When the Disney parks reopened, Disney specifically noted that limited edition merchandise would not have special releases in the theme parks to avoid crowding. Months later, we’ve seen a few limited edition merchandise pieces pop up in Disney World, but none with a full out shopping event — until today.
This morning, Annual Passholders had an extra hour of early access for their chance at snagging the Minnie Mouse: The Main Attraction Haunted Mansion collection and, not surprisingly, there were crowds. Isn’t this EXACTLY what Disney wanted to avoid?
Magic Kingdom opened at 9AM this morning and Annual Passholders had from 9AM to 10AM to shop for their Haunted Mansion merchandise at Sir Mickey’s before it opened for everyone. Or, at least, that was the PLAN, but things didn’t exactly work out like that.
When we arrived at Magic Kingdom parking entrance, prior to 8:15AM, the parking lot wasn’t quite open so we were directed over to the nearby gas station along with all the other early risers (and there were lots of us!). When the gates opened, we found a space and made our way over to Magic Kingdom.
At the Transportation and Ticket Center, we noticed that crowding was a little higher than usual, but we were still SHOCKED when we got into the park.
Interestingly, we spotted guests walking OUT of the park with full shopping bags minutes before the park opened. Almost IMMEDIATELY after opening, the line at Sir Mickey’s had us questioning how badly we REALLY wanted the merchandise. We headed straight to the line at rope drop and by the time our feet made it to Fantasyland, the line wrapped through new Fantasyland, in front of Cinderella Castle, and even into a backstage area. WOW.
Cast Members were out to help control the line, but they even seemed surprised by the sheer number of Passholders waiting. We stood for a WHILE and the line moved very slowly. At that speed, it would’ve taken LITERAL HOURS to reach the shop. We’ve seen long lines for merch before (remember the craziness with Splash Mountain merch when the parks first reopened?) but in those cases, a virtual queue has been used. Why they chose to forgo the virtual queue here is unclear.
By 9:30AM, a manager was walking the line letting guests know that all five items in the collection would not be available. At this point, we had only moved up a few spaces over the time we’d been waiting. With such a small reduced capacity in already small Sir Mickey’s, the line is going to inevitably crawl. Frankly, the whole experience was a bit of a mess.
Around 10:45AM (still in line) we noticed a Cast Member with a cart full of waters passing the line selling bottles for cash only. It’s reasonably warm and quite sunny today and you know we tell you guys all the time how important it is to stay hydrated. We’ve seen water distributed for free when we’ve waited in lengthy lines in the past (we’ve even scored free Mickey Bars in long lines before!), but that’s not the case today.
It definitely surprised us that Disney opted to try out a limited-edition merchandise release and we can see why they had avoided them so far. Social distancing was done well in line, but that number of people can’t easily be managed with such limited shop capacity.
Update: we made it in at 12:15 after 3 hours and 15 minutes in line. They still have some of the merch available. Check back for our full look at the line.
As always, stay tuned for the latest news and reports from Disney World!
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Were you at the Annual Passholder event this morning? Share your thoughts in the comments!