Theme Park Insider

Designing the Economically Perfect Theme Park

March 27, 2016, 6:11 PM · Want to get on more rides the next time you visit a theme park?

It used to be that the best way to do that was to arrive early, with ticket in hand. That way, you could get into the park right when it opened and do many of the most popular rides before long queues formed. But with Walt Disney World now offering advance ride reservation times, and many parks now offering early-admission plans, just showing up at park open won't always help get you on top rides with little-or-no wait anymore.

Whether fans like it or not, more and more about visiting theme parks is becoming "pay to play." It's not just the ticket at the front gate. Now, it's whether or not to buy a front-of-line pass, whether to buy a dining package that includes reserved show seating, or whether to pay extra to get into the park before opening or to stay after close — all to help you get on more rides, with less wait, during your stay.

Rather than shaking our fists at the wind and demanding that parks quit trying to make all this extra money, let's instead just go with it and try to imagine where all these changes will lead. What happens when theme parks assign a price to everything?

People with business degrees might argue that slapping a price on everything would make parks more efficient. After all, paying for something tests how much you really want it. And it's not like you are getting on all those rides and into all those shows without paying something more than for your admission ticket right now, anyway. It's just that you are paying extra with your time — the time you wait in line — rather than your money.

Imagine a theme park where you could pay with money instead of time to get into any attraction you want. Everything would be offered on a reserved return-time basis. And those return times would be up for bid. Want to meet Anna and Elsa at 2 in the afternoon on the day of your visit? Instead of logging into My Disney Experience 30 days before your visit and hoping that spot is available, you would log in and place a bid on that return time, at your convenience.

You could place bids on all the rides, shows, and character meets you wished to experience during your trip, then set a maximum bid you'd be willing to pay for each one. If you were flexible on time, you'd tell the system that. You could set a maximum budget for all your bids, too, so that you don't price yourself out of your own vacation.

The amounts of the bids tell the system how much you really want to do each of these things in the park. But if you really, really must do something on your trip, you could declare it a "must do." If the price of a "must do" rose to near your maximum bid for that attraction, the system would withdraw your bids on less-popular attractions in order to avoid going over your budget while keeping you in the bidding for the must-do ride or show. The risk is that, if your overall budget wasn't large enough, you could end up with your "must do"... and not much else to do in the park that day.

But if the price of your highest bids went beyond what you were willing to pay, the system would reassign that bid money to other, less-popular attractions, potentially allowing you to see more stuff on your visit... just not the really good stuff.

You could tell the system at what time you wanted to enter the park, what time you want leave, how many people would be in your party, if anyone is skipping certain attractions, whether you are doing child swaps, and if you want to keep time clear for resting or shopping during the day.

The auctions would close the day before the day of your visit, so that you would know the night before what your day's itinerary would be. With your winning bids scheduling your day, you could walk from attraction to attraction with no wait to experience them. If you didn't end up with a full day's worth of activities, the system could schedule you to arrive late (sleep in — yay!) or call it a night early. No matter what, your day would be planned completely in advance.

Want to stretch your budget? Parks could throw a bone to those who couldn't afford to bid on a full day's worth of attractions by allowing visitors to "bid" with time, too. Standby lines would be the easiest way to do this, but if a park wanted to ensure that everyone's day was planned in advance, it could create a system where people would bid in advance with time instead of money.

Just submit a bid of how much time you'd be willing to wait for an attraction. The people who bid with the longest waits get the assignments. If you "won," you'd be required to show up at the attraction entrance to begin waiting your time before riding. If you didn't show up on time, you would lose your ride time. Obviously, the trade-off here is the same that it is now. The longer you wait for any single attraction, the less time you have to do anything else in the park that day.

You could bid with a mix of money and time, if you wished. Parks would need to hire math geeks to write the algorithms that would balance visitors' money and time bids, to make the tradeoffs that would allow guests to see as much as what they wished to see, given their budgets and the amount of time available in the day.

If not enough people bid for all the available return times on some attractions, the system could assign those return times to people who didn't have a full day and were already scheduled to be in or near that land at the moment, as a no-wait "freebie."

