Unsettled by Astroworld Tragedy, re: big crowds

The more I read about the tragedy at the Astroworld concert, the more I am reevaluating how I feel about going to events of any sort where there will be extreme crowds. I am wondering if any of you feel the same way (not in a covid way, in a fear of crowds way). I put this under the WDW heading b/c WDW is one of the places where I’ve experienced what I would consider to be extreme crowding. However, at WDW I always felt 100% safe, mostly b/c it’s obvious that WDW staff are trained in how to manage crowds. Mostly I am thinking, do I ever want to attend a concert with festival seating (where everyone stands up) again? I already am getting old enough to prefer events where I can have a reserved seat in advance, but I have attended other events in the past few years where I had to stand (nothing during pandemic, but I’ve got a long postponed concert in Feb I’m probably going to). I’m now trying to avoid Astroworld articles b/c I keep getting flashbacks to the one time I did feel unsafe in a crowd. It was the one time I ever attended a protest, and I ended up in an area where people were crowded in so tightly that I was being touched on all sides. I realized that if the crowd started moving, which was a distinct possibility, I would not be able to avoid being moved along with it. At that point my instinct for self preservation kicked in and I put up my arm and declared to all around me “I need to come through” and very slowly made my way out. This was uncharacteristic of me b/c I don’t even like to encroach on someone else’s space in the supermarket, even a little bit. I was surprised that once I cleared the crowd there was an almost empty patch of grass nearby where I could see the crowd but not be in it. That is my strategy at concerts, in the past–I liked to be able to see the group at the front (especially if it’s a mosh pit!) but not be in it.

5 Likes

What happened that day is the very reason I have never had ANY desire to have a floor seat or to be in a situation where there was “open seating” like that. Absolutely tragic.

2 Likes

I just still can’t believe it. I think a lot of people have forgotten how to behave in public, in a lot of ways. Another example is the huge fights in Six Flags, where I live (!), which almost convinced me not to go back, but I did and it was fine, albeit with a huge police presence there wasn’t before. When I researched that I found that the nicer parks near us, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion, had the same issues during their Halloween events too. At the Six Flags it was literally hundreds of people getting into little fights. It was the first day they opened at full capacity, I think.

3 Likes

I agree. I thought a lot of venues stopped doing that back in the 70s due to something similar happening. I am crowd adverse, and need my space. COVID has exponentially increased that feeling by the nth degree.

2 Likes

Yes. This.

4 Likes

The Astroworld setup was a textbook disaster from a planning perspective, there was zero overflow, no back up plans and they had no plans to settle the crowds in anyway. They had people early in the day break through security checkpoints and mob into the arena. If that happened anywhere even relatively reputable, and those who broke through weren’t apprehended, the facility would be evacuated.

I think its a good reminder to consider the situations you put yourself into and whether appropriate precautions are being taken. Do you see where security is? Do you see where first responders are? Are other’s behaving in a rational way? In security they learn to ask these sorts of questions:

-Is the group associated with or a target for any specific groups?
-Is the event controversial?
-Are there surrounding protests or counter-protests?
-Are media present?
-Are there any obvious security vulnerabilities?
-Are there any pending natural threats (Weather, Flooding, Earthquakes, Traffic etc…)
-What is the plan if something goes wrong? Does everyone in my group know what to do if they are split up?

Speaking for reviewing how WDW is run, its a tight ship with significant work put into security. They have lots of redundancy for these types of situations. I honestly think the natural disasters is the biggest risk there aside from some tragic event (god forbid).

Another good one for places like Disney and UOR is whether you have assessed your cyber security as well. For example, I don’t connect to park Wifi points unless I’m running a VPN to manage my traffic. I use gift cards for most purchases and tip in cash as needed.

4 Likes

Zero concern for WDW.
I don’t think we’ll ever know the whole story regarding Astroworld. All kinds of very unusual stories pouring out of the Houston area. Likely never sort out fact and fiction.
Disney is not similar IMO at all.

3 Likes

Me! I suffer from extreme anxiety, so crowds (particularly standing room only) have concerned me for a long time. In fact, 2019 was the first time I stood in a crowd for fireworks/parade. MNSSHP, in fact. I convinced myself it wouldn’t be worth the cost if I wasn’t willing to watch both from a decent vantage point.

The parade wasn’t so bad because I was in front. But walking to the castle from Frontierland, shoulder to shoulder with the parade crowd was stress inducing. All it takes in a situation like that is for a few people to start shoving, or running, etc., and it could get ugly. The parade/fireworks is about as much as I can handle. You’d never see me at something like Astroworld, Woodstock, etc.
I recognize this same type of situation could happen anywhere - like the local mall, for example. But it’s more likely when a large group is huddled together, shoulder to shoulder. Looking at pics of Main Street during Enchantment has me thinking … ummmmmm … I don’t know about that … :grimacing:

3 Likes

If it makes you feel any better, all areas that WDW expects crowding have overflow buffers backstage. Basically big doors they can open in an emergency to break dangerous crowds. Anytime you are in the hub there are multiple egress paths out, some are open all the time and some for emergencies. The two main ones at the Hub are between Tomorrowland terrace/Restrooms and the 2nd is between Casey’s and Crystal palace, they do open them from time to time on extremely crowded days for exactly this reason. All the parks have them (maybe aside from Epcot during construction). They are almost all Murals with wheels on one end of them. Its actually good info to know just in case.

