Pigskin Disney World

I don’t know how to take this.

Texas athletics director Chris Del Conte wants to make some major changes to the game day experience for fans during football season in order to improve attendance.

The new AD told ESPN Radio’s Freddie and Fitzsimmons that his staff is working on ways to make attending football games more attractive during a time when college football attendance is down across the country. Del Conte said he believes it starts with improving the atmosphere and fanfare around the game itself.

“Whenever we have a football game, it’s truly a chance for us to celebrate our university,” Del Conte said. “And that means not only just the game, but all the pomp and circumstance that goes around that game. These stadiums are 60, 70, 80, 100,000-seat stadiums. Things have changed. With television, the kids, how they view their content. … So we have to look at different ways we purpose that in-game experience as well as that out-of-game experience.”

Del Conte said the school needs to improve wireless access for fans who want to use their phones and participate in the experience on social media during games. He also emphasized a need to “repurpose” in-game entertainment during timeouts and television breaks.

The Texas AD pointed to Disney World as an example of a fan experience that goes beyond the main attraction. He wants to create that same sort of atmosphere around Texas football games.

“If you look at Disney, the experience of your children going to Disney starts when they receive that ticket,” Del Conte said. “And they fly to Orlando. You get in the hotel and [you get] all that [Disney] experience until you get to the gate. Then you wait in line for three hours to get on the Matterhorn. Right? Three hours. And then you get on the ride for 40 seconds, and you’re going, ‘Oh my God.’ Then we do it again.

“But what happens when you get back to the hotel? Your kids [say], ‘Dad, that was awesome! Can we do it again?’ We’ve got to create that same experience all the way around our venues.”

On the one hand, it sounds like a classic example of “talk is cheap”.  (Although if any program can afford to simulate what Disney does to create that experience, it’s Texas.)

On the other hand, it’s more of an acknowledgement about what an athletic department needs to do to improve the game day experience than we’re likely to hear out of Butts-Mehre.

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85 Comments

Filed under College Football

85 responses to “Pigskin Disney World

  1. Russ

    Doesn’t really sound attractive to me, but then I guess I’m not the target.

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    • PharmDawg

      Me neither. The only way I’ll ever attend another game at Sanford Stadium is if a complimentary Uber picks me up and drops me off at the entrance to the SkySuites, where my own private suite awaits with unlimited food and drink. The hell with standing in lines in 90 degree heat!

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      • Don’t bother with Suites.I have had the experience a couple times and you are detached and sitting with people who neither care about or understand the game. I don’t agree with your TV is better opinion BUT TV is better than the suite experience..

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    • steve

      (wait)’Three hours. And then you get on the ride for 40 seconds,’
      Sounds like Viagra to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bright Idea

    Everything I hear now about live game attendance reeks of desperation. It seems as if they are targeting a market that could care less about an actual competition and a winning team, the things I care about the most. It’s remarkable how technology has changed what excites people.

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    • atlasshrugged55

      Amen. I go to watch a football game & spend a nice afternoon w/ my son. We enjoy celebrating the great plays & writhing in agony over the bad ones on a great afternoon between the hedges.

      For those who need a Disney experience, I don’t know what to say. But it does bring thoughts of higher contributions & ticket prices to satisfy those who go but want something other than the game. I envision a stadium filled w/ folks looking at their phones not even paying attention to the action on the field. And boy does that sound like fun.

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    • Gaskilldawg

      They ARE targeting the market that does care about competition and a wining team, and wants to care about competition and a winning team from the comfort of their homes.

