ORLANDO, Fla. – Friday marked the day many people in Central Florida had waited for as tickets for the musical "Hamilton" went on sale, but for many fans, the wait to get tickets was longer than expected.
Fans of the musical had to "rise up" even before sunrise to get in line outside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Many dressed in warm clothing and waited for hours to get tickets to see Broadway's hottest show.
The lines at the center grew throughout the days as hundreds of people sat in a waiting room to wait for their turn to buy tickets.
"I was surprised by the line outside, but I didn't realize there was a whole section in here," Enid Marrero-Hinchey, who purchased tickets, said.
The Dr. Phillips Center started selling tickets at 9 a.m. By 2:30 p.m., the center stopped letting people into the building to purchase tickets. Lorri Shaban, spokesperson for the Dr. Phillips Center, said about 800 people bought their tickets in person.
"I expected it to be a heavy demand, but I was really surprised," Joe Taraska said as he waited to purchase tickets at the center.
Many people who bought tickets in person said it was a good experience.
"Somebody has to say that the people down here at the Dr. Phillips Center have done a superb job managing this type of demand with all of these people," Taraska said.
But that was the experience for many who purchased tickets online. Shaban said the website crashed the moment tickets went on sale. By about 7:15 p.m., officials said tickets were no longer available online but a lottery could be put in place closer to the show dates.
"At that time we had 37,000 people in the online waiting room. It overwhelmed the waiting room for about 30 minutes. We were back up and selling tickets at 9:30," Shaban said.
People who tried to purchase their tickets online took their frustration to social media. Many posted on the Dr. Phillips Center's social channels that their wait times kept changing from minutes to hours.
"The waiting time issues, it's all about the waiting room. There's been some glitches in the technology in terms of really messaging the people who are online and in the waiting rooms," Shaban said. "We do understand it has been frustrating. We appreciate everybody's patience and we really have been trying to keep them up to speed via Facebook on the updates and the progress and when we have things resolved."
Shaban said the center worked to resolve the issues and is reviewing what caused the glitches.
As of 4:15 p.m., the center stopped letting people into the online waiting room to purchase tickets. Around 4:30 p.m. the Dr. Phillips Center tweeted, "While there are still some mezzanine and balcony seats available, the majority of remaining inventory are orchestra VIP tickets."
Shaban released the following statement Friday afternoon:
Tickets are now very limited and we expect that today’s inventory will be depleted before the end of the day. While we don't share ticket numbers or other financial information, I can tell you we had upwards of 800 people buy tickets in-person at the arts center, including several who camped out overnight.
Unfortunately, the patron experience online did not run as smoothly. At 9 a.m. when tickets went on sale, there were nearly 40,000 users in our virtual waiting room which overwhelmed the system. We began successfully processing transactions at 9:30 a.m. but many guests continued to report issues with waiting room times. We worked closely with our technology partners to resolve the issues as they arose throughout the day.
As I've shared, additional tickets will become available in the future. Guests who were unable to purchase tickets today should continue to check our website at their convenience. There will also be a digital lottery for every performance at which 40 tickets will be sold for $10 each.
By the end of the night Friday, the Dr. Phillips Center said tickets were no longer available on its website and apologized for the issues.
"For those who attempted to buy tickets online today, many of your experiences fell short. We are working with our tech partner to find solutions," read the tweet. "We've read every comment, we’ve heard your frustrations and we are committed to being better than today. Please accept our apologies."