Missing the spontaneity of an old-fashioned day in the parks? The park could end the day with a one-hour "free ride" period, after the fireworks, in which you could go on any and all attractions you wished during that hour, with traditional queues for rides where demand exceeded capacity. (Just for fun, I will call this rule-free hour at the end of the day "The Purge.")

Now, to be even more cynical, admission to The Purge itself could be an extra charge... available for bid, with money or time waited.

What would you think about planning a day to visit this theme park? Would you find this a joy — to have everything planned in advance, with no worry, stress, or guesswork in trying to figure out what to do next? Or would you find it stressful — even embarrassing — to have to spend time in those waiting areas, declaring to everyone with your presence that you could not afford to pay to skip that wait?

Would you enjoy visiting a park that would know exactly the return on investment for every attraction it created, allowing it to spend money precisely on the rides and shows that it knew for certain that its visitors most valued experiencing? Or would you fear that such a system would reduce themed entertainment to "Buzzfeed — The Park?"

Would you love the efficiency of everyone getting to do the stuff for which they most were willing to invest time or money, instead of being in a park where those who knew how to game the system got more at the expense of those who didn't?

Or... would you mourn that a day in a theme park would be further reduced to a platform for sales — where immersion and discovery didn't matter, because every experience has to be planned and transacted in advance?

Here's a quick history lesson: Disney's theme parks used have an explicit "pay to play" system to try to ensure that people paid more to go on the most popular attractions. Granted, neither Disney nor anyone else had the computer power in 1955 to program a system that supported real-time auctions for assigning return times throughout the day. So Disneyland used something much simpler — A through E tickets. The A tickets were the cheapest, and got you on the simplest, least popular rides and shows. The Es cost the most and got you into the biggest, latest and best rides in the park. Almost every ride requires one of these tickets, and if you ran out of tickets, you had to buy more to ride more.

But by the early 1980s, Disneyland and Disney World abandoned the ticket system, in favor of unlimited-admission "Passports." Why? Because people valued the ease and convenience of paying one price for the day, instead of the hassle of managing all those individual tickets. (For what it's worth, Six Flags actually was the first major park chain to implement one-price-gets-all tickets.)

Eventually, people willingly paid more for an unlimited day at a Disney theme park than they ever paid under the old ticket system. Visitors recognized that the whole was worth more than the sum of its parts. Once people started seeing "Disney" as a destination unto itself — and not simply a collection of rides such as Pirates, Mansion, and Space Mountain — the company moved to a new level of success and prosperity.

So as we try to look ahead to anticipate the future of the theme park industry, let's recognize that we might find it... in its past. Sure, parks might be rushing to price every component of their experience today. But, at some point, leaders in the industry might recognize — as Six Flags' Angus Wynne, and later, Disney executives, did — that what people often value most is... the joy of simplicity.

Replies (34)

March 27, 2016 at 7:21 PM · People in business know getting someone to buy upfront at the highest prices possible is better than incremental pricing since getting someone to upgrade is a harder sell. Disney can continue the inclusive pricing for tickets and dining. Yet they can segment their audience for those who can and will pay for more services. The issue is whether if Disney makes their audiences feel shortchanged if they didn't do the upgrade. From what I'm seeing, it is more likely that people won't see the upgrade advantage after being burned a few times. They might make people feel special after a few events. Eventually, they lose their prestige. Disney is a lowest common denominator theme park operator. They aren't a 5 star operation.
March 27, 2016 at 8:09 PM · it's funny, when reading the recent articles about late night perks and early morning perks, I got to thinking, why don't we just revert back to the Coupon Books. And then boom, Robert comes full circle and nails it!
March 27, 2016 at 8:24 PM · Or you could just say, "It's not worth my time and effort, or increasing amount of financial cost, to attend a park that forces me to do these things to get the full experience.

"There are better ways for me to spend my vacation/leisure time and money."

March 27, 2016 at 11:38 PM · A bidding system? EVERYTHING reserved in advance? NO...just no. Please don't give them such grotesque ideas. Sounds like the perfect formula to turn me off theme parks forever.
And the coupon books were probably one of Walt's worst ideas. I would loathe seeing them come back.
March 28, 2016 at 1:01 AM · The fact is Disney is doing it and their guests are forking over hundreds of dollars extra to meet characters or get better seats for shows etc that are put bhind a paywall. Disney created that demand by not adding much rides the past 15 years.

