31 Days of Holiday Memories!!
My first New Year’s Eve working at Mouseland (Disneyland). I was on firework crowd control.
It was my worst New Year’s Eve…ever.
First off, red flags at our little meeting before we went out. They told us there was undercover security out in the park and to not feel nervous. But the main red flag was what our lead told us, “If you feel unsafe, jump into the planters”…excuse me, what?
I was stationed at the entrance to Tomorrowland. Me and another cast member were in charge of this rope that was meant to control the inflow and outflow of traffic. Fine.
There were no planters nearby…but we’ll get to why that was a problem in a moment.
Now Mouseland will probably deny this, but they were WAY over capacity that night. Like dangerously over capacity. So the crowds were already a little unruly and frustrated long before midnight.
A large surge of crowd was urged into Tomorrowland. There were other cast members stationed at the other smaller entrances into Tomorrowland. All of the sudden, I heard yelling and saw people crowding around an area.
It was too far from me to see what was going on, but I learned later what happened.
Apparently a guest head butted one of the cast members…to be fair the cast member did give off a bit of a rude attitude, but I mean, we were all not our usual happy, willing to help selves that night.
Anybut, the guest head butted the cast member, causing his nose to bleed. Instead of going backstage and reporting it….he chased after the guest and, this is what I heard from those who saw what happened, basically tackled the guest to the ground and started hitting him.
Security pulled the two apart and the guest was escorted out of the park and the cast member was fired. Fair.
On to the actual part of the night that entered terrifying and dangerous territory. It was about ten or fifteen minutes until midnight. The crowd was a constant flow of people. There was very little room to move around.
All of the sudden, the rope is somehow dropped, a guest probably undid it trying to get to the other side. We lost control of the crowd and all of the sudden…NOBODY COULD MOVE!!
The crowd stopped and it wasn’t hard to understand why. Other cast members gave up controlling the crowd and let too many people stop to wait for the fireworks.
Guests were screaming at me and the other cast member caught in the middle of the crowd. They were screaming to let them out. They were screaming that they were having panic attacks. They were threatening me and the other cast member.
Oh yeah, and that tip to jump into a planter? There were NO planters near me and there was NO WAY I could get to one. The only thing I COULD do if I try felt extremely unsafe, like someone grabbing me or trying to hit me, was jump into the rocket ride. You know the one at the entrance to Tomorrowland that is like Dumbo but with rockets?
Yeah, I could’ve jumped in there. It would’ve caused the ride to emergency stop and I probably would’ve been fired….so I didn’t do that…but if anybody attacked me…I was ready.
It was the scariest night of my life.
Did I also mention there was a fog that rolled in right before midnight and nobody could see the fireworks?
Yeah, I thought I was going to be murdered for that…
I honestly don’t remember how the crowd started moving, I don’t remember how I got backstage, but I DO remember EVERY cast member commenting how all of the managers and leads stayed backstage…..they basically abandoned us when it started to look really bad.
Mouseland will deny all of this. They’ll state they NEVER exceed park capacity. They’ll say cast members are protected and are never abandoned. They’ll say it never gets that bad.
But that night (December 31st 2008 into January 1st 2009)……I honestly felt unsafe. I honestly wished I had not shown up for the shift.
When the ratio of guest to cast member for such an event is probably (at least) 75 guests to 1 cast member………that’s a problem.
Has it changed since then? I don’t know. The only other time I worked a New Year’s Eve shift was when I was stationed in front of It’s A Small World….and that was a FAR better experience.
But if you’re ever thinking of spending New Year’s Eve at Mouseland………be prepared. If you want to leave before fireworks…leave at least 2 hours before. Otherwise you may not be able to leave until after fireworks.
Of course, they’ve probably figured ALL of this out by now….I’ve heard they let guests exit through backstage now….back then….they didn’t even consider that. It wasn’t an option….they didn’t consider what happened that night an emergency.
I felt abandoned by my superiors. I felt abandoned by the company. It was obvious they cared more about letting as many people into the park as possible then the safety of those guests.
But they’ll deny all of this.