To be clear up front, this is a clear departure from my normal coverage. I have a platform here as a writer and I thought it was important to try to spread the word about something upsetting that I discovered the other day. I won't make this a habit and feel free to ignore this article, but some will be happy to have found the warning that I'm about to give.
Over the years since Disney's California Adventure opened it's gates, Disneyland has announced promotions and discounts for southern California residents from time to time. If you lived within a certain zip code range and could prove it with documentation, you were given a bit off the standard price of a ticket to the park or even a little more. These southern California tickets had a huge impact on me as a child. We didn't go to the park a lot, but when we did it was usually because of this type of promotion. On a broader scale, my mother probably looked at the discount as consolation for having to live around and deal with the congestion and expansion of the Disney empire. Speculation aside, we would go and enjoy a great day at the park with a bit of money saved for an extra overpriced pretzel. As Disney has changed with time, so has the value of this so called "gift" to southern California residents. There has been a clear and noticeable decline in the customer service, quality of ride operation, and business ethics at the park in the past say 15 years. Some will say longer than that even. Bland business practices and greed have replaced the genuine need to inspire and amaze each new generation of children coming through the gates. The place where Disneyland's heart used to be is now as empty as Walt Disney's "mummified" apartment. It's safe to say that Disney himself was the heart of the park and the idea of Disneyland is slowly decaying like it's long dead creator.
Disney used to understand that some people's one and only trip to the park would be the prismatic and cacophonous culmination of a lifetime of daydreaming and speculation. They respected this responsibility by delivering a consistent and highly cultivated experience. Everything was just right and it was right EVERY day. Of course things would break down from time to time, they're only human right? Wrong. Disneyland is magical, it does things we can't understand and that's why it's a singularly unique experience in the world. There are between 8 and 11 hours that the park is "closed" each night. This was when the hard stuff used to happen to preserve the magic. I can only assume that this once productive time is now allocated solely to counting money and laughing.
I'd planned to be at Disneyland today and not here writing this article. The SoCal discount is back and better than ever! Purchase a single ticket for about $40 more than the regular ticket price and receive another day at Disney's California Adventure for "free". That's a deal that's hard to say no to. Especially considering that we already wanted to go to Disneyland, and the only ticket that could get me to spend a day at Disney's California Adventure is a free ticket. We started to plan our day out earlier this week. Like a good reporter, no matter how sure I am of anything I still do my research. Let's see if the park has any closures to announce? Okay, it seems that everything is open, everything except Space mountain, It's a Small World, the Submarine ride, Indiana Jones Adventure, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Colombia river ship and Tom Sawyer island, the Haunted Mansion, Fantasmic, Alice in Wonderland, the Pirates of the Carribbean, and the Disneyland Limited Railroad. You know, all of Disneyland. We had a lovely day of looking at the outer facades and vacant line corrals ahead!
This year's promotion spans early January through the end of May. That just happens to be the time that Disney has decided to execute frequent and prolonged closures of each and every flagship ride. Improvements will take place while guests are actually in the park rather than doing slight maintenance over time and heavier work in the night. Aside from personal disappointment, my biggest concern is that I just don't think a living Walt Disney would allow something like this. The man was not a saint himself, but he had a clear vision that became a part of every human being's life in some way. That happened for a reason, and it had nothing to do with tricking people into the park while construction went on to make the "full price" customers happy later in the year. The submarine ride will be closed for just about the entire year of 2014. All of the other attractions mentioned will be closed for about a solid month or even two.
Click here for a more detailed list of scheduled closures.
The closures come and go, but they frequently overlap. Coupled with the SoCal discount's blackout dates (which basically span the entire month of April) there aren't more than 2 or so days that you can actually have a full experience at the park. If left unchanged, this "you'll take what you get and like it" approach to customer service should eventually lead to one of two clear outcomes: a change of leadership and a miraculous return to what Disneyland once was and can still be again, or the true end of an era.
We are not at Disneyland today, and we don't plan to be as long as this is how they are treating people looking for a little magic.