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Limited Time Magic: Unleash the Villains. What happens when you unleash them?

Walt Disney World, Limited Time Magic, Unleash the Villains, Hollywood Studios, Oogie Boogie

Disney Parks promoted the “Unleash the Villains” night almost a year ago, yet they were thoroughly unprepared for the crowds that descended on both Disneyland and Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World and the front line Cast Members would have to bare the brunt of the storm of anger that ensued once the Villains were unleashed.  I guess we should know that taking a villain off his leash would create chaos, right?  When the hosts are the leader of hell and his compatriots, one should expect Pain and Panic among the guests.

Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp Hades

Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp Megara

The day started off like a normal fall day, with exceptionally low crowds.   Once 5:00 PM arrived the villains were still leashed, but were already wrecking havoc on parking.  There were MANY reports of the horrors of just trying to park one’s car.  My wife attempted to bring my children over and we only live 10 minutes away down US 192.  They were in the car over an hour and weren’t moving.  I told her to let the 14 and 16 year old out and have them walk the rest of the way because it would be much faster.  Several people told me the biggest problem was that there was only ONE lane open at the toll booth and only ONE person taking money.  Once operations realized that a parking issue was being created, they should have A) Closed the lot and redirected traffic B) Sent reinforcements to open more booths or C) Just opened every lane for people to flow through and not have parking issues.  I heard of many cars driving the wrong way down the one-way lanes trying to find empty spots and many cars were parking on grassy areas.  The ticketing and security areas actually functioned very well considering the mass of humanity that collected at Hollywood Studios.   One advantage of the new Next Gen system is the turnstiles move much faster than the old version.

People began to line up for Villains meets at about 4:00 PM.  There were 3, yes 3, meet and greet locations along Echo Lake.  It’s the same area that they handle celebrity autographs for Star Wars Weekends.  Disney had produced some nice looking backgrounds with extra lighting and many guests enjoyed having their photo made with the attractive setting.  People really began forming longer lines around  6:00 PM.  No one had any idea what villains would be out or where said villains would meet.  Would they meet in groups?  Would they meet alone?  Would they rotate?  Over the next hour Echo Lake, near Dinosaur Gerties, would turn into a veritable sea of hot, irritable humanity.  There were thousands of people waiting at 3, yes 3, character locations, all crammed into one tiny area.  Those areas would have worked well if it were Pluto, Marie and Mary Poppins, but people were wanting villains and rumors flew about which would visit.

Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp Crowds Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp Crowds (5) Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp Crowds (4)

The opening ceremony announcing the villains began at the Sorcerers Hat at 8:00 PM and Pain didn’t make it to the stage, so Megara covered for him.  People were later told Pain was stuck in traffic.  I think Pain was creating the traffic.  We figured the villains would be right over but they were delayed over 20 minutes.  One Cast Member told us repeatedly that we were in line for Oogie Boogie and Jafar, in that order.  We were told at least 4 times that Oogie would be FIRST.  The other lines would be for Shan Yu/Snow Queen and Bowler Hat Guy/Maleficent.  We had waited over 3 hours, I know it verges on insanity, to meet Oogie Boogie.  It may be our only time to meet the guy, because rumor has it that he’s heading to California.   So who arrives first?  Jafar!  Do you think that all those people lined up for 3 hours to meet a guy that we had just seen at Character Palooza???  The one attendant began trying to move the line in a very militaristic style.  It felt like a paratrooper jump or attempting to load or unload at the Transformers attraction at Universal.  “Go!  Go!  Go!  Let’s keep this line moving!  Next!  One photo per family!!!”  No one was going to be encouraged to interact with the characters, just a very fast photo to allow the 1.3 million others to do the same.

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When Jafar arrived the first couple of people obliged the Cast Member’s orders, but the rest of us decided to quietly and politely just stand.  We didn’t wait 3 hours to meet Jafar and we were promised repeated by a Disney Cast Member that we would meet Oogie Boogie.  The Cast Member came over to a friend standing next to me and confronted her and reached out like she was going to grab her, but relented wisely.  She was literally screaming at us that we had to move, but we just stood there.  Another Cast Member, Teresa, came over and allowed two different lines to form within the same queue.  VERY smart decision to accommodate the hot, sweaty, irritable guests who had stood in line and were promised a certain character.  We were willing to wait another 20-30 minutes to meet Oogie Boogie.   Throughout the night, they had to go up and down the line to find people willing to meet Jafar.  He often wandered back and forth and did enjoy the booing that he received and played along.  Well done Jafar, well done!  Oogie Boogie finally arrived to mass cheers.  He was cool looking, but kind of looked like a giant dyed burlap sack.

Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp Oogie Boogie (5)

Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp Oogie Boogie  (4) Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp Oogie Boogie (1)

Photo courtesy of David Manning
Photo courtesy of David Manning

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There was a line that began at Min and Bills Dockside Diner and stretched almost to Dinosaur Gerties.  We were told that it was the line for the Bowler Hat guy, so we just looked around and took some atmosphere photos.  I found it easy to get some nice shots of Goob.

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We noticed that the line for Shan Yu was shorter than the other lines and hopped in that line.  When we got to the final turn in the queue, we realized that a double line was also formed in this queue.  We waited for the correct rotation and met Shan Yu.  No screaming or yelling at this location.  The CMs were polite and didn’t tell people to rush, but guests were courteous and moved along well.

Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp Shan Yu (1) Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp Shan Yu (2)

After meeting Shan Yu, I had an opportunity to meet a few friends of the blog.  It’s always great hearing how I get to help others make memories.  That’s why this was started!  I’m sorry I couldn’t meet at Dinosaur Gerties, but that place was a nut house and I was in line for Shan Yu because the lines started late.  Here’s a photo with two little cuties Caitlynn and Alyssa.  They asked an autograph, how kewt.  I asked if they would like a photo together and mom’s camera wasn’t working, so I handed over mine and told them they would appear on the blog.  They were all smiles.

Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp (17)

I later learned that two lines had formed for the Bowler Hat Guy and Maleficent and the shorter line was for Goob.  Go figure!  Maleficent is at every Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Goob never visits Walt Disney World.

We ambled over toward the hat to watch the Villany in the Sky fireworks, which I wrote about the other day.  Here’s the photos and video.  It was a fantastic firework show and really lifted the spirits of those still waiting in line for those 3, yes 3, meet and greets.  The other 7 characters of the 13 that Disney promised were “dancing” near the hat.  Well, actually, most were just walking through the crowds.  Each would stop for a photo and move along, stop for a photo, you get the picture.

Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp Gov Ratcliffe Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp Gov Ratcliffe (1) Unleash the Villains Hollywood Studios 2013 ktp Dr Facilier

Capt Hook was escorted by this cute little, starry-eyed kid at the end of the night
Capt Hook was escorted by this cute little, starry-eyed kid at the end of the night

It was insanely crowded near the hat and Echo Lake.  Who decided to host the ENTIRE event in one little area with a mass of people?  I was told later that management was telling people, “We didn’t expect this kind of crowd.”  Really?  On February 24, 2012 they had the exact same answer to the night time crowd that descended upon the first 24 hour day in the Magic Kingdom.  They announced this event a YEAR in advance and they still weren’t prepared.

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The good

They offered several villains that are otherwise rare or had never appeared at Walt Disney World.

They presented a first class fireworks show with a barrage of shells that continued for 8 minutes.

Having Hades as a talking face character was very cool.

DJ Elliot, the stage design, the extra video screen in front of the hat were very well done.

Security and Ticketing outside the park worked very well.

The bad

Hollywood Studios fumbled the merchandise AGAIN.  How hard is it to print some Tshirts and have them available in MULTIPLE locations.  Is it necessary to have one single door to go through to purchase from one or two registers?  Disney wants to sell merch because it makes money, but they don’t offer enough when it’s actually good merch.  If they are still available, you can order them on Disneystore.com

Security in the area near the characters was non-existent, but fortunately, people behaved pretty well in the lines.

The ugly

The choice of placing 3 meet and greets within like 100 feet of space with little walk space.  When I saw them in the afternoon with no signage for which character would meet where, I said, “This is going to become a madhouse.”  When the characters were announced by one Cast Member going up and down the line loudly proclaiming them, a mass of line moving occurred for people positioning for their favorite character.  The 3 1/2 hour line for Oogie Boogie was consistent throughout the night because he met every other 30 minutes.  Why didn’t they do similar the the Villains Bash after the Tower of Terror 5K and place characters all over the park???  Spread out the characters, spread out the crowd.  Place a sign for which character one would meet too and inform guests where they would meet.  If 16,000 people wanted to meet Oogie Boogie, they could line up on the Streets of America and meet him at the front gate if need be.

The total lack of food and drink carts.  We observed several people being treated from the issues that derived from the heat.  There were only a few food places open and they had really long lines.  The crowd was probably close to or equivalent to New Year’s Eve crowds, but food and drink was difficult to find.  They could have sold 5,000 bottles of water to the people in line for characters alone.

The parking was a nightmare in itself.  I spoke to one lady who took a Shades of Green bus and it took her 3 hours to get to the event.  By that time she had given up hope of meeting characters and just sat on a curb people watching and waiting for fireworks.


