Not sure if it was because we went on christmas-new year time or in general the park is set like that, there was a festive atmosphere all throughout. Christian missionaries need not break sweat in their conversion efforts. They just need to get a season pass for those people they want to convert and the Disney's "Once upon a Christmas" parade and the electric dance parade will take care of the rest. By the time we left Disney, "Rudolph the red nose reindeer" ,"Feliz navidad" and "Once upon a christmas" songs were ringing non stop on mind. They were so catchy and the setup so colorful, christmas sounded so cheerful and colorful and happy in Disneyland.
As mentioned in previous posts, a word on the management. AMAZING. They fit right into the description of clockwork precision. Whethere its lunch queue or rides queue or queues moving in and out of the park, the way the manage the entire setup is awe inspiring. Especially at the lunch counters, where tempers usually flareup as easily as Indo-Pak border tension. There was this lady, who was handling queue on both sides of her. The speed with which she took the orders and got the bill ready would put any robot to shame. There was this elderly couple who were standing beside me and they actually clapped at the speed with which she operated, much to her embarrassment. We tracked her time and in 4 minutes she cleared 5 orders!! She modestly said that, everyone of the counters is manned that way. And by the time i reached the food counter, my order was ready and steaming on the plate. Aairam thaan suda panni thara itema irunthaalum, it was super fast. And then came the place to sit. There was this dining hall, which was vazhinjifying from the vaai with koottam. There were 2 ladies who were guarding the entrance, managing the queue. As per rules, no one was allowed inside prior to hold any seat and seating was done only through them. And believe me, the crowd was moving with standing time no less than 3 minutes. Therer were half a dozen cleaners and signal guys inside, who, the moment a table got vacated, cleaned it and signalled the ladies at the entrance. Who in turn guided the correct count per table to the available one. Within minutes everyone were seated and it was motoring on continuously!!!
Another interesting concept on queue management is the Fast pass. For starters its absolutely free, unlike Universal where they charge 100$!! And when you take the pass, the time at which you can join the fast queue is mentioned. Also it restricts you to a certain amount of time from taking any further fast passes!! A simple yet brilliant concept, by which you will know when you can get into the ride and utilize your time accordingly!! May be this is how all the parks work. But for a first comer like me, it was amazing!! When we came out of the magical kingdom after all the fireworks, i was stunned to look at the ocean of people emerging out of the park!! From where i could see it was human heads bobbing up and down and the exit was no where on sight. It was like 10 times the tirupathi crowd let out in the open. We thought how can a place so organised in letting the crowds in be so sothapping in letting them out. We were in for a surprise. The ferries had tripled and the trip time was reduced much in length to and fro. There were mono rails every 3 minutes that were running in full packed capacity. The buses that were plying to the resorts were already there on the platforms and the security were manning them towards the buses pretty fast. And within matter of half hour, majority of the crowd dispersed!!
I was so thoroughly impressed with their skills that was in awe of them all throughout and was wondering if there is already a management lesson for MBA grads on Disney's crowd management. Later when we came back googled for crowd and Disney i was hardly surprised by the results. Going by google, the term crowd management and Disney were synonymous. Their command center infact was under the very castle where we were standing. It seems the monitor each and every ride from that place and give orders to the manager of the ride on the queue volume. Every ride had a waiting time clock and it was dynamically updating - courtesy these guys. And whenever a ride is full or a route is over crowded they give signal to the parade to change the course or the cartoon clad people to make a visit so that people dont get bored. For water rides, it seems they signal the manager to release more boats based on the volume it seems. Despite all this, on a 40 ride park, it seems the average number of rides a person can take, provided he uses his time optimally is only 9.5!! And as of last year, Disney had increased it to a perfect 10!! A very important and critical factor in all these were the crowd behaviour. Be it during the parade time or any time any where else, whatever the management staff requested, the crowd obliged. Else it would've been chaos and mayhem!! With so many kids and elderly people around, it would've been impossible for even the best practice in the world to have avoided a stampeded. And a word of caution for parents. If possible weld yourselves to your kids and family. Very Very Very difficult to keep track and in places the phone signal was not that great.
All said and done, i personally felt, it was THE most commercial place on earth!! Ofcourse, all the rides and characters bring happiness and joy not just to the kids and no one can deny a hearty laugh or cheerful smile or two when they are in the park. But the cost is way too high. Its one of the most expensive places and like everything comes with a price, so is joy and happiness in Disney. There were shops and shops and more shops all throughout EPCOT. Magical kingdom was not far behind when it came to souvenior shops, gift shops, toy and doll and what not. Every single square feet of land was commercially utilised to the core and in EPCOT we often felt like trapped in a huge multi country shopping mall!! Another thought that was running on mind was, how will Disney score in the future. From their candy floss cartoons to their current day Pixar products, they've come a long way. How much more will mickey mouse be the king of the castle? Will they reinvent themselves totally? How many kids these days even watch those cartoons? With the advent of chinese and japnese cartoons, i guess ninja hatori and doreman will score more than mickey and pals. Will Disney go on a buying spree and be the whole and sole of the cartoon world so that they've everything under their cloud? or will they keep building more parks with more and more rides? How much longer will their famed parade survive??!! Only time will tell. Till then, as the signboard near the park entrance says, Let the memories begin :)
Our caravan then moved from Orlando to Miami for the final leg of the christmas to new year trip :)
(Will conclude in next post)