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Autograph Waiting Lines - The Good And The Bad

#1 User is offline   Randomness 

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 08:46 AM

Hello All,

First, I just want to say thanks to everyone on this forum for the help in figuring out how SWW worked and what to do. I am new to this forum, just recently finding it before heading up to Star Wars Weekend Week 3, so I will give everyone a little background before I go into my main topic.

This was my first Star Wars Weekend ever. Week 3, Jeremy Bulloch, David Prowse. Wow. So, whoever is out there reading this and you haven't gone yet, you have to try to get there. It was a ton of fun.

This was also my last Disney weekend for a very long time. My girlfriend and I have season passes, which expire next week. We are buying a house so its not in the cartds to renew for at least another year.

So...my main topic is about the waiting lines for autographs.

Disney...HAS GOT TO FIGURE OUT A BETTER SYSTEM FOR DISTRIBUTING FASTPASSES.

The information I got from this forum was very helpful, and I wouldn't have had a clue as to what to do without it. In another thread, they mentioned you should get there around 4:30-5:30 to get guaranteed fastpasses for David Prowse.

I took that advice and ran with it. I live about 2 and a half hours away from Disney. Woke up at 1 AM (this was for the Saturday signing), out the door by 2AM. Got to Disney and online almost at 4:30 on the dot. The line was not that long, I felt assured that I was going to get a guaranteed fastpass for Prowse.

And herein lies the major problem with how Disney distributes fastpasses for autographs...you can hold spots in line for AS MANY PEOPLE as you want up until 8:05AM, which is about 10 minutes before they actually distribute the passes.

So as it got closer and closer to 8AM the line in front of me slowly got longer and longer. People were showing up at 7:45 with food and coffee for people around them, well rested, while I had sat in the cold and rain since 4:30.

And I'm not talking about a "couple" of people. I'd venture to say that when I got there at around 4:30 I was around #60 to 70 in line...at around 7:45 I was spot 185 (for those who don't know, there are 150 guaranteed signing spots, after that they give out StandBy tickets, which if the star finishes the guarantees, they go to the people with Standby tickets. At this point I was in Standby range).

That is not cool.

Some people were literally holding spots for over 30 of their friends.

So what did I do? Well, my original plan was to get David Prowse on Saturday and go back from Jeremy Bulloch on Sunday. Prowse was the one I absolutely wanted. But Bulloch's line was much shorter than Prowses. You could have gotten in line for Bolloch at 6:30 and still get a 1st session guarantee spot.

I didn't want to chance not getting an autograph at all on Saturday, so I got out of line for Prowse, and got a guarantee for Bouloch. And I got his autograph. And it was awesome ;)

But I wasn't chancing it for Sunday. I got in line at 2AM for Prowse. There were maybe 25 people ahead of me. And about 4 spots ahead of me there were 4 empty chairs. Talking to the people right in front of me, I found out that those 4 empty chairs represented about 30 people, who had come at 5 PM the previous day, set them up, and left them there. They didnt show up until around 7AM.

Once again...that is NOT cool.

To make a VERY long story short, I still got a first session guarantee ticket for Prowse, met him, got my autograph, and it was AMAZING. David Prowse is a very nice guy. He takes his time, makes the autograph out to you, and he also stayed a long time to take as many people with Standby tickets as possible. He is a great guy and I really respect him for that.

So yes...Disney really needs to figure out a better system for the autograph fastpasses. Their system is not fair at all to the people who sat their all night.

On the positive side though, if you have never sat out with a bunch of people waiting in line for over 8 hours to get a fastpass ticket for an autograph, I definitely suggest it! I had so much fun, and met a ton of really cool people. It was an outrageously fun time. You might think all that time would drag, but it doesn't. Your in line with a ton of people who share the same passion. Its not to be missed.

