Crazy, Appalling and Dangerous

crushs-coaster.jpgI was keen to check out the new Crush’s Coaster ride at the Walt Disney Studios recently as I had heard a lot of positive feedback about this imaginative (and much-needed) addition to the park’s attractions.

But I wasn’t at all prepared for the huge scrum that developed as soon as the Studio 1 doors opened and virtually everyone headed straight for the new ride.

Andy de Maertelaere had warned me that I needed to head here first if I didn’t want to wait in long lines later in the day. It is nothing new for the latest ride to become ‘the’ big draw at any park.

Yet no previous park experience compared with that first mad dash into the new-look Toon Studios area, and the crush (no pun intended) that built up around the entrance was truly appalling.

With no indication of exactly where the entrance to the queuing area was, no-one at the back of this huge press of humanity had any real idea of where to head for, hence the ‘queue’ immediately became a massive rugby scrum of people pushing in all directions.

Small children were caught up in this big mass of push-and-shove and there were numerous frightened faces as parents tried to steer a way through this totally disorganized mass.

Two Cast Members were all but submerged as they tried to create some kind of order around the queue’s entrance, but their efforts proved all but useless in the face of the number of people and the sheer, stunning disorganized nature of it.

Three other CMs stood in the middle of Toon Studios watching the big shoving match, either unable or unwilling to get involved.

Was this a one-off, I thought, an unfortunate isolated incident due to sheer unexpected numbers overwhelming the usual arrangements?

Sadly, after following the routine three days in a row (July 11, 12 and 13), I can only conclude the WDS management have lost all control of how they organize and manage their crowds.

crowds-around-crush.jpgWhile the actual number of people varied each day (the first day being the worst – I was at the back of the main ‘scrum’ for 10 minutes without moving before I gave up), the overall style of the chaos was exactly the same, compounded by the fact the queue entrance was made up of a metal pole and a rope, on which a number people either got caught or tripped up.

Reflecting on all this two weeks later, it is possible WDS management have caught up with these problems (although, as I was visiting some 4 weeks after the ride opened, it makes you wonder).

But, for a Disney park to have such an outrageously bad crowd management problem over a new ride at any stage seems hard to believe. And it really makes you wonder if senior management are actually aware of what’s going on in their parks.

Crush’s Coaster is an extremely good ride; it is fun, surprising and inventive in all the best Disney ways (albeit, the queuing area could be more interesting – once you get into it!). But, with queues at such an uncomfortable level, it is debatable whether the good will outweigh the bad feeling many people must have left with.

When I finally managed to negotiate the park-opening rush to the ride successfully, it still took 30 minutes to reach the ride itself (having waiting inside Studio 1 for park opening for an additional half hour). So, the minimum time requirement for this one ride is roughly an hour. On exiting the ride (at around 10.40am after a 10am opening), the queue time was already stating 90 minutes – and it never got any shorter all day.

And I wonder how many parents with children gave up on Crush’s Coaster altogether or, perhaps, even left the park in disgust at such appalling organization.

The really bad conclusion from all this? If this is just a small taste of what is likely to happen once the Tower of Terror opens (bigger, more attractive and closer to the Studio 1 doors, so with less chance to spread out the initial rush), then Disney have a huge problem on their hands as the word-of-mouth will spread very quickly.

And it will only take one accident or injury in this early-morning rush for the park to take a real hit of bad publicity…………

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12 Responses to “Crazy, Appalling and Dangerous”

  1. Studio 1 Says:

    I am very sorry for your experience shortly after the parks new Toon Studio opened for business Management saw the problem and quickly enacted a walking barrier to slowly guide guests to the new area. Unfortunatly for some reason this did not happen during your visit to the parks i will chase this up on your behalf and tell you if i get any feedback on this matter.

  2. Arthur Says:

    What I don’t understand is why they didn’t build a Fast Pass system for Crush’s Coaster for opening day. When I was there about a month ago I noticed that Fast Pass was being installed for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, but I was very surprised to not even see a hint of Fast Pass being installed at the entrance for Crush’s Coaster. With 90-minute waiting lines it is now obvious that Crush’s Coaster desperately needs Fast Pass (all the other coasters at the Paris parks already have it). Could management not anticipate how popular this ride would be, or was there a deliberate reason not to have Fast Pass for this new attraction?

  3. Simon Veness Says:

    I’m sure they could add a FastPass if necessary, but it looks like they are trying to gauge the necessity for it (although that already seems pretty clear!). The obvious thing if they DID add FP is that the Stand-by queues are going to be astronomically long – at 90-120 minutes at the moment, they could easily go up by another hour if they add FP to such a slow-loading ride. Not a great scenario.

  4. Uncle Walt Says:

    I totally agree with Simon’s comments about the queue problem at crush’s coaster, I was there myself last WE and was completely taken aback by the lack of any order, the sheer chaos and the complete laid-backness (if that is a word) of most cast members around the ride.
    Also, to say that the queue area could be more interesting is an understatement. The queue area is completely boring, like most queues at WDS. It seems Disney has abandoned the concept (that put them in a completely different leaguein comparison to other theme parks) of themeing queue areas as a build-up to the ride. So, from that point of view, shame on Disney.
    As far as the ride is concerned, I didn’t think it is fabulous. Sure, the “dark-ride”part of it is nice, albeit too short. But the coaster-ride? Nice, yeah, but too much in the dark. The only thing you can see are what I think are supposed to be bubbles. I think a little more effort should have been made to include other interesting elements, maybe more fish or ocean creatures.

