January 1, 2001
Anaheim, CA -- Imagine traveling across the United States to find the amusement park you've dreamed of visiting closed? If it sounds like a scene out of National Lampoon's Vacation then you're right and it was also a reality in Southern California last week.
Guests arriving at the Disneyland Resort several days this past week may have been surprised to find the "Happiest place on earth" filled to capacity. A record number of guests forced Disneyland officials to halt ticket sales and close the gates early three times during the week between Christmas and New Years.
Electronic signs flashed messages to vehicles along Harbor, Katella and Ball roads saying "Disneyland is full to capacity." On Christmas Day Disneyland filled to capacity at 3 p.m. Again on December 27th officials closed the park at 12:30 p.m. and on December 29th the gates closed at Noon, which according to a park spokesperson may have been the earliest sell out ever.
"We suspended one-day ticket sales for a period of time because of the capacity in the park," said Disneyland spokesman Tom Brocato. "We don't want it to detract from our guests' experience."
Disneyland officials do not release attendance figures so the exact sell-out number is a mystery. Disneyland experts estimate that the number is between 60,000 and 80,000 guests depending upon the staffing levels and the number of operating attractions.
Those fortunate enough to gain entrance to the park on the three days reported long lines, often in excess of 90 minutes for most of the popular attractions. For the evening fireworks show Main Street was reported to be wall-to-wall with people.
The last time Disneyland was forced to close was in the fall of 1996, during the farewell season for the Main Street Electrical Parade. Disneyland responded to the sell outs by extending the parade for an extra month.
This past weeks sell outs are believed to be caused by the park's recent adverising blitz, publicity for the soon to open Disney's California Adventure theme park and the park's holiday celebration.
This year's holiday festivites include the usual park wide decorations, A Christmas Fantasy, the holiday parade, a redecorated It's A Small World and Believe in Holiday Magic, a new holiday fireworks show.
Believe is a spin-off from this past year's extremely popular "Believe There's Magic in the Stars" 45th anniversary show. The 10-minute fireworks display presented nightly since early November has been especially popular because of the finale, when man-made snow falls over three sections of the park. Guest reaction to the snow and fireworks has been great for Disneyland.
In response to last week's sell out Disneyland officials have extended the park holiday festivities through Saturday, January 6. Disneyland officials recommend that guests call the park or arrive early to ensure admittance to the park on the day you wish to attend.