There are three truly monumental dates in American history. They are: November 10, 1775 when the Marine Corps was born at Tun’s tavern in Philadelphia; July 4, 1776 when the Continental Congress declared independence from British rule; and July 17, 1955 when Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California. Well all these many years later and the Marine Corps is still the most awesome fighting machine on earth, the United States of America remains a leader in the world and Disney land is not only still here but has reproduced itself across the globe. But is Disneyland still the “Happiest Place on Earth?”
My daughter, who currently lives in Arizona decided she would treat our entire family to a day at Disneyland on Christmas Eve day also known as December 24th. It started with reveille at oh dark hundred so we could get to the park as soon as it opened at 8:00 a.m. Traffic was light and we were among the first to enter the park. The cost? $80 per adult and $74 for my 4 year old grand daughter. Bam! Not one ride, not one photo op with Mickey and already $394.00 out of pocket. Oh wait there was $15 for parking in a lot far away from Disneyland so by the time we took our very first step on the hallowed grounds of Disneyland we had already spent $409.00 Still no ride and no photo op but $409.00 was our minimum buy in to the Disney game.
The good news is that at 8:00 a.m. most of the rides are still fairly easy to access assuming they are open. Not all rides were open but we did enjoy the Jungle Cruise and soon after, with the help of a fast pass Indiana Jones was I will admit a lot of fun. But now I was thirsty and so I grabbed a 20 ounce Coke for over $3.00 with tax. That is not the largest sum in the world, but for one bottle of Coke it may well be the highest retail price anywhere.
Later we ate and discovered yet another gouging for mediocre food in crowded facilities where the now familiar experience of standing in long lines was maintained. I don’t know but somehow for me having to stand in line to pay far too much for marginal food is not something that contributes to my happiness.
But it was as the day rolled on the “Happiest Place on Earth” got downright nasty. We found ourselves near “It’s a Small World” waiting for the Santa Clause Christmas parade. The crowd was literally so dense that if I had had a heart attack I would not have hit the ground until midnight at the earliest. After the parade the simple task of trying to move in any direction was all but impossible. We were utterly swallowed up in a sea of humanity and absolutely no one seemed happy.
I remember my very first visit to Disneyland in the mid 1970’s. As I recall they imposed a limit on the number of people they would admit on any given day so that everyone could actually have a good time. But since then the corporate powers at Disney seem to have adopted a more profitable policy. Now, if you have sufficient cash or if your credit card is not declined you are in. As a result absolutely everything in the Magic Kingdom is overcrowded and generates utterly obnoxious lines. It can take two or more hours to go on just one ride, you must stand in a line to buy over priced not very good food and there is even a line to use the restrooms. Walking down any path in the park is an absolute struggle against an overwhelming herd of aggitated homosapiens. So if that is your idea of having fun then you will indeed enjoy Disneyland.
Please don’t get me wrong, there is much to enjoy at Disneyland and every single person I met who was working there was very polite and pleasant and that alone I viewed as a miracle. And that very nice “Princess Ariel” seen in the photo with my granddaughter was a giant hit and sure to be a lifetime memory for Somaya To the lovely lady playing Ariel – a great big thank you. But the far too many long lines and the ever present crunch of far too many people pretty much killed the joy for me. Should I ever return it will be on a rainy day in February.
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