I’m glad they offered the event.  I’m glad they offered some rare characters, especially villains.  I’m glad they did a fantastic fireworks show.  I’m glad that I was lucky enough to be in the right line for Oogie Boogie.  But I wish they had spent more time organizing the details of the event.  Whatever people are in charge of planning the meet and greets did a poor job and put the front-line Cast Members in a very poor position.  Those poor people had the take the brunt of guest’s anger and they were just following directions.  Well, except for the lady screaming at people.  I think the event shows that Hollywood Studios could easily offer a Villains hard ticket event in the future, if they choose to do so.


  1. I met the CM who was handling the line of Oogie Boogie in tha last Not-So-Scary party. She was with Donald and Daisy. She said proudly she was with Oogie and that it wasn’t such a big problem. She was being rude to people on the line for Donald, so it doesn’t come as a surprise she did that in Oogie’s line.

  2. Glad to read about someone who was actually there! We made the trip down (2.5 hours) to go to this event. We ate dinner at the hotel and drove over…..and saw the line. By the time we got to the road for Hollywood Studios, they were telling people to go park at Epcot. Seriously??? By the time we would wait in line to get to Epcot, park, wait to get on a bus, ride the jam packed bus, who would also get stuck in traffic, and actually make it into the park….it would have been HOURS. We turned around. Three kids plus mass crowds wasn’t something I wanted to do. It sounds like it would have been fun if it wasn’t so chaotic!

  3. Kenny very nice write-up. wondered what happened to you and Rob. I stood on the steps watching Gerties but noone showed. It looks like you did get to meet ShanYu but if you would like copies of my photos I am still happy to share. I looked for the 2 of you at Oggie Boogie after i finally got Shan-Yu but you had already moved on. Fireworks were the definite hightlight of the night. Out CMs were out of signature cards so it took a while for me to collect both cards. Hopefully you and Rob both got some. Cannot wait for the next meet-up.

  4. Whats up kenny,sorry i got to see u only a few minutes but i was on line waiting forever for shan yu! What a joke of character meet and greets.First of all they couldnt of picked a worst spot in the cramped up area.They should of had one line to meet all characters not 3 separate lines that everyone pretty much guessed and had to be lucky to be on the right line to meet certain characters.Then alot of cast members were cutting lines and letting each other in line which was a joke.Im lucky to meet shan yu and bowler hat guy.One of the head character managers came to the lineand said sorry u might not get to meet the character because they might have to go and offered a free autograph and photo of the character.Now im 39 yrs old wht am i gonna do with that i told him i want a photo with the character we waited 2 hrs for.just a complete stressful hot night and Hades looked like a fool lol theres nothing better than the original Hades!!

  5. I was so bummed I couldn’t go to the event, but I heard it was crazy from a lot of my cast member friends who attended. A lot of them are in entertainment, and they said the character attendants throughout the event were rockstars for handling the lines. As a former attendant myself, it’s really upsetting to hear about the one person who made meet and greets a bad experience that night at Jafar/Oogie Boogie, though!

  6. I was there too and went in with very low expectations based on previous LTM events and expected high crowds. I was disappointed with the way Disney handled the event and agree that they should have been more prepared.

    A CM told my BF that they closed a lot of concession stands because the lines would be too long and get in the way. While that’s probably true, it’s not particularly good logic in a park so crowded.

    I thought a few good things were done for damage control.
    1. The formation of 2 different lines for the M&Gs and not forcing people to just meet whoever was up there. They could’ve kept that system because that’s pretty much what’s always done with rotating characters.

    2. They originally announced 2 sets for the M&Gs with a 1 hour break around the fireworks. We were still in line for Oogie Boogie at this point and asked a CM if this was still what was going to happen and were thankful when she said “No, it’s too busy, they’re meeting straight through”.

    3. The free bottles of water being handed out were pretty much heavenly.

  7. After the fireworks there were VPs of the park passing out FREE bottles of water in the character lines. I think all the VPS know they messed up big in under preparing for this event

  8. I thought maybe it was only DL that didn’t have it together. It was our first trip out there. We started Monday and everything was great crowd wise. I knew the event would be busy but I was shocked. Cast members seemed to have no clue what was going on (a theme I sensed all week compared to WDW). We grabbed shirts in DCA knowing it would be less crazy and then scurried past town hall as it was a zoo. We hung out by the mint julip bar for over an hour waiting for the next dance party to open at the New Orleans train station. They wouldn’t let people line up (and were told by different cast members what time we could, everywhere from 30 minutes to “no line we will just drop the rope at 10”). We hid out where we wouldn’t be kicked out and rushed in at 10. We stayed for about 15 minutes. 6 villains were on stage but no meet and greet or mingling/dancing. By then my DD7 had to use the bathroom and was exhausted so we left. Never again will I do something like that that is only offered one day. Cool to say we were there but I left there mentally exhausted.

