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Disneyland Article
What Has Happened To Disneyland

ID:TMS-2996
Source:rgj.com
Author:Katie Coombs
Dateline:February 18, 2015
Posted:February 25, 2015
 
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I just returned from a three-day weekend at Disneyland. First, I must say that I enjoyed being with my children and my husband and most of the fun we had was spent in the car, on the airplane, in the hotel room, and while eating meals together. For those of you who really like Disneyland, this will go down as your least favorite column this week (or maybe this year).

Disneyland for me now represents everything that is wrong with our country. You can't walk more than five feet without seeing kids riding in strollers that are way too big to be riding in strollers. I must have been run over every five minutes by a stroller with a kid that was heavy enough to hurt my feet. The crowds are always unbelievable in Disneyland no matter where you go, and the rides while we were there were breaking down constantly. It is mostly a trip to the biggest junk food park you can find, and people will wait 30 minutes in line for a Churro if they have to. The actual time you spend riding rides can probably be broken down into 10% of your trip at best. Mostly it is an entertaining glimpse into the world of undisciplined children yelling at their parents or throwing themselves on the ground if they can't have their third ice cream cone of the day. I witnessed three different children around the age of six throwing garbage right onto the ground. In fact, I couldn't believe how much garbage was all over the place but of course quickly cleaned up by the thousands of employees who thankfully have a job because of lazy and disgusting behavior.

Disneyland has all of this figured out. After all of these years, they clearly could find a better way than the FastPass system to get people on the rides more often; however, being on the rides means you aren't buying $15 hamburgers that are really disgusting. Parents really just have to keep feeding their children to keep them from getting bored standing in line. No matter what time of the day we entered or left the park, most of the rides had a wait time of at least 45 minutes or more, which meant more snacks to kill the time.

The number of people riding scooters in the park was also something that I didn't expect. These were not older people or people with broken bones or other disabilities. These were simply people who can't handle walking the distance from one ride to the other. Their scooters are loaded with corn dogs, popcorn, pretzels, cotton candy, frozen lemonade, and chocolate dipped cones. Those who are riding scooters get to skip most of the lines so there is actually a payoff for being really unhealthy at Disneyland. This is quite a profit center for Disneyland as well with the scooter rentals ranging from $50-$200 daily per person.

As a child, I have no memory of all of these scooters and I certainly don't remember a churro dispensary at every corner. There was more magic than there was food, and far fewer strollers and scooters taking up all of the walking space. This trip, we were in the park for two days, and even using the FastPass system for getting on the rides, we actually rode on a total of about 20 rides the entire time. A two-day hopper pass to Disneyland which allows you to go from Disneyland to California Adventure was $1,300 for six people. I don't even want to do the math on what we spent per ride and of course that doesn't count transportation, food, hotel, etc.

Another disturbing aspect about Disneyland for me now is watching the lack of interaction between families. Everyone was on their phones or iPads as they waited in line and that is where our family was having the most fun. We play games in those lines and actually talk to one another. I watched families literally say nothing to each other for 45 minutes at a time. They were either eating or playing Angry Birds and then filming most of the rides they were on instead of just being present in the moment with their kids, catching their smiles.

I am still grateful we went. We laughed on the airplane. We had a great time in the hotel as we all massaged our sore feet from all of the walking. We played fun games as we walked to different attractions and I got to watch my kids smile and laugh and enjoy one another. I won't be returning to Disneyland for a very long time. I don't like how they have become a representation of unhealthy eating and a place where parents are either yelling at their kids or ignoring them altogether so they can get their latest Facebook updates. I will seek out much better vacation spots for our family to enjoy one another and have healthy food choices and lots of reasons to leave our electronics behind.

An American tradition is slowly fading and I hope over time we see that Disney starts to falter unless they start becoming less food-centered and more magic-centered. They need to get rid of all of the junk food and add many more healthy alternatives that encourage a healthy family experience. They should have a special line for people who don't use their phones and iPads that gets the whole family on the rides faster. I'm sure they will be calling me any day now for my suggestions so I will keep a list going for them when they do. They lost a lifetime customer for now for what they represent and hope they will start caring about the health and well-being of families since that is what their theme parks are supposed to be about.
 

 
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