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  3. paul

    This is not simply about technology or WiFi. Disney understood, long before the advent of technology, that everything the customer experiences becomes part of their brand experience. If traffic is bad on the way to a Georgia game, that becomes part of the Georgia brand experience for the customer. If tailgating is difficult prior to the game that becomes part of the Georgia brand experience for the customer. If the food inside the stadium is crappy, overpriced and the service is slow that becomes part of the Georgia brand experience for the customer. That’s what Del Conte is saying. At Disney you may wait in line two hours for a forty second ride and yet after, your memory is of a great time. How do we do something similar with the game day experience? How do we get 100,000 people into a small town, funnel them into a stadium, make them sit through a four hour game and have them come out thinking “I can’t wait to come back?” That requires that the school think about EVERYTHING that happens to their customers from the time they leave their home until such time as they return. It means facilitating the entire experience. Getting to and from the game, moving around town prior to and after the game, entering and exiting the stadium, moving around once inside the stadium, the seating, the sound, the food, managing the time between plays and literally hundreds of other details. All of it is important and all of it becomes part of the Georgia brand experience. As we have discussed here at length the last few years, the Georgia brand experience has suffered greatly under the ‘leadership’ of Greg McGarity. And he is either oblivious or he’s being directed to act as if he is. Either way, it’s not good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Athens Dog

      Give us your money…………..shut the F*** Up…………….if you don’t pay someone else will. Greg

      Liked by 1 person

    • Great post, Paul. As a huge fan of the theme park & resort side of Disney’s business, I agree with everything you wrote. They challenge everything in their control and innovate around the things that aren’t to improve the customer experience. Transportation sucked and was expensive from MCO to the resort, so Disney created Magical Express as a service. You check your luggage at your departure airport with your Magical Express tag, and the next time you see your bag is in your resort room, same going home. Lines are a fact of life at the Mouse. They respond by theming the queue, creating FastPass, putting in interactive exhibits, and making WiFi free everywhere. Restroom facilities are heavily used throughout the day. Rarely, if ever, have I walked into a restroom there where I walked out and said, “No way.” Food is expensive, but plentiful and lines are only ridiculous on the worst days. Even now, they allow you to order like other places do with their app (think Starbucks).

      Do you pay a premium for all of that? Yes. Is it worth every cent? Also yes.

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      • SlawDawg

        Also, the cast members are a huge help. I’m not sure how you can wear a themed outfit in the Florida sun while smiling, pointing with two fingers, and treating everyone so well for more than 15 minutes, but they do it all day. I like to ask their advice on line waits, restaurant suggestions, etc. They’ve got the skinny and are happy to share it.

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        • My UGA daughter has done 3 college programs at WDW, the last being in the parking lot after working at 2 resorts in guest services. The cast members make everyone’s experience as safe and enjoyable as possible. They hire good people, train them like crazy and motivate them to provide guests with an enjoyable experience worth the premium pricing.

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          • 92 grad

            That’s great for her, I’m sure you’re proud. I agree with all your Disney comments. They know what the hell theyre doing.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Macallanlover

              I agree with you, they do know how to make it work, and the formula has been around to for over 50 years. I suspect many leftists posters here would oppose/be offended by their methods of hiring/training so many stereotypical, “All American” young people who handle themselves beautifully in so many situations with people from all around the world.

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              • Go to Epcot. The cast members are literally from all over the world. Everyone that works there gets the training on the Disney look and the Disney guest experience. If you don’t or won’t cut it, they will fire you in a New York second.

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                • Macallanlover

                  Yes, I know they are from all over, and very much respect the way they handle their personnel actions: selecting, hiring, training, developing, promoting, an disciplining/terminating. Disney does it very well, and succeeds because of it. Huge fan, other corporations should emulate them.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • I love to go the Animal Kingdom Lodge in particular. They hire a ton of young people from all over Africa especially Southern Africa. I enjoy chatting with all of them about life in their country and share my experience from my one visit to South Africa with them.

                    Even for their unskilled jobs, they are very selective in whom they hire.

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    • AusDawg85

      But Paul…that would require coordinating with surrounding communities, local businesses, contemplating best and most efficient use of the university facilities and mostly, fan/alumni input. That’s too intrusive. Think of the Reserve Fund man!

      Seriously, given all that is on Kirby’s plate…more than most human beings can even imagine juggling…he strikes me as the kind of guy who will catch wind of this issue, understand it’s impact on the team’s ultimate success, and seek to do something about it. And while that’s probably going to be awesome, it’s also sad he will have to be that catalyst for improvement.