In contrast Universal is adding more high capacity rides and plusses less desirable rides/areas to serve the growing demand. Forbidden Journey was the first in a string off huge e-ticket rides that was put on unused land. Transformers, the replacement of Jaws by Diagon Alley, plussinig of the Simpsons adding a flat riden updating an old ride with Dispicable Me and now adding Kong, their longest ride on an area the size off a stamp. When closing rides for a make over they added etertainment instead of taking it away. In that way they can ensure their hotel guests their complementairy front in line pass without having a impact on the general public.

If the Disney company would have used their 2 billion to re-theme the tired and old and undesirable Epcot it would pull more people away from MK. If AK would have more and longer rides there would be no problem to serve more people and if Disney used theire tired old rights for the Star Wars ip (they had forever) to create an amazing Star Wars land at the studios years ago, if they would build what the guest want (beastly kindom, vilains land etc) there would be no NEED to frustrate their customers. But this is much cheaper. Add a small highly themed kiddy coaster at fantasy land and be wondering why wait times are so long and sell then privalige to ride it of an uocharged "event".

I used to love Disney, and I have to money to spend to do every upcharge thing they would like me to do, but instead I stopped going because I have to much selfrespect. Disney doesn't feel "magical" anymore. The spirit of Walt left the park long ago and is replaced by a stonecold company that doesn't want me to have a great vacation, that doesn't build rides that make me to pull my wallet to buy expencive souvenirs but only wants my money by under delivering and overpricing and in addition make my vacation extreamly stressfull, no thanks.

March 28, 2016 at 5:58 AM · Sounds like a really relaxing way to spend a vacation, now if they also provide time slots for bathroom breaks....sign me up.
March 28, 2016 at 6:25 AM · So... why not build a second Magic Kingdom?

You could close one entirely for the offseason (what there is left). You could make one only for onsite resort guests and maybe a few golden ticket guests. You basically doubled the capacity of the most popular place in the world.

You could direct every special needs guest and their families to one.... I'm gonna stop here before i send this conversation someplace dark.

March 28, 2016 at 7:22 AM · Disney's brand is being destroyed by bean counters who understand numbers better than they understand people. This is what happens when the federal government assigns a perpetual monopoly to big business.

Google the Copyright Extension Act of 1998. Ask yourself: Would Disney be getting away with price gouging, if Mickey Mouse and friends were now in the public domain?

March 28, 2016 at 9:06 AM · Sorry, but you lost me when you started your overly long explanation about bidding - don't dare to give them the idea. Fastpass + has already taken the fun out of going to the parks, adding bidding would be a death knell.

Going back to the ticket books won't work, especially for locals laden Disneyland, because I think a large portion of the crowd would just pay for the lower admission-only fee and hang out and watch the Paint the Night parade, Fantasmic and the fireworks, I think it would make the crowd problem even worse.

March 28, 2016 at 10:01 AM · I'm against the whole idea of booking fast passes so far in advance as it is these days. I loved the system where you got your fast pass on the day you were there and you came back at the time it gave you. That worked and it didn't need fixed.
March 28, 2016 at 10:12 AM · Nooooooooo! Talk about killing the magic. Heck it!
March 28, 2016 at 11:05 AM · If you raise prices and more people than ever show up...raise prices further.
If you create an upcharge and it sells briskly or sells out...charge more and create new ones.
If you create an event that causes the park to close the front gate because there are too many people already inside...charge or charge more for the event.
If there is an activity (like prebooking your fast passes) that everyone performs...charge for it.

This makes economic sense...the moment people aren't willing to pay, the prices will come down. Until then, get used to price increases.

Does this price people out of their vacations? Yes...but apparently not enough people.

March 28, 2016 at 12:02 PM · I think Robert's hypothetical scenario is the extreme end in the direction destination parks (particularly Disney) are slowly creeping. However, I highly doubt it will become a reality. In the past couple years, I have seen more reports from people who were not satisfied with their WDW experience than I ever remember seeing before, and I really think the idea of upcharges and advance reservations has gone about as far as it can go before there is significant pushback.

