Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Day at the Disney Parks Blog Wreck it Ralph Meet Up and Preview Screening

                                                   (Photo by: Chris Wakefield)

On Saturday I was invited to attend the Disney Parks Blog/Disney Studios Wreck it Ralph preview screening at Downtown Disney in Orlando, Florida. Now after the massive debacle that was the pass holder New Fantasyland signups last week, I was very cautious and a bit nervous about how Disney would handle so many people at such a high profile event. During last weeks pass holder signups I saw the absolute worst of Disney, and was all but forced to believe that Disney had no respect or love for its most die hard fans. So here I am, up early on a Saturday morning, surrounded by some very hardcore Disney fans, and I was wondering if we were doomed to suffer from the same fate. Luckily, I my fears did not come true, and Disney Parks Blog along with Disney Studios did a great job at renewing my faith in Disney and their attitude towards their most dedicated fans. This is how the day unfolded.  

The event was held in two different spots in the Downtown Disney area. The first part of our day began outside of Disney Quest. The five-story, game filled, noise factory that many vacationing Disney World families flock to on a rainy day. Disney Quest it packed the rafters with vintage video games, simulators, and all of the best arcade toys a nerd could dream of. What better place to put a bunch of 80’s kids who are already geeked and psyched to see an animated movie about a classic 80’s era arcade game? As we lined up outside a group of very enthusiastic cast members from Disney PR, and Studios (I think), worked their way down the line handing out wrist bands, giving away free Wreck it Ralph swag, and taking video of the fans waiting to get inside. Their attitude towards us was complimentary, engaging, and nothing but helpful. The group gave us our directions for the day in a calm, and helpful manner. Never once did they yell orders at us, and never did they make us feel as if we were cattle waiting in the stocks on our way to slaughter. The entire process outside of getting our wrist bands, signing in, and completing the wavier form moving smoothly. Its amazing how a crowd acts when you treat them with respect and dignity. Compare this to the way the team over at Disney Parks yells and barks orders to their guests all day, and then they wonder why events still don’t move smoothly (Fantasmic!). 

Once inside Disney Quest we found that there was not too much different about the place with the exception of the third floor. The center of this floor serves as the lobby of sorts, and this is where Disney PR had set up a few Wreck it Ralph props for fans to pose with. There was an artist who was painting an original Wreck it Ralph picture, and there were even cameras set up from the Disney Parks Blog. They were taking video and pictures of fans throughout the day. (More on that later.) Inside on multiple floors Disney had set up a few Fix it Felix games. With these arcade games being the central focal point in the Wreck it Ralph film, these consoles were obviously a hit during this event. The only time during the entire Disney Quest portion of the event were things got a little awkward or unorganized was when there would be a long line of people behind one person who was playing the popular Fix it Felix game, and the person just didn’t quite know when his/her time on the game was up. This is a problem that has plagued public gamers for quite some time, and since Disney did not install auto shut off timers on the games, it was sort of up to the people who were behind said offender in line to take the law into their own hands by giving dirty looks, or coughing loudly to indicate that the player had their fair share of game time. But for the most part, these incidents were few and far between.

                                          (Photo by: Chris Wakefield)

One of the really great things about the event was that it seemed that Disney did not pack the event full of people. Yes, Disney Quest was a little crowded, but no more than a usual day there; maybe less. In my group of four people, we never had to wait more than five minutes to have our turn on any game or simulator. Now, I only wish everyday at Disney Quest ran this smoothly. Throughout the play portion of the event, Disney was running small contests on a few games. The person who got the highest score on a certain game received a free tee shirt, or Wreck it Ralph hat during the screening later that morning. This was yet another nice touch from Disney PR.    

                                                  (Photo by: Chris Wakefield)

I went to this event with three other friends on this day and one of them was Candy Ellis, who went to the event dressed as one of the stars of Wreck it Ralph, Fix it Felix Jr. Needless to say, Candy got a lot of attention that day. Not only from fellow fans but also from Disney PR! On our way out of the Disney Quest portion of the event, we were stopped by John from Disney PR who asked Candy if she would give the famous, “I can fix it!” line from the game and film. Candy was more than happy to say the line in front of the Disney Parks Blog cameras. After Candy Oscar worthy delivery, John turned to me and asked if I would deliver the, “I'm gonna wreck it” line for the cameras, and after about three minutes of some very awkward delivery of the line to the cameras we made our way out of Disney Quest and headed toward the Downtown Disney AMC for our special screening of Wreck it Ralph. Oh yeah, and on the way to the screening Disney provided us with free soda and popcorn. Candy and her well done Fix it Felix Jr costume made it into the Disney Parks Blog promotional video (posted below), and to my surprise, so did I!

                                                  (Candy filming with Disney. 
                                                   Photo by: Chris Wakefield)

So add all of this together, and you could only imagine how excited, happy, and thrilled we were by the time we made our way into the theater to see Wreck it Ralph. This is where things did go a little bit crazy, but nothing too bad. Upon showing our wrist bands to the crew at AMC we were led over to the holding area. At this point we were told we had to hand over any cameras, or phones. After some confusion, mixed signals, and waiting we put our things into a plastic bag and were given a ticket slip to claim our items at the end of the screening. My group was one of the first to arrive and therefor, one of the first to get our seats inside the theater. With the screening scheduled to start at 11am, we were getting a little bit concerned when at five minutes until show time, the theater was less than half empty. Turns out that the extensive bag searching and wanding process that every guests was being but through was slowing things down quite a bit. The staff who was wanding and searching the guests were not employed by Disney. They were AMC staff, and after a morning of being coddled and spoon fed by Disney PR, we were all a bit turned off by the less than friendly attitude of the AMC security staff. 

After some introductions, prize giveaways, and a special preview of the new Wreck it Ralph meet and greet character, the film began, and we all were sent into Disney fan heaven. The entire day overall was a great and refreshing experience. It felt good and right to be a Disney fan again. It felt great to know that at least in some division of the Disney company that they still cared about the fans. I left the event on cloud 9 and more than willing to run off and tell every single person I know that they should go see this movie. I only hope that the people over at Disney PR and the Disney Parks Blog can give a lesson in guest service and crowd control the people at Disney Parks who put on events. 

                                                 (Photo by: Chris Wakefield)

If you would like to know my thoughts on the Wreck it Ralph film check back here on Thursday when i post my Wreck it Ralph review, or listen to Episode 7 of the Wakefield Report Podcast where i talk about the  event and film with some friends!           

Here is the Disney Parks Blog Wreck it Ralph video featuring Candy and myself. 

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