I held off writing an article this week because I knew I was going to the Magic Access (Annual Passholder) Summer Party and was looking forward to telling everyone how great it was. I attended the Pixar Party last year and had a blast, so I thought this would be no different. However, this wasn’t exactly the case as this year’s party wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be.
The set up was similar to MA parties of the past. The majority of the event started in the evening with a couple of experiences beginning in the afternoon. Then nonparty attending guests would be required to leave the park after Paint the Night at 8 PM and party guests will be afforded the park until 10.30 PM, while exclusive shows and events happened throughout the evening.
We arrived at 2 PM as we had a few things we wanted to do in the park before all the events took control. The queue to receive our event wristbands was busy but not horrendous, taking about fifteen minutes to queue and collect the items. Hong Kong Disneyland had brought back its audience interactive show Stitch Escape, especially for the event. I thought this was a great touch and I was excited to see the show again as I had fond memories of the show when it was previously at Hong Kong Disneyland, and I wanted to share the experience with my fiancé. However, when receiving our event brochure, we found out that they were only showing performances of Stitch Live in Cantonese. Not too much of a big deal, but due to the show requiring audience interaction I thought it would be a little too detrimental to the enjoyment of the show that we wouldn’t understand a lot of it. Added to the fact that the show had forty-minute queues when we arrived, I just thought it wasn’t going to be worth it—no big deal.
A large meet and greet with clubhouse characters was scheduled to begin at 4.20 PM at the Fantasy Gardens, with all the other festivities kicking off around 7 PM. I thought it would be a good idea to get these meet and greets out of the way first. However, that was an idea so genius that every other MA member who was there earlier had the same idea. As when we turned up to Fantasy Gardens at 4.10 PM there were hundreds of people waiting to enter the area. This queue was so long that I hate to think about how long people had been waiting for before the event. By the time we got in the area, we were able to get in a queue to meet Goofy. There was about a half hour wait, which wasn’t too bad in the whole scheme of things. Goofy was amazing as always, dressed in summer gear equipped with armbands and summer shorts. After finished with Goofy the queues for other characters seemed a little large, and I wanted to try and get around the other events.
One of the cool things about the event was the scavenger hunt that the event adopted. You had to go to four locations to find a stamp. Once you had collected four stamps, you were rewarded with a pack of four exclusive collectible cards. A cute little touch and something to do before all the exclusive events happened at 7 PM. The show to kick off the evening’s events was titled: A Show for Mickey and was a surprise dance party. The show began at 7.15 PM, but by the time we arrived there was a mass of humanity already trying to watch. As this was a quick pop-up performance, the performance space was not designed to hold as many people as it did cause the performance to be a little hectic.
This kind of set the tone for the evening as there seemed to be too many people trying to enjoy the activities. There were scheduled meet and greets throughout the park that had one hour to ninety minute time slots. These time slows were full even before the characters turned up, meaning you would be waiting around ninety minutes just to meet one of your favorite Disney friends. This is not normally the case at Hong Kong Disneyland where you can meet a lot of the characters without much of a wait.
The main event of the evening was a special show held at the Storybook Theatre; ‘A Whole New World’ A Magical Disney Storybook – Volume 2 (catchy title). There were two performances of the show at 8.30 and 9.30 PM. I was hoping to see Stitch’s Summer Dance Party and then queue around 45 minutes to see the 9.30 PM showing of A Magical Disney Storybook. However, this was not to be, as at 8 PM we had noticed that the queue for the 9.30 PM showing was already huge. So at 8.15 PM we decided that we had to queue up for A Magical Disney Storybook. I’m glad we did because if we had left it much longer, we wouldn’t have got into the show. The show itself was pretty incredible and by far the best thing that occurred that evening with swing versions of some of your favorite Disney classics sung by some incredibly talented performers, while you’re the stars of those Disney movies appeared on stage. It was just a shame that between queueing and watching the show, we had to sacrifice two hours of party time.
By the time the show had finished, there was only the Disney Friends Kiss Goodnight left, which was a cute goodbye show where the characters featured throughout the night appeared on the castle hub stage to say goodbye to all of their fellow guests.
I feel like I can’t complain too much about the event. Unlike other Disney Parks, these events aren’t an extra fee and are a bonus to Magic Access Members. However, this was definitely the worse one of these events that I have turned up too. It was just too busy and a little hectic. But, I think I was more disappointed with the evening because I know that Hong Kong Disneyland normally does so well at organizing and executing these nights.
I do think that maybe we were just unlucky on the night we picked. I had friends who attended the event a week earlier on a Sunday and said that they didn’t have much trouble seeing what they wanted to see. That said, I do think our event was too busy. Hong Kong Disneyland does hold four nights of this event, but maybe putting on an extra few nights could be the answer. Also, maybe having the event go on later and having longer meet and greet times or more performances might help ease congestion. But, as already mentioned, these events are included in the price of your annual pass, so I don’t think there’s too much to complain about. I just know how magical these events are normally, and sadly, it wasn’t this time.
What are your thoughts? Do you like these Annual Passholder extras? Have you been to an after hours event before? Let’s continue the conversation on the WDW Radio Box People Facebook group.
(All photos from the personal collection of Daniel Morris.)
To learn more about Daniel and read some of his other posts on the WDW Radio Blog, visit his author page.