Now, I am a planner and tend to create a touring plan when I visit a theme park, but the key element is that I can modify it at will as needed. When I get to an attraction, if I don't feel like riding or the line is too long I can just do something else. If everything were to be planned in advance, this would not be possible. What happens if you underestimate your endurance and get too worn out to do the next big thrill ride? Or better yet, what happens if there is a delay that causes you to miss the time of your biggest must-ride attraction, so you now cannot experience it at all? The fun of the visit would disappear rapidly, the line at guest relations would quickly build (or would you need to reserve a time to complain as well?), and the percentage of return visitors would fall off a cliff. Very few visitors are going to know exactly what they want to do before visiting, and it is the flexibility of a visit that prevents a minor glitch in the plan from escalating into a vacation-ruining disaster. The day you can no longer queue standby at the park at whatever time you choose is the day I will stop visiting.

I think a lot of theme park fans, particularly those who are frustrated with the price increases and apparent decrease of quality in the destination parks, owe it to themselves to explore other options. I've visited over 70 parks, each with different attractions and different operating styles. While Disneyland is still a fun day out, I've found that I often enjoy myself more at parks that offer less immersive attractions and environments but few or no upcharges. Yes, it means you can't pay to skip the line or get in early, but it also means that you are't subjected to watching hundreds of people enter before you despite arriving after you did. I do think bigger parks should offer a premium option for those who really want/need it, but it needs to be priced high enough that only 5-10% of the visitors actually go for it. Everyone else should be entitled to the same experience with their ticket purchase regardless of whether it amounts to small change or their one vacation per year.

March 28, 2016 at 1:19 PM · It seems to me there is an under current here. Ok turn on the way back machine Mr. Peabody. Who remembers why some rides are called E ticket rides. I do and I remember my first trip to Disneyland we bought the unlimited ( not sure if that's what it was called) but I was able to ride all the rides as many times as I wanted where as my cousins had only so many E tickets. Thus once you used you tickets it made for less lines. So where am I going here? It seems to me about crowd control while still making money. Kind of return to the old coupon book type things.
March 28, 2016 at 6:36 PM · Let's get really profitable. Buy an island and build the next Park there. To attend, buy 2 nights and a day on DCL and get the theme park from arrival to 1AM. It's offshore and nobody's driviving so sell all the alcohol you can and focus it on young adults. Sleep it off and Par-Tay.

Okay, enough of this snarky comment. Nobody could afford it. Then again, who's got some extra DVC credits.

March 29, 2016 at 4:13 AM · This is an interesting idea that I thought was worth putting out there. However, I don't think it would turn out very well. Just like everyone else, I also don't want to start paying extra money just to get on my favorite rides, but there's another problem that I can see with this plan, and that's stingy people lying/exaggerating about their true financial state just to use the time-bidding thing just to save money, which'd then lead to many others following their example, which'd then lead to the whole system getting screwed up and prompt Disney to then come up with some sort of solution that meets the same warm recieption of FP+.
March 29, 2016 at 4:49 AM · I wouldn't like to fight with money about when I can get to which ridem and everything is already planned when I arrive, which gives me 0 flexibility. My favourite theme park, Europapark in Germany (which won the Golden Ticket award for the best theme park twice), still has only simple entrance ticket. You pay once, and there are only different prices for children, elderly people and handicapped people, as well as group prices and so on. But they all get the same, free entrance to all rides and shows. They don't even have a fastpass system with special queues. But what they have is an app that allows you to check the current waiting time on any ride. That allows people to plan their next action on their visit, and it helps to distribute people between the rides. If the big rollercoasters have long queues, people will go to smaller rides and might return to the big ones once the queues got shorter. The longest queue time I've ever seen there was 55 minutes, which is pretty long, but still acceptable to many people. I prefer it like that, because there is nothing simpler and more comfortable than that.
March 29, 2016 at 7:17 AM · I find myself agreeing with many posters in this thread.
Visiting back in 2014 the sense of magic had left quite a lot of the Disney parks, with the half hearted way they were dealing with the incredible demand for anything to do with Frozen showing a lack of understanding linking successful brands to customers.