Well, thats my 2 cents. What does everyone else here think? Have you had a similar experience? Got suggestions for a better fastpass system? Think I went on for WAY too long? ;) LMK
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#2 User is offline   yulilin 

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 09:13 AM

The same thing happened to us on Friday, got there at 3:30am with my 2 kids and was about 55 in line, later we knew about the people in front holding spots for 25 people, and the worst thing is that they do this every single day of every single weekend. Some of these people march in the parade, they have tons of autographed items, I think they must sell them or something, it's not clear to me what they can do with so many autographed things. My opinion is that if I can wake up my kids at 3am and make my line, all of these ADULTS can do it too. I could understand if it was a family with a small child, maybe one of them lines up early and then 2 or 3 more show up later, but not 25 or 30 adults that show up at 7:30am and still get a guaranteed fp for session one.
This is what I think should happen, Disney is going in the right direction by changing the FP distribution to the current location, not using the FP machines that take longer, but they should move up the time of distribution to maybe 6 or 7am, or just not let anyone hold spots for more than 2 people, something needs to be done.
We did get a guaranteed FP for second session, and as you say Mr. Prowse is a very nice gentelman, took his time, talked to the kids.
But I agree that something needs to be done.
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#3 User is offline   General Specific 

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 10:47 AM

You know, with a line that is for the most part maintained by the guests themselves, of course there are going to be some cuts. Still, is it so much to ask for that people be ethical enough to keep it within reason? If there's a party of guests in front of me, and they hold a spot for a 7 year-old kid and 1 or 2 others, or if you have several people waiting and want 1 or 2 people to stay behind till later to bring you refreshments so that you can survive the long day ahead, there's no real issue there, but when I see 1 Adult letting in another 5 fully grown guests, I'm going to voice my displeasure to them.

I have to ask though, if people left their stuff at the front of the line all night, and it wasn't attended by anyone, why was it still there in the morning waiting for them? If I had known about this, I would have gladly taken it to the opposite side of the entrance and attached a note to it saying "Disney Cast Members: Please take these lost items to guest relations or wherever their rightful owners can pick them up."

Disney Guests have an EXTREMELY inflated sense of entitlement. Case in point, in similar fashion to a guest getting knocked out of the guaranteed autograph tickets by people coming late, I pretty much had the Hyperspace Hoopla show ruined for me by a good dozen people putting their kids on their shoulders right in my line of sight. Now I'm not particularly tall or short (5'11'') but I had a great view of the entire stage beforehand, and could next next to nothing immediately afterward. I mean, am I not supposed to see anything because their kids couldn't? Many adults around me shared this sentiment. When I asked a couple of them if the could move to the back of the crowd if they wanted to do that, I got responses as if I had just aked them to pull gold out of their own arse.
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#4 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 10:48 AM

I can see your point and where you'd be upset with what happened. I wouldn't mind a few people but to go from #60/70 to #185 is absurd. There's always room for improvement and this is certainly one I can see.

I do think the issue is only for the more popular celebs. I arrived on Weekend 1 at 7am and didn't observe the problem you mentioned but I wasn't there since 4am.
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#5 User is offline   Sleepless Knight 

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 11:44 AM

I think you raise some very good points. If you haven't already, write Disney directly and tell them your experience. You made the sacrifice to be there that early and exposed to the elements while others went to their comfortable homes/hotel rooms to sleep, knowing that they had somebody in line to save their place. I saw Disney announcing to people in line for weekend #2 that everyone had to be there by 7:50 or so to get their spot, and I think it needs to change. While I got the autograph I wanted, I would not have been happy if hordes of people showed up to claim saved seats. It's one thing if you're saving seats for someone who had to run to the bathroom, but it's another matter entirely if you're saving seats for people who haven't shown up yet or else went back to get some rest.

