When I wrote this piece all the way back in January, I was expecting yet another admission price increase at the Disneyland Resort for the year. It was only a matter of time.
My view on the price increases themselves are that it is justified in being that it is very much an issue of supply and demand. The only legal way to keep the crowds manageable and services enjoyable for anyone who visits, tourist or local, is to raise prices…or offer entirely new offerings aka a new theme park). Call it elitist, unfair, “not Disney”, etc. The reality may not be a ‘dream come true’, but it is very much a reality we must all face.
That said, I still believe in the fact that going to Disneyland and moreover being a Disney Parks Annual Passholder is a privilege (not an entitlement). Over the years, it seems to have grown from just a privilege to more of a status symbol; one that identifies with a new generation that makes going to Disneyland “cool” which will grow into the future…and probably even through more price increases.
The year was 1997.
I was in elementary school and I recall talking amongst my friends at the time about things we could do to hang out. Nearly every single one of those conversations had me interjecting with the idea of going to Disneyland. I was an Annual Passholder at the time (thanks to my Disney-fied parents) and I wanted to go as much as possible, which at the time seemed to be every day.
But even with that much enthusiasm, my friends were quick to shoot down the idea of going. Although the reasons varied, the one that seemed to be the same for all my friends in elementary school was that “Disneyland is for kids.” In an effort to be a good friend that would try and keep his fellow friend’s self-esteem in tact, I didn’t mention to said people that they indeed were kids.
The year was 2007.
Fast forward a decade and I’m now in middle school. The same “hangout idea” conversations were still prevalent and Disneyland was still my response in each of them…but things were on the verge of changing. My parents and I were still passholders and it wasn’t long after my first days in middle school did I find out that some of my fellow classmates were too! The following Saturday, we all went.
We spent the whole day there, from opening to closing. We rode a lot of attractions and walked around quite a bit, too – all standard things you do at Disneyland. We enjoyed our time together so much that we went consecutively every weekend for a long period of time. We didn’t really care if we rode the same things or ate at the same places – we just liked going because we were still “older-kids” and Disneyland was for us, too.
The year is now 2014.
I’m about to graduate from Cal State Fullerton and my parents and I still hold the keys to the Magic Kingdom as passholders. Having groups of friends are a little bit harder to come by as everyone wants to just go to class and just go home. In the rare occasion that I do have my group of friends together, I certainly still bring up Disneyland as the hang out venue of choice. The funny thing for me to hear are the responses I get now.
“Sure! I’ve always wanted to go.”
“Duh. I haven’t been in a long time.”
“Why are you even asking? Just start driving. You have parking privileges on your pass, right?”
Over the course of a little less than 3 decades, I was surprised by the changes in responses. If anything, I thought it would indeed be the total opposite where Disneyland (or any Disney Park for that matter) would remain a place run over by families and “kids”. That just simply isn’t the case anymore.
The moment I have that cast member scan my pass and I walk through those turnstiles, I’m meet with those who once were kids aka EVERYONE. From young couples going on dates to 80-year old widowed dancers who’ve made it a point to swing dance until they can’t anymore, Disneyland is filled with everyone and then some. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see my elementary school friends amongst the thousands that visit every single day.
With many of those thousands one of the 1 million+ passholders that the Disneyland Resort alone has (with that number steadily growing), it’s clear that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Parks are the place to hang out nowadays.
To be a card-carrying member to one of Disney’s Magic Kingdoms is no longer frowned upon, but looked upon. It’s a status symbol. You’re in an elite group like those who’ve won a game show. You’re proud to tell your friends and family about it and you’re ever eager for them to get a pass as well if they don’t have one already.
How can this be? Place it on the never-ending new experiences or the creative and engaging marketing. It just all seems to be working for everyone and perhaps even into the next Disney enthusiast generation as well.
I told you so.
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As we approach the holiday season, will you be considering buying yourself or your loved one(s) an Annual Pass to your Disney Park? If you currently have one, will you renew? Why or why not? What does being a Disney Parks Passholder mean to you? Comment below!