  5. SusanV Says:

    The walking barrier was in place at the time we visited. That is not where the problem occured. Once the front of the crowd reached the attraction, the ‘walking barrier’ CMs simply walked off, leaving hordes of people to fight their way into the acutal queue. Some CMs were actually lifting up the ropes to allow more people to flood in, cutting off those who walked in through the proper queue entry. In spite of guest protests, the CMs simply laughed and kept lifting the rope.
    It was definitely chaos, and the CMs who were presumably there to keep some sort of order were adding to the problem. We stood there cringing, hoping some small child would not get stampeded in the process. Hopefully it won’t come to that before those with the power to change it take action.

  6. Arthur Says:

    I actually thought that the waiting area of Crush’s Coaster wasn’t so bad. I agree it was a bit simple, but I thought it fit perfectly to the Finding Nemo theme. I rode the ride twice and loved it both times. However, the first time we sat down in the front of the car and we actually didn’t see much more than bubbles and most of the ride was dark. The second time we sat down in the back of the car (starting out facing backwards) and we saw LOTS more — many things we hadn’t seen the first time around. I don’t know if we saw so much more because we were sitting backwards or because we were riding it a second time, but I liked it 10 times more the second time. Has anyone else had the same experience?

  7. Simon Veness Says:

    Our 14-year-old sat in the back and said he didn’t seem to see as much, but then he never sat in the front, so we can’t really tell! We did think it is definitely likely to be a different ride front and back, and it could well be different each time you ride. The fact that it actually invites repeat rides is another reason why the waiting times are so disappointing.

    The theming is OK as far as it goes, but they could have done a lot more with it, I feel. It is only once you get well inside the building that you start to hear some of the characters talking and telling you about the ride, and there is very little outside to keep your attention (and, considering about two thirds of the queuing time is outside, this is also poor). Where are the TV screens to show you a little about the film; where are the characters (apart from a couple of seagulls) to reinforce the theming; and where is the detail to underpin the whole ride (like they have in the wonderful queuing area at The Seas With Nemo and Friends at WDW)??

    We still like the ride a lot, and there is nothing quite like it in any theme park that we’ve visited to date. But the queue organisation simply HAS to be better and the wait times either have to be reduced or more theming needs to be added to take people’s attention away from the fact they are standing in line for a LONG time. Disney have done this just recently with their Soarin’ ride at Epcot – this looks to be tailor-made for something similar.

  8. caroline Says:

    As much as I love disneyland Paris I feel there is a great lack of organisation from cast members. This occurs greatly when characters come out for photo/autograph opportunites. On several occasions children and adults alike crowd around the poor sole in the costume not giving any chance to meet them and have their photo taken properly! In WDW organisation is key making visitors stand in line to meet their favourite characters in turn giving said person a little personal time to get ample photos/autographs and a little chat. So why isn’t WDW way of thinking shown in Dlp in would make the whole experiance that much more enjoyable.

  9. Xavier Says:

    The main problem is the very low capacity of the ride : it’s like Peter Pan with more 101 and guests troubles to get inside the vehicule or vomiting in it…
    So with FP there wouldn’t be any more ride capacity for stand-by line.
    At PhantasiasLand they have the same ride system (with more surprises than in Crush) but they they have 2 tracks to split the demand!!!

    The only thing they can do is to extend the riding time (earlier and later openings) to calm down the craze a bit…

    As for the ride itself, I love the smooth feeling of this kind of coaster. But the dark ride part is too short and somewhat badly set up IMHO (the jelly fish anyone ?). IE; one problem is Bruce : they have a moving but with a strobing light on it so it seems it hardly move at all…
    But the main issue with me is that it doesen’t habe a big finale; just a screen with Nemo reunited with his father of school mates would have done it for me.
    The too simple queue line is another problem : Cars have a much better fun and detailled queue aera than crush…

  10. David London Says:

    We just got back from Disneyland Paris yesterday, we queued for around 80 minutes for the Crush coaster and the queue was very boring, nothing to do or look at. I would not cost much to put up a few big screens showing clips from Finding Nemo, the making of the film or anything is better than nothing.
    Our main complaint is the total lack of organisation everywhere, the “fast food ! ” queues take around 30 mins to buy a burger, need more staff in most places, especially Pizza Outpost in Adventureland and the burger place in Studio 1.

    The worst was meeting the characters !!!!!! my son got crushed up against the metal fence when trying to meet Buzz, our daughter cried her eyes out when after waiting over 1 hour to meet the princess, she went and was replaced by one she didn’t want to meet. With the exception of Mickey and Minnie all the character meets were like rugby scrums/free for alls, like the first day of the January sales.
    We complained when we went in 2003 and were told thing were being improved, we found the character meets worse.
    One good theing, the staff are much more helpful and pleasent

  11. Simon Veness Says:

    When things don’t change year after year, you really do wonder if anyone from management is paying attention. These are key issues that certainly get back to people thinking and planning for their holidays. If enough people think the park’s organisation is off-putting, they will simply go elsewhere.

    Has anyone had any different experience at Crush’s Coaster recently to suggest the crowd problems are getting better?

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