Do you like to People Watch? There are many fun places to do this. One of my favorite places to just sit and observe the masses, is the always-filled Disneyland. Crowds.. all the time. You can watch without looking creepy because if someone even thinks you might be staring at them, they turn around and notice eight other people you are likely staring at, because it can’t be them.. but it is.
The next time you find yourself at Disneyland please do this: find a bench. Sit on it. Sit and watch for 5-10 minutes. I want you to observe JUST the people with children. I guarantee you will notice this within the few minutes: the more children there are, the more depressed/irritated/upset the parents look. If they have one child they can somewhat break a smile. If there are two they look pretty exhausted, especially if the kids are young enough that they need a stroller. If there are 3 or more the parents look utterly defeated. You see the way these parents look at one another like “aaand they call this the happiest place because…?”
The only ones who look like they are enjoying themselves are the groups of friends who are there wearing the $30 Mickey ears or the young couples in love.. just walking around with free hands. Hands that are so free they can hold each other. They can get in to a 45 minute line and no worries there! All they have to do is chat until they get on the ride! There’s no consoling angry babies, getting to the front of a long wait in line only to have a toddler look at you with tears saying, “Mom! I have to pee!” Umm..NOW? Yes, now! It has to be RIGHT NOW and it’s not pee Mom it’s poop.
The first time Jeff and I went to Disneyland we were a year in to dating. We had a BLAST! We had so much fun that halfway through the day, my boyfriend had to go to the parking lot and take a nap in the car… a 2 hour nap due to the overwhelming fun-ness of it all. It just so happened to be his first time there.. so I think the excitement got to him.
^^Haha! How amazing is Jeff’s long hair? (2007) and I love that the stranger took a pic of us and we are nice and blurred.
We’ve been quite lucky and psychotic to be able to do this for four years in a row with annual passes. The Southern California passes are nice. They allow us to go week days and the kids who are under 3 are free. It all started when Amelia was about to turn two. We went for a day and then saw her GLOW, BEAM, and just about burst with joy when she saw the Disney princesses, so we took our day passes that very day and turned them in to annual passes. The next year we did the same and so on and so forth. I will admit though, for the past two years the only reason I’ve been renewing passes is because I am able to book family sessions there.. and after shooting for an hour I get to enjoy the rest of my day there with my kids. I’m always working in case you didn’t know.
This year we were torn. Not for reasons you would think though. You see, many MANY southern California residents are upset and have expressed it due to the increase in prices for the annual pass. The pass price has always seemed reasonable. Here would be the reasons passes are worth it if you are a So-Cal resident.
- If you go at least 3 times, the pass has paid for itself! Indeed, this is the mindset. So once you are on your 4th or 5th visit, you’re feeling pretty proud of yourself for all the money you’ve supposedly “saved.” 😉
- If you have kids, it’s a great place to take them and it’s cheaper than those in-door trampoline parks!
- It sure beats the zoo.
- There is no way to do both parks in a day, there’s barely time to do just one. This allows you to take your sweet time. You promise yourself that each day you go you will explore an entire section. Okay today we will do Tomorrowland, then next time we will do ToonTown.. this never happens by the way. You end up going and doing the same exact thing just about every time. Our routine became lunch at the Plaza Cafe, then tea cups twice, then It’s a Small World, photos with characters.. make your way over to CA Adventure and do the Ariel ride 3 times… catch a show.. it’s exhausting. But you keep telling yourself it’s totally worth it and your kids will love you for it.
- If you’re getting the cheapest pass, you only go M-F and it’s blacked out during holidays when you wouldn’t want to be in that place anyways.
