Kelly Hicks takes us along as she went to
Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Unleash the Villains!
When Disney first announced their Limited Time Magic celebration last year, I thought it sounded like so much fun. As a local, I knew I would be able to experience the majority of them and I was really looking forward it. The offerings have been a hit or miss for me, but I have been able to take part in most of the ones I have been interested in. Highlights for me have included Long Lost Friends week, the special President’s Day Voices of Liberty concerts, and Merida’s coronation. Each week I look to twitter to see what will be announced for the upcoming week’s Limited Time Magic.
One of the events mentioned in the original Limited Time Magic presentation immediately caught my eye and I would have to wait almost a year for it to take place: Friday, September 13. It would be called Unleash the Villains and would be held at Hollywood Studios until 1 a.m. I knew that I wanted to try to attend this one when the time came.
Leading up to last Friday, I started getting a little anxious about getting to the Studios for the villains event. I wasn’t able to take off work and I knew it would be crowded. The Studios parking lot has been known to close due to reaching capacity before.
As soon as the clock struck 5:00 that afternoon, I was out of the office, home to pick up my mom and to change into villains wear, and out the door again by 5:20. We were approaching the parking tollbooths by 6:00 and I knew luck and good timing were on our side. It wasn’t too backed up yet and soon enough we were walking through the gates.
Since we knew crowds would probably be crazy, we definitely had our priorities. I wanted to go to at least one character meet and the Villainy in the Sky fireworks show was a must see. Beyond that, anything else would be bonus.
After a quick dinner at Fairfax Fare, we decided to head of to Echo Lake to wait for the character meets. From reading Twitter earlier in the day, I knew that there were only three meet and greet locations so lines were sure to be long. After winding our way through the crowd gathering at the stage in front of the Sorcerer hat, we got in line at the first location. Characters were due at 8:30 and it wasn’t even 7:00 at this point. Lines were already outside the queues that were set up so it was basically just a somewhat organized mass of people. No one knew at that point which characters would be meeting where and since the lines were so long we figured we’d wait once, move on and be happy with the outcome. It felt kind of like Let’s Make a Deal and we chose door number one!
The event officially started at 8:00 p.m. at the stage, but from where we were we couldn’t see what was happening over there. Due to the amount of people there, characters didn’t arrive until almost 9:00. I imagine they had a very hard time making it through all the people. While waiting, we found out that we were in line for either the Queen from Snow White or Shan-Yu from Mulan. The other two locations would feature Jafar or Oogie Boogie, and Maleficent or Bowler Hat Guy from Meet the Robinsons. Each pair would switch off with each other every 30 minutes.
We were lucky enough to be able to meet Shan-Yu! He was appropriately intimidating and gave us a creepy red-eyed stare. From where our line was situated, we were also able to get some good pictures of Oogie Boogie and Jafar.
After that, we decided we needed a break from the crowds and something to drink before grabbing a fireworks spot. This is where we encountered our major issue with the event: not enough food and beverage locations. Everywhere we tried, it was either closed or the lines were very long. We could have used a few extra carts set up.
I found a fireworks spot in the street, while mom decided to stick to the sidewalk where she could have more breathing room. While we waited, we could finally enjoy some of what was going on onstage. They had a giant screen set up so even those of us further back to see well. I hope they add this to Star Wars Weekends next year!
DJ Iggnite alternated with Bernie Briquette and the Brimstones for musical entertainment. Hades, Meg, Pain, and Panic from Hercules also made appearances onstage. These entertainers did a fantastic job and even grabbed the attention of those of us further back.
Finally it was fireworks time! Such an amazing show! This alone was worth it for me. Villainy in the Sky featured an incredible musical score, including music from The Hunchback of Notre Dame – one of my favorites! I would love to see these fireworks used again some time!
I knew the crowd would thin out some after the fireworks, so we walked around some to take some more character pictures and grab autograph cards that we missed the first time around. We hung out around the stage for the rest of the event. Some villains, like the Big Bad Wolf, Cruella, Captain Hook, and Frollo, wandered around and dance with the crowd. Each of them were followed by waves of people trying to get pictures.
The band and Hades led sing-a-longs with songs by The Beatles and Queen. As we approached the end of the night, Hades re-introduced all of the villains that were present, some of whom I hadn’t seen yet. There was a fun party atmosphere through the end.
Overall, I had a great time at this event. Yes, it was incredibly crowded and there were problems associated with that. The meet-and-greets could have been organized a lot better and setting up more food and beverage carts would have helped alleviate the long lines. I did see cast members throughout the night that worked incredibly hard to keep the crowds organized and moving. I would still do it all over again and I hope Disney will feature villains and other rare characters more often in the future.
Thanks to my mom, Sherry (@sbeanyears) for hanging out with me that night. Also thanks to Heather (@heatherw25) and Dave(@fotodave) for keeping me in the loop with what was going on.
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