I don't get to Disneyland near as often as I would like. Maybe once or twice a year at best. On our recent trip we only had one day to "do it all" and that was nowhere near enough time. Our next visit will be at least two days.
On the long drive back home I got to thinking that maybe there was just too much going on at Disneyland these days. I'm not talking about rides and attractions or even the mind-boggling number of stage shows and character meet and greets throughout the park. These all have their own venues that they are more or less confined too. No, I'm talking about the really big events that use most or all of the park as their stage: Remember, Parade of Dreams and Fantasmic!
Has it gotten to a point where these big events are just too disruptive to the regular flow of the park? Consider this schedule from 8/1/06:
Parade of Dreams: 3:15 & 7:00 pm
Remember Fireworks: 9:25 pm
Fantasmic!: 9:00 & 10:30 pm
On paper this doesn't look so bad, but on a very busy day in the park it creates guest gridlock from about 3:00 pm on. In the past we had just the two daily parades and the fireworks show in the Summer months and you could enjoy the fireworks from just about anywhere in the park.
Parade of Dreams: is a nice parade, but the stops are too long and this leads to guests being trapped on one side of the park or the other or being herded about by friendly but firm CMs. No one likes being herded for too long.
Remember: is amazing, but everyone knows that you really need to be at the Hub to fully appreciate it. This fact has actually led to violence on more than one occasion and the brave, overworked and underpaid CMs assigned to crowd control have all that they can do just to keep the herds of humanity from turning into a riot on some nights.
Fantasmic! is a wonderful show but two performances a night makes that entire side of the park almost inaccessible for those wishing to visit attractions there anytime after 8:30 pm.
And forget about using the Disneyland RR for transportation during these times. During our visit it was a 45 minute wait for a train that had room for us.
My point is that all of this carefully orchestrated spectacle has squeezed a lot of the magic out of the Disneyland experience. The shows are wonderful but when does it become too much of a good thing? The concentrated crowds, the gridlock and the herding now make it necessary to plan your visit like a military campaign, with precise time tables and strategies for being at this place at this time... or else.
For me a big part of the Disneyland magic has always been an escape from the timetables and pressures of the outside world. When a visit becomes all about maximizing your entertainment time a lot of that magic is lost.
My hope is that after the hoopla of the 50th is over, management will scale back the Big Events so that we will all once again be able to enjoy the park at a more leisurely pace. Spectacle is great, but not if you can't see the magic for the pixie dust.