I'm glad you got the autographs you wanted.
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#6 User is offline   Randomness 

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 12:32 PM

View PostGeneral Specific, on Jun 8 2009, 11:47 AM, said:

You know, with a line that is for the most part maintained by the guests themselves, of course there are going to be some cuts. Still, is it so much to ask for that people be ethical enough to keep it within reason? If there's a party of guests in front of me, and they hold a spot for a 7 year-old kid and 1 or 2 others, or if you have several people waiting and want 1 or 2 people to stay behind till later to bring you refreshments so that you can survive the long day ahead, there's no real issue there, but when I see 1 Adult letting in another 5 fully grown guests, I'm going to voice my displeasure to them.


I fully agree with you here. If you are holding spots for children, or people in wheelchairs/disabled I totally understand, and encourage it. Not everyone needs to camp out, but it should be used sparingly.

View PostGeneral Specific, on Jun 8 2009, 11:47 AM, said:

I have to ask though, if people left their stuff at the front of the line all night, and it wasn't attended by anyone, why was it still there in the morning waiting for them? If I had known about this, I would have gladly taken it to the opposite side of the entrance and attached a note to it saying "Disney Cast Members: Please take these lost items to guest relations or wherever their rightful owners can pick them up."


Here is somewhat where the problem was. I really don't mean any offense to members of the group on this forum, but all of the ones for which spots were being held were 501st members. Now, I don't know much about the group (and their might be members on here who can explain further) but it is a very large Star Wars club/group. They make their own Stormtrooper armor, they march in the SW parade, etc. The majority of people in line in front of me were part of the 501st, including the absentee people with the chairs. They kind of watch out for each other.

Plus, me and the people around myself, while irritated by it, didn't really want to start something. We were all just there to have fun.

Also, please don't take the above statement to mean that I think all 501st members are disrespectful of this situation. I met some very nice members of the 501st, and some of them even got kicked from guaranteed passes by other members of the 501st in front of them. They didn't ask for special treatment.

View PostGeneral Specific, on Jun 8 2009, 11:47 AM, said:

I got responses as if I had just aked them to pull gold out of their own arse.


If you could I would be much obliged ;)
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#7 User is offline   Pitti-sing 

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 02:54 PM

The unknown number of people in front of me is why I always err on the early side when I'm figuring out when to get to the Studios. And, when it's a popular celebrity, I'm always way too early, which is part of the plan. (Which I call: "the plan") ;)

The things that I heard about the autograph lines that were bothering Disney this year were the people getting more than one thing signed on one fastpass and people getting more than 2 fastpasses per celebrity (for Peter Mayhew). The castmembers (that would be mostly Tim) told people that this was not good and it pretty much stopped because of pressure from the group. I doubt that Disney will police the lines anytime before 6am (or more probably 7am) and, if people saving spaces for lots of friends (other than children, etc.) is something that people want to see fixed, then pressure from the rest of us is most probably the only way to fix this.

Regarding the Hoopla, I was very fortunate to get to see it with a lovely group of people on the second Friday. Quite frankly, I was really surprised. Lately, I watch what I can from the back and then watch it on Youtube. So, I am going to write to Disney to see if they will consider moving the Hoopla to the Premiere Theater even though it will cost them more in payroll. ;)
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#8 User is offline   Sleepless Knight 

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 03:29 PM

I agree about the Hoopla. I can't imagine trying to get pics of a kid in the JTA if you're not in the front row. I will note that if you watch the final JTA, you can get decent viewing of the Hoopla by beginning to move forward as the JTA non hoopla crowd takes off.
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#9 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 06:44 PM

It's really disappointing to hear that one or two people would hold down a spot for an additional 5 or more people to come much later. Like Keith said, I'd encourage you to email Disney and voice your displeasure. I think everyone is entitled to an autograph regardless of many others you may have but cutting in line or holding spots for more than a person or two is an egregious insult to those behind them. I don't blame you for being upset.
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#10 User is offline   Sleepless Knight 

