I went to Disneyland on Sunday for a friends birthday. I hadn’t been there for many years and was excited. My parents used to take my sister and I every couple of years. Sometimes they would tell us the night before where we were going, which would prevent me from sleeping with the anxiety of running from ride to ride in the exact right order. Other times they would just tell us the morning of and I would instead plan my day in the car on the way over while wishing they would take freeways instead of the stop light infested surface streets.
After arriving to the park Sunday, it was immediately apparent that the “fantasy” had faded. I was extremely hungry, and all I found close by was a $6 corndog along with a $3 small coke. It is trite to complain about food prices in a place like that, but when you are not super excited about being there these “gougings” really start to leave you with some bad taste.
The park appeared very crowded, but we still managed to walk onto every ride we wanted to go on in around 10 – 20 minutes. After getting there around 1 pm, we had been everywhere we wanted to by about 6 pm.
Since leaving the park, I have thought about what it was that got me depressed about being there. I broke it down to these possibilities:
- The feeling of Disney Corp not doing well. They haven’t had a film success themselves in awhile, and Pixar left them. Roy Disney is trying to get Eisner axed, attendance is down across many if not all parks, and their target demographic seems to be shrinking smaller and smaller. The Disney brand just doesn’t seem immortal like it once did.
- Disneyland is slipping. When Walt created it, it was a series of technicalogical achievements. Now a days with Massively Multiplayer Online Games, High Definition, and huge advancements in personal technology make it seem very dated and lacking innovation.
- The lack of lines. I hate long lines like the next guy, but there IS something to be said for being in one. Disneyland has spent millions enveloping the line experience into the ride itself. When you wait for the Indiana Jones ride, you are in a cave with vines and bamboo and indy-esque props. But if there are no lines, you don’t see that or get in the mood of the ride. There is also something to be said for “demand”. Just like I don’t like watching a movie in a theater with only 3 other people, the ride means more when you have to wait for it. The anxiety builds up and you just appreciate it more.
- Space mountain was closed. I guess it is reopenning in July, but the experience just wasn’t the same without it.
The saving grace for the day was going to Napa Rose at the Grand Californian Hotel. It is about $20 – $40 per meal, but very worth it. My buddy ordered two bottles of $130 Silver Oak Cabernet Savignon (I had NO idea the price) putting the meal in both a new range of price and taste. It was one of the best dinners I have had in Orange County.
From the days experiences, I probably will not go back to the “happiest place on earth” until I am with someone that has never been there. Most likely that will be with my kids.