Is Super Bowl Sunday the least busy day to visit the Happiest Place on Earth?
According to persistent online chatter and practically anyone with a Disney annual pass that doesn’t black out on weekends (sorry Southern California passholders, this doesn’t include you), the day of the Big Game is regarded by many Mickey-ophiles as an all-day extension of magic morning hours — shorter lines for marquee rides. (Magic morning hours are a perk for Disney hotel guests who on certain days are permitted into the parks early, usually an hour before the public.)
Of course, as anyone who has ever covered Disney can tell you, the gatekeepers of information at the Magic Kingdom are about as likely to disclose daily attendance figures as they are to sponsor a mixed-martial arts fight between Cinderella and Goofy. (Actually, that sounds more entertaining than “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.”)
Still, the rumors do make sense. Unlike Disney, Nielsen does give out numbers, in fact, it’s their business and they point out that in recent years more than 100 million Americans sit down and/or raise a beer for the Super Bowl. Now, if they aren’t watching until halftime and then dashing off to ride the Matterhorn, that knocks out about a third of potential American visitors.
There are strong associations, too, between Disneyland and the Super Bowl. Shortly after the conclusion of Sunday’s national event, we can expect to see a string of commercials showing the game’s conquering hero declare he’s “going to Disneyland.” (Or Disney World.)
Park officials say they’ve heard the rumors about Super Bowl Sunday crowds, but maintain they are not really true. Yes, Sundays in February tend not to be as crowded as Sundays in July, they say, but identifying Super Bowl Sunday as the least crowded — no.
Even if the park were to be less crowded than usual, there will also be fewer rides operating. In the winter months, many rides undergo maintenance, repair and refurbishment. For instance, on Super Bowl Sunday, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Grizzly River Run in California Adventure won’t be open.
Disney officials say they have no special Super Bowl-related events planned in the park in honor of the Big Game. But if you miss big crowds you could always head over to ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney — it’s going to as packed at Space Mountain on the Fourth of July.
In other Disney news, park officials made a couple announcements that probably didn’t rival the sports media’s frenzied run-up to the Super Bowl, but still are of interest to fans of the park.
There will be a new place to meet Disney princesses — at the new Fantasy Faire, which will be an extension of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and extend Fantasyland by half an acre. The storybook world, which is on the site of the former Carnation Plaza Gardens, will feature among other things, a Royal Hall where three princesses will greet visitors, and a Royal Theatre with live performances by vaudeville-style performers. The village will open March 12.
Also, with princesses moving out of Fantasyland Theatre, Disney officials said a new show will takes its place this summer, “Mickey and the Magical Map.” In a 25-minute show, Mickey takes the audience through a journey that includes scenes and songs from movies such as “Jungle Book,” “Pocahontas” and “Lilo & Stitch.”
— Martin Miller
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