The price increase wasn’t even that bad. People like to complain but here’s the thing that no one wants to hear: Disneyland doesn’t owe you sh*t. With the increase in pass holder purchases it’s been overly crowded on TUESDAYS when it used to be clear. I mean, we were there on a Thursday with nothing happening in the world and lines were 45 minutes. It was insanity. These are reasons to complain. Disneyland likely raised their prices because even if NO ONE RENEWED… they would still make their millions people, hate to break it to you. Do you see how happy their employees are over there? Do you see all the new amazing things they are putting up and building? They can charge $300 a day per ticket and NOT offer any sort of annual pass and guess what?! They would STILL make money. It’s Disney. They own everything if you haven’t figured it out by now. And having passes? Well, it’s a luxury.. it’s not something just everyone can do. This is like when people complain that sushi is expensive. Or that nicer clothing costs more.. no one is forcing you to purchase. I’m in no way saying we are rich, like I stated earlier, I’ve turned parts of our visits in to WORK. If I wasn’t offering those sessions in Anaheim, I don’t think we would have renewed last year.
I’m not siding with them, but hey! They’re building a STAR WARS land..they have thousands of employees they have to keep happy, they have the nicest landscaping, their shuttle system is quite intense, they are serving pretty good food now, (and those who complain about food prices.. pack a lunch.. you don’t HAVE to buy the $7 hot dog or the $17 chicken plate.. which is delicious), they have more shows coming up…think of their over head! I don’t think they care all that much about people who complain about the prices because at the end of the day, Disney can do no wrong. Besides owning everything, they even own the most precious moments of your childhood – most of us, any way. They continue to come up with fantastic movies that younger generations fall in love with. Okay so maybe I AM siding with them..
Why complain? I think it comes down to this: if you don’t like or agree with something, don’t do it. If you don’t see the value in the trips to this place, don’t go. Some times things great things get more expensive… and we can choose to roll with it or not. It’s not gasoline. It’s not a necessity, it’s a theme park.
Here would be valid reasons to NOT want to renew. If you are paying premium prices for passes and they are ALWAYS full, then yeah, that kind of sucks. We would be in line for Amelia to meet characters and then told we couldn’t because Buzz Lightyear had to go on a lunch break. That kind of thing kept happening.. perhaps we were just unlucky with timing, or perhaps they were just so insanely packed on a Tuesday in January. We would go to a place to eat, then be told that you had to have reservations for this section or area. We would try to get tickets or fast passes early in the day, and told that there were no more. Indeed, the crowds were becoming an issue, and making the pass renewal not worth it. Do you know what it’s like to have to tell a 4 year old (at the time) and a 2 year old that they can’t meet Woody from Toy Story? I would look at the attendant and say, “You tell them!” We were beginning to resent it because the shuttling over took so long, by the time you got to the park all you wanted to do was rest. They also will have rides and attractions closed half the time. By the 2nd or 3rd visit… you kid is just not grateful, and then your ugly side comes out. There is nothing worse than children who act spoiled and are not grateful. Nothing excites them there any more. The magic is gone. I remembered going to Disneyland a couple times while pregnant and couldn’t go on any of the rides. I would think, “pregnant people should have a discount.” But hey! Is it Disneyland’s fault that I’m pregnant? I don’t wanna over think this, I know you get where I’m going with all of this.
Listed above are reasons that we are not renewing family passes this year. I renewed mine since it makes sense to with about six more family sessions approaching. It’ll be nice to literally be in and out of that place. Disneyland just doesn’t have the magic unless you see it through a child’s eyes.. a child who has never been there before. A grateful child. Once it’s passed, pass on it. I think a lot of it is the sentimental feelings of that place. How do you NOT sing along to Part of Your World when it’s playing? How do you not feel all the feels when you go on It’s A Small World and become 5 again? For nostalgia, it’s priceless.
We were definitely able to make a lot of memories these past few years with the kids. Most of the days there ended with RELIEF. There was one visit where the complaining just didn’t stop so we only stayed for 2 hours and went home. Truly, Disneyland should be a once-a-year if not once-every 5-years visit.. and buy enough tickets for 2-3 days.
I will be writing up a post about the zero-gratitude children we are seeing all over the place, including my own and why and how I am guilty. It’s something I am still researching on a little, but for now, here are some snaps from several visits we had this year. Minus the meltdowns. <3
^That time we saw Kevin Nealon … totally had a fan moment!
Photos by: Jeff and Talia Cruz