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 11:42 PM

And writing to Disney does work. At the Studios Central dinner, I was talking with Hope and Colin about how much I enjoyed seeing Jedi Mickey for the first time and they told me that Disney nearly pulled Jedi Mickey after last year because some guests were not happy that he was not available for meet and greets as Sorcerer Mickey. So the SW fans wrote Disney and told them that Jedi Mickey was an important part of SWW and needed to stay. To those of you who did, I thank you again. I've loved Disney and Star Wars all my life, so it was exciting for me to get my picture taken with Jedi Mickey.
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#11 User is offline   SkywalkersDad 

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 10:15 PM

View PostSleepless Knight, on Jun 8 2009, 04:29 PM, said:

I agree about the Hoopla. I can't imagine trying to get pics of a kid in the JTA if you're not in the front row. I will note that if you watch the final JTA, you can get decent viewing of the Hoopla by beginning to move forward as the JTA non hoopla crowd takes off.


I agree with everyone's thoughts here. We simply lucked out for our autograph of Bulloch, arriving at 8AM, but that was my choice not to sit in line for hours and I knew there was a possibility of not getting any autographs arriving that late to the studios. With that said, I had a different experience with Hoopla. My kids and I were on the front row of the last JTA session. They were not picked for JTA - after several attempts that day - and so we decided to just stay and watch the show so we could line up at the front of the Hoopla stage. Well we were practically trampled by a number of inconsiderate adults when the ropes were moved after JTA, and we ended up 5 rows back. My children were not tall enough to see, and I was upset enough about the situation that I was ready to be one of those parents who put my kid on my shoulders. Fortunately, some very nice fans in front of me took pity on my 7 year old son and managed to get him up to the front row with a group of about a dozen kids. Of course this made his day and made up for not getting picked for JTA. My 11 year old daughter could barely manage to see from 5 rows back, but it took some effort on her part to jostle into positions that allowed her to see. Anyway, it all turned out well in the end, but don't assume you can get a good viewing of Hoopla by getting there early at JTA. I do not like the way they move the ropes - too many people crowd into a small confined space, and the adults get way too pushy and won't think twice about trampeling kids. I would encourage Disney to try to relocate Hoopla if possible (even better - have a outdoor location with an indoor rain location - but that is probably asking too much!).
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#12 User is offline   COH#1fan 

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Posted 10 June 2009 - 06:03 AM

I've been visiting Disney since what seems like forever, so I'm used to waiting 5 years in line for an attraction. For my experience, I saw a long line and, not knowing what it was before I got there, just decided to jump in the end and decide where it would take me. I discovered that it was the line for David Prowse, and I was a standby for a FastPass. This same similar situation happened to me when I waited in line for Jake Lloyd. I just didn't know what I was getting myself into, and when I did, I was basically on the fringe, as it were.

Basically, regarding autograph waiting lines, it takes alot of patience and alot of luck. Star TREK actors, on the other hand, are a different story.
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#13 User is offline   Randomness 

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 10:14 AM

Is there any particular means / phone number that works best to air grievances/make suggestions?

Seriously though, with all I said above, I still had a fantastic time. It was worth the time and the wait. THey just need a better system for the autograph fastpasses. It seems that from the previous years to this one they have already made good improvements, hopefully next year will see some more.
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#14 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 11:27 AM

I would send an email to complain. It gets good results in my experience.
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#15 User is offline   Jeanine 

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 07:05 PM

I particularly hate the people who plop their kids on their shoulders at the last minute. There really isn't any way to guard against that, unless you're in the front row, and even then, that's no security that people won't just squish in front of you and then plop their kids on their shoulders. That's one nice thing about Tokyo Disneyland--the CMs there constantly enforce their rule that no one can hold anything/anyone higher than their head while these sorts of things go on. Plus, the people in the front have to sit down so the people in the back can stand and see.

I am also tired of the people who hold a space for 90 of their closest friends in line. If I'm by myself now, and a huge group of people crowd in front of me, I just walk through them and stand in front of them. I figure, if they have the guts to complain about me cutting in front of them, they're free to discuss it with me.
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Posted 12 June 2009 - 06:13 PM

View PostJeanine, on Jun 11 2009, 08:05 PM, said:

I am also tired of the people who hold a space for 90 of their closest friends in line. If I'm by myself now, and a huge group of people crowd in front of me, I just walk through them and stand in front of them. I figure, if they have the guts to complain about me cutting in front of them, they're free to discuss it with me.