One other easily forgotten fact is that Disney security generally wears plain clothes or CM uniforms to blend in, so there are often security throughout the park that you don’t see in addition to the uniformed security on site.

10 Likes

I cannot be in wall-to-wall crowds, so this won’t change my choices/behavior.

The timing is interesting because just last week I became aware of the Hillsborough disaster (soccer match in England in 1989). I won’t go into details, those who are interested can easily find info. That disaster changed a lot in how all venues handle crowds and I think really reinforced to me that the tragedy at Astroworld was poor planning/management as this is a known issue that has proven solutions.

3 Likes

The only time I ever felt a little unsafe in crowds at WDW was after the fireworks shows at MK. In 2016, my family of 5, with 3 kids 8 and under, were trying to leave the crowd. We had our hands clutched in a chain and several times people tried to break our chain between an adult and child in several different places DH and I kind of pushed them back a little, but the number of people around was unbearable.

1 Like

I found this article to be really interesting Astroworld tragedy: What to do if you're caught in a crushing crowd : NPR especially the bit about crowd density.

We’ve experienced some really horribly crowded HEAs at MK and youngest (now 21) will never watch fireworks in that kind of a crowd again, which is the reason we are paying $$$ for the dessert party right after New Years. We’ll enjoy the fireworks from over by Gaston’s on a different day or days, since they do love fireworks but are anxious about crowds.

3 Likes

I have shared a number of times here an incident I “survived” in MK on Easter. My son and I were walking the side path that goes from across feom Sleepy Hollow towards Crystal Palace. There was metal fencing on both sides of the path. All of a sudden a wave of people started walking towards us (I think there was a parade on Main Street and the crowd was detoured). I ended up pinned on the right hand side of the path protecting my son with my body. Honestly, all these years later it makes me cry just thinking about it- my pain, my son’s terror.

It was definitely not the same thing ( I was hurt but did not need medical attention), but I learned to never put myself in that position again.

6 Likes

This is when it’s best to shuffle off to the side, if you can, and let the masses go. Or better yet “shelter in place”. We have remained in our spot when in the hub area many times to avoid the very scenario you’re describing, which can be very scary indeed

7 Likes

Those who are old, like me, might remember the fuss about some band cancelling concerts because of M&M’s the wrong color. Maybe it was that the green M&M’s were supposed to be removed. That sounded like the silliest thing ever. But, it turns out that was a test to see if the local people had actually read the requirements. There had been unsafe conditions in the past caused by the locals ignoring the requirements. I was reminded of that when I heard about this.

Although, I’m not sure he’s particularly bothered by what happened.

3 Likes

We were smack dab in the middle of it and people were moving every where in all kinds of directions in the middle of the hub. They would have tried to separate us whether we were moving or standing still. My youngest was 4. He didn’t need a stroller and I really didn’t want him getting lost in the crowd. I get panic attacks in crowds sometimes and standing still is not an option at that point.

2 Likes

I will not RD at Disney any more b/c of a very scary one w/ my teenage son in 2018. We were RD’ing to be able to finally get a chance to ride SDD. When the rope dropped and the crowded started moving and compressing my son turned, grabbed my hand and said, “Don’t let go!” The CM warned us once the crowd started moving that we wouldn’t have any directional choices. We did get to ride SDD w/ a short wait but our family doesn’t RD anymore.

4 Likes

Seems the only issue WDW is having is the Ferrytale Fireworks, which is tiny compared to the events in Houston. I have to agree with the others. I have never worried about my safety why on Disney property.

The 17 yo kid in our house and I have been discussing Astroworld - which promoter and performer had a similar tho not as tragic scenario in 2019 - same venue. The kid feels the performer encourages aggressive and belligerent behavior. I said maybe people shouldn’t attend any of that promoter’s concerts.

We also discussed general admission ticketing as well as ways to protect oneself in a packed crowd situation.

The kid is beginning to go to concerts. I’m glad we’ve had the conversations. Unhappy about the reason the conversations got brought up.

7 Likes

I have never been seriously worried for my physical safety at a Disney park due to crowds, or at least not anywhere near the magnitude of the Astroworld situation. Concerts with mosh pits are just an entirely different category of crowd dynamics and is not comparable to a theme park under normal circumstances.

The primary instances I’ve seen reported when people tend to get trampled is when there is a separate emergency situation (like an active shooter, fire, etc.) triggering a stampede, and people crush toward the exits. That type of situation is most likely in an event like a religious pilgrimage where there is an extraordinary amount of people in a small area, where access and crowd size is less controlled than Disney.

3 Likes