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      • Kirby has already figured that out on the recruiting front. It’s why we’re spending $63,000,000 on the west end zone project for the comfort of recruits and their families as well as the new locker room. Until the fan experience pushes people away from Sanford for the in-stadium experience (and, therefore, the home field advantage and the recruiting advantage), frankly, Kirby doesn’t have time for that $#!+. By the time that happens, it will be too late. This is something that only an AD with vision beyond the current year’s operating budget, capital budget, and financial statements can deal with.

        In other words, we know how that’ll work out.

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        • Erskine

          Ee maybe a concerted effort to stay away from Gday might be a way to bring the buffoonary of the AD and the poor fan relationship to light.

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    • DoubleDawg1318

      Completely agree Paul. Honestly, I’d love to do that work for Georgia after I graduate with my MPA in May.

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  4. Doug

    McGARITY: Got it, we need wi-fi in the stadium!

    [immediately sends out thousands of solicitations for the “Let’s Make Sanford Wireless!” fundraising campaign]

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    • Napoleon BonerFart

      I would love to hear just one AD discuss improving the gameday experience without mentioning wi-fi. I mean, I guess good wi-fi is better than nothing, but it’s WAY down my list of stuff to care about.

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  5. Dawglicious

    Man, I’d be ticked off if I went to Orlando, stood in line for three hours to ride the Matterhorn, then found out the Matterhorn is actually in Disneyland.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Former Fan

    Disney doesn’t blow you out of the venue with loud music either. They have plenty of bathrooms, and plenty of places to eat. Rarely do you have to wait in line for either service for long. They are very customer friendly. The differnence between Disney and the average P5 school… Disney’s customers are those that come and visit the park. The P5 schools’ biggest customer is ESPN. But if they want people to come to the stadium, then more focus on football, bathroom, and concessions would go a LONG way to making it a better experience. Get rid of the loud music. Get the drunks out of the stadium as soon as possible. Make it family friendly. Having the stadium so loud with fake noise that you can’t hear the radio, or talk to the person next to you diminishes the experience for everyone. We’re there to watch football. Make that the central focus.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. PTC DAWG

    Winning helps big time.

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    • I can watch them win from my den.

      When I’m spending my hard-earned money on a game day experience, I expect more.

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      • Former Fan

        I expect more in the sense of no bathroom lines, decent seating, no long concession lines. All the other stuff they add in takes away from the experience IMO.

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        • Russ

          I agree with that. All the other stuff (better wifi, games on the jumbotron, ear bleeding music) all take away from the game day experience I want. I want to see the Dawgs play and cheer with my fellow fans. All the other stuff just gets in the way of that, and reduces my enjoyment, not enhances.

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    • Winning helps, you’re right. Guess what? If that’s all that matters, I can sit my @$$ at home, not fight the traffic to and from Athens, watch the game on my big screen, cheer, have reliable WiFi, listen to my own music during the TV timeouts, and not shell out my hard-earned money for the in-stadium experience.

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  8. Nil Butron is a Pud

    The thing that Disney has figured out is that they don’t make you “enjoy” your experience in the parking lot. #FreeNorthCampus

    Liked by 1 person

  9. 86BONE

    Dear Chris….charging $7 for a cold beer ain’t exactly what your Texas alums feel is a great game day experience….

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  10. Disney hires out as consultants……what could it hurt? Disney consults with the Elvis estate and you can see it in their process that gets alot of people in and out of Graceland with a good experience. If Disney could just address the lines ,which is something they handle well, it would be worth the consult.I assure you the Athletic Dept has wasted money on things of less value than a Disney consult.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. If they did an app for ordering water and food and turned point of sale people into runners you would greatly help ingress and egress in those old hallways. You’re moving the point of sale delay (that ultimately leads to concourse congestion) to the fan in his seat and keeping him from ever leaving his seat. Think about how much better it would be if the only time people left their seat was for the restroom.

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  12. Debby Balcer

    We don’t Need Disney we have Billy Payne and the Masters to draw on. I prefer to watch in person instead of my 65 inch tv. UGA needs to be supportive of tailgating and parking for the fans. I don’t think traffic can be avoided it is a byproduct of 93,000 fans on roads built to accommodate local traffic.

