Bob Iger’s Attempt to Financially Salvage Disney Failed, Thousands Left “Suffocating”

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Line for Tip Top Club at Jollywood Nights

Credit: Random Recess Travels (@randomrecess)

At Walt Disney World, there are busy times to visit the parks where you expect to be shoulder to shoulder with a stranger as your sweat from the Florida heat touches theirs. While it’s a disgusting and very un-magical image, it appears to be what is true during peak season.

Crowds taking over EPCOT's World Showcase
Credit: George Trovato / Flickr

Other times of the year are just regular busy, but you may be able to find pockets of space in Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which are far less crowded. The more busy seasons typically fall on holidays or when kids are out of school, making the summer months and the Christmas holiday season one of the busiest times to visit the parks.

Disney Vacation Costs Cut Out Middle Class

Disney typically markets their theme parks as the most magical place on earth, while constantly upping the cost of a Walt Disney World Vacation. Now, it is not unheard of to know a family spent $10,000 for a week at Disney World once is all said and done. There are rooms in the Deluxe category such as Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, which are basic 2-bed rooms. However, they do run at a swift $900 per night. Add that with park tickets that can cost up to $180 per person per day, Disney Genie+ (which varies in price, but let’s say another $30 per person), food costs, merchandise, and plane tickets — things can get rough.

Folks enjoying Disney World after Dark
Credit: Disney

Suddenly, seeing Jack Sparrow on the Pirates of the Caribbean or singing along with the ghosts on Haunted Mansion no longer feels like a deal, but for some, a rip-off. While Disney has many magical aspects, their price increases have been done in an attempt to financially resolve the company from the pandemic, and their failed entertainment endeavors have essentially priced out the middle-class family from a Disney vacation.

Now, it is actually cheaper, in many cases, to plan a European vacation with a family of four rather than a Disney vacation.

Disney has found ways to attempt to get guests to pay more when they come on vacation as well, with their select After Hours events. These events last a few hours past closing and are meant to be a limited capacity event where ride lines are shorter, characters are out, and guests can enjoy more time in the parks.

Guests in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort at an after hours event
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

During the holiday seasons, there are themed After Hour events. For example, we just concluded Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom, and now, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party has begun. These holiday parties tend to cost far more than a regular After Hours event, at nearly $200 per person on the most expensive evenings.

Disney’s New After Hour Event

This year, after Disney CEO Bob Iger took over from the highly disliked ex-CEO Bob Chapek, we have seen Disney add extra offerings to the theme parks, at an added cost, in an attempt to recoup more money from guests and pull in more visitors as they can try something new. One of those offerings is Jollywood Nights. 

Disney announces Jollywood, using these images
Credit: Disney

Disney recently wrote a blog post on the event, stating, “A brand-new Walt Disney World nighttime party kicks off tomorrow at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Disney Jollywood Nights is a separately ticketed event on select nights from Nov. 11 to Dec. 20 where Hollywood glamour meets holiday cheer.” The event will run from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on ten select nights from November 11 to December 20 of this year.

The event is meant to take in the nostalgic, glitz and glam era of Christmas, allowing guests to feel like they are experiencing Christmas in Hollywood during the 30’s. The event promised more entertainment, to bring the Tip Top Club to life, to retheme The Brown Derby into a holiday surprise, a Nightmare Before Christmas show, and so much more. The new Holidays in Hollywood show brings out Tiana from Princess and the Frog, Belle in her Christmas dress from Beauty and the Beast, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and so much more!

Of course, with a stacked event described in such an illustrious way, Disney sold tickets at nearly $200 per head for many of the nights, with some nights selling out entirely before the event was even set to begin. 

So people had an amazing time? Right?

The short answer is, no. 

Fans Roast Jollywood Nights

According to nearly every review of this new Disney event on social media, the execution of the event was horrible, and the operations are in need of desperate help.

Random Recess Travels (@Random Recess) shared a photo of a massive amount of guests, what truly appears to be thousands, waiting on the few new drinks for the event at the Tip Top Club. For those who do not know, The Tip Top Club is the club that is at the top of the Tower of Terror, as it has been a space for guests to enter or enjoy; this was a major selling point for Disney fans.

In the end, that excitement meant that Disney would only place three bartenders to serve this “mob”.

“Hmmm this seems well thought out. Three bartenders and a mob of people at the Tip Top club. Bring your patient pants”

Geo Zaroff (@GeoZaroff) commented on one of the shows that was also a major selling point for guests.

