Safari Zone Dortmund - A summary
Expectations were high and the disappointment was even greater as the event in Dortmund started. The situation got better over the course of the weekend, however there were still many issues at the event. We're trying to take a neutral look at the event and review it from a player's perspective.
About 55,000 guests were expected at the Westfalenpark on Saturday. However we have now learned that there were as many as 170,000 people in Dortmund and about 100,000 in the park on Saturday, so the chance of a failure was high. Many people even brought several phones and played for either secondary accounts or other players who couldn't make it to the event. Also probably an insane amount of spoofers, who also joined the event from home.
Knowing that, it's no wonder that the cell network couldn't handle that many people. Shortly after 9am, everything went either really slow or went down completely.
WiFi in the park didn't work for quite a number of people and for those who had connection, it still wasn't of much use, but more on that later.
An error occurred that prevented players who used an incense to log in. Accounts got temporarily "banned" because of both a server crash and an issue regarding the use of incense. Users were blocked from playing the games for up to 7 hours!
Niantic acted correctly by increasing the spawn rate in everywhere and suggesting to leave the Westfalenpark and go into the city in order to get better cell service. They also made the special 2km eggs available throughout Dortmund. As the people spread out, the cell service got better and the game became playable again. For those who had problems during incense however, they would still be blocked for a couple of hours.
Day 2 thankfully went without any major problems.
Players were standing in line at every entrance of the park on Saturday and there wasn't a visible end of the line.
Instead of opening the park early to give people time to spread out into the park, the park was opened up at exactly 9am, which caused a lot hectic in our opinion. Bags weren't properly checked for bottles larger than 10oz/fl (0,3L) which in hindsight was good for everybody who entered the park. Temperatures reached up to 34°C (93°F) that day, so hydration was key.
However some players still collapsed, but thankfully the emergency service was right there and was able to help out everybody. A shout out to the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz at this point.
On day 2 the bags were checked properly by the security and bottles greater than 0,3L had to be left outside the park or thrown away. However not everybody got the same treatment. Some players had to throw away their beverages, others were still unchecked and could enter the park without having to leave their bottles. Many players felt that they were treated unfairly.
The park itself was very nicely decorated and the team lounges offered some shade for people to rest. However the water refill stations were not easy to find, since there were no signs on where to find them. We found them totally by accident.
The Personnel was friendly and tried to be helpful whenever possible. As soon as the network situation worsened and players got more and more upset, the service employees started to act more angrily and even tried to get some players removed from the park.
We were able to talk to vice president Omar H. Téllez of Niantic who was really helpful and tried to offer advice to anyone and who was listening to the player's problems.
Review of the in game event
Pokéstop and spawn density
First we have to establish that we personally and also many other players went into this event with high expectations. We experienced the Safari Event in Oberhausen 2017 first hand and we knew about the events in Japan through YouTubers like TrainerTips and Mystic7.