Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Disneyland. Who can afford it anymore?

William and My Husband Eric, Disneyland 2002
This blog may make a few die hards annoyed with me but so be it.  I consider my posts more rambles and self-help journals than anything else.  To use one of my 14 year old's favorite phrases, "I'm feelin' a bit peckish today" - so here I go...

Let me pick on the world's most unhappiest of places, Disneyland.  Why today?  I can't say. 

I grew up in Southern California just a few miles down the freeway from the original amusement park.  It wasn't always unhappy.  Well, maybe it was for my dad.  He hated it.  The noise, the mayhem, etc.  This was just my father's opinion.  He was a grump in this regard.  But for the rest of the Bryant clan, it was magical.  It held an allure the moment we walked through the gates and looked down Main Street past the lovely novelty shops, the beautifully maintained flower beds, and towards the enchanted Cinderella's Castle.

It wasn't too expensive back then for a family of four or five.  Yes, it was a treat, something we couldn't afford two or three times a year but perhaps every once in awhile.  Oh, and driving past the park on the freeway was agonizing!  We could see the Matterhorn or Space Mountain Roller Coasters and the nightly fireworks depending on the time of the evening.  "Ah geez, can we go to Disneyland!!  Pleeeeaaase?!"

Five years ago, in 2007, Eric and I could have afforded taking our boys for under $100.  This would have included 4-all day park passes (2 adults and 2 children); still expensive but manageable.  We would also have to be selective on what day of which season to go.  Disneyland has been overselling their park for years.  To be a first-time, unknowing visitor at this amusement park can be tantamount to throwing your money away.  It could result in standing in two hour lines, drinking $4 sodas, and only managing several rides during the visit.

Now - today, many years later, the park has lost its allure, at least to this child at heart anyway.  The price for a family of four has skyrocketed well past the cost of inflation.  Disneyland has virtually closed their gates for lower to middle income families.  Entry into the park for 2 adults and 2 children now costs over $336 for a standard one day entry pass.  Ridiculous.  How can minimum wage families possibly afford this not to mention the cost of food and treats throughout the day?  My heart breaks at the thought of this.

If Mr. Disney were alive today, what would his reaction be to his park prices and their exclusivity?  Would he like that the park is oversold so much that visitors stand in hour long lines to experience a three minute Peter Pan ride?  How embarrassed would he be if he realized that in order to exit major attractions, parents must push their children through novelty stores in an attempt not to purchase overpriced Disney toys?  I'm fairly certain he'd be ashamed.

I guess I've become a bleeding heart liberal over the years.  I don't believe any child should be excluded from the joy of their first flying Space Ship or their parents from seeing it.  Unfortunately, writes this Colorado blogger, far too many will.