“So the Nightmare Before Christmas show for Jollywood Nights is just 2 random people watching clips of the movie and they don’t speak/talk/sing at all? And the set design is just like random dirty sheets thrown up to cover the Frozen set? Bruh what in the fuck?!?”

Park Lore (@ThemeParkLore) shared that Disney inaccurately told their media to tell their followers that Ollie, the gingerbread mascot of the event, was the first original Disney character since Figment for the theme parks, which is inaccurate, and as this creator noted, slightly an embarrassing thing to be proud of if it were true.

I have no doubt this very incorrect “fun fact” is coming straight from Disney PR to the media. But even if it were, it’s hilarious in its own right that they’d proudly declare, “We haven’t created an original character for the parks since 1983! Cool, huh?!”

Kitra Remick (@Kitra) simply wrote, “Having a truly terrible time at Jollywood Nights 😂🎄”

Some YouTubers, such as Peter Sciretta (@PeterSciretta) are unsure if there is even enough usable footage from this event to create an entire vlog.

“People keep asking why we probably aren’t releasing a video.

Releasing a video calling this event a disaster would probably get tons of views, because negativity plays huge.

Truth is I don’t think we have a video at all — we accomplished very little and had a bad time. We aren’t very good at complaining or showing how an event is operationally mismanaged.”

Kevin Heimbach (@kevinHeimback13) shared the severe lack of theming at The Brown Derby.

“Disney Spared No Expense With The Jollywood Nights Brown Derby Overlay.”

On X (Twitter) the disapointment continues on and on.

On Reddit, a thread has been created after one user asked for the honest opinion of the event, as they are going in a few weeks. Not only did we also learn more attractions were down during the event, such as Rise of the Resistance in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, but many were not thrilled with their experience.

One guest wrote, “They’re trying to milk the parks due to their losses at other parts of the company. Did you see their earnings call numbers? It’s bad, everything is down except the parks and cruises. And at WDW the numbers are a bit down too. Not to mention I just saw that their new movie The Marvels is looking at opening at 50 mil, which is horrible for a Marvel movie.”

Another stated, “Needs a complete overhaul. Somehow it didn’t feel like there was a lot of people there, but there were so few things to do and seemingly so few cast members, every single line was insufferably long.

Actually got on virtual queue for Brown Derby at 8:15. The Estimated wait time 10 minutes. 3 hours later, still had not been called. Piggy & Kermit show was cute. The wait + show took an hour of the 4 hour event.

Every photo line was 20+ people long. Sugar cookie drink line ~20 people long with one bartender working, so people were saying the wait was 30 minutes. Felt bad for the bartender.

Fairfax Fare line (with the Thanksgiving turnovers) 50-75 people long. Dinosaur ice cream 40+ people in line. TipTop Soirée 30-40 people in line

It was a 4-hour event, and with the 3 hours remaining after the stage show, waiting 30-45 min for anything is a huge chunk of time. Unfortunately, we left hungry and disappointed. Brown Derby was arguably the biggest disappointment. Hoping they open up more booths or staff more cast members or something.

All of that doesn’t even touch on the fact that this cost $317 for two people. The value you get for the price is just insane compared to other events like MNSSHP or Halloween Horror Nights.

Others noted that lines were “suffocating”.

jingle bell jingle bam disney's hollywood studios christmas fireworks show
Credit: Disney

There are a few guests who noted positives, specifically with Holidays in Hollywood, the main show of the event, but the overwhelming consensus is that guests will not be back to the event. Considering the park used to offer The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights for free, this new, costly event certainly had high expectations that were seemingly not met.

Will you be attending Jollywood Nights? What do you think of the event?

If you are planning on visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can get ready to enter the movies! Walk down Sunset Boulevard and see the looking Tower of Terror attraction with Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster Starring Aerosmith right next door. The Chinese Theater is now home to the new attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. If you love shows, get ready to enjoy Beauty and Beast – Live on Stage, For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Indiana Jones™ Epic Stunt Spectacular! and more. Head into the wild west with Toy Story Land. Ride Slinky Dog Dash, and dine at the newly added Roundup Rodeo BBQ. Then blast to a galaxy far, far away in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, where you can meet Rey, Stormtroopers, Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, and more. Ride Rise of the Resistance and make your own lightsaber! At night, enjoy Mickey’s dreams as you enter the world of Fantasmic! For more Disney information, information on Disney Genie+, and to look at booking a vacation, the Walt Disney World website is a perfect one-stop shop for all things Mickey Mouse.


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