From my first visits in 2001 I held Disney in the highest esteem regarding quality, but they are losing out due to lack of investment.

I also miss the original fastpass system which worked brilliantly on busy days. I have not been tempted at all by the wrist bands and the way they are pushed as a 'souveneir' piece feels tacky while also possibly running up incredible bills due to it not feeling like spending real money.

Our next visit will be to the Universal parks due to the incredible reviews they get, haven't been to a UV Park since 2002.

The idea that a 'bidding war' could be created to manage popular park attractions would stop me going altogether, as I would be up against people with deep pockets for their more spoiled children.

Parks have a capacity and that should be more strictly controlled, that way queues can also be managed.

March 29, 2016 at 1:41 PM · I've seen this model before - its called the Stock Market - where those that benefit the most are the ones with the most to start with. Pay to Play is a path to limit the availability of entertainment and in the long run (talking years here) to see higher cost burdens placed on those that can still afford to come. And when we did have coupon books the pricing wasn't outrageous. Yes and E was more than an A - but not $10 more which is what I would expect an E to be today in Disney's eyes.
March 29, 2016 at 4:39 PM · This article makes me mad because I can see it becoming truth. I love WDW but I can't see when I will be back. The prices are hard to justify when you are getting less.
March 30, 2016 at 7:05 AM · Please don't give the bean counters any more bright ideas as to how to jack up the prices. I have seen the average stay here go from 7 days to 3 or 4 days due to the price hikes as a LOT of families simply can't afford the "magic" any more or they are fed up with the lines and the whole fast pass fiasco. Even the employees at WDW seem more unhappy than the ones at Disneyland and DCA. These days I am seeing people decide to do other parks like Universal, Sea World and even Fun Spot which is not a bad option for people who don't want to pay a fortune for rides.
March 30, 2016 at 4:48 PM · To the poster above who mentioned Europa Park.

WDW also has an app that allows you to check wait times. It's called My Disney Experience. Now, having never been to Europa Park,(but it is on my bucket list) I have obviously never used that app before. As such, I don't know how it works or if it's better than My Disney Experience.but aside from checking wait times, the app also allows you to check showtimes, provides you with a very detailed map of all four parks, you can make all your reservations on it, (FP+, dining etc) and it let's you know if a certain attraction is closed for the day, they'll let you know.

Also, I'm not gonna say that I disagree with the statement that is Disney is extremely expensive. However, I don't really think that UO is really that much better in terms of pricing. Sure, the admission prices are lower, but that's just on the surface. If you read between the lines, it's a different story.

Say what you will about FP+, but at least it's free and you can use it for practically every attraction. Universal Express costs actual money (about $85) and there's a couple attractions you can't use it for, most notably Forbidden Journey.

Also, despite all the times I've visited Universal, I've never spent the night on property. Yet I've I've spent the night at an on-site Disney hotel multiple times. Why? Because Universal's on-site hotels are a lot more expensive than Disney's. Yeah, you read that right. I swear, the cheapest deal I can find to stay on Disney property is $100 per night. The cheapest is can find for Universal Is $300 per night.

And, of course, Universal's biggest cash cow of all, WWOHP. I mean, do I even have to explain this one? If there's any theme park land out there that seems to just scream "GIVE ME MONEY!!!NOW!!!", it's WWOHP. Just look at all the neverending Potter-themed merchandise and food! And I would like to remind everyone that before they could actually cast spells, you were still basically paying $80 for a cheap piece of plastic. But even nowadays, that first day you purchase it is probably the most that wand's ever gonna get used. Let's face it, once you take that wand home, unless you're over the age of 10, it's most likely gonna spend the rest of it's existence sitting on a shelf and gathering dust. And, last but not least, the big elephant in the room, the Hogwarts Express.Hey, are you a huge Potterhead who wants to see everything WWOHP has to offer but only has enough money for admission to just one park? Well, I'd hate to break it to you, but unless you can pay for both parks, you won't be able to! Why? Because now you have to choose between either Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, and you can't ride the Hogwarts Express. I'm pretty sure Universal could have just taken out some backstage area and turned that into Diagon Alley and have the train take you there, but nope, they had to have it take to the other park instead to make you pay for that extra admission ticket.