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    • Russ

      Amen! I admire Disney and think they do a great job, but we have the blueprint right here in state. I wonder if Billy could get a seat on the board? I doubt he’d be a rubber stamp.

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    • Mark

      “UGA needs to be supportive of tailgating and parking for the fans.”

      This.

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    • tbia

      Honest question. What do you want from parking and tailgating? Where are you going to magically create parking spaces on campus?

      As for tailgating, I do agree with a more laissez faire approach, but some people think that every person should be allowed to bring a trailer for stuff, a second for the golf cart, and take up a space with you pet dog you had to lug to Athens.

      Tailgating needs to be fixed, but all anyone ever gives as an idea is don’t tell us what to do and not do.

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      • 92 grad

        Were you around in the ‘80’s? I lived in Hill Hall (301) and we were pretty much gridlocked Friday-Sunday. Nobody whined though, gamedays were awesome. We weren’t “entitled” to any kind of normalcy in the fall and it was wonderful.

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        • tbia

          Oh yeah, I go back to the 70s when parking in the old Stegeman lot was nose to ass bumper to bumper and you hoped the people around you were actually going to leave.

          Wonder what would be said if they tried that today.

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        • Into the 90s, we parked at the corner of Baldwin and Jackson and tailgated right there. We would leave cars there overnight until they knocked those spaces out and blocked that area from game day parking. Sigh!

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    • Dawg1

      Yes, but for instance, 316 should be express all the way to 85. The ten or so lights destroy flow and ruin the drive. Work together to get the fans back to ATL quickly. Green all the way for 2 hours does the trick.

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      • You can’t do that. How are the people in Gwinnett, Barrow and Oconee Counties supposed to get anywhere on a game day if they can’t cross 316 for 4+ hours (2 hours at least each way). The planners at the GDOT should have thought about that 30+ years ago and made the road limited access with exits … but that would have cost more.

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        • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

          things you could do would be to have cops sitting at those lights regulating the sequence. The light at the movie theater in what, bogart(?) continues on its same cycle and length pre and post game, regardless of the disparity in volume on 316 versus the cross street. Traffic on 316 going home backs up for miles while the 1 car waiting to cross or turn is given precedence.

          In Sandy springs, lights are often on 2+ minute cycles during rush hour on the main roads to move traffic through quickly. that one light causes a massive bottleneck when simply extending the east/west time an inconsequential amount would dramatically increase the volume of cars sent through.

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          • Good point. Have the GHP control those lights for the game day rush hours to prevent that. You’re exactly right about the main bottleneck. That intersection is awful. There are also some of those in Gwinnett as well.

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          • 79DawgatWork

            That there is a bottleneck, in (relatively speaking) the middle of nowhere like that, is pretty ridiculous. As you say, changing (or controlling) the timing of the light there for a few hours before and after the game would do wonders…

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  13. Disney has breakfast with Cinderella. UGA should consider breakfast with McGarity. I know one guy who would sign up and he runs a blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would pay for breakfast if Uga and Hairy Dawg came around, took pictures and gave a paw print to everyone in attendance. Given that Disney charges about $40 per adult and $25 per child for the privilege of breakfast with about 5 minutes with Mickey and friends, that would be pretty good money for the reserve fund 6 or 7 times per year.

      Greg McGarity? Not so much.

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    • Just Chuck (The Other One)

      Too much pressure for McGarity. He wouldn’t show up. Have heard his father has stopped showing up for morning coffee with the guys.

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  14. Cousin Eddie

    The only Disney experience you will get from Greg will be a ticket price increase every chance he gets.

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  15. Atticus

    Its simple. So many last minute time changes you can’t plan. Ticket prices have gone up exponentially. Too many scrub games not worth the value. Tailgating is much more isolated. Traffic has gotten worse. Games last 4 hours. Its not about concessions or in stadium experience.Its about value plain and simple. Winning solves most of it but even still, giving up an entire Saturday to watch them play Austin Peay and Middle Tenn isn’t worth it anymore.

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  16. Kevin

    The only Disney-like game day experience i hope for is a WIN!

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  17. vectordawg

    3 hour wait for a 40 second ride is why I’ll probably never set foot in Disney.