This reminds me of the time a CM announced to the Autograph line that they were serving coffee, and if anyone wanted to get some, to make friends with the people in your immediate area. I didn't need coffee, but I had to use the restrooms, so I did what the CM said; make friends with the people around you.

And the funny thing about that was I would find the same friends waiting for me at the 2:20 autograph session. :D
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#17 User is offline   IHeartTheStudios 

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 07:15 AM

View PostSkywalkersDad, on Jun 9 2009, 11:15 PM, said:

I agree with everyone's thoughts here. We simply lucked out for our autograph of Bulloch, arriving at 8AM, but that was my choice not to sit in line for hours and I knew there was a possibility of not getting any autographs arriving that late to the studios. With that said, I had a different experience with Hoopla. My kids and I were on the front row of the last JTA session. They were not picked for JTA - after several attempts that day - and so we decided to just stay and watch the show so we could line up at the front of the Hoopla stage. Well we were practically trampled by a number of inconsiderate adults when the ropes were moved after JTA, and we ended up 5 rows back. My children were not tall enough to see, and I was upset enough about the situation that I was ready to be one of those parents who put my kid on my shoulders. Fortunately, some very nice fans in front of me took pity on my 7 year old son and managed to get him up to the front row with a group of about a dozen kids. Of course this made his day and made up for not getting picked for JTA. My 11 year old daughter could barely manage to see from 5 rows back, but it took some effort on her part to jostle into positions that allowed her to see. Anyway, it all turned out well in the end, but don't assume you can get a good viewing of Hoopla by getting there early at JTA. I do not like the way they move the ropes - too many people crowd into a small confined space, and the adults get way too pushy and won't think twice about trampeling kids. I would encourage Disney to try to relocate Hoopla if possible (even better - have a outdoor location with an indoor rain location - but that is probably asking too much!).


How would you suggest they move the ropes?
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#18 User is offline   SkywalkersDad 

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 11:58 AM

View PostIHeartTheStudios, on Jun 13 2009, 08:15 AM, said:

How would you suggest they move the ropes?

I would suggest they move the location to a space large enough to accomodate. That would make moving ropes unnecessary.
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Posted 15 June 2009 - 01:58 PM

A few thoughts about all this.
This was my 2nd SWW, and i really liked the fastpass line this year. There probably is a way to keep people from holding 25 + places in line, but the most likely way for Disney to correct this problem is to bring people into the park much, much earlier. Which kinda puts us back into the same situation as in previous years. I suppose they could distribute passes at 6 or 7, but since there are only 1 or 2 celebs a year that may demand this type of special treatment, i don't see it happening.
Nor do i see Disney security poilicing a line at 4 or 5 am.
All i'm saying is, that while i agree holding that many places in line is absurd, how Disney could fix the problem is difficult. The devil is in the details.

Same with the Hoopla. I too had a good spot. As soon as it started - up go the kids on Dad's shoulders. GRRRRRRRR. I spent the next 5 minutes moving around, trying to get a glimpse for myself and my 10 yr old son. I love the Hoopla, and i love it at it's current outside location, but viewing it is next to impossilbe. Something could be done to make this the enjoyable event it is supposed to be - for everyone.
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#20 User is offline   yulilin 

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 09:33 AM

I was thinking they could move the hoopla somewhere else, the Indiana Jones Theater would work great, just somewhere where there's more room, or elevate the stage even more. And they need to start inforcing the "no kids on shoulders" rule. Or maybe just tell everyone they need to be seated during the show.
About how Disney could inforce the line holding mess, I'm with you on that one, I just don't see a way of them doing that, they're not going to have CM's too early, handing out passes or patroling the lines, we'll just wait and see what happens next year.
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