So yeah, ton those of you choosing to visit Universal over Disney because you think it'll save you money, to quote Tony Stark, "Not a great plan."

March 30, 2016 at 10:24 PM · Stay at a Universal resort one night, and you get two days of Express Pass. And the Royal Pacific destroys the Value resorts at WDW. As far as cheap plastic souvenirs you won't use again, check out my daughter's closet full of Mickey ears. It's all subjective
March 31, 2016 at 11:30 AM · Bidding? Why on Earth would I want to spend my time doing that? How special does a place have to be that in order to experience it you have to invest god knows how much time checking your phone or tablet in the hope you'll be able to afford to ride a beloved attraction without waiting 2 hours in line? Will restrooms cost more to use after mealtimes? And how long before some enterprising individual with the motivation hacks the system and screws up everybody's day? Some vacation. Of course, if future generations don't know any different / better, they might think this is the way it HAS to be, and acquiesce to it. You want play, you gotta pay...until you won't anymore.
March 31, 2016 at 7:01 PM · Ditto on how horrible a bidding system would be...talk about taking all the fun out of the park. I've always been a huge Disneyland fan and thought the idea of a Passport and getting rid of coupon books was one of the greatest things the company ever did. But if Walt is in a grave somewhere, I'm sure he's turning furiously in it now...Disney parks have become far too expensive and unaffordable for the average family. And yet, incredibly, the parks seem to be more crowded than ever, no matter when you go. It's very sad but the price has now reached the point where I may no longer go unless I know a "Cast Member" who can sign me in. I don't have a solution but I hope a "magical" inspiration will come to somebody and Disney will return to the Glory Days.
March 31, 2016 at 8:51 PM · Universal has it right. Stay on property and get an express pass. If not staying on property, pay an up charge and get an express pass. Disney's magic band program is a joke. It cost a fortune to implement. It takes away spontaneity, it's inefficient, and it increases standby times for rides that would otherwise have short waits. Will Disney start up charging to reserve more rides...YEP. And as a result guest walk around like robots, tied to a predetermined schedule that was planned months before without any ability to really understand important variables like weather, crowds, mood, hunger, fatigue, etc, ect. Just let us pay to get into the park. If we don't want to wait in long lines let us pay more. Otherwise it's not a vacation. Its a scheduled, stressful day.
March 31, 2016 at 9:07 PM · I was last at WDW in Jul 2014, though we are flying to Orlando tomorrow for another trip. This time we will also spend 2 days at US in Orlando. Charging for an express pass makes it no fun. We'll see how it works out this time but we were at USJ in Osaka in December and it was a terrible experience. It was expensive enough to get in for 2 days and to be told we have to basically double our costs in order to ride more than about 2 rides a day is ridiculous. Lines for standby were over 4 hours for popular rides and 2+ hours for less popular rides. My family has NO desire to go to USJ again and it was a hard sell to get them interested in trying US in Orlando. I'll take FP+ any day, though the old FP system also worked fine our two previous trips to WDW and to DL/CA in 2012.
April 1, 2016 at 7:38 AM · Is anybody feeling more relaxed? This is about vacation you know.......
April 1, 2016 at 8:27 AM · There are scads of fantastic locations, just in So. Cal alone that offer great ways to celebrate Disney for free. Walt's Barn comes to mind...it's free. And destinations and places to visit that are economical, educational and, entertaining. It's really easy to get stuck on 1313 Harbor Blvd. but that is only one address. Isn't it time time to build a Web site offering great alternatives? Disney's own D23 Club offers visits to the Disney Studio that are quite lovely. It's time to realize DISNEYLAND is way too small and needs to be supplemented in people's entertainment diet with other intellectually nutritional destinations and activities. The Gene Autry Musem is so much better than a walk through Frontierland that is hardly more than a shell of its once great self. Or Knott's too. The great carousel in Griffith Park is still there and the train and so is Travel Town and it's Live Steamers. Again touching Walt in a unique way. The Walt Disney Family Museum is amazing and worth the effort to see. My point is, there are great addresses and things to broaden and add to our lives. 1313 is only one address. Time to look around, kids.
April 1, 2016 at 11:03 AM · Poor Disney! Leave Disney alone. We keep beating on their bruised and bleeding skulls like a bunch of kids that didn't get the souvenir they want. Walter Williams, the economist, says "the most effective sound to make is the snapping shut of your pocket book." Well? If its too expensive look to some other venue or activity. There is, in any given city fantastic places to take yourself and your kids. How many of you readers have been to the LaBrea Tar Pits lately or the main library in downtown LA? Chinatown or Olvera Street? How about the Natural History Museum? Have you ever taken a tour of a major factory ? Almost anywhere in Los Angeles there is a free music recital somewhere on any given weekend. Disney is in a pickle. Disneyland is just too small for the crowds they entertain. And there isn't that much live entertainment there anymore either. We are paying more for less. Wanna have an effect...a lasting effect they REALLY can hear? Snap those wallets shut nice and tight. Your vote WILL BE HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR.
April 1, 2016 at 12:33 PM · I love this idea.
April 1, 2016 at 8:34 PM · Planning a vacation is already a chore: how many cities? fly or drive? which motel? which activities? Theme parks? hiking? national parks? restaurants? etc., etc. WHY would anyone want to spend even more time at home scheduling ride times. Not only that, the whole idea is confusing. I'm still trying to figure out the latest FP process. The old one was fine. And it was fair. No one had to pay anything extra. And everyone got to use the FP on 6 or so attractions during the day. Sure, you feel a little smug, even guilty, walking in the FP queue for Splash Mtn., but it balances out when those folks pass ME going to Pirates.

