Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why I Call Disneyland Satanland-And It's Not What You Are Probably Thinking

OK, I make this confession that Facebook is not always the place to pontificate on things that actually deserve much more explanation than the immediacy of posting something on any social media for that manner.
And to double my confession, I refer to Disneyland as Satanland and the Magic Kingdom, it's other moniker, as the Devil's Kingdom.
Why would I do that? What, do I hate Disneyland? Do I hate Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and all the other magical characters? Do I hate the concept of It's A Small World? That has to be it, right.
All wrong.
Today it was announced that once again, the admission price to get into Disneyland, which is now referred to as the Disneyland Resort, will go up four percent from $92 to $96 for anyone over the age of 10 years old.
THAT is what I hate about Satanland.
I use the strongest wording that I can think of in that reference, but I was righteously called out for it today by one of my nieces who made a valid point. Actually a couple. But what got me is that she said how much both her children love Disneyland and all things Disney.
That made me realize maybe I went a little overboard in the Satan reference. But it is not about Walt Disney and his vision for Disneyland. It is how I find that a beyond very well diversified company can not keep the price at the flagship of the business empire somewhat within the reach of the average family.
People rightfully complain about how much it costs to attend a sporting event. How it is pricing them out of attending more games and thus buying food, souvenirs and the like. And it is true. But that is another post at another time.
Disneyland was the brainchild of Walt Disney, who has to go down in history as one of the greatest people the world has ever known. I mean that. He was a visionary. And Disneyland was his vision.
When you read the history of how much time he took to even come up with the idea, you realize that he wanted his baby to be something different. And that it was.
There was no other amusement park like it when it opened in 1955. And the whole concept of different "lands" was something unusual as well. When the park opened in 1955, there were four "lands":


And of course there is Main Street, U. S. A., the entrance to the park.
Eventually there would be more expansion, and eventually the whole other park, California Adventure.
Personally, I am not all that impressed with California Adventure but I know they have done more to it than the last time Mrs. RVFTLC and I went about five to seven years ago.
What made the original Disneyland unique was the admission and how people went on the rides available.
A nominal admission fee was charged and if you wanted to go on rides, you bought a ticket book similar to the one below;

The famous Disneyland ticket book. You will notice how they are lettered and lettered backwards. It was best to worst rides, so to speak and depending on one's own taste. From this has come the expression, "An E-ticket ride", meaning the best of whatever any given situation is.
This is how one did Disneyland when I was growing up.
But, in 1982, after Walt Disney had long been to the Great Beyond, this whole concept was eliminated.
No ticket books. No E-ticket ride. Nothing of the sort.
One paid a flat admission fee and could go on as many rides as much as they wanted as long as the park was opened.
In 1982, the flat admission price was $12. And it was still a relative bargain. But, since the ticket books were eliminated, prices have increased 26 times to the now current $96 dollars. Oh, and because Disney considers Disneyland and California Adventure as two separate entities, you have to pay $96 each park. That would make it $192 for one person to go to both parks. Now they do offer what is called a "Park-hopper" pass in which one can go to either park for two days and that is a $42 discount and only $150 per person.
Now each price increase has been an average of about $2.62c. But in the last four years, the price has increased $20. That is a five-dollar a year hike.
So lets take the family of four scenario.
Mom, dad, two kids, both under 10 years old.
Mom and dad, to go just to one park or the other will pay $192. For the two kiddies, at $90 each, that is $180. The total to walk in? A grand total of $372. And of course, you have to pay to park. And that also went up to $17. Make that $389 to park and walk into the gate. If the same family of four wanted to squeeze in both parks, plus parking, they would have to fork out a grand total of $605.
Six-hundred and five dollars for going to Disneyland and California Adventure?
In the recent past they have totally redone the Disneyland Hotel and added a hotel in California Adventure called the Grand Californian. And added attractions as well.
But the interesting little ticketing scheme that they have added is the annual pass. A pass that started out at $99 per year. Now it is a monster.
They went from an inexpensive pass to four-tiers and no more is any of them $99.
The least expensive one starts at $289. The next level is $379. The next level is $519 and the last one is $699. The least expensive one gives you 170 days, pre-selected, to go to both parks. Usually weekends and holidays are blacked-out. The next level is 215 pre-selected dates at both parks. The next higher level gets one 315 pre-selected dates at both parks. But if one is willing to part with $699, there are no blackout dates, you can go to both parks and free parking. And if that is not enough, you can make monthly payments on a credit card.
What is wrong with this picture?
What's wrong is the vision of Disneyland was not to make it an elite park that the upper-income and wealthy people could attend. It was reasonably priced so that many people, of almost all incomes and stations in life could attend.
The Disney Company is a huge multinational concern. They are involved in more than theme parks. They have stores, media, and are almost as much penetration as humanly possible.
So why not have the flagship of the empire stay to its roots and maintain affordability for most people and families?
Because I am told, it's all business.
Wait, aren't you the defender of free enterprise? Champion of capitalism? Doesn't what you are saying sound, well a little commie?
No, it is not at all.
For it is because of the Disney studios and Disneyland that there is a behemoth called the Disney company.
All I would like to see is that the company maybe try and realize that Disneyland, the original, is a special place. It is what started it all. It is where Walt Disney's dream of a wonderful, and yes affordable, amusement park like no other spawned all that there is in the Disney empire.
I think that it would send a signal of good will to the many fans that now stay away from Disneyland because they just can't even afford to walk in the door.
Now, I bet that you thought I was going somewhere else with this post, didn't you? Nope, not in the least.
I may cut back on the Satanland and Devil's Kingdom references on Facebook. Or keep it among a select group. But I am actually looking out for the folks and the real meaning of Disneyland before it is too late.

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