  9. I got to the park slightly before 5 and must have just missed the craziness outside the gates because I was barely in the park 15 minutes when I heard the first rumblings inside the park about the traffic at the back parking entrance (I had went through the main) then I saw the tweets and FB messages

    I claimed my spot near the stage around 6 and didn’t move until after the fireworks since I knew I’d never get it back if I did…you mentioned the lack of security by the M&G lines, well it was non-existent at the walkway through the stage area too…when the stage show started it became instant gridlock as the 3 CMs they had working it were simply out numbered…I saw manager types calling for help and a few minutes later there was a swarm of CMs that managed to clear the area almost instantly but not once did I see security walk through that path

    I didn’t even try to get in the M&G lines as it seemed hopeless, but I agree they should have been spread out…did you go back towards muppets and NY street? You could have landed a small plane back there it was so empty…also who was the dummy that thought 1 temp bar was going to be enough to serve the specialty drinks…that place had a line at 5 when I got there (which is when I got my drinks knowing that would be the shortest all night and I was right)…they could have set up 3 of those and still had lines

    Fireworks were awesome and Mul…I mean Brimstone KILLED it every single set they played…watching all of their sets made up for not getting 1on1 time with the characters…and the villains walking the crowd were great, especially Cruella

  10. Do you think Oogie Boogie will be at Disneylands’ Halloween party?? Or we’re you just alluding to their Unleash the Villains event? We’d love to see him!

  11. Sounds like a fun but totally crazy night. Much of the reviews i have seen echoed (no pun…okay pun intended) you thoughts on the space and area and parking. Thanks for braving it out for us who could not be there. Hoping they see this and go…”Hey people love our villains we should do more with them so it won’t always be this nuts!”

  12. Nice paratrooper comment, I would have rather went on another jump that wade through those crowds! I always thought Disney tried not to repeat their mistakes, Friday was a complete surprise. After the massive crowds that showed up for Leap Day, I was certain it would be different this time around. I sat in traffic too, but gave up and went to over to Epcot, which wasn’t very busy at all.

  13. Hi Kenny, We attempted to come to the event, but gave up after sitting in traffic for over an hour. We left home at 6pm as it normally takes 30 to 45 minutes to get to Disney. We get to Hollywood Studios and enter from World Center Dr. and they have one lane open with an attendant telling people to park at Epcot. It takes us 30 minutes to exit and get onto the other road outside Hollywood Studios with traffic at a total standstill. It takes us another 30 minutes to get to Epcot and then we decide that at 8:30 that it’s just going to be too crowded to enjoy ourselves. Now I have a 5 year old that I’ve told she’s going to a villain party. I don’t want to let her down so now I’m paying to go to MNSSHP and we don’t get into the party until 9. It wasn’t very crowded and we ended up having a great time. I understand that it was supercrowded and way beyond what they were prepared for, but can’t they at least put up a sign or roadblock at World Center Dr. telling people to park at Epcot. That would have saved me and many others at least an hour of sitting/driving thru Hollywood Studios. I’m glad you got to experience it and thanks for the great report and photos. Maybe we will see you at the MNSSHP on Sept. 20.

  14. We finished dinner and left Downtown Disney at 6pm and at 8pm we had traveled maybe one mile. We determined at that rate it would be 10pm before we got to the park and that our 6 year old would never make it. He cried all the way home, as he had been looking forward to the event since it was announced in the spring. Epic fail Disney!!!!!

  15. I was actually in the first group that obliged and met Jafar instead of Oogie, (I remember seeing you a couple of people behind me.) Since we became first, and were probably yelled at more than others, we just went up for our 10 second meet and greet, and due to the yelling of the cast member, snatching of our belongings, and constant more yelling (especially as it was almost blatantly obvious that we were being kicked out), we immediately made our way over to Guest Relations. I’ve been coming to the parks multiple times since 1988, and this was the second time I ever went there to complain on a cast member. (I’ve been multiple times to give praise to certain individuals, and I’m glad it’s more than complaints.) As you pointed out, Jafar was AMAZING, (in fact it was the best interaction I ever had with him) and I wish we had more time with him instead of being told to “Get out”, especially after being promised to see Oogie and waited over 3 hours to be at the front. After the treatment tho, we were so miserable, we didn’t meet another character all night and booked it as soon as the fireworks ended..

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