardly looked at me - distracted by some paperwork on the podium - as I asked her to explain to me why the restaurant was closing in 5 minutes while their sign not 6 feet away advertised otherwise. She acted as tho she had never seen such a sign, apologized for the misinformation we had been given, and asked if we wanted to be seated right away. Mildly satisfied, I said yes and she put in our name for the next open table for two. This would have been fine and dandy, though at this point I was honestly less interested in getting a table and more interested in them dealing with the miscommunicated information so that other guests wouldn't have the same problem.
Sure enough, as we waited on a nearby bench for our table, several other guests inquired at the podium about breakfast only to be told that the restaurant was closing. Many of them even referenced the Disney Parks Blog as I had and were basically shrugged off by Miss Helpful Hostess with an "I don't know what to tell ya" attitude. One guest even went so far as to walk over to the sign and carry it to the podium saying "What about this sign?" to which Miss Helpful replied "I didn't make the sign, don't blame me". Yeah. Because we all really thought YOU made the sign. No, dear. You're representing a company that slipped up in their advertising, and now you're the one who can either try to fix it or piss people off. What are you gonna do?
From a few feet away I said "Maybe you should put that sign away," to which she rather rudely (with a failing attempt to sound cute) replied "Thanks for the tip." What a horrible Cast Member. What a horrible way to treat guests who are at your park at 4am, WANTING to spend money and NEEDING something to eat. We overheard her telling guests that all of the actual food locations were closing at 4am, meaning anything serving a real breakfast. She was actually directing people to Main Street where they could get a corn dog, or a bread bowl of soup. While I love these food items normally, they do not replace an actual breakfast. And popcorn and ice cream carts are likewise not going to cut it. How could the park stay open until 6am but close their dining locations at 4am? Beyond this oversight, the Cast Member's poor handling of the situation was unacceptable.
Again, please do not read this report thinking "she's one of those never-satisfied Disney fan/critics", because I assure you I am not. In fact, I often read these message boards thinking that we fans can be overly critical and often too harsh when Disney is doing the best they can. I find pleasure in new offerings and try not to judge them by my own personal standard of what I would have done, but rather appreciate Disney for doing new things and trying to satisfy as many guests as possible. But what I cannot tolerate is 1. rude guests that put a damper on my experience. Yes almost every visit to the park includes one or two wack-job guests that make you go "what the heck?!" but it doesn't necessarily have a serious impact on your enjoyment of the visit. Last night - I think many of you in attendance would agree - was abnormally packed with disrespectful, loud, and in some cases intoxicated people that were very hard to ignore. 2. I cannot tolerate Cast Members who do not understand they every interaction they have represents the brand. It is UNCOMMON for me to have a memorably BAD experience with a Cast Member. Usually they range from forgettably average, to great, to STELLAR. Especially on a night like this, I really wish people would have had more awareness that MOST guests were getting tired and impatient, and surely MOST CM's were tired and feeling overwhelmed. It was just overall rather disappointing.
So now that I've ranted your ear off (or eyes, in this case), I'll sum up by saying we were able to ride 3 rides, have 2 meals, and a couple of bathroom breaks between 12:45am and 5:30am. I could have given it a "par" rating for an evening at Disneyland, but the masses of immature guests had a definite impact on our night, and the Cast Members - inexperienced/uninformed at best, downright rude and uncaring at worst - always affect your day/night in the park. Would I do it again? Well obviously we have a 4 year wait until the Resort even has a chance to give it another shot, but I would be very surprised if they tried again. Unless those masses of spoiled SoCal kids with their annual passes really spent enough money to make this chaos worth the company's while. The contrast between this event and our almost perfect experience at Mickey's Halloween Party is striking. Those guests were all very happy, joyful, friendly people just trying to have an innocent good time, and the Cast Members were some of the best I've seen. Last night was just pretty disappointing, and that's saying something since I wasn't really expecting much.