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    • DoubleDawg1318

      The FastPass is a life saver. We did Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Magic Kingdom and waited in very few lines thanks to strategic use of the FastPass and planning out our rides in advance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • With FastPass, being willing to get up earlier than you normally would on vacation and going in the off-season or during the week, you can go without standing in a ton of lines … except at Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom.

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  18. MountainDawg

    With all the games on TV is the basis for attendance being down across all of college football.Couple that with all the negative factors that we have to deal with as UGA ticketholders then it’s not just the increasing ticket/fund prices that are taking their toll.I’m 68 years old( UGA ’71) and I’ve held season tickets since 1974 but the overall experience is taking away from my “old time” memories of what a positive experience should be on a “game day in Athens”. The UGA powers that be are pricing the young famllies out of enjoying what many of us had enjoyed since our teenage years.Very sad to me.McGarity and company had better wake up because unless the rich donors and corporations take up the slack you will get to seeing empty seats in Sanford Stadium every Saturday.( My Auburn friends are telling me that bigger is not better on the new “jumbotron” screen that’s going up.More distraction and volume of noise )

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    • Russ

      I worry that the rich donors and corporations are what they’re shooting for, AKA, the NFL “experience”. Gone are the days when the only attraction was on the field.

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      • JCDAWG83

        ^^this is the new reality^^^. ESPN is driving the bus now and ESPN wants college football to be another NFL. The future is going to be stadiums with more luxury suites, more corporate money, PSLs, fewer fans in attendance and higher costs for everyone. Huge swaths of empty seats on game days will become the norm as more and more tickets are bought up by businesses and the cupcake and noon games become impossible to give the tickets away. The big games will have full stadiums but those will be the exception.

        I want to go to Athens to see friends at a tailgate, enjoy being on campus and in Athens for a day and to watch a Georgia win. I’m not looking for a Disney experience while I wait in line and I’m not looking for wi-fi or some DJ playing piped in music at ear splitting levels. I’m there to watch a football game and I know it’s going to take up my whole Saturday. If I don’t want to use a whole Saturday for a Georgia football game, I won’t go to the game.

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        • I don’t think anyone here is saying they expect to be entertained like Disney does. Everyone is saying they want to be appreciated for spending our money and time on a fall Saturday when there are a hell of a lot of other things I could do. I would like to have easily accessible concessions where I don’t have to worry about my kids while they are gone. I would like to be treated by the athletic association as if they’re glad we’re there.

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        • paul

          The point being, UGA can help make what you want a reality. They just don’t see that as their job. They can work with the Georgia State patrol and local police departments to deal with traffic. They can make the tailgate experience on campus and around town exponentially better with little to no investment on their part. Many private companies do a tremendous job with tailgating these days. License them. Tht’s a new revenue stream. They can make getting into around and out of the stadium exponentially easier. This will cost a little money, but that investment will pay dividends for years to come. They can make your in seat experience exponentially better with very little additional investment. They can hire professional ushers who actually do their jobs. They can hire customer service people who actually care about customer service and not only put them all over the stadium but all over campus. They can hire food service professionals to cook and serve decent food. These food service professionals will actually pay UGA for the privilege of doing so. These are just a few examples. Better doesn’t mean WiFi and louder music. Better means paying attention to the total experience. From the time I leave my house to go to Athens until the time I arrive back home. That’s what Disney does so well. And they’re not alone. A lot of companies have figured this out. It isn’t rocket science. And it brings in revenue.

          Liked by 1 person

          • 92 grad

            Revenue? They should be doing all they can to run an even budget. Padding the reserve fund should be an afterthought at this point. Any luck senator gets enough attention that board members peek in?

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  19. AusDawg85

    If only UGAAD had the benefit of business leaders to call upon for input, sufficient financial resources, strong branding, loyal customer base, access to technology, and political clout then maybe something could be done. Poor Greg…left all alone to figure it out on his own.

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  20. Went to Disney park once, saw it and marked it off the list. Not my cup of tea. Now 5 days in The Gates of the Arctic NP, yes indeed. No crowds and no lines.

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