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'Pirates' Promo a Time-Robber for Fans

May 23, 2000|E. SCOTT RECKARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An $85 Disneyland special event giving fans an opportunity to buy souvenirs with a Pirates of the Caribbean theme went awry, participants said Monday, with some enthusiasts waiting in line until past 4 a.m. Sunday to pick up items they had ordered.

Park enthusiast Al Lutz, who operates the online Disneyland Information Guide, said the 30 employees assigned to handle merchandise were unable to adequately process requests from 1,400 patrons. "To say it was understaffed was an understatement," said Lutz, whose site carried several critical accounts of the event.

Disneyland officials couldn't be reached for comment.

The Saturday event, one in a series focusing on popular Disneyland rides, included a panel discussion featuring Disney workers associated with the attraction.

Patrons then took a special late-night ride through the attraction, which features a series of caverns with scenes of pirates looting and pillaging their way through Caribbean ports. For this occasion, several Disney officials, attired as buccaneers, hid out among the robotic pirate characters.

The $85 got people into the event, but merchandise was extra, topped by a $9,000 pirate ship in a bottle. (No one bought the ship.)

Participants then assembled at the Lincoln Theater to collect items they had ordered earlier in the day.

Karl Buiter said he waited until 4:10 a.m. to pick up the event T-shirt and CD he had ordered, with overwhelmed employees trying hard to please the huge crowd that resembled "a bus station full of weary travelers."

"They passed packs of chocolate coins around, which, while a start, didn't quite make a meal," Buiter said.

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