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Old 05-07-2013, 08:23 PM   #1
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1

Disneyland fanatic for over 50 years calls it quits

I was born the same year Disneyland was built, 1955. Back then, Walt Disney himself was in charge. Even after his death in 1966, Disneyland continued to be what it always had been, a fun and magical place for families at fair prices. Exactly what Walt himself had in mind when he conceived the idea.

What most people don't realize is that Disney was actually a combination of Walt and his brother Roy. Walt was the dreamer; Roy was the man who helped turn those dreams into reality. You see, bankers and financiers don't like loaning money to dreamers. Dreamers tend to be idealistic, and not focused on maximizing profits. Luckily for Walt, his brother Roy had a talent for convincing the money lenders that Walt's dreams and ideas were worthwhile. Even so, there were many struggles to be overcome during what I would call the true Disney years.

One of Walt's first lessons in business was that profit was of utmost importance; honor and trust were not. Competing companies stole his ideas, his artists, his creations; even his very soul if they could have gotten away with it.

Walt's initial idea for Disneyland was a place where families could go to have fun. His idea started small and eventually grew into Disneyland. Even with the help of his brother Roy, it was a struggle to raise enough funds make Walt's dream a reality. Naysayers thought he was crazy. "A carnival without a ferris wheel and other thrills was sure to flop." "Why waste so much money on a lot of expensive decorations?" What Walt Disney had in mind had never been done before. Disneyland wouldn't even exist if Walt hadn't risked his own money in addition to what bankers were willing to loan on his risky venture. Carnivals were a place to sucker people out of their money. Once inside, the objective was to extract as much extra cash from them as possible. The fun aspect was just a ruse to attract suckers so they could be fleeced inside. Walt wanted none of that for his Disneyland.

People regularly got cheated and gouged at carnivals to increase company profits. But Walt felt doing that diminished the experience for many visitors, especially young families with children. Financiers and accountants tried their best to get Walt to charge inflated prices for food and drink. After all, this was how many carnivals made much of their money. Once inside, the guests became a captive audience. They could be charged almost anything for food and drink, because their only alternative was to be hungry and thirsty. But Walt Disney refused. His philosophy was that families wouldn't have as much fun if they felt they were being taken advantage of. Disneyland would be a place where people would have as much fun as humanly possible, so Walt insisted there would be no price gouging in his land. The financiers and accountants weren't at all happy, but Walt had the final say.

When I grew up and took my own family to Disneyland, Walt's dreams and ideals were still in place although Walt himself was gone. I suspect Walt's surviving brother Roy had a lot to do with maintaining Walt's standards. One of my favorite things to do in Disneyland was to have a big breakfast at the River Belle Terrace in Frontierland. I later learned this was one of Walt's favorite spots, too. He spent many Sunday mornings there, and for good reason. The food was all cooked to order as guests watched. You could order pancakes, waffles, sausage, ham, and eggs cooked however you wanted them. The prices were about the same as at any diner, but diners didn't have the spectacular ambiance as did the River Belle Terrace. My kids had many enjoyable breakfasts there. Sitting outside in the shade eating fresh Mickey Mouse shaped waffles and pancakes covered in strawberries, whipped cream and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Mom and dad could select not only the typical American breakfast, but fresh fruit if they preferred, all at affordable prices.

All that is gone now. Disney is becoming just what Walt didn't want it to be. Outrageous admission prices average people cannot afford. No more food cooked to order, because bulk scrambled eggs made on an assembly line are more profitable. There used to be long lines at the River Belle Terrace, but no more. Who wants to pay more than double the price of a diner for dried out scrambled eggs? Not me. Of course Disneyland didn't stop with the River Belle Terrace. Eventually most of the chefs lost their jobs and food is now produced mainly on assembly lines. Popcorn which used to be reasonably priced now costs between four and eight dollars. Soda pop is now $3.25, or at least it was when I visited last week. It may cost even more by now. I could go on, but you get the idea. Ten years ago I asked at City Hall on Main Street why prices had become so high compared to what they used to be. The answer was brief and blunt, "Disneyland's prices are competitive." Oh Swell! So basically what they're saying is Disneyland is no worse than anywhere else. Maybe that ought to become Disney's Official Slogan, splashed across the screen of all their pretty TV commercials. "Come on in... Disney won't gouge you any worse than our competition."

Although Disneyland is still superior to other Theme Parks IMO, the cost cutting and gouging have ruined the experience for me. Walt was so right. I suppose I should be grateful Michael Eisner isn't in charge anymore, with his cutting costs to the bone. At least the paint isn't peeling quite as much as when he was in charge. But as for me, the unique fun and magic of Disneyland has pretty much disappeared. The Disney Company has taken every opportunity to maximize profits, and I expect cost-cutting and price-gouging will only get worse. Future shows will have no more live actors, because they're more costly. Disney California Adventure's "World of Color" doesn't feature a living soul, yet they charge a premium for up-front seating with cold tasteless food. How long until the live Fantasmic show, with all its real actors, becomes just a memory? They already charge a premium for seating there, too. How long until there's a fee for watching every parade? I don't want to know, because I've had quite enough. Disneyland has lost its special kind of unique magic for me, and it will never come back. I have many fond memories of the past, but that's all they are now, just memories. Walt and Roy are long gone, and so am I.

Last edited by JohnMc; 05-07-2013 at 09:17 PM.
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Old 05-13-2013, 02:13 PM   #2
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 4

While I generally agree with your sentiment, I don't think this is anything new. Walt, after all, has been dead for 46 years. Have you thought about writing a letter to the Walt Disney Company?

FWIW, and this is highly subjective, I think things bottomed out in the early 2000s and have actually improved since then. Just my 2 cents.
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