We need spontaneity and the ability to make on the spot decisions and changes. I don't want my whole day programmed. Someone mentioned ride breakdowns. Well what about good old rain for your outdoor attraction? TP's have been trying this cash cow stuff long enough. Six Flags is so bad they have THREE kinds of "bot" levels. No one has mentioned how much longer the regular queue wait is because there's always a steady stream of privileged (read: rich) people going in. So you are stuck even longer in an ordinary queue. That clock at the entry that reads "30 minutes from this point" is now going to be more like 50!

Finally, I'm a roller coaster junkie. That's why I go to amusement parks. I don't care about spinners, games, nor 90% of the packaged shows, animatronics included. I really don't ever need to go into Tiki Birds again. So how do I manage to get 6 or more rides on Space Mrn. or Big Thunder Mtn. per visit? That's the kind of day I want at Disney. The "system" probably won't even let me.

April 2, 2016 at 9:52 PM · DISNEYLAND, the first "theme" amusement park in the world. When you went to Frontierland everything was themed to the "flavor" of the Old West. They had shootouts, stores that sold moccasins and the like. You could even get a newspaper printed announcing your visit that day. Today that's all gone. All merchandise is identical or nearly similar everywhere in the Park and nearly so in the entire resort. There is no need to enter DISNEYLAND or DCA to buy a specialty item. It's all in the World of Disney store just outside the gates of the happiest place on earth or so they would have you believe. Even the uniforms or costumes are homogenized. Down on Disney? Heavens no. I think we all write here because we're frustrated knowing how much better DL could be. Perhaps the bigger problem is Walts' dead. You couldn't fire him either. There is no one with absolute final say on any issue within Disney as once was. That's right, guys. There is no Disney!
April 3, 2016 at 4:43 PM · I don't know why folks are knocking so much on Disney (especially in favor of Universal). DLR tickets are expensive, and the cost increases have been a bit unwarranted in the past 5 years or so, but they're still far and away the highest quality theme park.

Their theming, entertainment and rides are consistently better than Knott's and especially Universal--most of their rides are VR, which is less immersive and makes many people (myself included) incredibly nauseous.

Plus, DLR's food has really good and really inexpensive options. A mediocre meal at Knott's will easily set you back $15-20 per person, whereas you can get great food at DLR for under $10 each; Universal's almost as bad and neither will let you bring in food, but DLR doesn't care if you want to save money and picnic.

I wish the mouse would quit it with the price increases, but I also know their goal is to lower park attendance, and I still get a much, much better experience out of their park, even when it's crowded.

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