Thursday, March 13, 2014

The logic behind the high costs and crowds at the Disneyland Resort & what families can do about both

The two major complaints people have about their trips to Disneyland typically fall into one of two categories: the cost or the crowds. During the six years I have been writing Babes In Disneyland, I have talked a lot about saving money and ways for beating the crowds, but I haven't really discussed these two complaints head on and how they really go hand-in-hand.

First, let's talk about the crowds. Yes. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure get crowded. Period. No one likes crowds. Period. Ok, maybe some people do, but I know I'm certainly not one of them. After working at Disneyland for more than five years, I had my fill of them. And while I definitely felt sympathetic and even empathetic with guests who complained about the crowds while I worked there, there has always been a part of me that wants to say, "What did you expect?"

Because I don't love crowds, I typically stay away from the Disneyland Resort during holiday times and summer vacation, and when I do visit during those time, I know that I will experience crowds. I like to think of it this way: if you have free time away from school or work and it is a good time to get away for you and your family, it probably is for a lot of other people. So that being said, why is it so shocking that it is crowded? Disneyland is a popular place and when you add in factors like special decorations and entertainment for Halloween or Christmas or the kids being off for summer vacation, it becomes even more crowded.

Personally, I cannot think of a solution for the "too crowded" problem. Close the parks and allow in less guests? At what point? What may be "too crowded" for one family may not be "too crowded" for a family who just finished driving to Disneyland from Idaho. There really isn't a "fix" for the crowds any more than there is a "fix" for the throngs of people at Costco the day before Thanksgiving or the hundreds of people who show up at Walmarts across the country on Black Friday. And just for the record, I am equally surprised at the people who get angry or upset by those crowds too. I mean, seriously, people, what do you expect?

So then there is the issue of the costs associated with a trip to the Disneyland Resort, with the hottest topic being that of the admission fee. I get it...and agree...that it is expensive to go to the Disneyland Resort. Furthermore, I realize that the admission cost makes it virtually impossible for a large section of the population to attend the parks as often as they might like...or ever, for that matter, and that absolutely sucks. (Yes, for the first time, I used the word "sucks" on my blog. And I mean it.) 

But for a moment, let's revisit the "too crowded" issue. Just imagine how many more people would be visiting Disneyland and Disney California Adventure each day if it cost less to get in. It is simple economics: if it were cheaper more people could afford to go more often, thus increasing attendance and making it more crowded. For this very reason, I am always baffled when people complain about crowds and the high cost at the same time. 

And to put things into perspective, I think it is important to take a moment and remember the cost of other things families love to do. Tickets to professional basketball and football games can easily cost $100 per person for about four hours of fun. Want to take the kids to a concert? Try finding tickets for a professional concert at a place like the Hollywood Bowl for less than $100 per person. The same goes for large-scale theatrical productions at places like the Pantages or similar theater venues across the country. When you think of the price of admission to the Disneyland Resort in terms of cost per hour, the value is far greater.

There is nothing that any of us can do about the crowds during high seasons at the Disneyland Resort or the costs, so instead of complaining, which doesn't do any of us any good, let's talk about what you can do to avoid the crowds and spend less when traveling to the Disneyland Resort. Over the years, the Babes In Disneyland staff and I have written extensively about both of these topics. The links below go to posts and series of posts that can provide a lot of help for families trying to beat the crowds and save some dough.

Get all the great tips you need to plan your next Disneyland Resort vacation in the Babes In Disneyland travel guide, which is now available for iPad on iTunes.


Dandy said...

I hadn't actually thought about the costs that way. Unfortunately we fall into the "can't afford to go ever" category. I'm super bummed about it. But you know what? When we have the money, I'd rather take the little one to Disneyland than spend it at another venue.

Jessica McConnel said...

I love this! Yes, Disneyland is super expensive, which does mean we can't afford to go as often - but it also means when we can go it's a REALLY big deal.
Also, when people complain about it - we always think of it similarly... comparing the cost of a movie for 2 hours of entertainment, say $12 - to 2 hours at Disneyland, $11.50 ($92/16 hours)... it's on par with other entertainment!

Wendy aka The Over-the-top Mommy said...

It's frustrating but I feel lucky to only have one child to pay for! We won't stay away, we just may not go as often.