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Disney’s London 100 anniversary expo branded a ‘total shambles’ by unhappy guests who say they waited in the cold for hours outside ExCeL before being ‘crammed in like sardines’


Disney’s 100th anniversary expo in London has been branded a ‘total shambles’ by unhappy guests who say they waited in the cold for hours outside the ExCel centre, before being ‘crammed like sardines’.

The event, which was billed as a ‘magnificent’ celebration of the company’s 100th year has been slammed for overcrowding as guests with prams or in wheelchairs struggled to see exhibits. 

Visitors said they waited over an hour in the cold to access the ‘money grabbing’ Disney100 exhibition at ExCel London, with no toilet facilities for them by the time they got inside. 

Heat from the packed galleries left a number of visitors feeling faint, and with no washroom facilities, parents had no choice but to change their babies’ nappies in the crowded room. 

The exhibits themselves, meanwhile, were branded ‘sparse and small’, with several interactive displays not working only days after doors first opened.

Disney's 100th anniversary expo in London has been branded a 'total shambles' by unhappy guests who say they waited in the cold for hours outside the ExCel centre

Disney’s 100th anniversary expo in London has been branded a ‘total shambles’ by unhappy guests who say they waited in the cold for hours outside the ExCel centre

The event, which was billed as a 'magnificent' celebration of the company's 100th year has been slammed for overcrowding as guests with prams or in wheelchairs struggled to see exhibits

The event, which was billed as a ‘magnificent’ celebration of the company’s 100th year has been slammed for overcrowding as guests with prams or in wheelchairs struggled to see exhibits

The 20,000-square-foot Disney100: The Exhibition promised fans ‘of all generations with the opportunity to immerse themselves and rediscover some of their favourite Disney stories in ten magnificent and imaginatively themed galleries’. 

Rebecca, a mum-of-two from Hertfordshire, paid over £70 to visit with her husband and young children.

She said: ‘It was a total shambles. We waited over an hour in the cold with an impatient two-year-old, and a nine-month-old who has just recovered from a chest infection.

‘The website FAQ specifically said ‘there will be no queueing outside’ but the line was enormous.

‘And no wonder – once you’re inside, all the guests are photographed in front of a green screen, with the pictures costing extra, before you queue again for an introductory film.

‘We’d been waiting so long, we had to change the boys’ nappies, but there were no toilets inside, so we either had to leave and queue again or change them in the packed galleries.

‘It was a nightmare getting a pram round these crowded rooms and there was very little for young children to interact with; our toddler was upset all the way home.’

Helen, a photographer from Kent, paid £60 to visit with her autistic friend Jon.

She said they waited for 90 minutes outside – and a further 25 minutes inside – before reaching the exhibition.

Heat from the packed galleries left a number of visitors feeling faint, and with no washroom facilities, parents had no choice but to change their babies' nappies in the crowded room

Heat from the packed galleries left a number of visitors feeling faint, and with no washroom facilities, parents had no choice but to change their babies’ nappies in the crowded room

The 58-year-old said: ‘The heat hit us and it was so packed we couldn’t see anything – we were crammed in like sardines.

‘We could barely move and Jon started to panic and wanted to get out. It felt so claustrophobic.

‘People around us were heard complaining about the heat and feeling unwell. It was impossible to see and enjoy the exhibition, I wanted to see it from the artwork point of view and costumes. The exhibition felt sparse and small.’

She added: ‘There was no magic at all, it was disappointing, and badly managed.’

Vikki Neighbour, a carer from London who paid £93 to visit with her husband and son, queued for 80 minutes outside the venue.

Visitors said they waited over an hour in the cold to access the 'money grabbing' Disney100 exhibition at ExCel London, with no toilet facilities for them by the time they got inside.

Visitors said they waited over an hour in the cold to access the ‘money grabbing’ Disney100 exhibition at ExCel London, with no toilet facilities for them by the time they got inside.

She said: ‘I feel angry, conned and disappointed.

‘It starts with a film in a holding room. My husband is a wheelchair user and could see nothing of the film.

‘The start of the exhibition was ram-packed; you could barely see anything. I admit I shoved my way through as I wanted to see the early drawings.

‘My husband saw nothing. My eldest son is autistic and was panicking as he couldn’t move for the crowd.

‘My husband kept having people press against his injured legs causing severe pain. People were saying they felt faint.’

It cost nearly £94 for Laura, a 33-year-old librarian from Oxford, to visit with her mum and dad.

The exhibits themselves, meanwhile, were branded 'sparse and small', with several interactive displays not working only days after doors first opened

The exhibits themselves, meanwhile, were branded ‘sparse and small’, with several interactive displays not working only days after doors first opened

They too faced an 80-minute wait outside.

She said: ‘The exhibition was packed and you had to wait a while to look at items.

‘It was the opening weekend and already some of the interactive machines were broken.

‘We were advised that there are no toilet facilities inside, which is poor planning considering that – with the wait time – we spent about three hours there.

‘I felt like the exhibition items got sparser as you went through.’

Shaunna Mulford, 32, regretted driving five hours for her visit.

And though her VIP tickets meant she could skip the queue, there was no escaping the crowds.

‘It was far too crowded,’ she said.

‘You could not see the exhibits without pushing through crowds.

‘It was very hot inside, probably due to the numbers and the lights.. My mum felt faint within the first couple of rooms.

‘We drove from Manchester and it didn’t feel worth it in the end.’

A number of visitors used the term ‘money grabbing’.

Mrs Neighbour, 47, said she spent nearly £100 in the exhibition gift shop, but was told the only bags available to carry her purchases were tote bags costing £18 each.

Helen said: ‘It felt like it wasn’t a celebration of the Disney name and the work, but a money grab.’

The 20,000-square-foot Disney100: The Exhibition promised fans 'of all generations with the opportunity to immerse themselves and rediscover some of their favourite Disney stories in ten magnificent and imaginatively themed galleries'

The 20,000-square-foot Disney100: The Exhibition promised fans ‘of all generations with the opportunity to immerse themselves and rediscover some of their favourite Disney stories in ten magnificent and imaginatively themed galleries’

A number of guests who came on Monday, the actual centenary, said they were also led to expect ‘surprises’ for the big day.

But some said they saw no unexpected extras, while others reported only a balloon artist or a barbershop quartet who serenaded fans in the outside queue.

Rebecca said: ‘A balloon man might do the job at a village fete, but it’s a little underwhelming for Disney.’

Some guests, however, were big fans. Jo Routh, a civil servant from Essex, said: ‘We loved it.

‘We waited 45 to 50 minutes. The exhibit was fascinating with original memorabilia and some dating back to the 1920s.

‘It is not a theme park, but fascinating if you are interested in 20th-century social history.

‘I thought it had plenty of pixie dust.’

At time of writing, a Facebook page covering both the London exhibition and its yet-to-open US counterpart, had an average review score of just over three out of five.

Disney100: The Exhibition is set to run until 2024. 

MailOnline has approached Disney, the ticket vendor Fever, Semmel Exhibitions, and FKP Scorpio Entertainment for comment.



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