Sunday, January 4, 2015

So Cal Holiday Theme Park Nightmares

The Hunger Games

As a result of the serious (Criminal?) overcrowding at Disney we later came to find out that the days we were at the park coincided with a serious outbreak of measles.

And a few weeks after hosting conditions that enabled a health emergency to develop Disney responded by raising daily ticket prices.  I'm old enough to remember "E" tickets, so the current 1 day park hopper ticket price of $139 is breathtaking. I still love the place, but greed is greed.   

Southern California's theme parks are beautifully turned out from Thanksgiving to New Years. The decorations and holiday spirit are wonderful. In years past everyone used to comment about how uncrowded Disneyland was on Christmas Day. A couple of years back we spent Thanksgiving at California Adventure (the Thanksgiving dinner at The Vineyard restaurant was delicious). This year we decided to celebrate New Years at Universal Studios and Disneyland.

So did pretty much everyone else in Los Angeles. 

The reality is nowadays Disney sells so many Southern California resident annual passes and multi-day park-hopper tickets that any day surrounding a major holiday (where children are out of school) is guaranteed to be a complete nightmare. And, this year, Universal has most of the upper park closed while they add their new Harry Potter attractions, so it is excruciatingly crowded on holidays as well.

We knew we were in trouble a week or so earlier when reports surfaced of crowds so big at Disneyland on Christmas Day that they had to temporarily close entry portals for safety reasons.

We arrived at 10:00 am only to find parking garages that were already nearing capacity. Staff got behind shifting cones leaving cars trapped on already full floors. This forced platoons of cars to exit and re-enter garages starting the hunt all over.

At the park entrance the ticket lines were epic. We had a 90 minute wait at the "expedited" wireless ticket booths.

With tix we entered, met our friends and proceeded to the Studio Tour which was posting 85 minute waits.

Everywhere we found total pedestrian gridlock. We quickly realized our day at Universal was a total loss. IMHO Universal had created a potentially dangerous condition. If anything ever incites crowd panic, the rush to escape will result in serious injuries.

Since, our hard won tickets allow us to return throughout 2015, after one ride we left. We went on to have a great day (and big plate of La Korea's delicious Kalbi ribs) at the Farmer's Market.

Fun?! At Universal

On New Years Day when we arrived at the "Mickey and Friends" parking structure we were among the last guests to park on the roof. 

This is a 3.8 million square foot garage that efficiently parks 10,225 cars on six decks (each deck being 14.5 acres).  In other words each deck is the size of 14 NFL football fields. So, when you arrive, if you get parked on the roof, accept the fact that your day is gonna be screwed.

Once in the park we found cast members engaged in heroic crowd control measures using ropes and directional batons. Fast passes for the day gone before we entered and wait times for all major attraction ran at least 85 minutes.

Since we've been to Disneyland dozens times over the years we enjoy just being there (even if we don't actually get on any rides). So we shopped, watched the holiday parades and enjoyed dinner at California Adventure's Carthay Circle restaurant (using reservations we made weeks in advance). The dinner included priority viewing for the amazing World of Color water show.

Waiting for the World Of Color

If I ever even suggest a visit to a Southern California theme park on any day other than mid-week in the off season....

Just shoot me!

Roadway's Travels © 2015

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