Tag Archives: amusement park

The happiest place on earth is out of reach

“Disneyland is a work of love. we didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.” Walt Disney

 

I can’t remember riding on the top of the double decker bus as it goes up and down Main Street before.

So we sat there on Mother’s Day, my carnation corsage already crunched from an 11-month-old’s loving grasp, and Wonder Boy was talking excitedly to some boys sitting next to us on top.

It was their first time, and I congratulated them on their first time and talked with their mother a moment.

Disneyland is my happy place. I truly leave the outside world behind and immerse myself, no matter the crowds, no matter the heat.

With two small children I’ve just made it on a ride or two and it has still been a successful day.

Disneyland just announced higher ticket prices. For instance, the price of a one day, one park ticket rose another four dollars to $96.

The last time I bought a single ticket was back after high school and it was $35. Parking was also like five bucks then or something, versus now it is $16.

It also blocked out the pass we just got a hold of ( through a serendipitous Christmas gift of park hopper tickets and a generous offer for the rest of the ticket price) meaning anyone who wanted to buy an annual pass that wants to go on the weekends- can’t. The crowds were so massive on a Sunday – a day I remember used to be a great day to hit the park – that they couldn’t keep the lines short enough to handle all of those people.

I’ve been marveling at those lines lately. The same as I marveled at the intricate planning of crowd movements in the park. Even where they guide you after a show is carefully planned out, causing that massive swell of guests to flow, creating a virtual roundabout in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

It saddens me that Disneyland, which is such a big part of my life, is something unattainable for so many.

I saw someone say on Facebook it takes 13 hours for a minimum wage employee to make the money for a Disneyland ticket. Even thought it’s being raised in July to 9 dollars, for a family to go, pay the 16 dollar parking, buy dinner at the park but not lunch – that’s easily over a week’s wages.

And I totally feel for those families who work hard and save up for a day at Disneyland or a small family vacation, the stress and pressure of getting their money’s worth.

I’ve seen it way too many times, parents yelling at children about eating the food they bought, no you can’t have that toy, yes, you DO have to go on that ride with us.

I recently stood in line for the meet and greet with the Frozen princesses, and felt luck and elitism because of the only two-hour wait time.

This summer could be hell as parents brave four-hour lines juggling hot children just for a magical chance to meet them, but woe to a parent who doesn’t make line cut off ( when I went it was at 4 p.m.).

I saw tears, I saw frustration. I saw parents try to cheer up kids, I saw little girls hearts break and tears fall.

A float before a parade might make it a little better, but its a summation of what Disneyland has turned into.

Elite.

“Disneyland is a result of love, we did not go into Disneyland to make money,” Walt Disney

I truly do not think Walt Disney meant for Disneyland to become what it has – unachievable. Unreachable.

Unaffordable.

While I try to not think about what lies ahead for us regarding my happy place, instead I am savoring the act I can give the magic to my kids. We can go and walk around and hardly ride anything and be happy.

Just because we’re there.

The only way Disneyland can become attainable again is for it to go downhill some, which I hate to see. But the bubble will someday pop, as more families stop being able to afford the 500$ for a DAY, including parking, tickets in and a souvenir. Not even food, not even drinks.

Not even that Dole Whip which seems to constantly have a 20-minute line.

And not everyone wants or needs a day at Disneyland. It is a business first and foremost, it is not a right by any means.

But it is so deeply embedded in our culture, along with Coca-Cola and Starbucks and Jell-O, that it is something everyone wants to experience at least once.

I hate to see the door closing in front of me.

I hate to look back and see all the people who cannot give a day like this, to see characters who generations have been raised on, and enjoy a day without understanding the vast amount of work that goes into every moment, from clean bathrooms to picked up trash to the cast member handing that special sticker over after a sweet conversation with a toddler.

I don’t know if the high ticket prices are because of all that hard work, or if it really is ‘just’ to shut out some of the crowds.

For now, I’ll keep packing lunches and driving down, glad I added parking onto my pass when I could and for a few hours leave everything behind and enter the worlds of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.

And make memories, because memories are forever, but annual passes are only a year.

 

Seeing Disney magic

I know a lot of people that don’t ‘get ‘ Disneyland.

They don’t enjoy it, they think it’s too commercial, they think it’s just too… Disney.

For them, they don’t see the Disney magic, the fine layer of pixie dust that changes even the sunlight the minute you walk under the arches and onto Main Street.

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” Walt Disney

The fine layer of pixie dust is invisible to those who close their eyes to it, but all it takes is a little clapping to bring it back to life.

Yesterday I went to Disneyland with my son and his little friend who’s turning three, and his mother, a good friend of mine.

Along for the day was her castmember friend, who had fun juggling burdens of a toddler- from the strollers to the boys to the tickles and giggles.

The day was full of good moments, fun rides, and little moments like this, when Wonder Boy met Minnie for the first time and could not take his eyes off of her. Minnie drew a heart in the air and blew a kiss after my son thanked her and waved goodbye. A small, loving moment in time where the pixie dust flies in flurries and my heart grows a little bigger.

 He has such an eye for the girls.

But all of these moments, this happy day was not the definition of Disney magic, although it had a definite sparkle to it.

Seated a few people down from us at the parade was a young man with Down’s Syndrome, who our off-duty castmember ‘tour guide’ knew quite well. He comes to the park often as a reward, and our friend mentioned he was kind of a favorite among the castmembers.

While I watched over the McNugget-digesting twosome he went over with my friend and talked for a while, signing back and forth with a young man who had lived years beyond prediction, happiness beaming from his face upon seeing an old friend and making a new one.

When the Soundsational Parade started, colored lights beaming down on my son’s face and we sat to enjoy the parade, his first Disneyland parade and I took pictures of his upturned face in awe, watching him wave at Mickey, Goofy, Ariel and Mary Poppins.

But to our left was where the real Disney magic was happening, the light shining just a little bit brighter and more colorful, twinkling with magic dust.

Characters blew kisses, beaming down from their floats. Dancers winked and waved and mischievous monkeys scampered over crouching to eye level.

So many, signing ‘I love you’ as they swept past the boy with the glowing face and nasal cannula, each breath sending a swirl of pixie dust around him. 

As they left Main Street he did too, following the ropes that mark the end of the parade and the surge of tired guests heading home.

I felt so blessed to watch the real magic of Disneyland yesterday.

Disney magic is not just fun rides, delicious churros and a stuffed animal to snuggle on the way home. Watching the day through a child’s eyes, bringing you back to that space in time as Walt Disney hoped his work did.

Neither is it the escapism of Disneyland, of walking through the gates and seeing the light shine a little more softly and the lights twinkle a little brighter, the outside world for the day the fantasy.

The Disney magic is a gift.

It is an action.

It is a blessing.

It was witnessing them show warm affection for a special young man, seeing and hearing that he is as near and dear to some of them as family. 

It was applauding them with my heartbeat, making the magic a little stronger.

I hope that everyone has the chance to witness that Disney magic someday.

 Want to know why I love Disneyland? It is my alternate reality.